Thursday, May 16, 2013

"Convincing provenance" and the London market

Readers of LM will know that I keep emphasising the need for properly documented "collecting histories". It now appears that Egyptian antiquities, with what were termed "convincing provenances", had to be withdrawn from a sale at Christie's (London) earlier this month (Georgina Adam, "Apples - only $41.6m a bowl", Financial Times May 10, 2013). It seems that the material had come from a recently looted tomb near Thebes ("they were believed to have been stolen from a recently discovered and excavated tomb in Thebes"). We perhaps should note the FT's careless use of the word "excavated". The reported collecting history was that the objects came from an uncle who had served in Egypt during the Second World War.

It is a good reminder that auction houses need to apply more rigorous processes during their research on lots.

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