Met Wins Latest Round in Clash Over Ancient Sicilian Silver

Sicily's Morgantina silver. Photo: via Proloco Aidone.

Sicily’s Morgantina silver, repatriated to Italy by New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art when the institution realized the artifacts had been stolen, will once again grace the halls of the Met, reports the Art Newspaper.

The terms of the repatriation agreement, reached in 2006, state that the 16 pieces of silver would cross the Atlantic once every four years until 2046, allowing both countries to display the Hellenistic antiquities. While the Met held up their end of the bargain in 2010, it had become increasingly doubtful that Sicily’s Museo Regionale di Aidone would do the same.

According to TAN’s sister paper, il Giornale dell’Arte, the highest cultural official in Sicily had called the 2006 accord “one sided,” and in June of last year the island had included the Morgantina silver on a list of cultural objects that should not leave Sicily.

Now, a spokesperson for the Met has confirmed that the silver will be back at the “end of the summer,” allowing the joint custody arrangement to continue.

The Met first purchased the silver in 1981 and 1982 for about $2.7 million, without knowing that the artifacts had been looted. Though purchased in good faith by the Manhattan museum, evidence later indicated the historic silver set had been stolenduring an illegal excavation in the ancient Greek settlement of Morgantina, near Aidone in central Sicily.

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