The silencing of Michel van Rijn

There are people out there who love secrecy.  The manuscript of the gospel of Judas and three other texts were traded around the art world for 20 years, suffering considerable damage in the process.  Dutch art-dealer Michel van Rijn exposed much of this, and indeed many other evil deeds in the art world.  Unsurprisingly those he exposed want his site off-line.

Some years ago his first site was the target of an injunction by James Ferrell of Ferrellgas.  I’ve corresponded with the latter, and found him a pleasant and helpful man.  The injunction seems to suggest that the action was taken mainly because material on van Rijn’s site was compromising a suit by Ferrell against the notorious Bruce Ferrini, the man who did more damage to those four manuscripts than any other single source.

Someone also persuaded Google to remove all reference to his site.  He moved to http://www.michelvanrijn.nl/, which also never appeared in Google. 

I recently noticed that the site had vanished.  It seems that it vanished in October 2006, after death threats to his children.

We are all the poorer for this.  It’s understandable, but why haven’t the police stepped in? I hope that we will see you again, old inkslinger.

61 Responses to “The silencing of Michel van Rijn”


  1. Art Dealer 911

    Either your an honest writer, or just naive at that.

    These so called “someone” who persuaded google to remove all references were coming from a source involved in the law suite. The information implicated on Van Rijn’s website on James Ferrell pointing to the illegal operations based in London, England and illegal funds to black market smugglers.

  2. Roger Pearse

    Ouch!! Well, I’m certainly naive about art-world dealings, as I don’t know much about them. I relied on Van Rijn for the insider’s view.

    I wasn’t sure precisely who had done the dirty deed of removing him from Google. All the information on this dispute seems to have vanished from the web. But my wonky memory told me that it was in some way associated with the lawsuit.

    I remember that Van Rijn had attacked James Ferrell, but I don’t think that I ever knew why.

    Van Rijn’s site was certainly very colourful, in appearance and content. But I was never all that sure how much of it was true, how much was gossip, and how much misinformation or mischief-making. But then that was part of the fun!

    Nevertheless, the web is poorer for its absence, and all of us are less informed on some very dodgy-sounding dealings.

  3. Art Dealer 911

    My apologizes for coming off so harsh. I’m glad that you are at least reporting on Van Rijn, and it is a bit unfortunate that his website is no longer active. Despite what many may believe whether he was for the good or for the bad, the information provide was very valuable.

    However, the lawsuit was in fact complicated in regards to details, and there was more going on behind the scenes then the general media / public would know about. Van Rijn is a very colorful individual, as well as very keen and sharp when it comes to getting his information. He does however poses the ability to be the greater evil depending on the situation. The Art world is very corrupt, and those who deal let alone buy are just as corrupt.

    Van Rijn was more then likely threaten by those with the means to fund such a threat. It is not the first time van rijn was threaten, as he was threaten before in regards to the law suit, but not to family but to him personally. I developed a relationship with Van Rijn during the lawsuit period here in the states. I got to known him quiet well, as well as Bruce Ferrini during his rise and fall as a millionare art dealer.

    If you don’t mind me asking, when was the last time you had contact with Van Rijn and James Ferrell? You may email me directly at the email address provided in this form.

    Thank you!

  4. Roger Pearse

    Thank you for this, which fits with my own (uninformed) understanding. I haven’t been in contact with either for a couple of years at least; indeed I only exchanged emails once with James Ferrell.

  5. Erika Soto

    hi, i´m a peruvian and i am thanks to Van Rijn for the “tocado moche”. Thanks a lot Mr. Van Rijn.

  6. Pietro Villari

    Indeed, the web is poorer for the absence of the informations provided by Michel van Rijn.
    I wonder if his participation at undercover police operations are still requested.

  7. Oldtimer

    Michel was my friend! He was the truth in a world of lies. Now he is lost. Gone. Happy I hope, and safe from the crooks who live in the art world. He covered so many subjects. I was only involved in a few. Santa Fake was my specialty. Challapampa, Moche Gold, and the trail to the galleries. There are more crooks than can be captured,,,,,but some of us will do all we can to keep the memory of mvr alive!!!!

  8. Roger Pearse

    It is very sad that so entertaining a website has gone. I wish MVR well.

  9. anonymous

    I want to know about “Adrian and Simon” they was a friends of MVR, they are missing, they not appear at the web site “www.redmongrian.com” and google too. if you know someting please write me to marcel0023@hotmail.com

    Thank you.

  10. Roger Pearse

    There does not appear to be a site “www.redmongrian.com”. Is this spelled correctly? What is this site?

  11. Roger Pearse

    Or even “redmondrian.com” – how does this relate?

  12. Ashtar

    Does anybody know how I can contact Michel?.
    I have something very interesting to talk to him.

    please help me.

    Ashtar

  13. Roger Pearse

    I don’t know, myself.

  14. David Brown

    I never had he chance to meet Michel but he did great things for the art world. He exposed a bit of the corruption and hypocracy that ruled for so long. He was called. He came. He is counted…and he is missed.

  15. Roger Pearse

    I miss his site, I must say. It was an illuminating window into the underside of the art world. I don’t have the hostility towards the latter that some do — they do a valuable thing in some ways. But it was good to see the other side.

  16. michel van rijn

    Just to say that I am incredebly touched and moved by the comments I read on this site. Thank you.

    Again, I like to thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

    God Bless

    michel van Rijn

    message for ‘Ashtar'; plse contact me:

    michelvanrijn@upcmail.nl

  17. Roger Pearse

    Good to hear from you, Michel. A lot of us have missed you.

    I forwarded your comment on to Ashtar, in case he isn’t watching these comments; but the email address bounced.

  18. David Brown

    We need Michel Van Rijnlike never before…….

  19. Jen

    I fear for him and hope he is well.
    What a sad, corrupt world, its all about the money and thats all about power – greed
    What low life forms will do to get it, lets hope that voice of good is still out there.

  20. Harley Street Dentist

    Hello Michel!

    I hope that you and the boys are well.

    We miss you!

    Best wishes.

    Lawrence

  21. David Brown

    Do we know if Michel will ever come back?

  22. Roger Pearse

    I have no idea, I must say. But in his shoes, I wouldn’t.

  23. David Brown

    Is Michel still writing? He had a lot of stories. I hope he gets them down on paper some day.

  24. Roger Pearse

    I know not whether he is still at work. He was certainly a great gossip writer! Maybe he will write a book one day — perhaps to be published posthumously!

  25. David Brown

    Whatever happened to Bruce Ferrini? Is he still dealing?

  26. Roger Pearse

    I know not. He is certainly comprehensively bankrupt, or so the latest information that reached me suggests, and his assets are in the hands of others.

  27. Eza

    It’s amazing the naivety of some of the people writing on this site… or maybe just a concerted effort, encouraged by Van Rijn himself, in order to attempt cleaning his act a bit.

