ITALIA ARCHEOLOGICA & RESTAURO ARCHITETTURA: Over 5000 Italian artifacts | valued at $58 million USD Recovered – A record haul of rare antiquities? Or A farce | publicity stunt by the MIBACT’s Min. Dario Franceschini?; see: the MIBACT, THE NEW YORK TIMES & THE GUARDIAN, U.K., (21 January 2015).
Rome – 21 January 2015. With the recent announcement by Dario Franceschini, Italy’s Minister of Culture, that the “Carabinieri’ – Italy’s paramilitary police force, recovering roughly 5,361 vases, bronze statues, frescoes and other items valued at about $58 million, allegedly stolen by art dealer Gianfranco Becchina.
Although, the operation “OPERAZIONE TESEO” lead by the ‘Carabinieri’, may seem as a success to Min. Dario Franceschini of the MIBACT. One has to question the both the timing of Min. Franceschini announcement of the recovery of the artifacts, as well as the overall scope of Sig. Becchina long-term looting of artifacts throughout Southern Italy and Sicily. This is also considering, the announcement of several recent initiatives by Min. Franceschini regarding the new management & administration of various departments of the MIBACT, now open to foreigners (1); and the announcement of the opening of the future new Museum of antiquities in Herculaneum, Italy? (2).
As for Sig. “Gianfranco Becchina and his wife, Ursula Juraschek,” according to THE GUARDIAN, U.K., 21 Jan. 2015, Sig. becchina, is “accused by prosecutors of being part of an antiquities trafficking network that involved “tombaroli” tomb raiders in southern Italy, dealers and buyers around the globe (3). Yet, Mr. Gianfranco Becchina & Mrs. Ursula Juraschek, have been actively running a successful Italian Villa in Sicily, selling olive oil, and a variety of Sicilian (Italian [reproduced]) pottery and other related art-works (4). Although, the official MIBACT report mentions the following: “…Attraverso l’esame della mole di dati investigativi acquisiti, si individuarono a Basilea alcuni magazzini riconducibili a Becchina ed a sua moglie.” One has to question as to whether of the “Carabinieri’ searched ‘Becchinia’s Villa in Sicily? (5). This is considering Mr. Becchina, rather alleged lengthy career as an art collector, international antiquities dealer and olive oil producer, including his well-known activities as illegal antiquities trader (6).
Between 2011-14, in the regions surrounding the City of Naples, Italy; particularly that of the ‘Caserta’ region located to the north-east of the city. This region has been the focus of a great deal of looting of countless Italian artifacts; with the region has been dubbed as the “Archaeological Supermarket of the Camorra,” the criminal organization responsible for stealing or looting items ranging from (i.e.), ancient Roman artifacts (7) to Renaissance painting or related artworks taken from the abandoned and neglected churches and monastery’s located the city of Naples and the surrounding region (8).
During this time, the Camorra Italian Criminal organization is also actively involved in the looting of artifacts from the ancient ruins of Pompeii; as well as illegally dumping deadly ‘asbestos | amianto’ waste within Pompeii’s ruins, one Italy’s and world’s most visited archaeological sites (9). The dumping of deadly ‘asbestos | amianto’ waste (well known to & documented by the former and current administrations of the MIBAC[T]) located within the ruins of Pompeii, has already killed between 24-26 Italian scholars, administration personal and custodians assigned to Pompeii, as well caused a number of other cancer related illnesses among the site’s workers and their families (11).
The illegal looting operations by Sig. Gianfranco Becchina, the ‘Camorra’ criminal organization, and other Italian looters, has been well documented in both the Italian & foreign media resources, etc., i.e., “Italy’s great plunder | Il grande sacceggiatore dell’ Italia,” THE WALL STREET JOURNAL (06/02/2006), p. 29 (12) & the Heritage News of Italy: “See Naples before it dies of neglect – Reports and protests highlighting shoddy state of Italy’s Unesco World Heritage site’s,” The Art Newspaper (29/01/2013) (13).
