The Great Giveback

27 Jan 2013 12:43 PM | Anonymous

The Great Giveback

By HUGH EAKIN

THE news has become astonishingly routine: a major American museum announces it is relinquishing extraordinary antiquities because a foreign government claims they were looted and has threatened legal action or other sanctions if it doesn’t get them back.

In the past two months, the Dallas Museum of Art has transferred ownership of seven ancient artworks, including a pair of Etruscan bronze shields, to Italy and Turkey; the Toledo Museum of Art has handed over to Italy a rare water vessel that had been on display since 1982; and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles has announced it will be transferring to Sicily a terra-cotta head believed to depict the Greek god Hades, which it purchased from a New York dealer in 1985 for more than $500,000. Other museums across the country — including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Cleveland Museum of Art — have also given up prized antiquities.

 Since 2006, more than 100 statues, bronzes, vases, mosaics and other works have left public collections in the United States. Among them was the Euphronios krater, depicting a scene from the “Iliad,” which awed visitors to the Met for decades, and a rare limestone and marble statue of a Greek goddess, which the Getty purchased for $18 million in 1988.

 http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/27/sunday-review/the-great-giveback.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&&pagewanted=print

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