The latest hearing in the trial of the former Getty antiquities curator, Marion True, who is charged with conspiring to receive illegally excavated antiquities, took place in Rome on 26 April. Giuseppe Putrino, sergeant of the Carabinieri was cross examined. He told the court of documents, letters and Polaroid photographs, confiscated during police raids on warehouses in Basel owned by the Sicilian antiquities dealer Gianfranco Becchina.
The prosecuting attorney Giorgio Ferri showed the court a series of personal identity documents belonging to the co-defendant, US dealer Robert Hecht, the late Jiri Frel (the Getty Museum’s first antiquities curator, see above) and Edward Merrin, owner of a New York gallery with his father Samuel.
Other documents shown to the court included financial documents from the Merrin Gallery, and lists of objects from Antike Kunst Palladion, a gallery in Basel run by Mr Becchina and his wife Faya. Correspondence between the Merrin Gallery and Antike Kunst Palladion was examined. This referred to archaeological objects, which the prosecution says, were exported illegally from Italy. The prosecution alleged that the Merrin Gallery, several US museums and Mr Becchina’s Antike Kunst Palladion gallery were all part of a smuggling ring trading in illegally excavated antiquities.
Mr Ferri discussed a series of documents confiscated from Mr Becchina which consisted entirely of correspondence to Mr Frel and his wife. Further paperwork was then presented to the court which mentioned Marion True, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the US collectors Leon Levy, who died in 1998, and his wife, Shelby White, a trustee of the Metropolitan Museum. Roman sculpture expert Ariel Herrmann of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston was named as a conduit between Mr Becchina and the Levy-Whites.
The next hearing is scheduled for 31 May.
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'The Marion True trial: in the courtroom'