CLEVELAND.- Art officials in Italy announced Friday that an agreement had been reached with the Cleveland Museum of Art for the safe return of artifacts that Rome claims have been looted or smuggled out of the country, reported The Cleveland Leader after The Associated Press broke the news on the wire.
Soon after that, conflicting reports started coming and going throughout the media. Steven Litt, Plain Dealer Art Critic, stated, "But when contacted by The Plain Dealer, Maurizio Fiorilli, the lawyer handling the negotiations for Italy, at first said that there was no agreement yet and that the original AP report was "sbagliato" -- mistaken.
Today, ArtDaily received the following statement made by the museum:
The Cleveland Museum of Art was surprised this morning to read on the wire an incorrect statement concerning works of art in our collection, reportedly made by former Italian cultural minister Francesco Rutelli. While the Cleveland Museum of Art has held discussions with Italian officials over the past year with respect to works in our collection, no agreement has been reached, nor has the Museum agreed to transfer any objects to Italy. Maurizio Fiorilli, the principal representative for the Italian government in our discussions, has since spoken with several media outlets around the world to correct Mr. Rutellis statement and to confirm that there is no agreement with the Cleveland Museum of Art. Discussions are continuing between the Museum and the Italian government, but no agreement of any kind has been reached, nor has any timetable been set. A spirit of cooperation and confidentiality has informed the discussions between the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Italian government to date, and we look forward to this continuing.