Italian authorities have notified Michael Padgett, a veteran curator for ancient art at the Princeton University Art Museum, that a criminal investigation against him has ended, Padgett said.
“I’m pleased to tell you that last month I was notified that the investigation by the Rome prosecutor’s office relating to me has been fully and formally dismissed, and is now closed,” Padgett wrote in a Dec. 10 email to PAW. “[T]his was the outcome we expected and is consistent with the University’s own findings.” Padgett, the art museum’s curator of ancient art since 1992, said he was looking forward to focusing on his research and curatorial work.
In 2010, prosecutors in Rome filed a document known as a summary of a preliminary investigation into “the illegal export and laundering” of Italian archaeological objects; the document named Padgett and antiquities dealer Edoardo Almagià ’73, according to The New York Times. The status of the investigation of Almagià, who also has denied wrongdoing, could not be determined.
In December 2011, the University voluntarily returned half a dozen antiquities — some composed of fragments — to Italy, although it declined to release any information about how or where it had acquired the items. “There was no investigation of the University, and no allegations were ever brought against it,” a Princeton spokesman said at the time. The University returned eight other works of art as part of a separate agreement with the Italian government in 2007, in exchange for which Princeton students were granted special access to archaeological sites in Italy.