PICK OF THE WEEK:: Fine Print: Good Title, Good Sense

Oct 20, 2014 4:48AM

I am riveted by public scandals. Not just because of the salacious details, but also because scandals, like good comedy, highlight current attitudes toward particular (mis)conducts. Acceptable conduct yesterday may be subject to scorn today.

In 2005, the Los Angeles Times ran a series of stories exposing the involvement of the world’s richest museum, the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, and its highly respected curator of antiquities, Marion True, in the acquisition of 40-odd antiquities allegedly looted from archaeological sites in Italy and Greece. True—a boisterous advocate against the trafficking of antiquities—was revealed as being embroiled in the very conduct she had publicly denounced. Italy had already laid criminal charges against her alleging conspiracy to remove and receive illicit archaeological objects. Greece followed. True became the first, and only, American curator to come under such indictments. Both cases were eventually dismissed on statute-of-limitations grounds, but they demonstrated a new willingness on the part of source countries to aggressively pursue cultural-property claims.