The Medici Polaroids: Again, Madrid

There was an article in yesterday's Messagerio, Antichita’: I tesori che l'Italia non rivendica, available here (go to 21.04.2012), which again brought up the Madrid National Archaeological Museum having vases in it's collection which appear in the Polaroids seized from Giacomo Medici and other antiquities dealers. The Museum is currently closed for renovations, but much of the collection is online.

Although many of the items Medici and his ilk photographed when they passed through their hands turned out to be looted, and went back to Greece and Italy (Turkey is currently pressing claims), other items had entirely kosher collecting histories with some that went back to before 1970.
I have no idea what the situation is with the Madrid items.

The photo above, illustrating The Art Newspaper story Looted from Italy and now in a major Spanish museum? last summer, but the same author, Fabio Isman, is not helpful without more information (I can however confirm many of the claims he makes in the article).

I would say, and this is just an opinion based on my experience, that the second vase was freshly dug up as old collections tend not to have that kind of incrustation left on vases. The other vases do not look freshly dug up, but the tiles in the Polaroid of the fourth photo indicate that it was taken in the kitchen of a well known restorer - he may simply have been restoring a vase from an old collection, and not cleaning off incrustation from millenia if being in a tomb. Vases 1, 3 and 4 looking in keeping with restoration typical of art dealers. Vase 2 looks as if it came straight out of the ground.

It seems that Italy has not been shy about claiming back items they believe to have been looted, and Spain has been taking a hard stance against looters, so we shall just have to wait and see how the situation is resolved.

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