Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Brazil's Cultural Heritage

There is a report in Attractions Management about the pillaging of cultural property in Brazil ("Brazilian states fight back to protect cultural heritage from trafficking", August 26, 2014). There is a small exhibition to mark objects that have been recovered. But the scale of acknowledged theft is huge:
Over the past 12 years, the Minas Gerais Office of the Public Prosecutor for Cultural Heritage and Tourism (CPPC) has recorded the loss of 700 objects of cultural value, though it estimates even more have been lost because most of the objects were never catalogued.
It looks as if this is another area where museums and private collectors need to adopt a more due diligence process before making an acquisition.

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Was Kaloterna 'disappeared'?

Egyptian mummy mask excavated at Saqqara
Paul Barford has written on the Kaloterna collection that once (allegedly) possessed the Egyptian mummy mask discovered at Saqqara and for the time being in the St Louis Art Museum (SLAM). He raises an uncomfortable possibility for the curatorial team at SLAM:
One might quite legitimately ask, whether there is a possibility that Kaloterna was 'disappeared' by the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia's State Security Apparatus for political reasons.
I am sure that SLAM officials would not wish to be seen to have gained an object that could have been released back onto the market by such a means.

Did the SLAM rigorous due diligence process explore (and eliminate) this possibility?

My own position is that I think that it is likely that the Kaloterna collection is fictional. No authenticated documentation has yet been produced through the due diligence process to show that it existed.

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Is the Kaloterna collection fictional?

Egyptian mummy mask
reported to have formed part of
"the Kaloterna collection"
Just over a month ago I raised some questions about the Kaloterna collection. Nobody has pointed me in the direction of other objects from this collection. Could this collection be fictional?

What is the authenticated evidence that Zuzi Jelinek acquired this mask from the Kaloterna collection? Did this take place in the early 1960s? Where was Jelinek living when the acquisition was made? Does Jelinek have any (up to now overlooked) record among her papers?

If the Kaloterna collection did not exist, where does it leave the due diligence research by curatorial staff at the St Louis Art Museum? Would it mean that the mask was acquired "improperly" (to borrow a word from SLAM's Director)?

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Visual Heritage Project

Apsara Iyer has been researching the formation and persistence of antiquities trafficking markets in Peru and India. Iyer has now launched the Visual Heritage Project.
The site aims to crowd sources images for archaeological sites from Instagram or Flickr and pairs these photos with older archival images. The goal is to create a visual record of archaeological sites that allows viewers to see how a location has changed over time and can be consulted in cases of looting, automatically updating to incorporate up-to-date photography via public social media posts. Right now, the crucial step is raising awareness about the site to gather more photographs and documentation. 
Readers of LM should consider contributing to the project.

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Danbury Metal Detecting Club

I note that the forthcoming sitcom, 'The Detectorists', will include the fictional Danbury Metal Detecting Club.

Is the name a coincidence?

Danbury Place in Essex was the home of Sofia Disney ffytche, the wife of Dr John Disney of The Hyde.

And archaeologists reading this will know the significance of Disney.

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

The Detectorists of Suffolk

Cemetery site in Suffolk © David Gill
Will Gompertz has a commentary on the forthcoming BBC sitcom 'The Detectorists', ' about a couple of middle-aged men with a passion for metal detecting'. The latest number of Saxon (the Newsletter of the Sutton Hoo Society) [59, July 2014] has a feature on the programme noting it is about 'two metal detectorists who dream of finding a priceless Saxon hoard'.

Are we conjuring up images of Sutton Hoo, Rendlesham, or perhaps even the Staffordshire Hoard?

The series has been filmed in Suffolk, Norfolk and Suffolk and will apparently feature Orford and Framlingham.

I could think of a couple of walk-in parts for the series including the North American collector who acquires Roman bronzes dug up from a Suffolk farm.

But perhaps I am moving away from fiction.

