Sunday, July 31, 2011


I've just finished reading “Chasing Aphrodite:” The Hunt for Looted Antiquities at the World’s Richest Museum by Jason Felch & Ralph Frammolino. It's a terrific reporting job on the Getty! How Marion True and other curators at all Museums are guilty of bringing from Europe, especially Greece and Italy, no provenance antiquities.

While in the Greece on a diplomatic visit this weekend, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs, Stavros Lambrinidis, concerning the imposition of import restrictions on archaeological and Byzantine objects. The new memorandum, which still has to be ratified by the Greek Parliament, would make it illegal for protected works of art to enter the US without the approval of Greek authorities.

The signing of the memorandum was yet another demonstration of the US government’s vocal support of Greece’s austerity measures to help the debt-ridden country get back on its feet. “America is just as committed to Greece’s future as we are to preserving your past,” Clinton said at the signing. “During these difficult economic times, we will stand with you. We are confident that the nation that built the Parthenon, invented democracy, and inspired the world can rise to the current challenge.”

According to a fact sheet released by the US State Department, “the agreement will strengthen collaboration to reduce looting and trafficking of antiquities, and provide for their return to Greece. It also aims to further the international interchange of such materials for cultural, educational, and scientific purposes.”

“We are trying to protect our treasures from illegal diggings and excavations,” Lambrinidis said at the signing. “That is why this MOU that we’re about to sign is so important.” Clinton said that the agreement “will protect Greece’s culturally significant objects even further from looting and sale on the international market” by helping to “reduce the incentive to illegally remove such objects in the first place”. She added: “We know from experience that measures like this work. This will be our 15th cultural property agreement. And in countries from Cambodia to Cyprus, we have seen real results.”


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