Suzan Mazur's latest in Scoop is an interview with Italian prosecutor Maurizio Fiorilli ... although the whole thing is interesting, I found this bit a nice little tease:

Suzan Mazur: The Getty, America's biggest trust - $5.5 billion - would suffer a significant monetary loss if the antiquities Italy has asked to be repatriated are, indeed, returned to Italy. And California's Attorney General has said the Getty board of trustees would be viewed as negligent for making unwise investments.

How much of a monetary loss to the Getty are we talking about?

How much of a gain would there be for the Getty to cooperate?

Maurizio Fiorilli: You cannot do culture based on fraud and theft [emphasis added].

The economic value is of little consequence. What is important is the gain Getty will derive on the ethical plane. Moral gain is the reward.

Also, the monetary value of the objects is not Italy's problem. It is the problem of those who spend good money for objects that are without clear title and are illicitly removed from their place of cultural origin.

It is up to the authorities in the USA who are responsible for controlling the Getty to investigate how the money was spent.

Culture predisposes honesty and transparency.

The Getty has made a "loss sheet" -- if it were required to return certain objects. Why has it not made public the source documents used to create this "loss sheet"?

Read the whole thing here.

Notice that phrase 'place of cultural origin', though ... I guess this is how Italy is justifying things which were originally part of a shipwreck and it opens the door for them to pretty much lay claim to anything 'Roman' found in Europe, no? So what's going to happen when some scholar -- and you know it will happen sooner or later -- demonstrates that something labelled as a 'Roman copy of a Greek original', is actually Greek? Will Italy see 'moral gain' as a reward and return it to Greece? Is there a (for want of a better term) statute of limitations on moral loss?