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

ADCAEA: Collector of Egyptian Antiquities

I have been reflecting on the Association of Dealers & Collectors of Ancient & Ethnographic Art (ADCAEA). One of the three board members is Joop Bollen. Bollen is a collector of Egyptian antiquities (see "Joop Bollen, directeur South Dakota International Business Institute", volkskrant.nl 2 February 2002 [translation here]).

In 2011 Bollen donated an Egyptian mummy mask to the Michael C. Carlos Museum (inv. 2011.017.001). No further information about the prior collecting history is provided on the museum's website. There is a short piece about the gift on the Emory University website ("Art Collector Donates Rare Works to Carlos Museum", Emory Magazine Winter 2013).

These are not the only gifts to the museum:
Collector and friend Joop Bollen has donated several important Egyptian works of art to the Michael C. Carlos Museum, including a Middle Kingdom wooden sarcophagus and a large Nineteenth Dynasty limestone relief slab called a stela.
What are the full documented and authenticated collecting histories of these three pieces?

There seems to be an association with the Egyptology curator at the Museum:
Bollen, a business leader based in South Dakota, is a longtime collector whose interest in antiquities led him to a close association with Peter Lacovara, senior curator of Egyptian, Nubian, and Near Eastern Art at the Carlos Museum.
If ADCAEA is promoting more transparency ('open communication') in the antiquities market, we would expect to see disclosure when collectors donate to museums.

And whatever happened to Culturegrrl's request to the Museum? (Or, for that matter, mine?)


Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Theft from the Italian Chapel in Orkney



BBC Journalist Dave Grey is reporting this evening that there have been thefts from the Italian Chapel in Orkney. This building was created by Italian POWs during the Second World War.

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

A coin hoard from the Levant?

I notice that Classical Numismatic Group, Inc. is selling a coin hoard ('Eastern Hacksilber') [CNG 97, lot 1 ]. It consists of 'Hoard of 32 Cut Silver Coins, Hacksilber, and Jewelry', and dates to the late 5th century BC. The hoard contains three fragmentary coins of Sidon.

The information about the lot informs us:
'Uncertain find spot, but the composition of the hoard is consistent with others found in the Levant'.
What is the previous documented collecting history of this hoard? Who was the previous proprietor?

Where in the 'Levant' was this hoard found? When was it found?

Can we be certain that all the pieces of the 'hoard' were found together? Are there other parts of the hoard that are not being offered here? Have parts been retained?

This hoard illustrates some of the intellectual consequences of dealing with numismatic material that has no documented find-spot.

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Greece and the Michael C. Carlos Museum



The Michael C. Carlos Museum seems to be trying to stall on the issues surrounding the acquisition of three Greek objects in 2002 and 2004. This is a case that was highlighted in 2007.

Will the museum release the full authenticated collecting histories of the three objects?

Why does the Minoan larnax apparently appear in the dossier of photographs and documentation seized in Switzerland?

And the same is true for the pithos with impress decoration.

The 2008 press statement is well worth re-reading for outlining the museum's policy towards acquisitions.

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

ADCAEA: Code of Conduct Updated

At the end of last week I commented on the ADCAEA Code of Conduct.

And it has clearly been changed to include 'archaeological sites':
  • All members undertake not to purchase, sell or exhibit an object until they have exercised, to the best of their ability, due diligence to ensure such object was not knowingly stolen from archaeological sites, excavations, architectural or religious monuments, public institutions or private property.
ADCAEA must be praised for their swift revision.

But it does leave a question over the advice they received over the wording of their Code of Conduct.


Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Monday, August 11, 2014

ADCAEA: who is one of the officers?

I have discussed the Association of Dealers & Collectors of Ancient & Ethnographic Art (ADCAEA) elsewhere. This association has as one of its aims:
  • To educate and inform members on policies and laws that affects the international movement of cultural property
I note that the Treasurer for this association is Joseph Lewis II.

