Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Theft of Egyptian antiquities in Amsterdam: update

In May I commented on the seizure of some antiquities at an unspecified Manhattan auction-house by agents of ICE (US Immigration and Customs Enforcement). The pieces had been stolen from the Bijbels Museum in Amsterdam on July 29, 2007. The objects were identified by the staff of the Art Loss Register (ALR).

The staff of ICE seem to have been regular visitors to Manhattan auction-houses this year. Their activity includes the seizure of a Corinthian krater from Christie's on 1 June, and more recently an Apulian situla and an Attic red-figured pelike. A Roman wall-painting was also seized from the premises of a Manhattan auction-house at the beginning of June, again with the assistance of the ALR.

But to return to the stolen Egyptian antiquities. Judith H. Dobrzynski on "Real Clear Arts" also covered the story (May 28, 2009) but telephoned the ALR where she spoke to a member of staff:
When I called Christopher A. Marinello, ALR's executive director, he declined to name the auction house, but he said that it was one of the big two -- Christie's and Sotheby's.
Today I emailed the press offices of both auction houses.

The press office at Sotheby's was extremely helpful and sent me a short comment:
I’ve now checked with our New York office since I had no recollection of this, and I can confirm that no seizure of this description took place at Sotheby’s.
The public relations officer at Christie's sent a brief statement:
I am unable to confirm this.

I am extremely grateful to the relevant press officers for their prompt and instructive responses.

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