    I have had the unpleasant experience of knowing his deeds in an extensive way, and can assure that he’s just another crook, who has looted twice as much art works as he then “recovered”. None of the “good deeds” and repatriations of art works or archaeological pieces he’s done (because he has achieved some successes in this sense) has been uninterestedly: all the contrary, there’s ALWAYS something in it for him – personal revenge against his former fellow crooks, or money which he has consistently extorted from the other crooks he’s harassed.

    I have personally witnessed his way of operating an can give total assurance of this, as well as destroy the absolute fantasy about his kids being threatened, that NEVER took place, it was an excuse from him when he had to finally bring down his website due to legal pressure from some of the people he was harassing despite having little evidence against them. His two fat children have never been threatened. Van Rijn is a fantasist who lives in a dreamworld, in which he’s some kind of secret agent/hero. The vast majority of his stories are a product of his imagination – this I have confirmed with people from the FBI, CIA and Scotland Yard, all of which he claims to be in close terms with (and which, in turn, see him as a wacky crook that some times comes up with good information, but always following a personal agenda).

    He has a soft spot for prostitutes, particularly young ones, is a semi-retired alcoholic and has been jailed a few times.

    Don’t get deceived people: Van Rijn is SCUM.

  28. Roger Pearse

    Thanks for your note! Always good to hear the other side of an argument.

  29. michel van rijn

    Yes, the guy;-) must have lost his marbles

    I probably slept with his wife or daughter or both

    “checked with the CIA, FBI, New Scotland Yard???????????????????????”

    Must be James Bond, Charlie Hill or King Kong, a legend in his own mind ;-)

    Anyhow it feels good to be loved

    Keep well

    Michel

  30. David Brown

    Eza don’t know who you are but clearly you are too timid to identify yourself. You have likely heard bad thing about Michel from some in law enforcement..the same inept pension catching slackers who turn the other cheek when it comes to crime. I know those fools well.

    I personally know that wihtout Michel the Bitti Altar relief never would have been returned to Challapampa,Peru. That is just a fact. I know because I was the one who leaked the entire story to Michel. The entire story. And he printed it all and did his own investigation and Ron Messick (one of the perps) died knowing the feds were breathign down his neck. That was all good news to me. Cause wihtout Michel the relief would still be sitting in crooked Santa Fe.

    So who are you Ezra: Larry Salandar or Helen Gioratti or one of the other Getty miscreants that Michel (with some help from yours truely banged the hellout of….None of us are saints (and I don’t think Michel would claime to be one) and all have faults. Michel has his – he is not good at keepng up wiht his old friends for one. But in the scheme of things hte man is a hero, Period.

    Tell me Ezra did Michel score an art deal and cut you out. I for one sure hope so.

  31. michel van rijn

    I am really sad to learn that Bruce Ferrini died. Of course he ‘died’ years ago when his beloved son Matthew passed away. Bruce always felt guilty over the death of his son. Bruce was a tormented genius with colossal peaks and fearsome lows . Bruce we laughed and cried together. I will never forget you.

    May you finally found some rest and be with your beloved son

    I love you

    Michel van Rijn

  32. David Brown

    Sad news about Bruce indeed.Life does not go on forever. May his sun always shine. May the wind alwys be at his back. And may all his currents be following.

  33. Melchor Terrero

    Hi Michel!! how you doing my friend? I miss you to much,
    always my family and I remind you here in dominican republic. I wish that you be very well and I would like talk with you.

    Give my regards, Melchor Terrero.

    phone 1-809-685-5507
    cell phone 1-809-481-1075

  34. michel van rijn

    Hola Melchor,

    Que bien saber de ti!

    Sigo disfrutando de tus pinturas hermosas y los buenos recuerdos que tengo de ti y de tu familia.

    Espero que estais de buena salud y que sigues siendo tan activo y creativo. Os echo de menos y te contactaré pronto.

    Mandame un email a vanrijnmichel@gmail.com

    Un abrazo muy fuerte

    michel

  35. David Brown

    Bruce Ferrini, Akron rare book dealer, dies at 60
    By Dorothy Shinn
    Beacon Journal art and architecture critic

