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THE PALACE OF JUSTICE in the quartiere Clodio of Rome is by no means a beautiful building. On the contrary, it is made of gray concrete, a brutal modernist monstrosity of six stories, disfigured by rain and as dreary inside as out. It resembles nothing so much as a beached, out-of-commission aircraft carrier left to molder in dry dock. Piazzale Clodio is a large, long square of bus terminals, plane trees, and gas stations. Off it, governing the approaches to the courts, is a small, nondescript dead end with a bank, a motorcycle repair shop, and a sad café, where attorneys, police, and defendants grab a last cigarette and cappuccino before submitting themselves to a security check. This is not the Eternal City at her best.

The trial of Giacomo Medici began on December 4, 2003. Medici is of course one of the most famous names in all Italy, if not the world. Historians judge that the Florentine Medicis—“the godfathers of the Renaissance,” to quote one recent study—included no fewer than fifty-four individuals worth writing about. Besides Lorenzo the Magnificent and Cosimo, there were Garcia, Gian Gastone, Giancarlo, seven Giovannis, two Giulianos, a Giulio, and a Guccio. But there has never been, until now, a Giacomo Medici. There is no danger that anyone can confuse the godfather of the Freeport with any other Medici.

The trial opened eight long years after the first arrests, since the discovery of Pasquale Camera’s organigram, since the first raids in Geneva and the sealing of Corridor 17 with wax, since the first revelations about Medici’s dealings at Sotheby’s. During that time, Sotheby’s had stopped selling antiquities in London (though sales at Bonhams had mushroomed) and had closed three departments; Felicity Nicholson had retired, and its chairman, A. Alfred Taubman, had been sent to jail for a year and a day in the United States for his part in a price-fixing scandal, when Sotheby’s and Christie’s had conspired to charge customers the same (increased) commission. Symes had suffered his own misfortunes, as had several others who had been Medici’s collaborators.

The trafficking in illicit antiquities still went on, however, despite all these events and setbacks for the traffickers. Though he must have known that he would be followed, at least from time to time, Medici had still continued to meet tombaroli. Paolo Ferri himself bumped into Medici in Geneva on one of his visits there. Robert Hecht, on his visits to Rome, was also followed and he, too, met with fellow traffickers in looted objects.

And so, for Ferri, for Conforti (even though he had retired by then), for Rizzo, Pellegrini, and the more senior officers in the Carabinieri Art Squad, the trial could not start quickly enough. They had a mountain of evidence—and nothing in the interrogations and raids had contradicted the picture they had built up via the documentation. On the contrary, it had added to and deepened their understanding of the way the traffic works, and its far-reaching extent. So far as they were concerned, this case was triply important because Medici was by far the biggest trafficker they had ever proceeded against, because they had more documentary and other evidence against him than they had ever had against anyone else, and because his links to the international trading circuit were more established, more sophisticated—and better documented—than ever before with anyone else.

Or so they felt. Would a judge agree?

Until 1989, Italy’s criminal law was based on the Napoleonic Code and had three different judicial figures—investigating magistrates, public prosecutors, and judges. Then the system was changed from the Napoleonic to the Accusatorio, what in English is called an adversarial system. Under this system the role of investigating magistrate has been taken over by the public prosecutor. Each case can go through three court “degrees”—first level, appeals court, and supreme court, and nearly all cases do. This is because in Italy, until March 2006, not only the defense could appeal, but the public prosecutor could as well. Under Silvio Berlusconi’s government this was changed, and the prosecution can no longer appeal. If they are dissatisfied with the verdict, they can only take it to the Supreme Court. In January 2007, the Constitutional Court quashed part of the new law and further changes are expected. A defendant is considered not guilty until the definitive verdict, which is why people who have been convicted and sentenced to imprisonment may remain free for several years at the end of the first-degree trial.

A major problem with the Italian judicial system is administrative. Due to a chronic insufficiency of means, a shortage of courtrooms, of judges, of personnel in general, and in an attempt to get trials started within a certain period of time (due to the statutes of limitations), proceedings will only be in court on one day a week, or one day a month. A twelve-day trial, therefore, can—and routinely does—last for a year. Many trials, with several witnesses, go on for longer.

