Giacomo Medici (art dealer)

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Giacomo Medici is an Italian art dealer convicted in 2004 of dealing in stolen ancient artifacts. His operation was thought to be "one of the largest and most sophisticated antiquities networks in the world, responsible for illegally digging up and spiriting away thousands of top-drawer pieces and passing them on to the most elite end of the international art market".[1]

In 1995, the Tutela Patrimonio Culturale (or TCP), the unit of the Italian Carabinieri (military police) specializing in protecting that country's cultural heritage, determined that a company named Editions Services, owned by Medici, had sold three ancient marble sculptures previously stolen from an Italian collection.[2] On September 13, 1995, Italian and Swiss police raided the Editions Services offices in Geneva, Switzerland which were located in Port Franc, "the special commercial zone near the airport where international goods can be stored, bought, and sold, discreetly and tax-free".[2]

Authorities found "hundreds of pieces of ancient Greek, Roman, and Etruscan art — including a set of Etruscan dinner plates valued at $2 million ... voluminous sales records and correspondence between Medici and dealers in London and New York; and finally, binders and boxes containing thousands of photographs ... of ancient objects ... the archive included sequential photographs of single pieces from the moment they came out of the ground ... to their finished, reconstructed appearance at the time they entered the art market and were sold for tens of thousands, and occasionally millions, of dollars. In a few cases there were even subsequent photos of the same objects inside the display cases of well-known museums".[1]

Medici was formally arrested in 1997, and in 2004 was sentenced by a Rome court to ten years in prison and a fine of 10 million Euros, "the largest penalty ever meted out for antiquities crime in Italy".[1]

In 2005, evidence from the Geneva raid was used by the Italian government to indict American antiquities dealer Robert E. Hecht and former J. Paul Getty Museum curator of antiquities Marion True for conspiracy to traffic in illegal antiquities. The court hearings of the case against Hecht and True ended in 2012 and 2010, respectively, as the statute of limitations, under Italian law, for their alleged crimes had expired.[3]

Medici's operation is detailed in Peter Watson and Cecilia Todeschini's 2006 book The Medici Conspiracy: The Illicit Journey of Looted Antiquities from Italy's Tomb Raiders to the World's Greatest Museums.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Men's Vogue, Nov/Dec 2006, Vol. 2, No. 3, pg. 46.
  2. ^ a b Men's Vogue, Nov/Dec 2006, Vol. 2, No. 3, pg. 44.
  3. ^ Povoledo, Elisabetta. "Italian Trial of American Antiquities Dealer Comes to an End." The New York Times. 18 January 2012.

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