Skip to main content

The loan of Castor and Pollux

In 2006 the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) issued new guidance on loans of archaeological material and ancient art (see earlier comments). I have been interested in the loan of the "Roman marble statuettes of Castor and Pollux" to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art (L.2008.18.1, .2). I made a formal enquiry about the collecting history for the pair from Tom Campbell and he kindly asked the Greek and Roman department to let me have the information.

A member of the department sent me details derived from when the pair passed through the Royal-Athena Galleries (Art of the Ancient World XII [2001] no. 12): "The provenance of the two Roman works on loan to the Museum is well known and published". The catalogue informs us that the statues were "probably from the Mithraeum in Sidon, excavated in the 19th century". The collecting history is laid out: "ex private collection, Lebanon; Asfar & Sarkis, Lebanon, 1950s; George Ortiz Collection, Geneva, Switzerland; collection of an American private foundation, Memphis, acquired in the early 1980s".

At some point the statues passed through the Merrin Gallery where they were published by Cornelius C. Vermeule, in Re:Collections (Merrin Gallery, 1995).

I have now asked a further question ("What is the basis for saying that the pieces were in a Lebanese private collection, and that they passed through Asfar & Sarkis in the 1950s?") and await a reply.

What is the authenticated documentary evidence to show that the pair of statues were in an anonymous private Lebanese collection and that they were handled by Asfar & Sarkis in the 1950s? Were the statues complete in the 1950s? Or were they restored in the subsequent decades? Were the statues found at Sidon? Have any other dealers handled the statues? If so, when?

As this collecting history information is said to be "well known and published", I look forward to receiving a response in due course.

Image
Castor and Pollux, on loan to New York MMA L.2008.18.1, .2
H. 61 cm (left), 63.5 cm (right).
© Christos Tsirogiannis

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Marble bull's head from the temple of Eshmun

Excavations at the temple of Eshmun in Lebanon recovered a marble bull's head. It is now suggested that it was this head, apparently first published in 1967, that was placed on loan to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art (Tom Mashberg, "Met Museum Turns Over Another Relic With Disputed Past to Prosecutors", New York Times August 1, 2017 ). The head is reported to have been handed over to the Manhattan district attorney after a request was received from the Lebanese authorities.

It is suggested that the head may have been looted from an archaeological storage area at Byblos in the 1980s during the Lebanese civil war. Mashberg has rehearsed the recent collecting history:
The owners of the bull’s head, Lynda and William Beierwaltes of Colorado, say they have clear title to the item and have sued Manhattan prosecutors for its return.  The Beierwaltes bought the head from a dealer in London in 1996 for more than $1 million and then sold it to another collector, Michael …

Sardinian warrior from "old Swiss collection"

One of the Sardinian bronzes of a warrior was seized from an as yet unnamed Manahattan gallery. It appears to be the one that passed through the Royal-Athena Gallery: Art of the Ancient World 23 (2012) no. 71. The collecting history for that warrior suggests that it was acquired in 1990 from a private collection in Geneva.

Other clues suggested that the warrior has resided in a New York private collection.

The identity of the private collection in Geneva will no doubt be telling.

The warrior also features in this news story: Jennifer Peltz, "Looted statues, pottery returned to Italy after probe in NYC", ABC News May 25 2017.

Attic amphora handed back to Italians

The research of Dr Christos Tsirogiannis has led to the return of an Attic red-figured amphora, attributed to the Harrow painter, to Italy (Tom Mashberg, "Stolen Etruscan Vessel to Be Returned to Italy", New York Times March 16, 2017).

The amphora is known to have passed through the hands of Swiss-based dealer Gianfranco Becchina in 1993, and then through a New York gallery around 2000 (although its movements between those dates are as yet undisclosed).

During the ceremony, Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., the District Attorney stated:
“When looters overrun historic sites, mine sacred spaces for prized relics, and peddle stolen property for top dollar, they do so with the implicit endorsement of all those who knowingly trade in stolen antiquities” More research clearly needs to be conducted on how material handled by Becchina passed into the North American market and into the hands of private and public collectors.