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Quick Takes

January 20, 2012

No verdict in art trial

The trial of Robert E. Hecht Jr., the alleged mastermind of an international black market in ancient art, ended with no verdict this week when a three-judge panel in Rome found the time allotted for the trial had expired.

The ruling brings an ambiguous end to a sweeping investigation that traced relics looted from tombs in Italy through a network of smugglers, dealers and private collectors before appearing on display at museums in the United States, Europe and beyond.

The criminal case stemming from that investigation has dragged through Italian courts since 2005 and focused on Hecht and two co-defendants: Marion True, the former Getty antiquities curator, and Italian dealer Giacomo Medici.

True's trial ended without a verdict in October 2010 when the statute of limitations on her charges expired. Medici, who opted for a fast-track trial, was convicted in 2004, a verdict upheld last month by Italy's highest court, which imposed an eight-year prison sentence and a 10 million euro fine, the largest in Italian history for such a case.

Hecht, a 92-year-old Baltimore native now confined to bed at his home in Paris, has cut a wide swath through the art world since the 1950s, supplying museums and collectors around the world with some of the finest examples of ancient Greek, Roman and Etruscan art.

"I have no idea of where an object was excavated," he said by phone Thursday. "It could have been excavated 100 years ago; it could have been excavated an hour ago."

—Jason Felch

Audience drops for 'Idol' opener

Fox executives predicted last week that "American Idol" would return to lower ratings — and they were right.

"Idol," TV's No.1 show for years, premiered its 11th season Wednesday night to 21.6 million viewers, according to Nielsen — a sharp 17% drop compared with last year and the series' lowest opening since its first season during summer 2002.

At its 2007 peak, "Idol" opened to 37.4 million viewers.

Among young adults, the news was worse. In the key demographic of adults ages 18 to 49, favored by advertisers, "Idol" plunged 26%.

It should be noted that Fox still won the night handily.

—Scott Collins

Finally

New DJ: Bruce Scott, a former DJ in Indianapolis and elsewhere, will take over Jan. 30 as host of the weekday 3-7 p.m. slot at soft rock station KOST-FM (103.5).

Cannes judge: Italian filmmaker Nanni Moretti has been chosen to head the jury at this year's Cannes Film Festival.

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