Monday, September 30, 2013

George Zakos and Chicago

Readers of The Medici Conspiracy will be aware of the links between Robert Hecht and George Zakos. In 2008 the Art Institute of Chicago acquired some 58 votives, perhaps derived from Thessaly in Greece [Annual Report]. They date to the Geometric and archaic periods. The collecting history of the pieces is given as follows:
George Zakos of Basel, Switzerland since at least 1965 as reported by the owner of Ariadne Galleries to Mrs. Walter Alexander [email in curatorial file]; purchased by Ariadne Galleries of New York, New York in or around 1975; purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Walter Alexander of Geneva, Illinois in 1985; donated to the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois in 2008.
These objects now appear on the AAMD Object Registry. Their acquisition is justified as follows:
based on the results of provenance research, the Art Institute of Chicago can make an informed judgment that the object was outside its probable country of modern discovery before 1970. The collection of fifty-eight objects was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Alexander in 1985 from Ariadne Galleries of New York, New York. According to Mrs. Walter Alexander, the owner of Ariadne Galleries reported to her that he purchased the entire collection from George Zakos of Basel, Switzerland, around 1975, and that it was his understanding that Mr. Zakos had owned the objects for at least ten years. The Art Institute of Chicago has been unable to confirm this information with Mr. Zakos, as he is now deceased.
The Ariadne Galleries are linked to the handling of the Icklingham Bronzes removed from Suffolk, England.

So how did the curatorial staff at the Art Institute of Chicago pursue a due diligence search? Did they see authenticated documentation? Did they research the background of the dealers? When did these Thessalian antiquities leave Greek soil?

And what does this acquisition tell us about the then President and Director of the AIC, James Cuno?

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