Italy's culture minister said Friday he was confident the government had sufficient proof to compel the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to return some key artifacts officials say were looted. Italy now knows what the museum considers "adequate" documentation and can meet those standards for a sixth-century B.C. painted Greek vase, known as the Eurphronios Krater, and the ancient Greek Morgantina silver collection, Culture Minister Rocco Buttiglione said.
"We know what the Metropolitan regards as adequate documentation and we think we can provide them with it," Buttiglione said. The minister met last month with Met director Philippe de Montebello to discuss the disputed artifacts that Italian authorities claim were illegally looted. According to Buttiglione, de Montebello said in the meeting that he was prepared to ask the museum's board of trustees to return the artifacts if there was conclusive evidence that they were illegally smuggled from Italy.
"Now we're waiting for a definitive answer (from the museum)," the minister said, adding that it could come in January. He said the fact that he had met with de Montebello and discussed the criteria for returning the antiquities amounted to a "substantial step forward." Italian authorities increasingly are trying to crack down on antiquities trafficking and recover artifacts they contend were illegally stolen or exported from Italy and sold to European and U.S. museums.
The effort has also resulted in the trial in Rome of a former curator of California's J. Paul Getty Museum, Marion True, accused of knowingly purchasing looted artifacts. True has denied any wrongdoing. Buttiglione suggested that if the Met acknowledges that the artifacts in question were looted, the pieces,or equivalent works,could be left at the museum on loan, reports the AP. N.U.