Récemment, après la publication d'un communiqué de presse https://www.comunicatistampa.net/difesa-patrimonio-culturale-europeo/, nous avons été contactés par deux journalistes d'investigation, qui ont commencé une enquête, un an après la campagne de diffamation contre le Prof. Carla Rossi et le centre de recherche qu'elle a fondé. Les résultats de leurs enquêtes sont publiés sur le site www.receptiogate.blogspot.com. Ceci, en anglais, est ce qu'ils ont publié jusqu'à présent.
Between 2022 and 2023, Peter Kidd, a blogger with ties to auction houses and medieval manuscript traders, launched a social media campaign against the integrity of a scholarly research center (RECEPTIO), its director (Prof. Carla Rossi), and members. Kidd’s activities seemed retaliatory, following the director’s report to authorities about illegal activities conducted by art traders.
Over the course of 2023, Kidd attempted to marshal his contacts to damage the center’s credibility. However, his campaign ultimately backfired, as it drew attention to his own connections with unethical manuscript traders and his questionable conduct.
Anyone who reads Kidd's blog and his posts related to the scandal he himself concocted will notice a great deal of confusion, constant re-editing of information, and obsessive spite. Kidd first accuses Rossi of not citing him in her book, then accuses her of running a non-existent center, then moves on to accusations of 'plagiarism' of information from his blog, and then of inventing a non-existent center to get research funds. The escalation of accusations serves a clear purpose: 1. to maintain a social media presence by providing gossip to his readers; 2. to slander a scholar and a center that he and his associates evidently consider hostile. In order to do as much harm as possible, being Rossi a woman, he targets her family as well as her colleagues, publishes photos of her daughters, and 'anonymously' threatens everyone who tries to explain the situation (various videos have been made by university professors and students to try to bring Kidd back to order and reality), he threatens the scholar even outside her home and her daughters. In short, he commits legally punishable offenses, but when he receives legal injunctions, he acts tough. When he is served with a court summons in Italy, he does not show up (the trial is expected to take place in about 15 months, and with an accelerated procedure, but it is well known that legal proceedings in Italy are long! Kidd also has a court summons in France).
Dismissing the plagiarism allegations as baseless — with evidence suggesting they were fabricated by associates of Kidd [source: www.receptio.eu/diffamazione] — and standing firm on the integrity of their scholarly work, the academic persisted in their dedication to preserving cultural heritage.
Since 2006, the scholar has indeed tirelessly worked to preserve medieval manuscripts that were subjected to acts of vandalism for profit, striving to prevent the trade of individual leaves from manuscripts that have been disassembled by unscrupulous merchants. This highly profitable trade threatens these cultural treasures in Switzerland, Germany, England, and the United States.
Death threats (see annex 5 at the link: receptio.eu/diffamazione).
Two obituaries celebrating the scholar’s death, in true mobster style, that were published on a Zurich funeral home’s website (see annex 6).
Threatening emails sent to the scholar and many of her colleagues who have supported her in recent months (see annex 7).
Offensive and aggressive messages on Academia.edu, some of which originated from professors at the University of Zurich, as well as from the Società Internazionale di Storia della Miniatura (see annex 8)
Constant changes to the scholar’s Wikipedia page by unknown individuals, inserting false and defamatory information (and her obituary), leading to its removal by Wikipedia itself.
Anonymous threatening calls that forced the scholar to change her phone number and even her residence.
Defamatory articles published in online newspapers, including the publication of a photo of her mailbox by a journalist who went to the entrance of her residence.
YouTube videos mocking her photograph and work.
Creation of fake Twitter accounts in her name, in which the scholar purportedly declared herself to be homosexual.
Attacks against the scholar’s daughters, with their photographs published online.
Attacks against the lawyers who defended both the research center directed by the scholar and the scholar herself.