Is this Joseph Lewis II the same one who loaned Egyptian material to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts? And the same one who loaned Egyptian material to Boston's Museum of Fine Arts (as spotted by Lee Rosenbaum)? And the same Joseph Lewis II who donated material to the Michael C. Carlos Museum (an institution which has been less than forthcoming about the acquisitions)?

Is this the same individual who was linked to the Egyptian coffin that was intercepted in Miami where it was described as 'agricultural products' after being shipped by a Barcelona galerista? (For corrected name.)

And is this the same collector who was named in the Khouli case? (See also Rick St Hilaire with update.)

If the Treasurer of ADCAEA is indeed the collector of Egyptian antiquities, please could ADCAEA release full details (including authenticated collecting histories) of all the donations and loans made by this individual?

After all, ADCAEA has as another of its aims:
  • To promote awareness and understanding of ancient and ethnographic art collecting through open communication with members and the public.

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Friday, August 8, 2014

Lydian Stelai returned to Turkey

Two of the Lydian stelai due to be returned to Turkey.
Source: Hurriyet Daily News
The Turkish press is reporting that 10 Lydian stelai have been returned after a raid, presumably in Washington DC, with police officers and the FBI in May this year ("FBI returns the smuggled Lydian artifacts to Turkey", Hurriyet Daily News August 6, 2014). It appears that the stelai surfaced in 2006 and were spotted for sale. They date from the 1st to 3rd centuries AD.
The officials declined to give details about the recovery of the artifacts, saying information was being withheld to prevent illegal traders from being informed of their operations.
The dealer has not been named in the press releases although there are suggestions from reliable sources on social media.

It is a reminder that large objects continue to be moved around on the international antiquities market, and that dealers continue to offer such objects.

Will the FBI be commenting on the Washington DC vendor? What other objects are for sale?

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

ADCAEA: an association for dealers and collectors

Paul Barford's post on the Association of Dealers & Collectors of Ancient & Ethnographic Art (ADCAEA) has attracted my attention (adcaea.wildapricot.org). It is not clear why a new body is needed. One of the two dealers, Hixenbaugh Ancient Art, is already a member of the International Association of Dealers in Ancient Art (IADAA).

I would like to focus on one point in the Code of Conduct.
All members undertake not to purchase, sell or exhibit an object until they have exercised, to the best of their ability, due diligence to ensure such object was not knowingly stolen from excavations, architectural monuments, public institutions or private property.
It is remarkably similar to the one from the IADAA:
The members of IADAA undertake not to purchase or sell objects until they have established to the best of their ability that such objects were not stolen from excavations, architectural monuments, public institutions or private property.
Both the ADCAEA and the IADAA seem to condemn removal of archaeological or ethnographic material from "excavations". But what about from known or even scheduled archaeological sites that have not been excavated?

So, for example, imagine a known Roman urban site that is covered by arable fields. Would it be acceptable for members of ADCAEA (or for that matter IADAA) to handle material that had been removed from that site on the grounds that the structures had not been "excavated"? I am sure that they would say no.

So why use the word "excavations" rather than "archaeological sites" in the formulation?

I am sure that both bodies have taken legal advice to avoid careless wording. So we can only presume that in the case of ADCAEA that this is intentional.

And those who observe these things will note the presence of a paid lobbyist on the list of officers for ADCAEA. What signal does that send out about this new association?

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Collector or dealer?

I have been contacted about the status of Dr Arnold-Peter Weiss who is associated with coins that will be returning to Greece.

The ANS describes him as follows:
A collector of ancient coins, Dr. Weiss is one of the founding Partners of the second incarnation of the firm Nomos AG, of Zürich, Switzerland.
In other words he is both collector and dealer.