With the recent announcement of the recovery of the 5000 or so Italian artifacts [valued at $58 Million USD] from the warehouse in Switzerland, while this may be a very impressive and probably the largest recovery of Italian artifacts in the modern history of Italy. One has to ask whether or not this is simply a farce or publicity stunt on behalf of Min. Franceschini & the MIBACT, when considering so many of Italy’s archaeological sites, museums, libraries & archival collections located throughout Rome, Pompeii, Naple’s and elsewhere throughout Italy are horribly neglected, abondoned, unprotected and in such a state of unbelievable disarray (14).
What good is it for Min. Franceschini & the MIBACT to hype up the recovery precious stolen Italian artifacts and other works of arts, etc., when the key professional Italian work force (i.e., Italian – archaeologists; restoration architects; art-historians; archivists; museum curator and custodians) are all underpaid and under-employed and lack the financial resources to preserve, safeguard, and enhance the archaeological sites [& museum collections] from where these artifact & works of art where original stolen throughout Southern Italy and Sicily?
Remarkably, the 1000s or so Italian (underpaid | under-employed) archaeologists required to preserve, safeguard, and enhance Italy’s archaeological heritage, particularly those fortunate to find work in Italy as of 2014-15, these professional archaeological | scholars (with either an equivalent B.A., or M.B.A., degree (or both) by United States Academic Standards) are only paid hourly wages of roughly 5 Euro or $5.60 USD per hour, as noted in: ITALIA ARCHEOLOGICA e RESTAURO ARCHITETTURA: “Solo in Italia gli archeologi restano senza lavoro,” = Il rapporto “Discovering the Archaeologists of Italy 2012-14,” LINKIESTA (27|10|2014)] (15). Likewise, too many of Italy’s unemployed professional archaeologists; restoration architects; art-historians; archivists; museum curator and custodians, unfortunately sit at home as they watch their Italian national archaeological treasures being leased to foreign universities or museums, which is also a farce or publicity stunt on behalf of Min. Franceschini & the MIBACT. Most notably that of the City of Rome’s Mayor Ignazio Marino’s recent agreement “The Hidden Treasures of Rome,” project (signed in September ) and officially announced in December 2014; in which 100s or so artifacts from the Capitoline Museum of Rome (i.e., the Museum of Roman Civilization) have been sent to the University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri (USA) to be studied, documented, and catalogued (16).
In January 2016, a year from now, it will be interesting to see whether or not these 5000 or so artifacts and other art works recovered in the Swiss warehouse, and as to whether or not detailed plans or related projects have been developed by the MIBACT in Rome, allowing that these artifacts | works of art to be studied, documented, and catalogued by Italy’s archaeologists and other related scholars, and put on display for public enjoyment?
FONTE | SOURCES:
A). ANFORE E VASI GRECI, MAXI RECUPERO DA 50 MLN EURO. Oltre 5 mila reperti ritrovati da carabinieri Tpc, è record, MIBACT | ROMA (21|01|2015).
Il pezzo più prezioso è forse una splendida anfora corinzia del VI secolo a.C. decorata con figure nere che raccontano il mito di Teseo, un capolavoro trafugato con tutta probabilità da una necropoli etrusca. Ma ci sono anche centinaia di altri vasi, anfore, kylix. E’un bottino composto da oltre 5 mila reperti archeologici, il più grande mai recuperato in un’unica operazione, per un valore totale di circa 50 milioni di euro, quello ritrovato dai carabinieri dei beni culturali al termine di una complessa indagine internazionale coordinata dal procuratore aggiunto della Repubblica di Roma Giancarlo Cataldo. I dettagli dell’operazione, sono stati resi noti questa mattina a Roma , dal generale Mariano Mossa, comandante dei carabinieri Tpc, in una conferenza stampa al Museo Nazionale Romano delle Terme di Diocleziano, alla presenza del ministro dei beni e delle attività culturali e del turismo Dario Franceschini, del procuratore aggiunto Capaldo e dell’ambasciatore della Confederazione Svizzera in Italia Giancarlo Kessler .
B). MIBACT – Ministero dei Beni e delle Attività Culturali e del Turismo | Comando Carabinieri Tutela Patrimonio Culturale | COMUNICATO STAMPA “OPERAZIONE TESEO”, [PDF], pp. 1-2.
FONTE | SOURCE:
— MIBACT | ROMA (21|01|2015).