    POSTED: 06:32 p.m. EDT, May 14, 2010

    Akron ancient and medieval manuscripts dealer and internationally known expert on rare books, Bruce Ferrini, died Tuesday at his home in Fairlawn of natural causes.
    He was 60.
    The last nine years of Mr. Ferrini’s life saw an abrupt reversal of the storybook career he had carved out for himself in the rarefied market of ancient and medieval manuscripts.
    His decline began with the death of his son in 2001 and culminated in 2004 in a dispute over ownership of artifacts in a traveling exhibit on the Dead Sea Scrolls.
    Mr. Ferrini had a trained operatic voice, was regarded as one of the best doctoral candidates in physical anthropology to study at Boston University, had a black belt in karate and owned a string of martial arts studios in Massachusetts.
    He was a 300-game bowler and held multiple Ohio weightlifting titles in the dead lift.
    But it was in the area of rare manuscripts and antiquities where his name was best known.
    Born in Cleveland and raised in Ravenna, he was in elementary school when the principal announced at an assembly that he had made a perfect score on the annual IQ and Scholastic Aptitude tests.
    Mr. Ferrini recalled the event as being both surprising and embarrassing. He had no idea he was the smartest kid in his school. Plus, he was uncomfortable being in the spotlight.
    He didn’t mind the spotlight when singing.
    He held evening musicales at his home in Akron in later years, after he became both famous and wealthy, based on his expertise in the manuscript market.
    And he was always collecting.
    When he was 11, he started a coin-collecting business. Every Saturday he would take a little table to downtown Ravenna and set it up by the bank, where he would buy and sell coins.
    Mr. Ferrini was in high school when he saw his first illuminated manuscript at the Cleveland Museum of Art. It was love at first sight.
    He bought his first illuminated manuscript leaf for $14 at age 18 from the collection of Otto Ege at Publix Bookstore in the old Arcade building in downtown Cleveland.
    And like Ege, Mr. Ferrini is both credited and blamed for opening up the illuminated manuscript market by becoming a biblioclast, or book breaker — someone who breaks up books and manuscripts for the illustrations or illuminations (small paintings containing gold leaf) they contain.
    Individual pages of a manuscript are referred to as ”leaves.”
    Mr. Ferrini’s often-stated view was similar to Ege’s, who believed that an appreciation for handmade books, such as medieval manuscripts, could best be fostered by breaking up the books into separate leaves and mounting these as works of art.
    Mr. Ferrini believed that, rather than focusing on whole books, the emphasis should be upon the illuminations, which he regarded as miniature paintings and works of art.
    Mr. Ferrini gradually realized there was a market for the small art works and built a successful business on it.
    He said his method was simple: buy a leaf, sell it for a profit, buy a better leaf. Sell several good leaves to buy one superb leaf. He also knew how to put together partnerships, temporary business arrangements that pooled funds to broker the larger deals.
    In 1987 at Christie’s auction house in London, Mr. Ferrini bought three ancient Bibles for $1.7 million, a purchase that stunned the art world. Almost overnight he had gone from a virtual unknown to a major player.
    Sotheby’s auction house called his collection of leaves the best in the world. He sold items to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles and donated some of his holdings to the Pierpont Morgan Library in Manhattan. He became the first collector of medieval manuscripts to be invited to display his works in Japan.
    ”Bruce was a brilliant businessman and one of the most dynamic and charismatic people I’ve ever met,” said Sandra Hindman, professor emerita of Art History at Northwestern University and owner of Les Enluminures (Paris) and Les Enluminures, Ltd. (Chicago). She has authored, co-authored or edited numerous books and articles on medieval manuscript illumination.
    ”I did business with Bruce off and on for 20 years, and I can say that he was an amazing person. There are people who think he was a genius. Certainly, he was very smart.
    ”At the top of his game there was nobody like Bruce. He made a big impact on the manuscript market in the 1980s and early 1990s,” she said.
    Mr. Ferrini ”opened up the market and appreciation to a group of people who otherwise could never have afforded the other, higher-end materials, who weren’t able to buy old codices, but who could afford single leaves,” said Roger Wieck, curator of medieval and renaissance manuscripts at the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City.
    ”One of those whose collection he made possible has now promised her collection to the Cleveland Museum of Art,” Wieck said.
    Hindman called Mr. Ferrini ”a big player, a leading figure.”
    ”He discovered things and developed clients, good clients who are still in the business today, many of them still very fond of him,” she said.
    Among the things Mr. Ferrini discovered and reported to authorities were shady dealings in the art world.
    In the summer of 1991, he contacted Italian authorities to report that five paintings he had purchased from a Swiss dealer were stolen from an Italian museum.
    Four years later, Mr. Ferrini blew the whistle on Anthony Melnikas, a retired Ohio State University professor who had been ripping rare leaves from books in the Vatican library. Melnikas eventually was sentenced to 14 months in jail for stealing from the Vatican’s own collection and from two church libraries in Spain.
    Helping to raise the alarm on Melnikas was Mr. Ferrini’s son, the late Matthew Ferrini, 14 years old at the time and a freshman at Western Reserve Academy in Hudson.
    After the Ferrinis visited Melnikas at his home in Columbus, Matt said he thought he had seen some of the manuscript leaves elsewhere and began looking through his school’s art library.
    Matt was right.
    After consulting with another art expert at Princeton, Mr. Ferrini contacted the Vatican, then U.S. customs, charging that Melnikas had stolen pages from the Vatican Library’s collection of works by Petrarch, a 14th-century scholar, poet and one of the earliest Renaissance humanists said by many to be one of the founders of the Italian Renaissance.
    This was the high point of his life. Both Mr. Ferrini and his son were recognized throughout the art world for having saved a cultural treasure.
    Six years later, it all came crashing down.
    On Oct. 27, 2001, at age 21, Matt Ferrini was discovered dead of a drug overdose in his bedroom by his father.
    Mr. Ferrini closed off his son’s rooms and refused to enter them. He donated artifacts in Matt’s name to Ashland Theological Seminary. Then, in November 2002, he announced a $6.8 million gift to Kent State University to be made in Matt’s name.
    Only $20,000 of that pledge was ever realized, and two years later, Mr. Ferrini would find himself under arrest in a dispute with his partners who had organized From The Dead Sea Scrolls to The Forbidden Book, a major exhibit at the John S. Knight Center.
    What no one realized at the time was that a year or so before Matt’s death, Mr. Ferrini had begun to show signs of a mysterious disease that at one point would be diagnosed as multiple sclerosis, a diagnosis that was later dismissed.
    As his son’s death began to take further toll on his health, he also began exhibiting increased signs of bipolar disorder.
    Then in 2005 Mr. Ferrini would file for bankruptcy protection. His house and possessions were seized, most of which was sold in an online auction, but because of the controversies surrounding Ferrini’s decline and fall, the majority of his holdings sold for a fraction of their value, according to family members.
    Those who knew him best say that had his mental and physical health not failed him, Mr. Ferrini’s arrest and bankruptcy would not have occurred.
    Despite his troubles, Mr. Ferrini’s long love affair with music remained untainted. At the time of his death, he had just finished cataloging more than 8,500 opera recordings, which he was in the process of uploading to an online database.
    He is survived by his father Gino Ferrini, his stepmother Florence, and his wife, Pamela.
    A private celebration of his life is planned for June.
    When Matt was a student at Old Trail School, Mr. Ferrini set up an art education fund there. Gifts can be made to Old Trail School in Memory of Bruce Ferrini for the Development of Young Artists, P.O. Box 827, Bath, OH 44210.

    Bruce Ferrini, one of the backers behind the Dead sea Scrolls production at the John S. Knight Center in 2004. Ferrini, 60, died of natural causes on Tuesday. (Akron Beacon Journal file photo)
    View more photos>> Akron ancient and medieval manuscripts dealer and internationally known expert on rare books, Bruce Ferrini, died Tuesday at his home in Fairlawn of natural causes.

    He was 60.

    The last nine years of Mr. Ferrini’s life saw an abrupt reversal of the storybook career he had carved out for himself in the rarefied market of ancient and medieval manuscripts.

    His decline began with the death of his son in 2001 and culminated in 2004 in a dispute over ownership of artifacts in a traveling exhibit on the Dead Sea Scrolls.

    Mr. Ferrini had a trained operatic voice, was regarded as one of the best doctoral candidates in physical anthropology to study at Boston University, had a black belt in karate and owned a string of martial arts studios in Massachusetts.

    He was a 300-game bowler and held multiple Ohio weightlifting titles in the dead lift.

    But it was in the area of rare manuscripts and antiquities where his name was best known.

    Born in Cleveland and raised in Ravenna, he was in elementary school when the principal announced at an assembly that he had made a perfect score on the annual IQ and Scholastic Aptitude tests.

    Mr. Ferrini recalled the event as being both surprising and embarrassing. He had no idea he was the smartest kid in his school. Plus, he was uncomfortable being in the spotlight.

    He didn’t mind the spotlight when singing.

    He held evening musicales at his home in Akron in later years, after he became both famous and wealthy, based on his expertise in the manuscript market.

    And he was always collecting.

    When he was 11, he started a coin-collecting business. Every Saturday he would take a little table to downtown Ravenna and set it up by the bank, where he would buy and sell coins.

    Mr. Ferrini was in high school when he saw his first illuminated manuscript at the Cleveland Museum of Art. It was love at first sight.

    He bought his first illuminated manuscript leaf for $14 at age 18 from the collection of Otto Ege at Publix Bookstore in the old Arcade building in downtown Cleveland.

