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photo by Thomas Ondrey, The Plain Dealer

Story By Steven Litt, The Plain Dealer

The Cleveland Museum of Art  declined to comment Thursday on a report in the New York Times saying the museum bought antiquities in the 1980s and ’90s from an art dealer named by Italy as a co-defendant in an alleged conspiracy to traffic in illegally obtained artworks.

The report in the Times cited a 14-page legal notice from the public prosecutor’s office in Rome, stating that J. Michael Padgett, the antiquities curator of the Princeton University Art Museum, is a focus of a criminal investigation.

The article states that the former New York art dealer Edoardo Almagia is among the co-defendants. The article further states, quoting the Italian document, that the Cleveland museum was one of several U.S. institutions, including the Toledo Museum of Art and the Indianapolis Museum of Art, that acquired artworks obtained illegally by Almagia.

When asked Thursday whether the Cleveland museum had purchased anything from Almagia, museum officials declined to comment.

“We have not been contacted by the Italians, nor have we seen documents referenced in the article,” Christa Skiles, assistant director of communications at the museum, said Thursday in an e-mail.

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