In an attempt to improve the situation, the Italian government introduced in 1989 the rito abbreviato, the “abbreviated rite.” This “fast track” (by Italian standards) may be requested by the defendant during the preliminary hearing and means that the case is decided by a judge alone on the basis of documents collected by the prosecution and the defense, and means that witnesses are not called or cross-examined in court unless the judge, at his or her exclusive direction, decides that he or she wishes to hear someone. This system—which Medici chose—offers the defendant the advantage that, if found guilty, the sentence is automatically cut by one-third.

The judge in the Medici case was Guglielmo Muntoni, a small, round-faced dark-haired man, who is half Sardinian. In his mid-fifties, he is a jovial figure, with a lively sense of humor, but is a stickler for the law, insisting that all procedures be closely and correctly followed. He had been the judge in the trial of the tombarolo Pietro Casasanta, so he was familiar with many of the issues raised by the Medici case.


To this point in the book we have, essentially, given the case that the prosecutors offered at Medici’s trial. The trial itself, however, gave him a chance to tell a different story.

Medici is a virile, impatient man, approaching six feet tall, with a strong physical presence, an open, round face, a high forehead, and stronglooking large hands. He favors leather jackets, drives a Maserati, and at his house in Santa Marinella, north of Rome, his study has a window in it in the shape of a capital “G.”

In regard to Medici’s testimony, Muntoni’s approach, one can see with the benefit of hindsight, was to let the defendant talk at length—which he was very willing to do—during the course of which he would incriminate himself, both by revealing more and more of his “inside” knowledge and by contradicting himself, time and again. Once during the trial proceedings, Medici spoke for up to three hours nonstop, by the end of which his shirt was drenched in sweat. He was combative, complaining with disdain about some of the witnesses on the other side, and insisting on his expertise, talent, and standing as a connoisseur and trader. The last session was heard on December 13, 2004.

In the course of his testimony, Medici’s principal defenses were that he was intending to give away the objects in his warehouses to Italian museums, that those in his home were his personal property, not for resale, and were anyway owned by his wife. At the same time, he also claimed that the majority of the objects in the Freeport were not from Italy at all but belonged to non-Italic cultures—in particular Egyptian, Syrian, Phoenician, Anatolian, Cycladic, Cretan, Rhodian, Mycenaean, Sumerian, Hittite, and so on. This made it hard to understand, as the judge observed, why he proposed to donate them to Italian (and not Greek or Egyptian or Syrian) museums.

His protestations of patriotism were fulsome but he turned coy when discussing exactly how he obtained his objects, never naming his sources.

They came from a famous Swiss collection: I bought them lovingly with only one purpose Your Honor, to bring them to Italy. Attention: donate them, not to make a museum and then take the money—donate. The collection of Villanovan clay [impasto] vases, from the twelfth to eighth centuries [BC], a whole series, all of one kind, very beautiful. [I] never wished to sell them. What was the purpose? To bring them to Italy and donate them all to a museum. I repeat: gift.... And the bronze fibulae, all the small Apulian Gnathian vases [which elsewhere he said he didn’t like], preserved in a splendid way, new, something entirely miraculous . . . all collected with jealous care.... Why? Because they had to come to Italy to be donated. What do I mean by all this? I’m saying that of about three thousand objects which were seized from me, two thousand nine hundred were to be donated—that is, donated to the Italian state. Of course, Your Honour, there are a little less than one hundred objects which are valuable—it’s not my fault. Those are the fruit of the sweat of my brow.

However, this sweat and toil on his part did not quite square with his claims elsewhere in his testimony, as when he told Judge Muntoni that these 2,900 objects in the Geneva warehouse “are of no value, objects which can be purchased every day in Italy and kept at home.” Suddenly, the antiquities in Corridor 17 were no longer splendid examples of Anatolian or Egyptian culture, but trinkets—and Italian.

