January 26, 2012 – Robert Emmanuel Hecht Jr. was one of the most prominent dealers of ancient art in the 60s and 70s. He sold the famous Euphronius Crater for half a million dollars to the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Since 2005 an Italian court has been investigating his implication in the illegal traffic with ancient objects. Now the trial against him ended with no verdict – because the time allotted for the trial had expired.
In 1995 the law suit had been blown up by a raid in the warehouse of Italian dealer Giacomo Medici, where not only valuable stolen art objects had been found, but also records of Medici’s business connections. Medici was condemned to ten years in prison and a 10-million-euro fine, the highest verdict for illicit antiquities trade in Italy so far. Later Italian authorities accused Bob Hecht and the former curator of the Getty Museum, Marion True. True’s trial ended without a verdict in 2010. Now the trial against Bob Hecht ended without verdict, too.
While the original prosecutor, Paolo Ferri, deplored the situation in Italian courts that had permitted only about 18 hearings during the six years of Hecht’s trial, his critics suggest the process having been stretched out purposefully to avoid an acquittal.
Though, at any rate this end is disappointing – and for both sides, too: for those who believe Hecht to be innocent as well as for those who reckon him guilty. Because now the old Roman saying is in vigor: Aliquid semper haeret – something always sticks.
If you want to learn more about the end of that process, click here.
As for additional information Chasingaphrodite offers a handwritten chart that is said to illustrate the system of illicit antiquities trade in the 70s showing Bob Hecht on top. To view it click here.