GDA: What was your first investigation into illegal excavations?
PGF: It was in 1994, with the then sergeant of the carabinieri department for cultural heritage, Vito Barra, now in charge of security at the Vatican Museums. We believed that a statue stolen at Villa Torlonia had been put up for auction at Sotheby’s. So we travelled to London [but made no progress]. Five months later, Sotheby’s sent me the names of two companies: Edition Services and Xoilan Trading. Edition Services is a company owned by Giacomo Medici, until now the only important “art robber” to have been convicted in Italy [Medici is currently appealing]. Xoilan Trading is one of the various names of [companies connected to] the art dealer Robin Symes. But at the time we didn’t know this. Faced with two Panamanian companies, Barra was on the verge of giving up. “No one’s going to tell us anything,” he said. Shortly afterwards, I met Daniela Rizzo, an archaeologist of the monuments office for southern Etruria. Together with Maurizio Pellegrini, from the museum of Villa Giulia, she was to play a crucial role in my work.
- Fabio Isman, “Clandestine excavation is a crime that is hard to prove”, The Art Newspaper, January, 2011, http://www.theartnewspaper.com/articles/%E2%80%9CClandestine+excavation+is+a+crime+that+is+hard+to+prove%E2%80%9D/22164 (last visited Jan 18, 2011).