At other times he said that the objects in his warehouse had been sent by clients for restoration, “for expertise.” To explain how he sold so much at Sotheby’s in London (when he was supposed to be donating material to the Italian state), he said that in 1982 the Hydra Gallery had opened in Geneva, for which he became an archaeological expert and consultant. The gallery had been formed to sell an inventory of objects put together in 1980, the owner being Christian Boursaud, who also acted as shipper. The minor objects—more difficult to sell—were sold through Sotheby’s in London. When Hydra was closed in 1985, he had the idea of purchasing all Hydra’s objects that were in the company’s warehouse and at the Geneva Freeport, and for this purpose he purchased Editions Services, a bearer-share company. He thus continued to operate as Hydra did before and “furthered his relationship with Felicity Nicholson of Sotheby’s” in London. The antiquities he sent to Sotheby’s never came from Italy.

Sometimes his swagger carried him away and landed him in trouble. At one point he implied that Pellegrini, the document expert, was not qualified to have written the reports for the trial and must have put his name to someone else’s work. “It’s obvious that these reports were not drawn up by Mr. Pellegrini, I don’t understand why he or they who drew them up, did not feel it their duty—and also their pride—to sign them. They let it be signed. . . .”

JUDGE MUNTONI: Medici, you are accusing Pellegrini of criminal acts . . .

MEDICI: No, I’m saying . . .

JUDGE MUNTONI: No, just a minute: if you have elements to confirm . . . otherwise you will be answerable for libel, committed today at this very moment.

MEDICI: Very well, but I . . .

JUDGE MUNTONI: I’ve already told you before: watch what you say in this court, because you will be held to answer for it. You have just accused Pellegrini of fraud together with others . . .

Medici’s lawyer intervened, to try to lower the temperature, but Muntoni was having none of it, saying that Medici had accused Pellegrini of signing reports that he hadn’t drawn up. “That’s fraud. What’s more, he was the designated consultant, so that would be doubly a fraud.”

But Medici was careful to address and dismiss as irrelevant two crucial pieces of evidence: Robert Hecht’s memoir and the vast Polaroid collection in his own Freeport warehouse. Of the memoir, he said anyone could produce such a document—even him. So far as his collection of Polaroids was concerned and the fact that they were collected in an orderly manner into albums, with so many objects showing soil still encrusted to them, he offered the following explanation. As in other parts of his testimony, he called in aid some helpfully anonymous Swiss corporations, which provided camouflage:

Well then, I mean to say, a big official in an important private Swiss bank calls me, [and] says: “Would you feel up to consulting, but only about the commercial value?” “Yes.” I went, I descended the stairs of this big bank, I entered this large room, there were lots of safes, he opened them for me and inside there was God’s marvel. I must tell you the truth, it really almost seemed to me that it was stuff from recent digs; this is stuff taken from some tomb which was surprised [discovered] now, because they were really in such conditions.... They were all broken, they were all badly glued, they were all full of soil and encrustation, some had been very badly restored. [He agrees, therefore, that the objects shown in the Polaroids came from recent digs.]

I photographed them all, one by one, with the so-called famous Polaroid—careful,’cause if Polaroid gets to know about this, they’ll sue us—because the Polaroid is [typical] of the tombaroli. According to the consultants, some special consultants, like Dr. Pellegrini, say that the Polaroid camera is typical of traffickers. Actually today Polaroids are little used. [This contradicts Symes, who had testified that Polaroids were used throughout the trade and with collectors.] Anyway, I photographed the entire collection of Marquis Guglielmi, one by one at [incomprehensible]. Then they open the other vault, there were bronzes, God’s marvel of bronzes. And what was there, Your Honour? The famous Tripod, the famous Guglielmi Tripod, the stolen one was in the Geneva safe. There was an ox this big, with a hole in his gut . . . there were so many bronzes, all God’s marvel; this doesn’t interest [they said], this one we’ll show him: “What do you think of it?”—“Very beautiful stuff,” I said, “this bull is worth a lot of money; the Tripod is fragile, it’s very museale [museum quality] but it’s very rare, a very beautiful piece.” We work on this . . . I work . . . I make out all the files, for each piece the price. Why? Because they were selling, I don’t know to whom; they were selling it and wanted to know its commercial [value]—not from the point of view of a collector, no, no, venal, venal, how much it’s worth and if it should be put up at auction. So I evaluated each piece, I go away and they pay me the next day.

