Italian authorities presented evidence for the first time Friday to officials from the Cleveland Museum of Art about antiquities that Italy wants returned because it believes they were looted.
"The tone of the meeting was very cordial, and we were treated most hospitably," Timothy Rub, the museum's director, said by cell phone from Rome. He said both sides had agreed not to discuss details publicly.
Maurizio Fiorilli, the government lawyer representing Italy in the meeting, could not be reached by phone.
Italian authorities have said that evidence from a raid on a warehouse in Switzerland in 1995 exposed links between tomb robbers and art dealers who later sold the looted works to American museums.
Using evidence from the raid, Italy has pressed claims against museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts Boston.
In January, Fiorilli said the country would consider long-term art loans in exchange for restitution of looted antiquities. He declined to say how many objects Italy is seeking from the Cleveland museum. Rub said Friday he couldn't give specifics.
Rub said the museum will study its records and prepare a response. He said both sides want "a speedy and equitable resolution."
UPDATE: Suzan Mazur pens a piece for Scoop which provides much more detail about the items being claimed:
Topping the list is the fabulous ex-Hunt collection Medea calyx krater, 400 bc, first identified on these pages as looted Italian art [see.. Scoop: Cleveland's Got Prized South Italian Medea Vase & Scoop: Italy Will Contest Medea Vase At Cleveland Museum] – the vase former Boston Museum of Fine Arts curator Cornelius Vermeule told me he’d “kill for” around the time of the 1990 Hunt-Sotheby’s auction. [see… Scoop: Sotheby's Pre-Auction Euphronios Transcript]
Also on the list and previously cited here is the bronze statue of Apollo Sauroktonos (Lizard Slayer) attributed to Praxiteles and sold to Cleveland by Phoenix Ancient Art’s Aboutaam brothers.
Other highly important pieces are a black-figure oil flask from Campania, 330-300 bc, originally listed in Bob Hecht’s trial documents as one of the 94 pieces he trafficked, and a Campanian red-figure oil flask, 350-320 bc, donated by ex-Hecht Atlantis Antiquities financier Jonathan Rosen.
And there’s the 6th century bc silver Etruscan bracelet, a gift from “trafficante” Edoardo Almagia to Cleveland Museum in honor of Arielle P. Kozloff, the museum's former curator of Greek and Roman art, who left her post a few years ago to work for New York dealer Ed Merrin. [see… Scoop: Merrin Gallery In Italy's Antiquities Dragnet?] Kozloff is now an "independent scholar".
Photos of some of the pieces accompany SM's article ... Interesting to see a number of the 'usual suspects' named ...