    And like Ege, Mr. Ferrini is both credited and blamed for opening up the illuminated manuscript market by becoming a biblioclast, or book breaker — someone who breaks up books and manuscripts for the illustrations or illuminations (small paintings containing gold leaf) they contain.

    Individual pages of a manuscript are referred to as ”leaves.”

    Mr. Ferrini’s often-stated view was similar to Ege’s, who believed that an appreciation for handmade books, such as medieval manuscripts, could best be fostered by breaking up the books into separate leaves and mounting these as works of art.

    Mr. Ferrini believed that, rather than focusing on whole books, the emphasis should be upon the illuminations, which he regarded as miniature paintings and works of art.

    Mr. Ferrini gradually realized there was a market for the small art works and built a successful business on it.

    He said his method was simple: buy a leaf, sell it for a profit, buy a better leaf. Sell several good leaves to buy one superb leaf. He also knew how to put together partnerships, temporary business arrangements that pooled funds to broker the larger deals.

    In 1987 at Christie’s auction house in London, Mr. Ferrini bought three ancient Bibles for $1.7 million, a purchase that stunned the art world. Almost overnight he had gone from a virtual unknown to a major player.

    Sotheby’s auction house called his collection of leaves the best in the world. He sold items to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles and donated some of his holdings to the Pierpont Morgan Library in Manhattan. He became the first collector of medieval manuscripts to be invited to display his works in Japan.

    ”Bruce was a brilliant businessman and one of the most dynamic and charismatic people I’ve ever met,” said Sandra Hindman, professor emerita of Art History at Northwestern University and owner of Les Enluminures (Paris) and Les Enluminures, Ltd. (Chicago). She has authored, co-authored or edited numerous books and articles on medieval manuscript illumination.

    ”I did business with Bruce off and on for 20 years, and I can say that he was an amazing person. There are people who think he was a genius. Certainly, he was very smart.

    ”At the top of his game there was nobody like Bruce. He made a big impact on the manuscript market in the 1980s and early 1990s,” she said.

    Mr. Ferrini ”opened up the market and appreciation to a group of people who otherwise could never have afforded the other, higher-end materials, who weren’t able to buy old codices, but who could afford single leaves,” said Roger Wieck, curator of medieval and renaissance manuscripts at the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City.

    ”One of those whose collection he made possible has now promised her collection to the Cleveland Museum of Art,” Wieck said.

    Hindman called Mr. Ferrini ”a big player, a leading figure.”

    ”He discovered things and developed clients, good clients who are still in the business today, many of them still very fond of him,” she said.

    Among the things Mr. Ferrini discovered and reported to authorities were shady dealings in the art world.

    In the summer of 1991, he contacted Italian authorities to report that five paintings he had purchased from a Swiss dealer were stolen from an Italian museum.

    Four years later, Mr. Ferrini blew the whistle on Anthony Melnikas, a retired Ohio State University professor who had been ripping rare leaves from books in the Vatican library. Melnikas eventually was sentenced to 14 months in jail for stealing from the Vatican’s own collection and from two church libraries in Spain.

    Helping to raise the alarm on Melnikas was Mr. Ferrini’s son, the late Matthew Ferrini, 14 years old at the time and a freshman at Western Reserve Academy in Hudson.

    After the Ferrinis visited Melnikas at his home in Columbus, Matt said he thought he had seen some of the manuscript leaves elsewhere and began looking through his school’s art library.

    Matt was right.

    After consulting with another art expert at Princeton, Mr. Ferrini contacted the Vatican, then U.S. customs, charging that Melnikas had stolen pages from the Vatican Library’s collection of works by Petrarch, a 14th-century scholar, poet and one of the earliest Renaissance humanists said by many to be one of the founders of the Italian Renaissance.

    This was the high point of his life. Both Mr. Ferrini and his son were recognized throughout the art world for having saved a cultural treasure.

    Six years later, it all came crashing down.

    On Oct. 27, 2001, at age 21, Matt Ferrini was discovered dead of a drug overdose in his bedroom by his father.

    Mr. Ferrini closed off his son’s rooms and refused to enter them. He donated artifacts in Matt’s name to Ashland Theological Seminary. Then, in November 2002, he announced a $6.8 million gift to Kent State University to be made in Matt’s name.

    Only $20,000 of that pledge was ever realized, and two years later, Mr. Ferrini would find himself under arrest in a dispute with his partners who had organized From The Dead Sea Scrolls to The Forbidden Book, a major exhibit at the John S. Knight Center.

    What no one realized at the time was that a year or so before Matt’s death, Mr. Ferrini had begun to show signs of a mysterious disease that at one point would be diagnosed as multiple sclerosis, a diagnosis that was later dismissed.

    As his son’s death began to take further toll on his health, he also began exhibiting increased signs of bipolar disorder.

    Then in 2005 Mr. Ferrini would file for bankruptcy protection. His house and possessions were seized, most of which was sold in an online auction, but because of the controversies surrounding Ferrini’s decline and fall, the majority of his holdings sold for a fraction of their value, according to family members.

    Those who knew him best say that had his mental and physical health not failed him, Mr. Ferrini’s arrest and bankruptcy would not have occurred.

    Despite his troubles, Mr. Ferrini’s long love affair with music remained untainted. At the time of his death, he had just finished cataloging more than 8,500 opera recordings, which he was in the process of uploading to an online database.

    He is survived by his father Gino Ferrini, his stepmother Florence, and his wife, Pamela.

    A private celebration of his life is planned for June.

    When Matt was a student at Old Trail School, Mr. Ferrini set up an art education fund there. Gifts can be made to Old Trail School in Memory of Bruce Ferrini for the Development of Young Artists, P.O. Box 827, Bath, OH 44210.

  36. Roger Pearse

    Thank you for this. Is there a URL? It’s not clear where this obituary comes from, you see.

  37. Matthew Hamilton

    Does anybody know what will happen to the various lawsuits against Bruce Ferini, or what will happen to his collections (includes frgs. of Gospel of Judas, Exodus, and Dead Sea Scrolls)

    Matthew Hamilton

  38. David Brown

    The URL for the Ferrini obituary is:
    http://www.ohio.com/news/93815284.html

  39. Roger Pearse

    Many thanks!

  40. stephane lanza

    salut michel,ca fait un moment qu on s est plus vu ,que deviens tu? un abbrazzo

  41. David Brown

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/03/arts/design/03curator.html?scp=1&sq=princeton%20&%20antiquities&st=cse

    This is a story that would have broken first on VR.com when Michel was on his game. Now we have to wait years for the NY Times to break it. Stil,l break it they did. I knew a couple of the perps from my NYC days. Bad news then and now.

    Italy Focuses on a Princeton Curator in an Antiquities Investigation
    By HUGH EAKIN

    It has been five years since a former curator of the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles went on trial in Rome for conspiring to traffic in stolen antiquities. The case has become a cornerstone of Italy’s aggressive campaign to recover ancient treasures from around the United States and has led major American museums to make their peace with the Italian government. As the museums have relinquished dozens of artworks that Italy claims were looted, receiving loans of other objects in exchange, officials on both sides have talked about a new era of collaboration.