He said that he kept the photographs so as to be able to study them.

He denied the existence of the cordata, again in fulsome terms. “Medici goes to the international auctions; he buys objects, also very important objects, he is in competition with all those that the prosecution today defines as ‘associates,’ and instead they are bitter competitors Your Honour, they really are.... They are people who perhaps don’t speak to you for two or three months because you nabbed the object they wanted from under their noses.” He agreed that it appeared to the outside world that he and Hecht were associated “[but] there’s a jealousy that eats our hearts, we look daggers at each other.”

At one point, he became so carried away that his self-confidence got the better of him, his testimony verging on a rant (this was the time when his shirt became drenched in sweat).

Somebody [a rival at an auction] will say: “Medici, remember I want that, don’t make the winning bid” and I say to them, “OK, up to what figure do you mean to go?”—“Up to twenty thousand dollars.”—“OK, then . . . I’m a friend; when you stop, if somebody still continues, I have the right to participate.” And often that’s the way it happens. Why? Because unfortunately people don’t know how to do this business well, Your Honour, believe me, and this has provoked much envy against me. When an object is beautiful, beauty pays . . . Medici Giacomo has understood these things. So an object—I’ll give you an example—is evaluated by everybody at five hundred million [lire = £250,000/$400,000+]. Medici says: “It’s not so.” Why? Because if it’s worth five hundred million, it can be worth a billion, it can be worth a billion and a half, it can be worth two billion, and if I go mad, it’s worth five billion.... Believe me, this is a marvellous secret which life’s experience has taught me. When I used to go to auction sales, people would look at me flabbergasted and would say: “But this man’s mad! Who’s behind this man? Who will this man sell to? How come this man can spend all this money?” . . . they would just sit there looking at me, wondering how come I raised and raised. They said: “But the Getty Museum is on the phone! . . . is he crazy? What’s he doing? Waging war on the Getty Museum?” —“But there’s the Metropolitan Museum! . . . there’s Fleischman, how is it possible?” . . . It was possible in this way: I knew that these gentlemen wanted to spend a certain sum, and [I] would buy for these gentlemen [i.e., with them in mind], because as countryfolk say: I waited for them at the bridge [an idiomatic Italian saying, meaning that’s there’s only one bridge and, if you wait there long enough, everyone comes by, to cross the river—in other words, patience and positioning pays off]. I would never seek them out, I waited [so] that it would be they who’d look for me. Then . . . there’d be a phone call, or an emissary would arrive and say: “Medici, we know you bought that object. How much do you want for it? . . . five hundred thousand dollars? We’ll give you six hundred.” I used to say: “I bought that object for myself, I love it. I would sell it for a million and a half dollars, otherwise don’t bother me.” That was my strength . . . I’m not here lying to you. . . . When I used to purchase at the auctions . . . even if I put a pencil in my mouth, to let the auctioneer understand that as long as I had the pencil in my mouth I wanted the object, somebody understood and so they knew I had bought.... For years I bought in Italy and nothing happened. Then, suddenly, those objects which I regularly bought became illicit.

In another self-confident—even audacious—move, but one that characterized himself as an honest man, Medici challenged Ferri to prove that even one object in the Freeport came from a tombarolo. “I challenge, meaning it in a good sense, I challenge the prosecution to prove that one . . . not three thousand, one object which, in inverted commas, comes from a tombarolo. . . . Because if I, I repeat, did wrong, if I . . . if it were to be proved from the documents of the trial that I did wrong, I must pay. Because it is right, because there are laws. . . .”

His response to the charge that he had been laundering objects through Sotheby’s was equally forthright. “If Dr. Ferri finds one single object of those seized put there [i.e., sold at Sotheby’s and bought back] by Medici Giacomo or Editions Services, you, Your Honour, must condemn me without attenuating circumstances, you must condemn me severely.... No, no, it’s I who ask.”

