Thursday, December 4, 2008

Atlantis Antiquities in the Press: an Overview

I have been reviewing the appearance of Atlantis Antiquities in the press.

One of the earliest mentions was back in 1988: Rita Reif, "Archaic Smiles Have Persisted For 2,000 Years", New York Times June 19, 1988. This commented on the exhibition, ''Greek and Etruscan Art of the Archaic Period" [Catalogue]
The exhibition is the first in memory at a New York gallery to present a broad view of the Archaic Period, and the first major show presented at Atlantis, which opened 21 months ago. The 70 works in terra cotta, marble, painted clay, bronze, amber and gold were selected by Robert Hecht Jr., an American antiquities dealer based in Paris. Mr. Hecht is a part-owner of the gallery, along with Jonathan Rosen, a real estate developer and collector of ancient art. Andrea Hecht, the dealer's daughter, is the director of the gallery.
The gallery then featured in a report on antiquities from Turkey (Geraldine Norman, "Talking Turkey; Who owns the treasures of antiquity? The Turkish government has been fighting American museums for the return of some splendid hoards. But only laws that ensure finders fair compensation will prevent smuggling", The Independent June 13, 1993).
It was the sculpted marble leg of a very grand Hellenistic table, which they found on show at Atlantis Antiquities, a New York gallery that he [sc. Hecht] managed for Jonathan Rosen - a millionaire lawyer who is also a keen collector of antiquities. The sculpture depicts a Scythian slave sharpening the knife with which he intends - on Apollo's instructions - to flay Marsyas, who is strung up on a nearby tree.
The sculpture was reported to have been traced back to a farmer Philadelphia in Turkey. The case was resolved when the piece was donated to the American Turkish Society.

Atlantis Antiquities has also been in the news over some of the antiquities returned from the J. Paul Getty Museum (Hugh Eakin, "Embattled Getty Curator Steps Down", The New York Times October 4, 2005). In October 2005 a bronze Etruscan candelabrum was handed over to Italian officials.
The Getty acquired the candelabrum in 1990 from Atlantis Antiquities, a New York gallery, for $60,000, according to evidence in the indictment. But Italian police have traced the object, along with another Getty acquisition named in the indictment, to a private collection in Florence, from which it was stolen. The other object, a bronze tripod, was returned by the Getty to Italy in 1997.

Italian prosecutors say that in both cases the objects were smuggled by Giacomo Medici, an Italian dealer based in Geneva, and passed on, via a third party, to Robert Hecht, the owner of Atlantis Antiquities.
Among the more recent returns to Italy that had passed through Atlantis Antiquities was an Apulian loutrophoros attributed to the Metope group that was purchased by the Getty in 1984 (formerly inv. 84.AE.996) as well as an Attic black-figured amphora, attributed to the painter of Berlin 1686, once in the Fleischman collection. Two pieces once in Boston had passed through the same gallery: an Attic black-figured lekythos attributed to the Diosphos painter (formerly inv. 1989.317) and an Apulian amphora attributed to the Darius painter (formerly inv. 1991.437).

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