Let’s start first and foremost with the links he provides and the PDFs he uses in an attempt to discredit the scholar. His first post, in fact, is full of fake images, to immediately make the reader believe in the scholar’s guilt. Kidd doesn’t mention that the book he is trying to discredit (which we will return to in a second post) is available on Google Books and thus his version of the events can easily be checked against the original volume, provided for free consultation in its entirety at this link https://www.google.ch/books/edition/The_Book_of_Hours_of_Louis_De_Roucy/kRDgEAAAQBAJ?hl=it&gbpv=0.
Kidd then contends in the same lengthy blog post that Rossi would have stolen from his blog the image of an auction catalog that took place in the rooms of Sotheby’s in 1954, and that on the photo used by Rossi in the book there would be one of Kidd’s own hairs, producing a rather squalid picture to prove Rossi’s “guilt”. However, if one consults the original of Rossi’s book, it is immediately evident that there is no hair on the image. Kidd claims that the book has been altered following his post. His assertion is clearly a way to appear as the victim in this matter. It should be noted that, unfortunately, there exist some unofficial versions of Rossi’s book in PDF, evidently fabricated by those who orchestrated the defamatory campaign against the scholar.
[Verified sources: Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona; Studj Romanzi, Academic Journal; Organisation pour la Protection des Manuscrits Médiévaux, Paris; TPC contacts]
On October 20, 2022, Prof. Carla Rossi (who currently, following the hate campaign against her, is - ironically, and much to Kidd’s chagrin - a Visiting Professor for the History of Illumination at the University of Salento, where she teaches courses on the digital reconstruction of dismembered medieval manuscripts) a distinguished philologist with three decades of expertise in philology and codicology leading an independent research center [source: https://web.archive.org/web/20151105100815/https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carla_Rossi], lodged a formal complaint with the Antiquities section of the Italian TPC, Carabinieri Command for the Protection of Cultural Heritage. The submission outlined the activities of an illicit network involved in the wrongful procurement of medieval Italian manuscripts. This group systematically dismantled these manuscripts to commercially exploit their illuminated pages (called leaves) at steep prices, often peddling them with counterfeit provenances — especially troubling when the manuscripts originated from illicit sources. A subsequent complaint shed light on parallel practices with French and German manuscripts and the involvement of some independent agents in such trades [source: TPC contacts].
These individuals purchase manuscripts from accommodating sellers, disassemble them by detaching the leaves (particularly those with miniatures), and then sell them at exorbitant prices on the antiquarian market, often with the collusion of complicit auction houses.
Such activity clearly contravenes three articles of the Italian Cultural Heritage and Landscape Code: Article 10, paragraph 3, letter C; Article 20, paragraph 1; and Article. 30, paragraph 3; it also violates policy 25 of the ILAB (International League of Antiquarian Booksellers), which states: “Members are committed to the preservation of historical materials and should not break complete and intact copies of books or manuscripts.” [Source: Biblioclastia a scopo di lucro, article in Studj Romanzi, 2022: https://www.oprom.eu/_files/ugd/494184_a757959529184ab89d7b80047a2821b2.pdf].
Further reports regarding the destruction of other manuscripts were filed by the scholar with the foreign division of the TPC, including a complaint about the dismemberment of the manuscript known as the “Hours of Louis de Roucy,” destroyed in 2009 in Germany, whose leaves were then sold on the antiquarian book market at very high prices.
In response to this alarming scenario, on December 20, 2022, the scholar penned a critical piece in the online journal AboutArt [https://www.aboutartonline.com/manoscritti-medievali-europei-a-prezzi-stracciati-sul-web-un-appello-per-la-tutela-di-beni-culturali-tra-i-piu-preziosi/], drawing attention to this issue in hopes of rallying the scholarly community to action.
Shortly afterwards, Peter Kidd, independently affiliated with auction houses and merchants involved in these questionable practices, initiated a slanderous campaign against them, extending to the scholar’s family and colleagues, through social media. [Source: Peter Kidd's blog, and Twitter profile].
