The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office issued a search warrant last March authorizing the seizure of eleven objects from the Princeton University Art Museum. According to Daily Princetonian, ten of these works of art will soon be returned to Italy. Among the seized objects, six are ancient objects dating from 680 to 580 BC. BC, on loan from Edoardo Almagià, a Rome-based art dealer who has been under investigation for smuggling activity for the past two decades.
In 2011, this art dealer had already been reported by Italian authorities when Princeton University returned Greco-Roman antiquities to Italy. According to the 2010 indictment, around twenty objects stolen from Italian sites were allegedly “sold, given or lent” by Edoardo Almagià at the museum, through the curator of the department of antiquities between the 1990s and the beginning of the 2000s. The museum had also returned eight works in 2007, illegally exported from Italy, following an agreement with the Ministry of Culture relating to the ownership of 15 antiquities. Under this agreement, Princeton was allowed to keep seven of the antiquities.
Stephen J. Kim, deputy director of communications and information at the Princeton University Museum of Art, said in a statement that the museum “cooperating fully with authorities in the ongoing investigation”. According to the museum’s website, the institution “conducts and carries out research [de provenance] on new acquisitions, whether they are likely to enter the collections by purchase or by donation, as well as retrospectively on the works already in its custody. »
According to the March 22 search warrant, the six confiscated items had been stolen before their acquisition by the University. These are ceramic bottles and pots, as well as a terracotta plaque. The other four objects believed to be stolen are fragments dating from 540 to 460 BC. AD These ten objects, of Greek or Etruscan origin, have a total value estimated at more than 150,000 dollars. As for the eleventh object seized, it is a large wall tile bearing a Quranic inscription in calligraphy from Pakistan, dating from the 16th to the 18th century and valued at $45,000. Although he is mentioned in a separate warrant, his fate has not yet been clarified.