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The Attorney General vs. the Getty: Round Two?

Towards the end of my interview on Tuesday with Tom Dresslar, spokeman for the California Attorney General’s office, I asked a simple question and expected to get a simple answer. Instead, I got this shocker, which could have serious implications for other American museums that return antiquities of dubious provenance to their countries of origin.
Here’s our conversation:
CultureGrrl: Is this investigation entirely closed, aside from the fact that there’s a now monitor who will be making sure that procedures are followed?
Dresslar: Depending on what happens in Italy with the antiquities, we may have something to review after that process has run its course.
C: What would be the issues that you would be reviewing? What would come under your purview?
D: Whether any loss of art by the Getty was caused at the outset by negligence on the part of the trustees.
C: I didn’t know you would be getting into all that. Well, there IS going to be a loss of objects. Are you then opening an investigation?
D: That’s an issue we’ll be looking at depending on what happens. We won’t be necessarily scrutinizing whatever deal the Getty makes to return art. It would be whether at the outset their negligence allowed employees to run amok.
C: Are you looking into that now?
D: No, we’ve got to wait for the Italian authorities to do their job.
C: Once that is totally resolved…
D: Then we’ll make a determination at that time whether we want to review that issue.
C: Has that ever been done before in any of these cases?
D: I don’t know. The Getty is not exactly your normal situation.
C: As far as the kind of governance issues that were the subject of this report—is your investigation of that done?
D: Yeah, we’re done.
It seems, then, that the Getty’s reward for doing the right thing in Italy could be yet another investigative morass at home.

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