<a href=”http://www.beniculturali.it/mibac/export/MiBAC/sito-MiBAC/Contenuti/MibacUnif/Comunicati/visualizza_asset.html_547226352.html” rel=”nofollow”>www.beniculturali.it/mibac/export/MiBAC/sito-MiBAC/Conten…</a>
B.1). MIBACT – Anfore, vasi e statue: recuperati 5mila reperti trafugati. “E’ il più grande ritrovamento della storia”, LA REPUBBLICA (21|01|2014) [FOTO 1 di 37].
E’ un tesoro composto da oltre 5 mila reperti archeologici, il più grande mai recuperato in un’unica operazione, per un valore totale di circa 50 milioni di euro, quello ritrovato dai carabinieri dei Beni culturali al termine di una complessa indagine internazionale coordinata dal procuratore aggiunto della Repubblica di Roma Giancarlo Capaldo. I reperti provenienti da scavi clandestini in Puglia, Sicilia, Sardegna, Calabria e Lazio, di epoca compresa tra il VIII secolo a.C. e il III secolo d.C. sono rimpatriati da Basilea.
FONTE | SOURCE:
— LA REPUBBLICA (21|01|2014) [FOTO 1 di 37].
C). ITALY – Italy: Looted Antiquities Are Recovered, THE NEW YORK TIMES & By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS (JAN. 21, 2015).
The authorities have unveiled what they said was a record haul of rare antiquities illegally looted from Italy and discovered during raids on Swiss warehouses belonging to a Sicilian art dealer. The police estimated the value of the 5,361 vases, bronze statues, frescoes and other items at about $58 million. Gen. Mariano Mossa of the Carabinieri, Italy’s paramilitary police force, called it “by a long shot the biggest recovery in history in terms of the quantity and quality of archaeological treasures.” The works, from the eighth century B.C. to the third century A.D., were found during an investigation into the art dealer Gianfranco Becchina, based in Basel. Prosecutors accuse him and his wife of being part of a huge trafficking network that involved tomb raiders in southern Italy, and dealers and buyers worldwide.
— THE NEW YORK TIMES (JAN. 21, 2015).
<a href=”http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/22/world/europe/italy-looted-antiquities-are-recovered.html?_r=0″ rel=”nofollow”>www.nytimes.com/2015/01/22/world/europe/italy-looted-anti…</a>
D). ITALY – Record €50m hoard of looted Italian antiquities unveiled by police – Centuries-old vases, statues and frescoes to be returned to museums after being seized from Switzerland-based art dealer, THE GUARDIAN, U.K., (21 January 2015).
A record haul of rare antiquities illegally looted from Italy and discovered during raids on the Swiss warehouses of an accused Sicilian art dealer was unveiled by authorities on Wednesday.
Police estimated the value of the 5,361 vases, bronze statues and frescoes at about €50m (£38m).
The works, dating from the eighth century BC to the third century, were laid out at the Terme di Diocleziano National Roman Museum and may go on public display before being returned to museums in southern Italy.
“This is by a long shot the biggest recovery in history in terms of the quantity and quality of the archaeological treasures,” the Carabineri general Mariano Mossa said.
The items were found during an investigation into Basel-based art dealer Gianfranco Becchina and his wife, Ursula Juraschek, also known as Rosie, who were accused by prosecutors of being part of an antiquities trafficking network that involved “tombaroli” tomb raiders in southern Italy, dealers and buyers around the globe.
Becchina remained free because the charges against him had expired, police said.
The investigation showed how dealers would forge provenance papers for the antiquities and create fictitious histories for them, so that museums and private collectors could in theory buy them in good faith, police said.
Police said that as a result, Italian authorities now had detailed documentation of Becchina’s inventory, including photos and receipts, that were also found in the warehouses.
David Gill, professor of archaeological heritage at University Campus Suffolk and author of the Lootingmatters blog, said the documentation will likely point to objects that were now in top museums and would certainly be on the Italians’ list for repatriation.
For over a decade, Italy has been on a campaign to reclaim treasures that were looted from its soil and sold to top museums and private collectors.
— THE GUARDIAN, U.K., (21 January 2015).
