More from the world of “returning things to its original country of origin” in the museum world this week, as the University of Virginia has just joined ranks with several other museums in the past couple of months in returning two Greek sculptures to Italy, items which were purchased on the black market some thirty years ago. But wait, they’re Greek statues and they’re going to Italy? Doesn’t their description alone raise any additional red flags here? C’mon Greece, get with it! Here’s some:
Tomb raiders looted the artworks, acroliths of Greek goddesses dating back to about about 525 B.C., from Sicily about 30 years ago, and the works have been bought and sold on the black market since 1978. In 2002, the university’s museum received the sculptures as a gift from a donor, whose name the university has not revealed (although the last owner is thought to be New York diamond merchant and philanthropist Maurice Tempelsman). In a deal endorsed by the Italian government, the university agreed to keep the works for five years and then return them to Italy.