    But now an Italian investigation of a second American museum curator, in a case involving similar allegations of criminal conspiracy, seems likely to upend assumptions about any rapprochement. According to a 14-page legal notice from the public prosecutor’s office in Rome, J. Michael Padgett, 56, antiquities curator at the Princeton University Museum of Art, is a focus of a criminal investigation of “the illegal export and laundering” of Italian archaeological objects.

    Once again an American may be facing a drawn-out legal ordeal, and at least the hypothetical threat of incarceration in a foreign country, for acquiring art for a museum — something that was unheard of before the Getty case, and that many museum professionals believed was not going to happen again.

    Also named in the case are a former New York antiquities dealer, Edoardo Almagià, 59, and two other co-defendants. The document identifies nearly two dozen works and groups of works — among them pieces of a calyx krater attributed to the Attic vase painter Euphronios and a group of Etruscan architectural terra-cottas — that it describes as having been looted from Italian sites and “sold, donated or lent” by Mr. Almagià to the Princeton museum through Mr. Padgett from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s. According to Princeton nine of these works are in the museum’s collection.

    The document also lists about 20 pieces, including vases, bronzes and sculptures that it says Mr. Almagià obtained illegally and sold to other American institutions in the 1980s and 1990s, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Cleveland Museum of Art; the Dallas Museum of Art; the San Antonio Museum of Art; the Toledo Museum of Art; the Tampa Museum of Art; and the Indiana University Art Museum in Bloomington. And it claims that several vase fragments of illicit provenance were “sold and/or donated” on unspecified dates to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

    The document, dated March 9, 2010, was provided to The New York Times by someone with close knowledge of the case who asked not to be identified because the charges had not been made public. It reflects the findings of a preliminary investigation by Italian prosecutors and does not constitute a formal request to a judge to move the case to court. But as a formal notification to the defendants, it indicates that a criminal proceeding is under way and advises the defendants of their rights, setting the stage for a possible trial.

    It is unknown whether Italy will request the return of any of the listed pieces at Princeton and other museums, although it has succeeded in recent years at getting American institutions to hand over dozens of antiquities mentioned in Italian judicial proceedings.

    Reached by telephone, Mr. Padgett said he was innocent of any wrongdoing and referred all questions to Princeton University. Cass Cliatt, a spokeswoman for Princeton, said the university was aware of the investigation but had not received any communication from Italy about the case. “We are conducting our own investigation and looking into the various elements of the documentation” that has been served to Mr. Padgett, Ms. Cliatt said.

    In a telephone interview from Rome, Mr. Almagià, a Princeton alumnus who was a supporter of the museum in the 1990s while working as a dealer in New York, called the charges “absolutely ridiculous.” He said he has been “harassed” by Italian authorities for many years, but has not been dealing in antiquities since taking up residence in Italy some eight years ago.

    The document from the prosecutor’s office does not specify on what evidence the charges are based, though it appears to draw partly on sales invoices and provenance documents used by Mr. Almagià and various companies and people described as intermediaries. It also mentions archaeological material confiscated by United States Customs officials from Mr. Almagià’s New York apartment in the fall of 2006.

    Francesco Ciardi, the prosecutor in charge of the case, declined to comment on it, but said that American authorities had offered “excellent collaboration” in the investigation.

    The criminal proceeding against Mr. Padgett comes as a particular surprise following a series of agreements between American museums and the Italian government to resolve antiquities disputes. Among those museums was Princeton, which in October 2007 agreed to relinquish eight antiquities in exchange for Italian loans and new forms of bilateral cooperation.

    Along with similar deals struck by the Met; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Getty; and the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Princeton-Italy agreement was signed against the menacing backdrop of the trial in Rome of the former Getty curator Marion True. That case, in which Ms. True was charged with criminal association with two antiquities dealers who sold millions of dollars’ worth of allegedly illegal antiquities to many museums in the 1980s and ’90s, has not reached a verdict in the five years since it went to trial. But it has destroyed Ms. True’s career, fueled a major upheaval at the Getty and brought a chill over the collecting activities of museums across the country.

    Though the agreements by Princeton and other museums did not explicitly rule out future Italian investigations of museum dealings, they were widely seen as ending the threat of further legal action against American museum staff members.

    “I’m rather shocked,” said Philippe de Montebello, the former director of the Met, on being informed of the investigation of Mr. Padgett. In early 2006, shortly after Ms. True’s case went to trial, Mr. de Montebello negotiated an agreement with Italy to give up the treasured Euphronios krater and other classical artworks at the Met in exchange for long-term loans. “My understanding was Marion True was it, they weren’t going to do this anymore,” he said.

    Since those agreements, Mr. de Montebello and other museum leaders say, discussions with Italy have largely moved from settling grievances of years past to developing new ways to protect archaeological sites. On Friday in Rome, Michael Conforti, the outgoing president of the Association of Art Museum Directors and the director of the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Mass., met with officials from the Italian Culture Ministry to discuss a request by the association to expand the long-term antiquities loans that have coincided with the restitution deals.

    “The Italians have said that relations with Cleveland, Boston, the Getty — the big, object-rich institutions — have never been better,” Mr. Conforti said.

    But as with the association’s current discussions, the museums’ counterparty in those deals was the Culture Ministry, which is formally separate from the prosecutor’s office. According to Italian law, a prosecutor has a duty to pursue a case if there is evidence that criminal offenses occurred.

    The document from the prosecutor’s office said that Mr. Padgett “put the structure of Princeton University Museum of Art and his scientific expertise at Almagià’s disposal, increasing the value of the objects with the attribution of authorship, despite the fact that he knew the illicit trade of the artifacts he examined.” It went on to say that he “also put at Almagià’s disposal his important contacts in other museums and American collections.” However, the document added, the allegations of criminal conduct against Mr. Padgett were related only to the artworks mentioned in connection with the Princeton museum.

    It was not immediately clear how defense lawyers plan to respond to the charges, but the fact that many of the transactions cited happened over a decade ago may be a key issue. The most recent Princeton acquisition identified by the prosecutor appears to be a sixth-century B.C. Attic vase sold to the museum in 2001, although the prosecution document alleges that the conspiracy operated from the 1980s “up to Dec. 14, 2006.”

    According to Italian law, prosecution of a conspiracy — defined as when three or more individuals form an association to engage in criminal activity over a period of time — can carry statutes of limitations of a decade or more, depending on the severity of the crime and whether there are other related offenses.

    Since the Getty signed a pact with Italy in 2007, however, the case against Ms. True has seemed to become bogged down in the sluggish Italian legal system, and lawyers for Ms. True could seek to have the case dismissed on the grounds that the statute of limitations has expired. Any such motion would be filed when the case resumes on Oct. 13.