<a href=”http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/21/looted-italian-antiquities-museums-switzerland” rel=”nofollow”>www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/21/looted-italian-anti…</a>
I). FABIO ISMAN HA STUDIATO IN ESCLUSIVA L’ARCHIVIO DI GIANFRANCO BECCHINA – Un milione di oggetti clandestini. I 140 faldoni sequestrati al re del traffico illecito di reperti archeologici contengono una straordinaria quantità di informazioni attraverso le quali si possono ricostruire gli impressionanti intrecci e le dimensioni della Grande razzia compiuta in Italia e del commercio internazionale di antichità. Con tanto di nomi e cognomi di coloro che hanno portato nei principali musei del mondo oggetti scavati clandestinamente, da Il Giornale dell’Arte numero 309, maggio 2011.
<a href=”http://ilgiornaledellarte.com/articoli/2011/5/107938.html” rel=”nofollow”>ilgiornaledellarte.com/articoli/2011/5/107938.html</a>
II). $58 Million Trove of Looted Antiquities Uncovered in Raid, ARTNET-NEWS (22|01|2015).
A joint investigation involving Swiss and Italian police has uncovered a massive Swiss-Italian antiquities smuggling ring. Police seized 5,361 vases, bronze statues, and frescoes worth an estimated €50 million ($58 million) during a raid on a number of Swiss warehouses, the Guardian reports.
Unveiling the spoils of the investigation, the head of the Italian military police, Carabinieri General Mariano Mossa said, “This is by a long shot the biggest recovery in history in terms of the quantity and quality of the archaeological treasures.” The artworks date from the 8th century BC to the 3rd century BC and were displayed for journalists at the Terme di Diocleziano National Roman Museum.
The treasures were found during an investigation into the dealings of the Sicilian art dealer Gianfranco Becchina and his Swiss wife Ursula Juraschek. The pair are allegedly part of a smuggling ring that sourced antiquities from illegal excavations in southern Italy, sent them for restoration in Switzerland, and sold them around the world with forged provenance documents.
The arrest could have far-reaching implications for museums. According to Trafficking Culture, Becchina reportedly sold works to a number of illustrious institutions including the Ashmolean, the Louvre, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Metropolitan Museum, the Princeton University Art Museum, the Toledo Museum of Art, and the J. Paul Getty Museum. In 2005, the Getty was forced to return three valuable looted artifacts in light of revelations about one of Becchina’s associates.
Becchina has been suspected of smuggling since 1994 when Italian police discovered a photograph of a Paestan red-figure krater by Asteas in the wreckage of a car belonging to the convicted antiquities smuggler Pasquale Camera. The Getty Museum had bought the krater from Becchina, alerting investigators that he may too be involved in illegal antiquities sales.
In 2002, Swiss and Italian police seized 140 binders containing over 13,000 documents including shipping records, invoices, and thousands of polaroid photos during a raid on Becchina’s Basel warehouse and gallery, Palladion Antique Kunst, Chasing Aphrodite reported. In 2011, he was convicted of being an important middleman in the illegal antiquities trade. He appealed the conviction, but the seizure of his archives was upheld.
According to police the charges against Becchina expired, allowing him to remain a free man. However, in the latest raids, police have secured even more documents including photos and receipts that could finally land Becchina behind bars.
FONTE | SOURCE:
— ARTNET-NEWS (22|01|2015).
<a href=”http://news.artnet.com/art-world/58-million-trove-of-looted-antiquities-uncovered-in-raid-229301″ rel=”nofollow”>news.artnet.com/art-world/58-million-trove-of-looted-anti…</a>
III). Art dealer Gianfranco Becchina and his wife, Ursula Juraschek, in: Greek ruins….. what country are we in? BLOG – Around the Globe with Kay (01 June 2011).
A fun day of touring the Greek ruins of Selinunte, pottery shopping, and a cooking class at Becchina Estate. Joining us for lunch was none other than the Gianfranco Becchina – art collector, international antiquities dealer and olive oil producer. What a wonderful host! He shared lunch with us, ending with his home made green limoncello (the strongest liqueur I’ve had the pleasure of tasting) and then gave us a tour of his gardens and olive oil facilities. Great day!
