November 16, 2005

Ex-Getty curator appears at “stolen art” trial

ROME (Reuters) - A former curator at the J. Paul Getty
Museum in Los Angeles appeared in a Rome court on Wednesday to
face charges of receiving stolen artifacts, in a trial
spotlighting the shady side of the global art trade.

It was the first time Marion True, who quit her job at the
Getty last month, had attended the court since her trial opened
with a single session in July. She made no comment to the

True denies charges of criminal conspiracy to receive
stolen goods and illegal receipt of archaeological artifacts
brought by Italian prosecutors after a decade-long

Her trial has drawn attention to the international trade in
stolen art and the buying practices of some U.S. museums.

The Getty museum, one of the world's richest art
institutions, returned three disputed works to Italy last week.
But Italy's culture minister said he would not be satisfied
until another 39 disputed treasures acquired by True, including
a prized ancient Greek statue of Aphrodite, came home.

Italian prosecutors believe the artifacts were illegally
excavated or stolen and later acquired by the Getty.
Authorities in Rome have said more disputed works are held by
another eight U.S. museums, including New York's Metropolitan
Museum of Art and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

"This is a very significant trial and it's important that
the Italian government makes this kind of response to the
flight of objects from archaeological sites, which are
basically stolen property," said Elizabeth Fentress, an
archaeology research fellow at the British School of Rome.

She said many museums, particularly in the United States,
had "no scruples" when buying art works.

"The whole thing is not remotely clean," she said.

Paris-based art dealer Emanuel Robert Hecht is also a
defendant in the Rome trial.