The trial of Marion True, the former curator of antiquities at the J. Paul Getty Museum accused of receiving artifacts stolen from archaeological sites in Italy and conspiring to deal in them, ended October 13 when an Italian court ruled that the statute of limitations on her alleged crimes had expired, the New York Times reports.
True, who served as the Getty's chief antiquities curator from 1986 to 2005, has maintained her innocence since investigations began in 2000. During her tenure she returned numerous artifacts when informed they had been stolen; in 1995 she persuaded the Getty to adopt strict standards requiring scholarly documentation of potential acquisitions.
The Getty agreed in 2007 to return forty additional antiquities Italy claimed had been looted. However, the museum has appealed an Italian judge's 2010 order to return a 2,500-year-old bronze statue it claims was found in international waters.
During the trial, which had continued intermittently since 2005, the Italian government negotiated a series of agreements with several other American museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, for the return of objects with dubious provenance. In 2008 the Association of Art Museum Directors recommended that member museums not acquire ancient works of art unless research proved that they were either outside the country where they most likely were discovered before 1970 or were legally exported after 1970.
"The case invited scrutiny into what had been collecting practices that were not unusual in the American museum world of the 1980s and 1990s," Maxwell L. Anderson, director of the Indianapolis Museum of Art and former AAMD president, told the Times. "The notion that a single curator could be indicted for what was a practice of American museums led us to review how American museum collections were being built....[True] sacrificed herself on behalf of other museum directors in America."