    But the Getty is still fighting a court battle in Italy over another prized object in its collection, the Getty Bronze, a statute called “Victorious Youth” that it acquired in 1977. And with Mr. Padgett now in the sights of prosecutors in Rome, it appears that Italy is wagering it can keep up its legal offensive against American curators while continuing to rebuild cultural relations with American museums.

    Paolo Giorgio Ferri, the longtime lead prosecutor against Ms. True who had been running the investigation of Mr. Almagià until his transfer to another position earlier this year, declined to comment on the Padgett case. But when asked why a case was being pursued against another American curator, he said, “When the facts demand it, we have to act.”

    Elisabetta Povoledo contributed reporting from Rome.

  42. Danny

    I have an orig manuscript of “Hot art Cold
    Cash” and was wondering how i could donate or sell it to someone who may appreciate it . It is dated 1989.

  43. Roger Pearse

    It’s hard getting rid of books. eBay?

  44. Roger Pearse

    An email came in from Michelle Williams related to this, on the Bitti Altar from Challapampa:

    I have been trying to find out if the altar ever made it back to Peru. I wrote a long comment on your blog only to have it ‘die’ in cyberspace when I tried to send it.

    I followed Michel’s very helpful website all during the investigation going on here in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Michel had included not only a wonderful picture of the 1000+ lb. altar, but the Challapampa church and the atar in place. On the recovery of the altar from the Messick Gallery, I visited the gallery on Canyon Road now in sole ownership of Messick’s partner, Messick having died by that time. His partner had turned over the altar to the feds.

    I was creating extensive curriculum on Peru focusing on law-related issues; this issue was perfect. It required extensive understanding of the geography, the culture, the history which led to why such an important altar by the famous Bitti was built on this tiny island in Lake Titicaca which, of course, had to do with the site being of great importance to the Incas. It also went into international law because of the UNIESCO antiquities treaties to which both the U.S. and Peru are signatories. It was all a perfect way to parallel the Spanish influence in New Mexico with that of Peru.

    I visited the gallery owned solely by Messick’s partner after Messick’s death. I had talked with a friend who some time earlier had actually seen the altar in Messick’s house on Canyon Road. I had initially begun following the story through a series in the Albquerque Journal written by an excellent reporter after the feds had “found” it in the Messick Santa Fe NM gallery. I then found Michel’s now defunct website. It was wonderful for my purposes. And through your blog, I discovered the role of David Brown. To Michel, David and the reporter, I give my very sincere thanks.

    However, the story ended for me when the altar sat in El Paso awaiting it’s return and a planned exhibition of it in Houston. I have been left with three questions over these years.

    1) What was the route used to smuggle the altar out of Peru having been in storage during the renovation of the church? And is one to assume a payoff of Peruvians hired to protect their antiquities? Michel did accuse one on his website.

    2) Was the altar returned to Challapampa or is it in Lima? I do hope it is in the former.

    3) How does the provenance of a piece of such a size and singularity become faked? Is it all pay-off by the greedy? Is the price such that there is no way to preserve the cultural/historical heritage of these antiquities for all those wuo come after us?

    4) Anything else that one can flesh out for me. It is an incredible story worthy of further sharing in story form — intrigue, cultural, historical and international relevance of great importance. Thanks again to Michel, David and the Alb. Journal reporter.

  45. David Brown

    Dear Michelle Williams,

    In answer of you questions:

    1) We never learned how it was smuggled out of Peru although US Customs did know exactly when the piece entered the US. There was another party that ‘fronted’ for the relief in Arizona who was never prosecuted. Apparently he cooperated with the government. We were audited by the IRS twice in a three year period immediatly following the relief repatriation. (They got bupkis because we don’t cheat on our taxes unlike all those blogged about.)

    2) I think the altar went back to Challapampa. We were completely written out of the repatriation ceremonies in Washington, DC and in Lima Peru. Just as well as I had nothing nice to say at the time about anyone on the government side of the case. We went through a year of hell dealing with the incompetent disinterested officials (at one point we were given by Customs a broken tape recorder in which to record calls with Mr. Messick Law Enfocement apparently thought anyone doing the right thing had to be a perp themselves and should be treated as such. This was actually stated to us much later by way of an apology A friend of the perps tried to gain access to our apartment in NYC under false pretenses and there was no one (NO ONE) at US Customs to talk to because it was being reorganized into ICE. Tried to talk to the FBI but they weren’t interested – and the US attorney told us ‘sadly,’ you are on your own. I did learn a lot about law enforcement (example 7,000 US Customs agents then and thirteen thousand ‘Brownies’ handing out parking tickets in NYC) and in the future barring Michel’s blessed return/reincarnation I would simply put he whole story up on the interent myself. Name every name and let the chips fall where they may…I would also insist on a reward because ‘doing the right thing’ is very time consuming and quite risky. (I might add that we now live in a home that is – how to say it – ‘well defended.’ I would also insist on know how any case I was going to do the right thin on was prioritized and exactly how many agents were being assigned to it.

    Alas Santa Fe still is a repository of smuggled, stolen and fake Spanish Colonial works, Icons and Asian Jade et all. The Feds have no interesr however…The FBI told me: ‘who is hurt when someone buys a fake?’ Actually I am cause I deal real things and can’t compete against tax cheats and smugglers.

    3)The provenance on the relief was an obvious fake…Lots of dead people were the previous owners. This is typical. Provenance (faked) allows the perps to make drug dealer profits without taking any substantial risk. Very small penalty if caught. (Although I did have an actual ear splitting grin on my face the day Mr. Messick died) That one good day almost made the whole thing worth it.

    4) It is quite a story that never really got told. Because of my leaking to Michel I was threatened with obstruction of justice in the office of the US attorney in Manhattan. I would say what my internal/instinctual reaction was but I would just start trouble all over again. I did come to understand the term ‘homocide on the heart’ however. I might add that I had 2 IRS audits in 3 years as a result of my blogging as Boils. But all this was then. In the end most of the right stuff happened. But to anyone thinking about ‘doing the right thing’ remember ‘the messenger gets shot.’ Although it does make for some good story telling.

    If you are a great writer contact me through http://www.museumplanet.com

  46. Martin

    True Mr. David Brown, all very true what you say… I worked with Bruce Ferrini at the time and witnessed Van Rijn in action… true that you tipped Van Rijn off… I am sure that he is still very grateful as he was at the time when he wired you $10 000 for your tip… but remind me please…

    Who tricked Ron Messick & Rodrigo Rivero Lake and who had the balls to force the FBI into action and who went to Peru on his own expense to get the Peruvian Church and State involved… funny I do not read ‘his’ name in that context… if you remember ‘that’ person then kindly let us know.

    Congrats! Of all the David Browns in the world, you’re the David Browniest. A real hero! Only wishing Michel Van Rijn was here. Indeed Mr. Brown like you, I am also waiting for and hoping on the resurrection of Van Rijn. God bless.

