Monday, December 13, 2010

German Courts and an Apulian Helmet

Last week a German court rejected an Italian claim on a helmet that is alleged to have been removed from an archaeological context in Apulia (Sabine Deckwerth, "Prozess um einen Paradehelm Italien verlangt einen wertvollen antiken Kopfschutz zurück - und zog deshalb vor das Verwaltungsgericht", Berliner Zeitung December 10, 2010). The Italians claim it came from illicit activity in 1993 ("Der hegte einen Verdacht: Dass der Helm aus einer Raubgrabung in Apulien im Jahre 1993 stammt.") The helmet, dating from between 900 and 700 BCE, then passed to the Axel Guttman collection, and after his death in 2001 was offered on the London market (2002). It was spotted in a catalogue by an Italian academic, and in 2004 Italian authorities submitted a claim; the helmet was seized pending the court case.

The German judge has stated that the Italian authorities were unable to demonstrate that the piece had been looted or been able to show when the helmet entered Germany ("Man wisse nicht, ob der Helm tatsächlich aus einer Raubgrabung stammt und wann er von Italien nach Deutschland gelangte"). The court decided to apply a statue of limitation to the case which expired in 2008.

What was the fully documented collecting history for the Apulian helmet?


Sales of the Axel Guttmann collection include:


For earlier comments on the role of Germany in the antiquities market see here.


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