Last week, noting the recovery of two Edvard Munch paintings by Norwegian police, I said that the buyers of stolen art are often other traffickers with more money than scruples. Not so fast, Williams. While that may be true, there have been a number of more reputable purchasers of purloined paintings and other ill-gotten cultural objects, one of whom is here in Malibu.
This past week, two Greek artefacts went on display in the National Archeological Museum in Athens within hours of their arrival from Los Angeles. The antiquities were illegally removed from Greece and purchased by the J. Paul Getty Trust. Until recently, they were on display at the Getty Villa in Malibu.
Tomorrow, Greece will recover a piece of marble from the Parthenon that has been held by Heidelberg University. This repatriation, combined with the return of objects by the Getty, may increase pressure on the British Museum to return the Elgin Marbles, which were removed from the Parthenon in 1810.
Needless to say, the Greeks have long been upset at having lost their marbles.
(I'm sorry. I just couldn't resist that one.)