About the Author
Neil Brodie is Director of Cultural Heritage Resource, Stanford University Archaeology Center
In September 1995, the Italian Carabinieri, in conjunction with Swiss police, raided a warehouse in Geneva Freeport belonging to Italian antiquities dealer Giacomo Medici. Several more visits followed between 1997 and 1999. The Carabinieri recovered 3,800 objects, more than 4,000 photographs of objects that had previously passed through Medici’s hands, and something like 35,000 sheets of paper documenting Medici’s business practices (Watson and Todeschini 2007, 19-24, 48-79, 363-83).
Inside Medici's warehouse (Photos: Peter Watson)
The raids were conducted by the Carabinieri as part of a larger investigation into artifact smuggling out of Italy. In May 2005 an Italian court found Medici guilty of illegal export, receiving stolen goods, and conspiracy. The material recovered during the raids was also used as evidence out of court to secure the return of illegally-traded Italian artifacts from museums. Agreements for return were made with the Metropolitan Museum of Art (21 objects in 2006, including the Euphronios krater and the so-called Morgantina treasure), the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (13 objects in 2006), the Cleveland Museum of Art (14 objects in 2009), the J. Paul Getty Museum (40 objects in 2007), and the Princeton University Art Museum (8 objects in 2007). An agreement was also made with collector Shelby White (10 objects in 2008).
Watson, Peter & Cecilia Todeschini. 2007. The Medici Conspiracy. New York: PublicAffairs.