Former ambassador to Italy to join Getty board

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Paco Serinelli/AFP/Getty Images

U.S. Ambassador in Rome Ronald Spogli is seen at the department of the civil protection in Rome, September 2005. File photo.

Former U.S. ambassador to Italy Ronald Spogli will join the Getty board of trustees at its next meeting this summer.

Spogli represented the U.S. in Italy during President George W. Bush's second term. He was already fluent in Italian, he said, and left with a much deeper understaning of that country's cultural, legal, and political system.

"When I arrived in the country in the summer of 2005 as the new ambassador I was able to give my first speech in Italian and every speech thereafter in Italian and all my meetings with government officials were in the local language," he said.

Spogli thanked the Getty’s board of trustees for asking him to serve. He said he looks forward to putting his experience to work for the L.A. cultural institution.

The appointment is significant because the Getty has been in trouble with Italian authorities in recent years. Two and a half years ago the Getty agreed to return 40 prized ancient artifacts that Italian authorities claimed were illegally smuggled out of their country.

The Getty’s former antiquities curator remains mired in a criminal trial in Rome on charges that she trafficked in looted artifacts. An observer of the Getty board said the organization could have saved itself a lot of headaches in recent years if it had recruited someone with similar expertise for its board of trustees.

Spogli is the third new trustee to join the 15-member Getty board in two years.

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