|Source: The Art Newspaper|
It is significant that Christie's appears to have sold the portrait with a falsified collecting history: "private collection, Switzerland, circa 1975; acquired by the present owner in Switzerland in 1988". It was thus placed in Switzerland long before it had been stolen in Libya.
This raises some key issues. How did the staff at Christie's conduct a due diligence process for this statue? What documentation had they seen? What made them convinced that the Swiss collecting history was accurate?
And Christie's has a responsibility to disclose to police authorities who had consigned the portrait to them. Has any additional material been consigned by the same source?
This is not a "one off" for Christie's in London, see, for example, a head from Butrint. And Christie's itself has been handling disputed material in recent years. (See also an earlier overview.)
Why is Christie's appearing so frequently in such cases? Perhaps those in senior positions in the auction house should start to ask some searching questions about their department of ancient art.