  47. David Brown

    Martin,

    Such a compliment…FYI: The FBI was never involved. They refused to be…Actually they were/are total idiots when it comes to art fraud – their endless press releases aside…FYI: I think it is clear that Michel was a good reporter in his own right…FYI: it was US Customs that got Peru involved and the church was not a player at all in this…I have a hunch I knew the most about the Bitti relief as it was I that made the rounds of law enforcement.And Michel’s money to me (reported to the IRS by the way) was long before the Bitti…

    Are you jealous you were neither Michel or I?

    I was hardly a hero. Just defending my business: http://www.spanishcolonial.com Had I been a hero I would have punched some jof the perps and others out…Hmm going foreward I have some ideas…

    Since you worked with Mr. Ferrini perhaps you can tell us the story behind his bankruptcy?

    Hmmmm……..why do I think I’m talking to Michel…..

  48. michel van rijn

    Hi David, it has been a while. Hope you, the lovely Valerie and all the stray cats are well. Good memories. About the above: I vaguely remember a guy called Martin. We had some drinks one night in the sparkling nightlife of Akron. I must have made quite a fool out of myself (what else is new?) possibly that is why surprisingly this guy still remembers me. Why to blow your top. It is true however that I had many meetings with the FBI during my stay with Bruce. God bless his tormented soul. Most of the Peruvian officials are so crooked that they can’t lay straight in bed. I would not worry about who did what with the Bitti altar. We all did our part. Alive and kicking I live with- and for my two gremlins. It does not mean however that I am dead from the neck down. NEVER FORGIVE NEVER FORGET. It took me years but soon some old scores will be settled in a very BIG WAY. American Justice ;-))) I might have been out of contact for years, please do not hold it against me, but you and Valerie have always been in my heart. Un fuerte abrazo michel

  49. Michelle Williams

    Yes, Michel, many did their part with the Bitti altar, but please do tell us what you know about the return of the altar to Peru. Where did it end up? And how, or I should say, what route was used to get it out of Peru. If anybody knows the rest of the story, I’m sure you do. Don’t be coy by discussing settling old scores. Please do tell us what you know about getting the altar out and and where it has been returned.

  50. David Brown

    Michel, You doglet…email me through http://www.museumplanet.com…a business that just may work…think iPad app….Thought for a moment Martin was U…good to hear from you…And please answer Michelle above…she seems not to read/hear…

    I live in Denver now…far from maddening dear home for mosta my life NYC…but the smae bastardos still run the art biz…See fraudster with tons of fake sculpture Peyton W…Right in Santa Fe (fake) dot com…He sold a load of fakes to the Omaha Neb. RC Cathedral FAKES…FAKES…FAKES…with a goosy goosy nasty bro in charge of buying..and got away with it….When I contacted the crooked, stupid, incompetent illiterate rat skime at the FBI…(yet another IRS audit fer sure for saying that) they asked me who the victim was. Can you believe it….The skumbags…I woulda punched the chicklet agent out…and done the jail time gleefully….but it was all on the tellyphone…and not taped …as I shoulda done…You are needed dear M….NOW MORE THAN EVER….. NOW MORE THAN EVER….. NOW MORE THAN EVER…..

  51. michel van rijn

    Dearest David,

    So nice to hear ‘your voice’. Never thought it could happen that I would miss the website as well. Time to team up again? ;-) BTW Have you heard the one about Sotheby’s?

    ‘A Princely Collection – Treasures from the Islamic World’

    Quote: The Princely Collection comprises an impressive array of major objects, some without parallel at auction, offering a unique opportunity for private collectors and museums to acquire works of exceptional rarity and importance. Unquote
    http://www.sothebys.com/app/paddleReg/paddlereg.do
    dispatch=eventDetails&event_id=30342

    Sure and I am the Pope of Rome. Ever heard of the mega rich good doctor, collector-dealer: Dr. Nasser D. Khalili? Who as a Jew got the doubtful title ‘Prince of Islam’ behested on him by Mecca? No?

    Well that’s what the core of the ‘Princely Collection’ at Sotheby’s is all about. Selling the hyped up drags of the Emperor’s new cloth. Chutzpah to the Prince! Sotheby’s coining it in yet again.

    talk to you soon dear David

    un fuerte abrazo

    michel

  52. michel van rijn

    David,

    More regarding the princely collection at Sotheby’s

    http://www.sothebys.com/app/paddleReg/paddlereg.do?dispatch=eventDetails&event_id=30342

    As for the ‘Princely’ collection, many of the pieces were published by the Khalili Gallery list in Clifford Street in 1981, however the sotheby’s catalogue contains also other things which were not originally there. Sotheby’s have stated that the collection does not belong to Khalili,but admit the provenance of the Khalili Beg catalogue (HUH) the speculation is that the ‘others’ might belong to Prince Jefrie of Brunei and that he was a backer of the Khalili Nour foundation. Prince Jefrie is said to owe his brother zillions so we might assume that it is a cleverly cloaked instrument to sell part of his holdings. Getting solid facts are difficult as obviously Sotheby’s holds the keys. It is definitely not Oliver Hoare or the other Sotheby’s regulars. It is vintage Khalili foundation and its connection with Sotheby’s.

    regards,

    michel
    [Edited to fix the link. I added "said to be" in a couple of places - RP]

  53. Roger Pearse

    All very interesting stuff – thank you. It’s nice to hear from you, Michel (if it is really you!).

    Because the UK is the venue of choice for the international creep to launch his libel actions, we do need to be careful what we state as fact here. A couple of suggestions:

    DON’T say anything that will get me sued, such as “XYZ is a thief”. Do USE those useful circumlocutions like “might”, “is said to be”, “could be”.

    Remember: always practice safe grammar. :)

  54. David Brown

    The following is edited for reasons of libel:

    1) The Omaha Nebraska Cathedral (St. Cecelia)has a load of ‘old’ Spanish Colonial art that is questionable. When contacted the Cathedral and Omaha Diocese about this the door was slammed hard. It was all bought from a certain dealer in Santa Fe, NM known for selling questionable art….When contacted the director of the Omaha Museum (Joslyn Art Museum) whose wife was on the selection committee for the Cathedral he immediately began to spin…He has since left he museum.The ‘art’ still hangs. It was all purchased with public tax deductable contributions.

    This same Santa Fe dealer through his Omaha clerical shill/sock puppet is also responsible for art (don’t know how much – but at least one possible fake)in the new Oakland RC Cathedral. The FBI asked the contacting party who the victim was when a complaint was made. No victim the FBI said. How about the taxpayeers who have to pay more because of the charitable contributions? Duh. When one talks to a stupid and likely crooked donkey learn to bray.

    2) So the game continues – why not when there are drug dealer profits and absolutely no law enforcement.(these same idiots are chasing terrorists? then may god help us all) If only M would make peace (with himself?) and return. He is needed now more than ever…

    3) Is anything sold as ‘old’ in Santa Fe actually old Example: Icons, Jade, Tang Dynastyy Horses, early anything?