The recent case suggested that he was actively dealing:
Weiss was aiming to sell one of them [sc. coins] for about $350,000 and two others for about $1.2 million apiece, prosecutors said.
Coin World described him as a collector:
Dr. Arnold-Peter C. Weiss, the collector who was arrested and had coins seized Jan. 3 in New York City
We can only presume that the "collection" was known as "Cabinet W". And it appears that Weiss was the intending "seller" of these coins.

And Weiss also has clear links with Nomos AG of Zurich, Switzerland. (And see also here for the link between Nomos AG, Classical Numismatic Group and Cabinet W.)

Weiss claims to be "Trustee of the American Numismatic Society (New York)" though he is not listed in that capacity on the ANS website.

For the interchange between collector and dealer see the case of the Minneapolis krater.

So do dealers collect? Do collectors deal? How long do the "valued" objects remain in a collection before another "collector" is offered the opportunity to acquire them?

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Coins returning to Greece from Rhode Island collector

Coins that had passed through the hands of a North American private collector have been returned to Greece ("U.S. returning ancient Greek coins after Manhattan DA prosecutes prominent collector", New York Daily News August 4, 2014). It is reported:
The coins were part of a case against noted Rhode Island hand surgeon and coin aficionado Dr. Arnold-Peter Weiss, whose January 2012 arrest during a coin auction at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel roiled the numismatic world.  
An orthopedics professor at Brown University's Alpert Medical School and author of a hand-surgery textbook, Weiss also had been on a coin collector and investor for 35 years and had served as on the board of the American Numismatic Society.  
He later pleaded guilty to attempted criminal possession of stolen property.
LM reported on the initial story back in January 2012 (as it broke during the AIA Annual Conference). The "haul" included three modern creations that may have been identified as a result of "Operation Ghelas". Issues relating to Weiss' plea were also reported in July 2012. It is also important to remember that Weiss is reported, by the ANS, to be "one of the founding Partners of the second incarnation of the firm Nomos AG, of Zürich, Switzerland". Weiss' role in the Swiss based company still features on their website. Does this case have any implications for Nomos AG?

There are some key issues that need to be addressed. How far have sophisticated numismatic forgeries penetrated the market? Do collectors, such as Dr Weiss, feel comfortable handling material that they have (apparently) been informed was fresh out of the ground? Is the numismatic market as toxic as that for antiquities? Will the ANS be making a statement about the case? What are the full documented collecting histories for the coins that Weiss has presented to the ANS?

Further details on the Weiss case can be found here.


Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Northampton set to appeal

The local newspaper in Northampton is reporting that the leader of the Council is planning to appeal against the decision by Arts Council England to remove accreditation from the Borough Council's museums. 

I am sure that Northampton Borough Council will be releasing the full details of their consultation with the Museums Association and ACE prior to the sale of the Egyptian statue.  

Friday, August 1, 2014

Northampton decision by Arts Council England

Today's announcement by Arts Council England indicates that museums in Northampton have lost their accredited status. in effect this means that they will be unable to apply for arts related grants for at least the next five years.

ACE has taken this decision due to the deaccessioning and sale of an Egyptian statue donated to Northampton Museum and Art Gallery.

who are the losers? 

First the people of Northampton. Not only have they lost a first rate Egyptian statue of international significance, but now the plans to develop their local museum will have to be shelved for at least five years.  I Understand that this has divided the Northampton community but this ruling effects everyone, whichever side they had taken. moreover this decision has damaged the reputation of Northampton.

Second the curatorial team in the museum service in Northampton. they are now implicated in the decision to deaccession the statue. they need to make it clear if they spoke out against the decision.

Third the Friends of Northampton Museum and Art Gallery. This body has tried to support the museum but its endeavours will now be in vain.

Fourth the wider general public in the UK who expect museums to preserve and protect objects that they acquire for the good of all.

Fifth local politicians who do not appear to have taken appropriate advice before selling the statue.

I am sure that there will be  recriminations in Northampton as those responsible for this chain of actions  face up to the consequences of their actions.


LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails