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Published: Thursday, 11/10/2005

Ancient vase to be returned if stolen

BY RHONDA B. SEWELL
BLADE STAFF WRITER
A photograph of a 6th-century B.C. water jar in the Toledo Museum of Art collection was among those seized in a 1995 raid on a warehouse of antiquities dealer Giacomo Medici, who goes on trial in Italy this month. A photograph of a 6th-century B.C. water jar in the Toledo Museum of Art collection was among those seized in a 1995 raid on a warehouse of antiquities dealer Giacomo Medici, who goes on trial in Italy this month.
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Toledo Museum of Art leaders pledged to return to Italy an ancient Greek/Etruscan water jar if the black and gold earthenware vase is one of more than 100 looted antiquities identified by Italian police.

Holly Taylor, spokesman for the museum, said the vase, called a "kalpis," was first acquired from a private dealer in 1982. It is a little more than 20 inches high and dates to 520-510 B.C.

The vase was bought by the museum with funds from the Libbey Endowment under the watch of then-Director Roger Mandle and the late Curator Kurt T. Luckner, the museum's curator of ancient art from 1969 to 1995.

A Los Angeles Times article Tuesday reported that Italian court records contain a trove of photographs seized during a 1995 raid, tracing looted objects - including the vase - to several prominent United States museums: the Toledo museum, Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Princeton University Art Museum, and Los Angeles' J. Paul Getty Museum.

Toledo museum Director Don Bacigalupi Toledo museum Director Don Bacigalupi
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If the vase was stolen, it will be returned, Toledo museum Director Don Bacigalupi said in a prepared statement. "We are not interested in holding in our collections works of art that have legitimate claim elsewhere," he said.

The photographs were acquired during a raid on the warehouse of antiquities dealer Giacomo Medici, the Times' said. A trial planned for later this month also names Mr. Medici's two co-defendants, American art dealer Robert Hecht, Jr., and former J. Paul Getty Museum antiquities Curator Marion True.

Ms. Taylor declined to name the Toledo museum vase's dealer, but said it was not anyone named in the Times' article. She also declined to say how much the museum paid for the piece.

In March, 2001, museum officials, under the watch of then-Director Roger Berkowitz, received a request from Toledo's U.S. Attorney's Office for copies of documentation of the vase, which is detailed with exotic half-man, half-dolphin creatures.

Ms. Taylor said the museum provided the requested information a month later. "Since that date, there's been no further inquiries from the court from this matter. We've never been contacted from the Italian government or authorities for this vase," she said

Ms. Taylor said the museum will comply fully with authorities if contacted. "If we get a claim against this vase, or if any of our works were looted works, we would return them," said Ms. Taylor, adding that the kalpis will remain on display in the Classic Court section of the museum until further notice.

Contact Rhonda B. Sewell at:

rsewell@theblade.com

or 419-724-6101.



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