Thursday, March 6, 2008

A Porphyry Tyche from the Borowski Collection

Christie's has announced one of the highlights for its June 2008 auction ("Rare Roman Statue is Extraordinary Highlight of Christie's Antiquities Spring Sale"). The "Ancient Art" department will be offering "an exquisite Roman statue of the goddess Tyche".

The piece first surfaced in 1967 and has been on loan to the Liebieghaus, Frankfurt, (1980-1986), and later at the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto (1986-1991).

G. Max Bernheimer, International Department Head for Antiquities, raves about it:
This is the most spectacular and beautiful sculpture that I have ever had the pleasure to work with ... The fact that it’s still in impeccable condition, makes it all the more exceptional.
So why comment? After all, the piece surfaced before 1970.

The reason is that the "statue was formerly in the private collection of Dr. Elie Borowski, collector and connoisseur of ancient art".

What the text fails to mention is that Borowski was also a dealer. His name is associated with the Fano Athlete (now in the J. Paul Getty Museum), and it also appears in the famous organigram that features in The Medici Conspiracy.

Bernheimer can hardly be unaware of this. The description on his website notes:
He is the author of several volumes documenting the collection of Dr. Elie Borowski including, "Ancient Gems from the Borowski Collection (2007)"; "Glories of Ancient Greece (2001)" an exhibition catalogue for ancient Greek vases and jewelry from the collection; "Reflections on Ancient Glass from the Borowski Collection (2002);" and a contributor to the exhibition catalogue "Dragons, Monsters and Fabulous Beasts (2004)" at the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem.
He has also been known to praise the Borowski collection:
This was a sale for true connoisseurs ... A variety of international buyers, including a number of prestigious museums, bid enthusiastically for pieces that once formed one of the most outstanding private collections in existence. This encyclopedic assemblage of world-class masterpieces was unparalleled in terms of quality and provenance.
No doubt there is a little bit of hype and rivalry going on. Sotheby's stole the limelight with the sale of the Guennol Lioness last December for just over US$57 million; earlier in the year they sold the bronze Artemis and a Stag for US$28.6 million. It rather places the £7.9 million raised by Christie's (London) for the Jenkins Venus in the shade.

How much will the Borowski Tyche fetch? Will another record be broken? Who knows ... "Estimate on Request".

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