Met Mu­seum of Art turns an­cient vase over to pros­e­cu­tors

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

An an­cient vase that for years was housed in the el­e­gant gal­leries of the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Mu­seum of Art is tak­ing up space in a much dif­fer­ent place - a pros­e­cu­tor's of­fice. The vase, known as a bell krater and used to hold wine, has been the sub­ject of ques­tions over its prove­nance and whether it was orig­i­nally looted from Italy decades ago. A war­rant is­sued July 24 said it "con­sti­tutes ev­i­dence, and tends to demon­strate that the crime of crim­i­nal pos­ses­sion of stolen prop­erty in the sec­ond de­gree was com­mit­ted."

The mu­seum bought the piece at an auc­tion in 1989 for just un­der $100,000. It said it had been reach­ing out to the Ital­ian gov­ern­ment's Min­istry of Cul­ture af­ter an im­age of the vase was pub­lished in 2014, sim­i­lar to how it had han­dled other is­sues con­cern­ing ar­ti­facts, and co­op­er­ated with the of­fice of Man­hat­tan Dis­trict At­tor­ney Cyrus Vance.

"When the Man­hat­tan DA con­tacted the Met in re­cent months, we im­me­di­ately took the piece off dis­play," mu­seum spokesman Ken Weine said. The mu­seum turned over the piece, which dates to 360-350 BC and has an im­age of the Greek god Diony­sus be­ing pulled in a cart, on July 25 and gave the dis­trict at­tor­ney's of­fice all re­lated pa­per­work. Vance's of­fice de­clined to com­ment.

The issue of ar­ti­facts with ques­tion­able prove­nances is one that has come up be­fore in New York. In May, seven stat­ues and ves­sels dat­ing as far back as the eighth cen­tury B.C. were re­turned to Ital­ian of­fi­cials af­ter com­ing to light at two art gal­leries. Vance's of­fice said they had been looted from Italy in the 1990s and smug­gled out of the coun­try.

In De­cem­ber 2016, the US re­turned to Italy a mar­ble statue that had been stolen from Rome in 1983 and turned in to of­fi­cials in 2015. In April 2016, a stone sculp­ture of Bud­dha's foot­prints that had been taken from a re­gion in Pak­istan in the early 1980s was re­turned to that coun­try. An an­tiq­ui­ties dealer who pleaded guilty to crim­i­nal pos­ses­sion of stolen prop­erty said he had shipped it to the United States to sell at a gallery for more than $1 mil­lion.

— AP

This un­dated photo pro­vided by the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Mu­seum of Art, shows a ter­ra­cotta bell-krater dat­ing back to 360-350 BC.

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