In essence, Medici characterized himself as an innocent consultant, albeit one with an unusually large photo collection. The real villains, he said, were elsewhere. Though his testimony was vivid, strong on rhetoric and expressed in a forthright manner, it was not overly rich on detail. At the end of it all, Medici ringingly declared: “I don’t consider myself guilty of anything.”


Judge Muntoni took five months to reveal his considered reaction to Medici’s performance. He began in a fairly uncompromising way.

As can be seen, even in the course of his long spontaneous declarations made during the hearing, Medici never stopped lying and in fact accentuated the distortion of reality, so as to depict himself as an innocent subjected to persecution by the Italian Judiciary, by the Swiss Judiciary, by the Police forces of the two countries, and by his own “work” milieu. What strikes one most in this long series of lies, is that they were told in spite of the fact that Medici knew very well that the documentation and the photographic archive which had been seized from him were part of the documents of the case and objectively give him the lie and cannot be confuted. Medici even reached the point of several times invoking an exemplary sentence against himself if even only one single archaeological object was proved to have been recycled.... Very well, the objects that beyond doubt were recycled, as will be highlighted in the specific paragraph, are dozens . . . Arts Franc bought all the objects at the above-mentioned auction following the indications given by Medici, at the price indicated by Medici and with the money furnished by Medici, and [were] delivered to Medici . . . for years numerous goods were sold through auctions by Medici so as to be repurchased by himself, so much so that they were found in his possession.

The judge found that 99 percent of the objects featuring in the case had no provenance.

Muntoni accepted that “innumerable objects” were sold by Medici to individual persons and to museums “by means of triangulations through Hecht, Symes-Michaelides, Bürki and others, as written by Medici himself at the bottom of Polaroids, which depict objects sold.” The judge said Medici had no convincing explanation as to how, having been born into a poor family, he could open a “prestigious gallery” in the center of Rome, in the fashionable Via del Babuino, only to then transfer to Switzerland “where he could work more freely.”

Nor does he explain why it was easier to trade in Switzerland through a gallery opened in Geneva, if he did not intend to trade in archaeological objects coming from thefts and clandestine digs carried out in Italy.

The purchase of archaeological material just excavated in Italy is documented by dozens and dozens of Polaroids and “scandalous” photographs which frequently show the actual stages of the digs . . . we point out that two chequered urns, clearly freshly excavated, were photographed in Medici’s house in Santa Marinella. . . . The collection of buccheri and Villanovan objects destined to be donated to the state clashes with the fact that Medici has never donated these objects, neither before nor after their seizure, and that Medici sold . . . large quantities both of buccheri as well as Villanovan objects at auctions. Whilst the fact remains that Medici has in no way documented where he purchases these goods, his [declared] wish to collect them so as to donate them to the State is the umpteenth [“ennesima”] shameless lie.

Muntoni was not taken in by Medici’s claim that the Polaroids concerned objects shown to him so as to ascertain their authenticity, or value, or sent to him for restoration. The judge pointed out that among the vast documentation there was not a single piece of paper or letter from a prospective client requesting such assistance, expertise, or advice.

No invoice has ever been made out by Medici for evaluation or restoration, yet one notices the meticulous way in which the documentation is kept with regard to his activity, from which one learns that Medici made out invoices only to the Aboutaams, through whom he used to sell his own archaeological objects. What’s more, the Polaroids and photographs were not found, with the exception of very few cases, loose [or singly], but on the contrary, [they were found] well archived in specific albums which document the arrival of the goods, their condition, their initial collocation [arrangement], their temporary importation into Switzerland. . . . Medici evidently has forgotten that the catalogues titled “Oggetti Passati” [passed objects] contain Polaroids and photos of objects on which is marked the destination: V.CRI, V.SOTH, P.G.M., COLL, [“v.” stands for venduto, or sold]—that is, sold through Christo Michaelides, always indicated as CRI or CR, through Bob Hecht, always indicated as BO, through Sotheby’s, and sold to the Paul Getty Museum, or part of the Medici “collection.”