The “Biblioclasm & Digital Reconstruction” project, initiated entirely at the scholar’s personal expense in 2006 [sources: www.receptio.eu/mainproject1 and https://archivalia.hypotheses.org/28491], and developed from 2016 with the help of various volunteer teams, has led to the restoration of about 200 dismembered manuscripts, many of them Italian [www.oprom.eu/fac-similes]. It has also resulted in the creation of a very rich database [www.oprom.eu/acmd], which competes with a project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (called Fragmentarium), where the leaves from dismembered manuscripts are problematically cataloged without providing their correct illicit provenance [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2S1wtp9v-U].
In 2016, the scholar founded the Research Center for the European Philological Tradition (RECEPTIO), a beacon of excellence in the field, renowned for its scholarly rigor and endorsed by an esteemed scientific committee [https://it.receptio.eu/board]. The scientific committee of the research center is composed of philologists, art historians, musicologists, and philosophers who are active in major European universities. One of them is the president of one of the most prestigious Italian academies. Due to the pandemic, this group of scholars has not been able to update the research center's website, leaving photos of the website template. This gave P. Kidd the opportunity to claim that the center was bogus. We will also have the opportunity to verify this information. It should be noted here that in December 2023, the center organized a major in-person conference on Dante Alighieri, in which we participated by interviewing some members of the scientific committee. It is absolutely fake news that the center does not exist.
The escalation of Kidd’s attacks led to unfounded allegations regarding the center and its committee, triggering a wave of support for the scholar and RECEPTIO from international colleagues, as demonstrated by various videos and letters [https://it.receptio.eu/statement and www.oprom.eu/snsf].
A mock scandal called “ReceptioGate,” spread by Kidd and associates, inaccurately accused the scholar of fraudulent use of institutional funds. These claims have not only been legally discredited, but as we will demonstrate, they are indeed baseless and qualify as fake news.
The center and its leadership faced illegal acts such as death threats, harassment communications, online vandalism, leading to serious personal harm such as privacy breach and forced relocation out of concern for their safety.
Numerous people, who even out of jest participated in the defamatory campaign via Twitter, have become accomplices to the British blogger’s criminal offenses:
In the face of these cyber-attacks, the academic debate has shifted to the sensitive and controversial issue of the sale of medieval manuscript leaves, highlighting the questionable practices of some American academic circles and the stark distinction between the recovery of historically damaged fragments from manuscripts and the intentional extraction of leaves for financial gain.
It is deeply unfortunate that the University of Zurich, where the scholar has earned not only three degrees but also two qualifications for university teaching following rigorous reviews by multiple academic committees, and where they held a six-year "Titular Professorship" (addressing the inaccuracies spread by Kidd and his associates concerning the so-called “loss” of this title, which actually expired in April 2023), along with the Swiss National Science Foundation, with which the scholar has collaborated, did not safeguard the scholar’s personal privacy or security. This lack of support has only contributed to a climate of persecution and has been compounded by the University of Zurich’s failure to execute its duty to protect its members, a duty incumbent upon such an esteemed academic institution. As already said, the scholar was forced to defend herself against a plagiarism accusation leveled by blogger Peter Kidd, who claimed that technical terms such as “Annunciation,” “Deposition,” “Announcement to the Shepherds,” and other typical art historical nomenclatures used to define scenes depicted in miniatures are copyrighted by him as they are used on his blog.
After a nine-month investigation, the Swiss National Science Foundation, that funds a project (Fragmentarium.ms) whose members are seriously colluding with art dealers and consultants who dismember manuscripts, came to no conclusion. Incredible as it may seem, instead of dismissing the case, it placed an unjust burden on the scholar, demanding her to refute claims concerning the use of those terms, over which Kidd would hold the copyright, or to challenge the auction catalog descriptions of the miniatures from the vandalized manuscripts [www.oprom.eu/snsf].
