Expert says the rare piece in the Getty Museum in Los Angeles is linked to a dealer accused of trafficking antiquities

Prof Christos Tsirogiannis has a photograph of the same fresco fragment from the archive of Robert Hecht who died in 2012, having faced accusations that he trafficked in illicit artefacts. These artefacts included a 2,500-year-old Greek vase that he sold in 1972 for a then record $1m to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and which was subsequently returned to Italy in 2008.

The fresco fragment bears a beautiful depiction of a young woman looking out from a balcony. Wearing a loose-fitting tunic, she is sipping from a shallow cup held in her right hand. A photograph of it was among material, including antiquities still covered in soil, seized by police from Hecht in 2001.

The fresco fragment had been donated to the Getty in 1996 by a private collector who had bought it from one of Hecht’s intermediaries in 1987.

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