In other words, Medici’s main activity was selling, not collecting.

Muntoni himself examined the documentation that had been seized and concluded that Medici had made meticulous and “absolutely exact” records of the goods he had sold and the prices they had achieved.

It is therefore objectively proven beyond doubt that the photographic archive and the Polaroids in particular only depict objects bought and traded by Medici, who for this reason had archived the photographic documents in specific catalogues, divided into kinds of objects, their destinations.... The sensational falsity of Medici’s statements on this point shows how well aware he is of the fact that there can be no licit justification to explain his having kept the photographic archive and he preferred denying even the evidence, in the hope perhaps that the documents seized had not been examined. In fact, it is precisely anger against those who have shown careful and intelligent examination of the seized documents, like Maurizio Pellegrini of the Southern Etruria Superintendency, that must have made Medici throw accusations as false as they are gratuitous.

To summarize the judge’s 659-page verdict, Muntoni didn’t accept Medici’s arguments on any level. He thought Medici had lied about his relationships with Robert Hecht, Marion True, and Christian Boursaud. How could Medici have bought the Hydra Gallery from Boursaud when the two men had fought a court battle in Switzerland in 1985 over ownership of the gallery?

He found Cottier-Angeli to be part of the cordata and found that only 2–3 percent of the goods seized were of non-Italian origin. (The report of the three archaeological experts confirmed this.) He did not agree with Medici that the goods the dealer sold at Sotheby’s were minor artifacts. And he did not accept for a moment that Medici was an expert. On the contrary, Muntoni noted that Medici far more often turned to others for expertise. He added: “Some doubts concerning Medici’s capacity to recognize an authentic object—and not only to establish its period and the maestri to whom it is attributable—necessarily occur, considering the number of fakes found in his possession, some of which [were] bought at public auction—unless one wishes to maintain that Medici was such a dishonest dealer as to offer fakes which he had deliberately obtained.”

Muntoni’s judgment was withering.


He also had various comments and conclusions about the testimony of others in the case.

On Robert Hecht: Muntoni concluded that Hecht was “one of the founders of the conspiracy that was the subject of this trial,” that he is “the soul and director (anima e regista) of almost all the operations.”

The extraordinary and adventurous human story of Hecht is well recounted in the memorandum which he himself wrote . . . a document in which his ventures are never exalted, in fact we must perhaps think that they contain some disinterested omissions so as to avoid problems for his family after his death. We are obviously referring to the first draft of the memorandum and not to the sweetened [“edulcorata”] version, also found in his house, which contains blatant [“evidenti”] corrections aimed at avoiding possible demands for reimbursement from Museums which had, at very expensive prices, purchased objects such as the Euphronios krater, about which Hecht in the first draft tells the true story—also reconstructible through other sources of evidence . . . we deduce that Hecht, together with Medici and Bürki and individuals to be identified, founded the criminal conspiracy [“associazione per delinquere”] between the end of the sixties and the very early seventies, the aim of which was to intercept all the important material clandestinely excavated in Etruria and most of that excavated in Puglia, thanks to a tight network [“fitta rete”] of relationships that Hecht personally had with individuals in positions of responsibility in many museums....

On Danilo Zicchi: The judge found that all the addresses and names mentioned by Zicchi in relation to the organigram were confirmed by later investigation.

On Fritz Bürki: The judge concluded that Bürki had lied “shamelessly” about events concerning the Tripod, “adapting his version to that invented by Hecht and Rosen” (Jonathan Rosen, Hecht’s partner in Atlantis Antiquities in New York). But the judge went on to “underline” the fact that Bürki had acknowledged that the archaeological objects submitted to him came from illicit digs carried out in Italy and that he was “absolutely aware of it.” In regard to the Tripod, the judge concluded that Bürki had substituted Medici’s name with that of Bruno.

