Italy Drops Civil Charges Against Former Getty Curator

Italian authorities are dropping civil charges against Marion True, the former antiquities curator of the J. Paul Getty Museum who is on trial in Rome for allegedly trafficking in looted art, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The announcement was made after Getty officials confirmed their August pledge to return forty of the forty-six ancient artworks that Italy has claimed were looted and smuggled out of the country before being purchased by the Getty. The returns effectively render moot the civil aspect of True's trial, in which Italy sought damages for the loss of its cultural property. True still faces criminal charges along with American antiquities dealer Robert Hecht. However, "the withdrawal [of the civil charges] significantly lowers True's exposure," said Luis Li, legal advisor for the Getty, which is paying for the curator's defense.

Paolo Ferri, the Italian criminal prosecutor in the case, said he hoped the agreement would accelerate the pace of the trial, which began in July 2005. According to Ferri, the criminal trial, the first in which an American curator has been charged by a foreign country, was intended to be both punitive and preventive to send the message to museums to stop buying artifacts illicitly and to return any objects acquired in that manner. True, however, will be able to evade penal sanctions by returning to the United States.

The curator has maintained her innocence throughout the proceedings. "Dr. True...will continue to pursue all steps necessary to establish her innocence of the charges," said Harry Stang, her attorney. "Her defense team will address further matters when and if appropriate."

Jason Felch. "Italy Drops Civil Charges Against Ex-Getty Curator." Los Angeles Times 09/25/2007.