They were not in the recently closed Nostoi exhibition of repatriated works, but the nine objects recently relinquished to Italy by American collector Shelby White will go on display at Rome’s Palazzo Poli beginning this Saturday, according to Louis Godart, advisor on culture to Italy’s President. Chatting with me at the recent “Return of Cultural Objects” conference in Athens, where we were both invited speakers, he said he would send me the list of those objects. (I have not yet received it.)
Another conference participant, Malcolm Bell, professor of classical archaeology at the University of Virginia, told me that the White objects had flown to Italy on the same plane that had transported his institution’s two sixth-century B.C. marble sculptures, also repatriated, which had been donated to the university by the late Maurice Tempelsman.
I could not find anything about the imminent exhibition of Shelby White’s former holdings on the website of the Italian Culture Ministry (nor on other websites I consulted), but I did find a long rundown by Culture Minister Francesco Rutelli of 20 Months of Culture in Italy (in Italian), which included this portentous sentence:
I expect that over the next few years hundreds of other works stolen from our
national patrimony and taken abroad will return to Italy: the agreement that
I have made with the British Minister of Culture to shed light on the
[Robin] Symes collection housed in London has opened new, considerable
Did we know about this agreement? What does it entail? It now sounds like far from abating, the Italian quest for foreign-held objects may be just beginning.