Italian government officials overseeing cultural property are calling for the repatriation of a group of seven ancient artifacts held at the Louvre that are believed to have been looted.
In a statement to the French media The worldMuseum director Laurence des Cars confirmed that the group of artifacts is currently being examined by researchers for provenance issues, saying the Louvre deals with such cases with “rigor and lucidity”.
The move follows Des Cars’ first meeting in February with Italian officials, including Italian Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano, to discuss a potential return of the artifacts, which include a 5th-century black amphora and Greek vases. dated between the 4th and 6th centuries BC.
Several of the works reported by the Ministry of Culture have links to disgraced antique dealers active in the 1980s and 1990s, The world reported. Some works acquired by the museum between 1982 and 1998, when provenance research standards were more lax, date back to dealers Giacomo Medici and Gianfranco Becchina. The two were convicted of fraud in 2005 related to antiques transactions.
The move comes as Western encyclopedic museums are called upon to review collections for restitution issues. Repatriation cases are often complex legal undertakings in France, where works of art in state-run institutional collections are protected from removal without government approval.
In September, the Italian Ministry of Culture provided a list of works from the Louvre collection as part of a formal request for repatriation. It included a 5th-century krater and a head of Heracles from the ancient Etruscan city of Cerveteri.
The crater was discovered by specialists to have been acquired in 1987 and archaeologists from the Italian Ministry of Culture have found it to have links to the Becchina. Becchina’s photographic archive was seized by Swiss authorities in 2001 and handed over to an Italian law enforcement agency. Italian authorities used another Medici-related archive as evidence in the high-profile case in Italy in 2005.