The Marion True trial: investigation continues

The trial of former Getty antiquities curator continues with prosecutor Daniela Rizzo offering witness evidence


The latest hearing in the trial of former Getty antiquities curator, Marion True, charged with conspiring to receive illegally excavated antiquities, took place in Rome on 4 May.

The cross examination of Giuseppe Putrino, sergeant of the Carabinieri continued. During the questioning, prosecuting attorney Paolo Ferri asked the court to note Ms True’s part in the Getty Museum’s acquisition of a golden wreath and a marble statue of a kore (young woman), both dated around 400 BC. These were recently returned to Greece by the Getty.

Massimiliano Quagliarella of the Carabinieri’s art squad then took the stand as a witness for the prosecution. His testimony included details of the Getty Museum’s acquisition of around 1,000 fragments of Greek vases between 1984 and 1993, which, the prosecution estimates, is about 50 times greater than the number of fragments which were available on the legitimate art market at that time.

The court then heard that the Getty acquired ancient fragments which were then re-assembled into complete vases. One example is the celebrated Kylix vase painted by Euphronius (around 490BC) which was bought by the museum in pieces between 1983 and 1990. It was returned to Italy in 1999 after evidence proved that it had been looted from the Etruscan site of Cerveteri.

The archaeologist Daniela Rizzo, who monitors the looting of Etruscan sites, took the stand next as a witness for the prosecution. Her testimony included details of how the dealers Giacomo Medici (in 2004, Mr Medici was convicted in Italy of selling looted antiquities and sentenced to ten years in prison; he remains free pending appeal) and Mario Bruno controlled the looting of Etruscan sites in central Italy. She told the court that together they had bought land at the Etruscan site of Cerveteri near the place where a temple to Hercules once stood. The next hearings are set for 1 and 8 June.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'The Marion True trial'