Friday, May 05, 2006

Greek minister to meet Getty Museum head over suspect artifacts

Middle East Times: Greece said on Wednesday that the director of the Getty Museum had requested a meeting with the country's culture minister, only hours after the announcement that a new stash of ancient artifacts had been seized at a villa belonging to a former museum curator.

Michael Brand, director of the famed museum in Los Angeles, will visit Athens on May 16 for talks with culture minister George Voulgarakis, the ministry said.

In a letter to Voulgarakis, Brand requested the meeting "to establish a productive dialogue", it said.

Earlier on Wednesday police said that 12 ancient artifacts had been seized at an island villa that a police source said belonged to former Getty curator Marion True, who faces trial in Italy on charges of conspiring to traffic in stolen antiquities.

A raid a month ago on the same villa, located on the Greek Cycladic island of Paros, yielded 17 antiquities from the Hellenistic and Roman eras.

The police said that the items were "illegally held" in violation of Greek antiquity laws, which require that all artifact collections be declared to the authorities.

An official police statement said that among the new items confiscated in the search on Tuesday, conducted in the presence of an archaeologist, were two marble sarcophagi and a marble olive press slab. "