Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pre-Columbian antiquities: Leonardo Patterson points finger towards Germany

There has been much comment about the return of 45 pre-Columbian antiquities to Peru (AFP). These pieces were handed over by King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain during a state visit. At least twelve of the objects derived from illegal digging in the Lords of Sipan cemetery in the 1980s.

It is reported:
The artifacts were among 253 pieces that Spanish police seized in 2007 from a warehouse owned by Costa Rican Leonardo Patterson, a renowned antiquities dealer and former U.N. cultural attache.
(For the original seizure: "Perú reclama a España 241 piezas precolombinas incautadas a un costarricense", AFP, August 26, 2007 [online].)

The latest report added:
Patterson denies any wrongdoing, saying the artifacts were on loan from German businessman and collector Anton Roeckl for the exhibit.

"I wish they would keep my name out of it," Patterson said Monday in Germany. "I gave all that stuff back to Mr. Roeckl. It's his."

Roeckl declined to comment.

The remaining 208 artifacts from the seizure are being packaged in Spain and will be repatriated shortly, National Culture Institute director Cecilia Bakula said.

A profile of Anton Roeckl has appeared: Eberhard Vogt, "Sammler ohne Grenzen", Focus Magazin, no. 14, April 3, 2000. This includes a discussion of the Kunstbeteiligungsfonds der Deutschen Bank, as well as the testimony of Peter Gantz. Gantz notes that his pieces were purchased either at auction or "ordnungsgemaess erworben" (in other words, purchased in "good faith").

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