Mario Roberty, who leads the Maecenas Foundation, said he was informed about the bank vault discovery Tuesday. It was unclear if any of the fragments corresponded specifically, but a number of the fragments clearly came from a volume of papyrus documents sold and later recovered from Ferrini, Roberty said.
Roberty promised to fight any attempts by Haley to sell the fragments, saying Ferrini had agreed to a complete return of his purchase to a Zurich, Switzerland-based art dealer who worked with the Maecenas Foundation.
"We have immediately announced a claim," he said in a telephone interview.
At issue is whether Ferrini returned all the materials he had in his possession. Ferrini contends the fragments in Akron are from another source, not the foundation, Haley said.
Roberty said Haley had cooperated in allowing photographs to be taken of the fragments. He said translators are examining those photographs to see where they might fit in as missing pieces to the gospel.
If the fragments are sold, Haley said their worth could be enormous.
"It would be the kind of thing that you would see a private collector or museum show interest in, and as you know, in the antiquities market that value is only determined once you start obtaining offers," he said. "It certainly could be in the millions of dollars, if we got to that point."
Free Email News Updates
Sign up for our Inside National Geographic newsletter. Every two weeks we'll send you our top stories and pictures (see sample).