On Harry Bürki: The judge noted, in particular and inter alia, that Harry Bürki admitted having seen the photographs of the frescoes taken in Pompeii by the tombaroli, that he could not explain the presence of a bag dirty with soil and which had a double [fake] bottom. He concluded:

Only when faced with the undeniable evidence of the proof, the two Bürkis, father and son, admitted [to] having acted as [a] “front” for Robert Hecht in the sale of objects to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. Instead they continued to deny knowing Medici even when faced with the evidence. For them, too, therefore, dealings with him were not to be spoken of and were considered compromising: [a] denial which is in contrast with the presence of their respective names and addresses in the agendas [address books] of Bürki and Medici, [in contrast] with the restoration work done by Bürki on innumerable archaeological objects then sold by Medici, [in contrast] with the unmistakable contents of the photos seized from Medici which show objects photographed in Bürki’s premises as was challenged, and [in contrast] with an association which continued for years. Proud of being citizens of a “neutral” country with respect to the one in which the clandestine digs had taken place, they shamelessly admitted that the objects they restored came from clandestine digs in Italy and even admitted having seen the photographs of the dig of the Pompeii frescoes.

On Pietro Casasanta: From his evidence the judge found it confirmed that there were competitive groups of cordate, trying to send the best objects out of Italy, and that these groups were led respectively by Nino Savoca, Gianfranco Becchina, and Medici; that “absolutely everybody in the milieu of the traffickers in archaeological material knew that Giacomo Medici was the real ‘boss’ who managed to intercept almost all the material excavated in Etruria,” that it was well known that Hecht and Medici were partners since the sixties, that the cordate reported their rivals to the authorities whenever their interests were threatened, that Medici and Becchina had become billionaires (in Italian lire) “from nothing,” that archaeological material was smuggled out of Italy thanks to “complacent shippers,” that Mario Bruno was a rival of Medici’s and that relations between them were very bad. Medici, concluded Muntoni, was with Hecht the “principal collector” in Italy of archaeological material coming from clandestine digs carried out in Southern Etruria and Puglia.

On Robin Symes: The judge found that Symes initially lied, trying to support Medici’s “line of defense,” but when faced with the Polaroid photographs, “Symes ended up by admitting some facts” and indicated as coming from Medici objects dealt with through Hecht and Fleischman.

On Wolf Dieter Heilmeyer: The evidence from Berlin, Muntoni concluded, confirmed the existence of the “criminal sodality,” or cordata, between Hecht, Medici, and Symes, and that the Leon-Chamay-Cottier version of events was “pure fantasy,” that the vases were restored “under Medici’s watchful eye.”

On Marion True: The judge thought that she had covered up her own responsibilities in these matters but had confirmed the cordata: Hecht-Bürki-Medici-Symes, and of several triangulations in connection with von Bothmer and Robert Guy, and in connection with the Hunt and Tempelsman Collections and with the Getty Museum.


Given all this, given all these uncompromising and definitive statements from Judge Muntoni and all his pithy comments and asides, showing that he had not been taken in for a moment, it came as no surprise that at the end of a massive 659-page judgment, delivered on May 12, 2005, he found Giacomo Medici guilty of the following charges: illegal export (smuggling), receiving stolen goods, and, most seriously, conspiracy. For these offenses, Muntoni sentenced Medici to ten years in prison (equivalent to fifteen years, had he not chosen the rito abbreviato), ordered the forfeiture of nearly all the antiquities in his possession, fined him 16,000 Euros, plus 10 million Euros as restitution of damages to the Ministry of Culture, towards payment of which his villa at Santa Marinella (the large one, with the G-shaped window, not the seaside one) and his Maserati were seized, plus another 16,000 Euros as reimbursement of legal expenses for the Civil Plaintiff (the Ministry). Medici’s passport was impounded, together with other travel documents, and he was forbidden to leave the country. The judge also announced a list of Medici’s objects that were to be confiscated and returned to Italy. These included objects that he was acquitted of smuggling but were seized to help offset the 10 million euros ($12 million) damages.

This was by far the heaviest punishment ever handed out in Italy to someone involved in the clandestine trade of illicit antiquities trading. As he was entitled, under the Italian system, Medici appealed. This appeal had not been heard as this book went to press.

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