    4) One prominent (in his mind) ex-FBI agent, who specialized in art fraud,was very recently shilling and running up huge bills for a central states gallery (quite in the news -just Bing around) that perhaps specialized in cheating vacationers who liked sea cruises. This same biped is now a private specialist in recovering art and helping those defrauded. If one were to ask me..there ought to be a public punch out. Hey most laws are clearly not enforced so just choose to obey all except the ‘punch-out’ laws?

    If only M would make peace (with himself?) and return. He is needed now more than ever…he is needed NOW MORE THAN EVER…But all things run their course. Alas the monkey’s still have the dynamite.

    The opinions expressed above are not my own but were actually encapsulated by Moses when God gave him the Ten Commandments.

  55. David Brown

    See this web site for some interesting fraud info: http://fineartadvocacyfoundation.com/

  56. David Brown

    What follows is not shocking. It is just what happens when you are a Getty employee. Maybe Marion and Barry Munitz can teach art law to the FBI? Likely Michel will have some comments………..

    October 13 LA Times
    Culture Monster
    All the Arts, All the Time
    « Previous | Culture Monster Home | Next »

    Charges dismissed against ex-Getty curator Marion True by Italian judge
    October 13, 2010 | 9:47 am
    The groundbreaking criminal trial of former Getty Museum antiquities curator Marion True ended in a bureaucratic whimper Wednesday in Rome when the judged ended the proceedings, ruling that the statute of limitations had expired on the criminal charges that she had conspired to traffic in looted art.

    True was charged by an Italian prosecutor in 2005, marking the first time an American museum official had been criminally charged by a foreign government.

    True’s attorney, Francesco Isolabella, said in an interview after the ruling that his client was innocent.

    True’s co-defendant Giacomo Medici was convicted on related charges and his conviction was twice upheld on appeal. Robert Hecht, another co-defendant, remains on trial as the alleged head of the conspiracy, but the statute of limitations on his charges will expire in July.

    The developments mark an end to a legal saga that has had a profound affect on American museums. True, while a curator at the Getty, aggressively sought out antiquities for the museum, including the renowned statue of Aphrodite, that turned out have dubious origins.

    It began in 1995 when authorities raided Medici’s warehouse and found Polaroid photographs of hundreds of recently looted antiquities. Those objects were traced to museums across the United States, Europe and Asia.

    True had dealings with Medici and his business partner, Robert Hecht. The acquisition of the private collection of Lawrence and Barbara Fleischman in 1996 of more than 300 antiquities marked the peak of the Getty’s collecting period, and would later form the core of the Italian prosecutor’s charges.

    Her indictment in 2005 came amid a sweeping Italian investigation into looted antiquities that had been traced to a half-dozen American museums as well as museums in Europe and Asia. Over the five years that her trial spanned, American museums, one by one, forged agreements with Italian authorities, returning more than 100 looted antiquities in exchange for loans and cultural cooperation with the Italian government.

    The Getty has since adopted one of the strictest acquisition policies in the country, refusing to purchase antiquities that did not have a clear ownership history. The association of U.S. art museum directors adopted a similar policy not long after, marking a dramatic change in the collecting practice in America’s leading museums.

    The last acquisition alleged by the prosecution came in 2002 and the statute of limitations expired in July. Prosecutor Pallo Ferri alleged that the conspiracy between Hecht, Medici and True continued until April 2002, the date of a letter between True and Hecht. Under that analysis, the crime expired in July.

    Wednesday’s ruling came in response to a motion by True’s attorneys arguing that the last remaining charge against her, conspiracy to traffic in looted art related to the Fleischman acquisition, had expired in March 2007. The judge said that this marks an end for Marion True in this trial.

    She has since become an outspoken critic of the way museums used to acquire antiquities. In her one interview with the press, True told a reporter for the New Yorker that she was innocent and argued that she had done more to further the Italian cause than any other curator in America.

    –Jason Felch

  57. michel van rijn

    Marion True was just a (big ;-) vehicle. From the start the prosecutor were not really interested to incarcerate her… same for Robert Hecht who anyway due to his age under Italian law cannot be incarcerated. Medici is a different story, but is very wealthy and extremely good connected. The Italian GOV kept their eyes on the ball during the trial. From the start it was all political, much to the frustration of some dedicated officers of the Carabinieri. They would have loved to put her fat arse behind bars. But there was not only Shelby White-Getty, but also the Metropolitan, Boston, Princeton, Cleveland museum etc. In the end the Italians played their cards well and got more or less what they wanted. Who cares if this woman does time or not. Her reputation is tarnished and finished. She was banged to rights in Italy and Greece, whatever she claims today. Art is forever, Marion who?

    Behind closed doors during the trial in Rome numerous deals were cut in many directions…

    Marion True at this time taking the moral high ground is hilarious and entertaining… did you know that Jeffrey Dahmer was innocent?

    Marion also worked hand in glove with Robin Symes and even sat down in Rome in the shop of the Fiorentini brothers to have lunch with the tombaroli they controlled.

    Dear David, do not tell me you are surprised with the outcome of the trial. You are a big boy and witnessed class justice in the art world on more then one occasion.

    Do you like this one?

    Christie’s is not much better then Sotheby’s (Ear-Dagger) in quoting provenance’s in their Islamic Sale catalogues

    take the 10 million dollar vase-carpet for instance

    http://tiny.cc/3n5hd

    I alerted the Financial Times at the time as the carpet was sold a short while before for peanuts ($23000) at a dodgy auction house (George Rehm) in Augsburg

    http://tiny.cc/a5x67

    I wondered why… was it to whitewash? Could it have been looted during WWII?

    Nobody looked into it… they just took my information and printed it in the Financial Times

  58. michel van rijn

    war loot serious comes to mind

    why else wrote christie’s about Martine Marie Pol Quote: ‘Much of the collection was dispersed in two sales at her death in 1927 and 1928′ Unquote

    see Christie’s:http://tiny.cc/1nx1b

    this is absolutely incorrect as Martine Marie Pol died on the 26th of January 1939

    http://tiny.cc/4i60q

    you do the math!

  59. David Brown

    “Dear David, do not tell me you are surprised with the outcome of the trial.”

    Not a bit Michel…in fact I think I didn’t tell you …I found Jesus…and because of that that I have I discovered how much I love crucifixions. Ritual slaughters too…

  60. Gorgona from Koresnica

    Dear Michel van Rijn,

    go the following site and see the comments…
    best and thanks

    http://lootingmatters.blogspot.com/2008/02/bronze-krater-from-republic-of.html

  61. Roger Pearse

    Gents, I’m going to have close comments on this thread. I’m afraid that while there are undoubtedly many dodgy characters involved in the art world, this is not the place to expose them. Sorry about that.



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