Fonte | Source:
— BLOG – Around the Globe with Kay (01 June 2011).
<a href=”http://kay-kaystravels.blogspot.com/2011/06/greek-ruins-what-country-are-we-in.html” rel=”nofollow”>kay-kaystravels.blogspot.com/2011/06/greek-ruins-what-cou…</a>
IV). Becchina Estate – Antica Tenuta Pignatelli, Via Santissima Trinita, 91022 Castelvetrano, Sicily, Italy [01|2015]. TRIPADVISOR =
“…Within immense red walls, these within Castelvetrano’s city limits, lies this authentic and elegant Antica Tenuta Principi Pignatelli, and the Frantoio Olio Verde which produces an olive oil you can sometimes get at Dean and Deluca. Father Gianfranco (antiquitarian/agriculturalist) and daughter Gabrielle (art historian/chef extraordinaire) Becchina preside over sixty acres of Nocellara del Belice olive groves (thousands of trees up…”
FONTE | SOURCE:
— Becchina Estate – Antica Tenuta Pignatelli, Via Santissima Trinita, 91022 Castelvetrano, Sicily, Italy [01|2015]. TRIPADVISOR =
<a href=”http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g665937-d1413477-Reviews-Becchina_Estate_Antica_Tenuta_Pignatelli-Castelvetrano_Province_of_Trapani_Sicily.html” rel=”nofollow”>www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g665937-d1413477-Reviews…</a>
V). ITALY – Becchina: More Revelations from North American Museums? in: David Gill, ‘Looting Matters’, (29 January 2013).
North American museum directors and their curatorial staff know all too well the way that the Medici Dossier has shown how past acquisitions have damaged institutional reputations. Of course, more revelations from the Medici Dossier are likely to appear.
FONTE | SOURCE:
— David Gill, ‘Looting Matters’, (29 January 2013).
<a href=”http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/becchina-more-revelations-from-north.html” rel=”nofollow”>lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/becchina-more-revel…</a>
— Note: “Becchina”, in: David Gill, ‘Looting Matters’, (22January 2013).
<a href=”http://lootingmatters.blogspot.com/search/label/Becchina” rel=”nofollow”>lootingmatters.blogspot.com/search/label/Becchina</a>
(1). ITALIA – Franceschini nomina tre donne al Consiglio superiore dei Beni culturali, IL SOLE 24 ORE (08|04|2014).
(2). POMPEI – ERCOLANO ARCHEOLOGICA & RESTAURO ARCHITECTTURA: Ercolano, la firma di Renzo Piano sul nuovo museo archeologico finanziato dal magnate Packard | architetto Jane Thompson, LA REPUBBLICA | NAPOLI (21|01|2015).
(3). See: THE GUARDIAN, U.K., 21 Jan. 2015
(4). See: Art dealer Gianfranco Becchina and his wife, Ursula Juraschek, in: Greek ruins….. what country are we in? BLOG – Around the Globe with Kay (01 June 2011).
(5). See: Becchina Estate – Antica Tenuta Pignatelli, Via Santissima Trinita, 91022 Castelvetrano, Sicily, Italy; TRIPADVISOR [01|2015].
(6). See: FABIO ISMAN HA STUDIATO IN ESCLUSIVA L’ARCHIVIO DI GIANFRANCO BECCHINA – Il Giornale dell’Arte numero 309, maggio 2011.
(7). ITALIA BENI CULTURALI: Viaggio nell’ antica citta’ di Cales nel Casertano – Il supermercato archeologico della Camorra – rivederli in musei all’estero. CORRIERE DELLA SERA (24/07/2012). VIDEO [06:43].
(8). NAPOLI BENI CULTURALI: Lo scempio delle chiese di Napoli: duecento chiuse e abbandonate -Viaggio choc tra gioielli dell’arte dimenticati, depredati, in rovina, a volte addirittura pericolosi. Molte sono diventate negozi, officine o abitazioni. Altre addirittura discariche, Corriere della Sera, (21/01/2013) [Video 04:29].
