Met Trades Krater for Vases to Settle Dispute With Italy

011108 montebello web Met Trades Krater for Vases to Settle Dispute With Italy

The Euphronios krater, an ancient Greek bowl painted by the Greek artisan Euphronios, has long been the subject of a spat between Italy and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Met bought the krater in 1972 for $1 million from Robert Hecht, an antiquities dealer who is now on trial in Rome on charges of conspiring to traffic in looted artifacts (the Observer’s Jason Horowitz explains here). The krater will be on view at the Met for the last time this Sunday, the museum announced yesterday. It will be shipped back to Italy and, in return, Italian authorities will send three other Green vases, on loan for the next four years. They’ll be available for viewing in the Met’s Greek and Roman galleries starting next Wednesday. The transaction was negotiated between the Met’s director, Philippe de Montebello, and Italian authorities in 2006.

The New York Times reports:

In a telephone interview on Thursday, Philippe de Montebello, the Met’s director, praised the quality of the loan to the Met. “At the time during which the negotiations were under way, I brought a list prepared by the curators of the kinds of things we considered equivalents,” he said. “We expected one object, but got three very beautiful objects. It shows on what a firm footing our future collaborations with Italy will be.”

Mr. Montebello, who on Tuesday announced his retirement later this year, was asked whether he felt particularly emotional about the krater’s departure.

Speaking from a cellphone, he said, “I can’t hear you anymore” — a response he has occasionally deployed by land line to questions he would rather not answer.