NEW YORK—Damaging details regarding the activities of Marion True, the antiquities curator at the J. Paul Getty Museum, have been revealed in a Los Angeles Times report. True is presently awaiting a trial date in Rome, where she has been indicted on charges of conspiring to receive stolen antiquities. In a confidential legal memo to Getty Trust president and CEO Barry Munitz that was obtained by the Times, Getty criminal defense attorney Richard Martin said an internal review of Getty files had yielded several letters and Polaroid photographs of objects showing that True had maintained close relationships with the two antiquities dealers—Robert E. Hecht Jr. and Giacomo Medici— who are her codefendants at the upcoming trial.
The memo, the Times says, discusses letters indicating that the objects offered to the Getty “appear to be from illegal excavations”; and that the accompanying Polaroid pictures of the “unrestored” objects suggest they were recently looted. It is not known whether the objects were bought by the Getty, the Times notes, adding that in the memo Martin says the Polaroids “unfortunately” were nearly identical to those seized in a 1995 raid of Medici’s warehouses. He further advises Munitz that the Getty was not obligated to provide documentation to the Italian authorities because they had not specifically requested it: “It is obvious we should not offer to produce what has not been asked for.”
A statement from the Getty that appeared in the Times maintains that the Trust provided all documents requested by Paolo Ferri, the Italian prosecutor of True’s case, noting that any other relevant documents in its possession “have been retained and preserved.” The Times points out that it is unlikely the Getty’s failure to produce the documents violated any laws, because Ferri’s requests for documents were not made through the U.S. Office of the Attorney General. After Martin had promised Ferri full cooperation, including “voluntarily providing documents on a reasonable basis,” Ferri abandoned an effort to formally subpoena Getty records.
Two Getty board members, Barbara Fleischman and Ramon Cortines, said they did not know about the documents and felt that board members should have been briefed about the findings of an internal review, the Times says, adding that board chairman John Biggs said he had viewed the documents relevant to the internal review.