Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bonhams and the Medici Statue: Additional Information

Chris Martin, Chairman of the Antiquities Dealers Association (ADA), has been commenting to the press on the Roman Marble Statue that was withdrawn from tomorrow's sale at Bonhams (lot 137). It appears that the Italian authorities had tried to retrieve the statue through the Spanish courts ("some five or so years ago").

If this is the case, it raises a number of issues.

Had the vendor disclosed to Bonhams that the statue had been the subject of a court case in Spain? Were the staff at Bonhams aware as a result of this case that the statue had once been handled by Giacomo Medici?

If so, had the staff at Bonhams informed their management that the statue was ex-Medici?

If the staff at Bonhams were comfortable that the present vendor had title, why did they withdraw the piece from the auction once its collecting history was made public?

Bonhams now need to disclose the name of the vendor of the Roman statue.

The Medici Polaroid is one significant part of the collecting history (or "provenance") of the statue. It seems hard to deny it.

Why were Bonhams prepared to take the risk given the bad publicity that was generated the last time the handled ex-Medici material? Have any others lots been consigned by the same vendor? What are their collecting histories?

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