In this paradoxical situation, the scholar, her colleagues, her students, and her family have been subjected to a defamatory and persecutory campaign (including physical threats), obsessively conducted by Peter Kidd [www.oprom.eu/mefaitscontrenous, www.receptio.eu/diffamazione, and www.receptio.eu/receptiogate].
The purpose of this blog is to methodically analyze each of Kidd’s accusations against the scholar — often fabricated through clear lies and reaching absurd levels — as well as the complicity of many people who attacked the scholar in conjunction with biblioclast art merchants. It will also become evident how some sensationalist newspapers that uncritically repeated Kidd’s claims failed to fact-check sources, unaware they were playing into the hands of a criminal lobby, or perhaps were even paid by them to target the scholar.
1. Anyone who reads the saga reported by Kidd himself on his blog, which is called Medieval Manuscripts Provenance, but talks about everything except manuscripts provenance, a saga that begins on December 22, 2022, and continues for months in an obsessive manner at this link https://mssprovenance.blogspot.com/2022/12/nobody-cares-about-your-blog.html?m=1 will notice the confusion that reigns in Kidd’s posts, constantly re-edited and full of false information.
1a) Firstly, Kidd announces that he is annoyed by the fact that he does not find his name mentioned in the book. This, apparently, is the reason that led him, on December 22, 2022, to try to contact the author of the book (Carla Rossi), without finding her direct email address, and to write to the generic email email@example.com, as well as (quite unusually) to a student at the center who published her edition of another dismembered book of hours. Responding to Kidd is not the scholar, but a collaborator of the research center, who during the Christmas holidays evidently expects everything but having to reply to a barrage of insulting emails [our source is the same collaborator who Kidd later questions the very existence of, going so far as to claim that it would be the scholar herself]. Exhausted by the constant stream of emails, the collaborator snaps at the fifteenth message and tells Kidd to take up any complaints with a lawyer if he has any objections to not being cited in Rossi’s book.
What particularly struck us in this first post by Kidd, apart from the timing of the campaign’s orchestration, right at Christmas, to be able to fill the social media with misleading information, are the comments on the post. In fact, many appear to be written by Kidd himself. Some are anonymous, even though Kidd states that he doesn’t allow anonymous individuals to comment on his posts, but those that are signed do not come from “users” of the blog about the supposed provenance of manuscripts, but rather from angry people, whose names correspond to Gmail addresses never used before and not corresponding to profiles of real individuals, aiming to contribute to the defamation. Even more strangely, as we will see, is that right away Kidd levels at Rossi and the research center an accusation of doing something that he, in fact, is doing himself, namely using fake accounts (we will return to this in a subsequent post). Let’s now see what the anonymous commentators accuse Rossi and RECEPTIO of.
The first commenter does not seem to be an expert in manuscripts. She runs a blog "Her Hands, My Hands" where she shows no interest or knowledge in art history or philology.
As can be seen, Kidd plays the victim, lacks the courage to expose himself with potential legal actions, and insinuates to his readers (?) the desire to defend him, as the non-existent Cara Bradleigh Smith seems to want to do, very fierce in sending emails from an account otherwise never used before or after.
Google search confirms the nonexistence of this “Lady” with the double surname, who nonetheless will be very active in the defamatory campaign, and then some anonymous commentators start to instill suspicion that the entire research center is bogus (an excellent way to discredit an institution that fights, at its own expense, for the protection of cultural heritage!) and begin to say that names of deceased scholars are being used on the scientific committee, such as that of Antoni Rossell.
