Thursday, June 3, 2010

Princeton curator targeted in Italian investigation

Italian authorities are investigating a criminal conspiracy involving J. Michael Padgett, the antiquities curator at the University Art Museum, the New York Times reported on Wednesday.

The case, which names three other defendants in addition to Padgett, alleges that nearly two dozen Italian artifacts have been “sold, donated or lent” to the Art Museum by Padgett and Edoardo Almagia ’73, a former New York antiquities dealer, from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s. Almagia is also accused of illegally acquiring other works of art and selling them to several American museums in the 1980s and 1990s.

The University is aware of the investigation and is conducting its own, University spokeswoman Cass Cliatt ’96 told the Times.

Italy has previously used legal means in its efforts to reclaim archeological objects and works from around the world.

In October 2007, the Art Museum returned eight works to Italy – one of several agreements struck between American museums and the Italian government in an effort toward better cooperation. The previous agreement led many in the art world to be surprised by news of the current criminal investigation.

The charges have yet to officially be made public.

Padgett came to the University in 1992 and is also a lecturer in the department of art and archaeology. Padgett, who is primarily interested in Greek art and has authored several books on ancient art, earned a B.A. from the University of Kentucky in 1975, an M.A. from the University of Minnesota in 1984 and a Ph.D. from Harvard in 1989.

by Christina Henricks