Cleveland coughs up

Following in the hallowed footsteps of institutional receivers of stolen goods like the Getty and the Metropolitan, the Cleveland Museum of Art is returning 14 antiques to Italy.

The Cleveland Museum of Art has agreed to hand over 13 ancient artifacts and an early Renaissance cross to Italy after long negotiations, the museum and Italian officials announced here on Wednesday. […]

The processional cross, dating from around 1350, was not excavated but apparently was kept at a church near Siena, Italy, until the 1970s. The museum purchased it in 1977 from a German dealer, Cleveland officials said. […]

For the most part the objects claimed from the Cleveland museum — including a fourth-century B.C. Apulian volute krater by the so-called Darius Painter and a ninth-to-sixth-century B.C. bronze of a warrior from Sardinia — were acquired in the 1970s and 1980s. Several were donations.

It’s the usual deal. In exchange for getting the stuff back, the Italians promise not to prosecute any of the employees who had a hand in buying the stolen objects and loan equivalent pieces to fill in the blanks on the gallery floor.

There are still a couple of artifacts under negotiation: a winged victory from a 1st c. chariot, and a bronze Apollo thought to have been made by Praxiteles purchased from a pair of ubershady dealers with a long track record of falsifying provenance and laundering looted antiquities for major dealers like Robert Hecht, currently on trial in Italy for conspiracy to traffic in illegal antiquities.

David Gill has a complete list of all the antiquities the Cleveland Museum of Art is returning to Italy.

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