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The Steinhardt collection and the Medici dossier

Among the antiquities seized from Michael Steinhardt was a Protocorinthian owl that had been acquired in 2009 for $130,000 (see Search Warrant).  A comparison can be found in the Louvre.

The Steinhardt owl appears in the Medici Dossier. How was it acquired by Steinhardt? What was the migration route?

See also the 20th century "imitation" donated to the J. Paul Getty Museum by Jiri Frel in 1979.

I am grateful to Dr Christos Tsirogiannis for sharing the image with me.

Recent posts

Sources for Steinhardt seizure revealed

I am grateful to Dr Christos Tsirogiannis for sharing information about the items seized from the collection of Michael Steinhardt and from the displays at Phoenix Ancient Art in Manhattan.

The Attic white-ground lekythos has been identified from images in the Schinousa Archive showing that it was part of the stock of Robin Symes. Notice the deposits still on the lekythos. When was the lekythos cleaned? Who did the cleaning?

The other Steinhardt pieces are identified in the Medici Dossier as well as the Becchina Archive.

The pieces from Phoenix Ancient Art include items identified from the Medici Dossier (at least 3 items) and the Becchina Archive (at least 1 item).

I expect that the routes through which these pieces passed will be revealed shortly.


Phoenix Ancient Art responds to seizures

A spokesperson for Phoenix Ancient Art has responded to the seizures of antiquities that took place last week (see Search Warrant listing the items). In a statement to Artnet News ("New York Antiques Dealer Phoenix Fine Art Raided on Suspicion of Selling Looted Artifacts", 11 January 2018) it was stated:
“We immediately notified the US private collection that consigned the works to us of the situation, and we do know that the works have a long museum exhibition history spanning from the Geneva Musée d’art et d’Histoire, 1978–1981, and at the Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 1984–1996.” The temporary display of recently surfaced antiquities in public museums is an interesting one. How are these documented? What about the display of the Ka Nefer Nefer mummy mask in Geneva? And was the (anonymous?) loan to the J. Paul Getty Museum by a dealer or a collector? This recalls the loan of fragments of the Berlin painter krater, a pot that was subsequently returned to Italy.

Should museum…

Steinhardt collection under scrutiny

The seizures from the Steinhardt collection last week, as well as the connection with the Eshmun sculptures, the Paestan tomb fragment, and the gold phiale from Sicily, means that gifts from that source will now be under scrutiny.

When questions were raised about objects associated with Edoardo Almagià, some museum curators took the matter seriously. Maxwell Anderson, who did so much to address the issue of looting when he was at Emory University, took the initiative and returned a series of objects that had been acquired by the Dallas Museum of Art.

What are the full histories for the objects that have been donated by Steinhardt?

Further seizures in Manhattan

Last Friday the New York State District Attorney's Office raided Phoenix Ancient Art in Manhattan and removed six items (see "List of 6 (additional) objects and warrant details on objects seized from Phoenix Ancient Art by New York State District Attorney's Office", ARCA 9 January 2018). The items include Protocorinthian and East Greek perfumed-oil containers, an Attic head jug, and a Teano ware dove. The dove is almost certainly from an Italian context, and the other objects are types frequently found in funerary contexts in Italy. Together the items are valued at $450,000. The objects appear to be the ones noted in the New York Times: "another six pieces on display at the Phoenix Ancient Art Gallery on 66th Street".

The seizure appears to be linked to the case of Steinhardt.

The full histories of the objects have not been disclosed. What is the authenticated documentary history for each of the items? Did each one surface prior to 1970?


I am reminded that …

Ward and the Balkans in the 1990s

Some years ago I reflected on the Aidonia Treasure and the way that it was displayed by Michael Ward in New York (1993). The treasure was subsequently returned to Greece.

I then wrote about a silver repoussé plaque that surfaced through Ward and Company Works of Art, New York, in the mid-1990s, and three bronze helmeted warriors that appeared in 1998. It has been suggested to me that these items were found with the so-called Koreschnica Krater (although its route to the market has not been disclosed). 

I am intrigued by the extremely rare gold-figured phiale showing Thetis and the armour of Achilles that surfaced through Ward and Company in 1990. Some of the best known examples of gold-figured silver plate were found at Duvanli in Bulgaria.

Where did Ward and Company Works of Art acquire these pieces? What is the authenticated documentary history for them?

Greece commenting on the return of the Steinhardt lekythos

The Hellenic Ministry of Culture has issued a press release noting its interest in the Attic white ground lekythos (αττικής λευκής ληκύθου) seized from the collection of Michael Steinhardt last week ("Ενημέρωση σχετικά με την κατάσχεση ελληνικών αρχαιοτήτων στην Νέα Υόρκη", January 7, 2018). Lekythoi such as this are normally found in cemeteries of Attica. 

It appears from the earlier report that the lekythos was among a group of antiquities acquired from William and Lynda Beierwaltes, who are known to have purchased items from Robin Symes.