— ITALIA ARCHEOLOGIA e BENI CULTURALI: LAZIO, SICILIA e SARDEGNA – Italia preda tombaroli boom di scavi illegali – nell` ultimo anno sono cresciuti del 32%, LA NOTIZA (03|03|2014) p. 9.
(9). Pompeii faces doom (again): Can a massive EU bail-out save the ancient city from neglect, rain and Mafia meddling?, THE INDEPENDENT, U.K., (31 May 2014).
ROMA ARCHEOLOGIA, ARCHITETTURA e BENI CULTURALI: Marino: “Non so dove mettere la spazzatura”. Torna il rischio Napoli Capitale prigioniera di un rebus giuridico, LA REPUBBLICA (04|04|2014). Foto: “Naples in ruins,” THE INDEPENDENT [U.K], (21/04/2013).
(10). POMPEI – Dr. Prof. M. Beard & Prof. A. W. Hadrill, ‘It would be useful if you both spoke up openly about the 25 Italian scholars & custodians who have died from “amianto” poisoning in Pompei (03|2014). Dr. David Meadows | rogueclassicism (03 |2014).
— POMPEI ARCHEOLOGIA e BENI CULTURALI: Scavi di Pompei chiusi, una class action dagli Stati Uniti, IL MATTINO (13/06/2013), ‘AMIANTO NEGLI UFFICI,’ IL MATTINO. (11/06/2013), & Pompeii Pompeianorum | FACEBOOK (14/06/2013).
(11). POMPEI ARCHAEOLOGIA e BENI CULTURALI: “AMIANTO NEGLI UFFICI, I SITI ARCHEOLOGICI CHIUSI PER PROTESTA,” POSITANO NEWS & IL MATTINO, (11/06/2013), & IL GAZZETTINO VESUVIANO (10/06/2013). Foto: L’architetto Dott.ssa Maria Pirozzi 1 di 25 vittime degli uffici di amianto, IL GIORNALE DELL’ ARTE.COM (29/12/2011).
— POMPEII ARCHEOLOGIA: Soprintendenza speciale di Napoli e Pompei & Amianto negli scavi, Notizie – IL GIORNALE DELL”ARTE (02/2010 – 04/2013).
(12). ITALIA ARCHEOLOGIA: “Italy’s great plunder | Il grande sacceggiatore dell’ Italia,” THE WALL STREET JOURNAL (06/02/2006), p. 29.
— ITALIA BENI CULTURALI: “VANISHING ACTS – See Naples before it dies.” NEWSWEEK (10/04/2006), p.52.
(13). “Heritage News Italy: “See Naples before it dies of neglect – Report and protests highlight shoddy state of Unseco World Heritage site’s,”The Art Newspaper (29/01/2013), in: Grande Progetto Pompei – UNESCO, EU, & MIBAC (02/2013): But, NAPLES’ – The Other Forgotten and Neglected Architectural Cultural Heritage: The Art Newspaper (29/01/2013), Corriere Della Sera (21/01/2013 [Video 04:29]), & LA REPUBBLICA (23/11/2012). [FOTO 1 DI 34 & pdf].
(14). For the abandon and neglect of Pompeii, Naples, and Rome, see the following:
— 14.1). Pompeii, Foto & News articles =
— 14.2). Naples, Foto & News articles =
— 14.3). Rome I & II, Foto & News articles =
(15). ITALIA ARCHEOLOGICA e RESTAURO ARCHITETTURA: “Solo in Italia gli archeologi restano senza lavoro,” [= Il rapporto “Discovering the Archaeologists of Italy 2012-14,”] LINKIESTA (27|10|2014).
— ITALIA ARCHEOLOGIA: A. Pintucci and E. Cella (edd.), translation by D. Pate, “Discovering the Archaeologists of Italy 2012-14”, Confederazione Italiana Archeologi (2014), [PDF], pp. 1-197.
(16). ROMA ARCHEOLOGICA & RESTAURO ARCHITETTURA. The Capitoline Museum & the University of Missouri – The Hidden Treasures of Rome: Two separate anti-govt. protests held in Italian capital city. PRESSTV [Video] (02|12|2014).
— Rome’s La Sapienza University – Italian Students Languish in University While Joblessness Soars, BLOOMBERG NEWS (09/06/2013).