Here one sees the ignorance and bad faith of Kidd, who will repeat the information. In fact, the name of the Catalan scholar being referred to is Rosell, with one -s [https://www.uab.cat/web/newsroom/news-detail/decease-of-researcher-antoni-rosell-i-mele-1345830290613.html?detid=1345852340282], while the musicologist and philologist who has always been part of the scientific committee of the center is Rossell, with two -s. This professor has also made a video to prove the falsity of the accusations and has since invited Rossi to the University of Barcelona multiple times to hold conferences on the problem of dismembered medieval manuscripts and on her reconstructive method [https://webs.uab.cat/occita/conferencies]
This Anonymous writes: "She (Rossi) recently changed the page to say, amongst other things that Effective 27 December 2022, RECEPTIO has a new steering committee". We have interviewed the collaborator of the center who first dealt with Kidd’s email attacks, and we have confirmed that:
1. At the end of each year, RECEPTIO either changes or confirms the members of its scientific committee (for 2024, for example, Professor Raffaele Pinto from Barcelona was appointed as director),
2. It is certainly not Rossi who manages the website.
Therefore, the so bold comment by ‘Anonymous’ is full of falsehoods in an attempt to discredit the entire research center, as Kidd indeed does in subsequent posts.
The professor referred to by the Anonymous commentator was Antoni Rosell i Melé, ICREA researcher, Deputy Director of the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB), and Associate Professor at the BABVE of the UAB. It is unclear how such an academic figure could have been part of the scientific committee of a research center on European philological tradition.
The bad faith of the Anonymous is truly astonishing. Below is the video of the real Antoni Rossell.
To not limit the defamation to just Kidd's blog, this freelance collaborator of art dealers ensured that the false information he provided was picked up by several online newspapers. These publications are always signed by the same 4 people, but appear across multiple online outlets, filling the network with false and defamatory news. Let's analyze these news items in detail:
https://thecritic.co.uk/receptiogate-and-the-absolute-state-of-academia/… "People set up spurious “research institutes” to capture grants, and they focus their efforts on producing derivative (if not actually plagiarised) work that can be published quickly, artificially boosting their publication metrics."
1. spurious “research institutes” FAKE NEWS
TRUTH: RECEPTIO was founded in 2016 by various professors in the form of an "Associazione", i.e. an association under Swiss law with the name "Società Filologica Internazionale", with its headquarters in Lugano. After RECEPTIO was founded as an association in 2016, it was decided in 2017 to publish an academic Journal and to establish a publishing house. The members of RECEPTIO from various countries have chosen to set up a publishing house in the UK, so they decided to do this online to avoid having to publish the journal through the association. On 6 September 2017, TCLA ACADEMIC STUDIES LTD (hereinafter "TCLA Ltd.") was founded, with the first issue of the journal of "Theory and Criticism of Literature and Arts" (hereinafter "TCLA") being published in February 2017. On 29 January 2018, in order to avoid confusion with UCLA, the university from which one of the journal's founders hails, the name of the publishing house was changed to "THECLA ACADEMIC PRESS LTD" (hereinafter "THECLA Ltd"). On 11 February 2020, THECLA Ltd. turned digital and it was dissolved, and, in order to have a publishing house easily associated with the research centre, on 23 July 2020, RECEPTIO ACADEMIC PRESS LTD . The first composition of the TCLA journal's scientific committee can be found at this archived website link https://web.archive.org/web/20200806133538/http://www.receptioacademic.press/ Renowned scholars from various universities around the world have participated in each issue. After the RECEPTIO association was founded, the members wanted to have a physical place, a centre from which to plan and carry out the various activities.
In this context, they turned to lawyer Paolo Bernasconi http://www.pblaw.ch/Prof-dr-hc-Paolo-Bernasconi.html (see his letter to Credit Suisse), who recommended to set up a foundation instead of an association. Based on this, the foundation with the name "Fondazione Internazionale RECEPTIO" (hereinafter referred to as the "Foundation") https://www.fundraiso.ch/it/organisations/fondazione-internazionale-receptio/timeline.
After the foundation was established, a villa in Lugano was rented on 2 July 2019 https://www.receptio.eu/gallery and summary of cultural activities: https://www.receptio.eu/19-22. It is worth mentioning that after the villa was sold to a new owner, the latter tried to terminate the lease prematurely, although the Foundation had always paid the rent, despite the closure of the centre due to the Corona pandemic. Even the mayor of Lugano, Marco Borradori, tried to help for the continuation of the lease.