Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Further sightings on the London market

Glasgow University researcher Dr Christos Tsirogiannis has identified four items that are due to be auctioned at Christie's King Street (London) on 1 October 2015. I understand that Interpol, the Carabinieri Art Squad and Scotland Yard Art and Antiques Unit have been notified.

Three of the lots come from the Heissmeyer Collection (lots 1-34).
The Heissmeyer collection brings together vases and figural vessels of Greek antiquity from Athens to South Italy, dating from the 8th-4th century B.C. Professor Heissmeyer assembled his collection in affection for the craftsmanship of the ancient potter and painter, considering the vases his 'guests', and as such 'able to move on and delight others'. Prof. Heissmeyer published his collection in two volumes: Vasen und figürliche Gefässe aus der griechischen Antike. Katalog einer süddeutschen Sammlung, Dettelbach, 2008 and Vases and Figure-Shaped Vessels of Greek Antiquity: Catalogue of a Collection in South Germany, Schwäbisch Hall, 2015 (referred to below as 'Vasen, 2008' and 'Vases, 2015').

The pieces are:

Lot 6. Attic head vase.
Estimate: £4000-£6000.
Collecting history:
Private collection, Germany, acquired prior to 1990. with Galerie am Museum Jürgen Haering, Freiburg. Prof. H.-H. Heissmeyer collection, Schwäbisch Hall, acquired from the above in 2005 (inv. no. 32).
Publication: Vasen, 2008, no. 19 and Vases, 2015, p. 67, no. 21.
Although a number for the Beazley Archive is provided (9024860) this does not appear to refer to a specific item.
Tsirogiannis notes that a Polaroid photograph that appears to show this oinochoe features in the Becchina archive. A note shows that it was sent for restoration on 1 December 1989 to Sandro Cimicchi.


Lot 8. Attic black-figured Droop cup
Estimate: £4000-£6000.
Collecting history:
Private collection, Switzerland, acquired prior to 1980. with Galerie am Museum Jürgen Haering, Freiburg. Prof. H.-H. Heissmeyer collection, Schwäbisch Hall, acquired from the above in 1995 (inv. no. 17). 
Publication: Vasen, 2008, no. 3 and Vases, 2015, p. 15, no. 5.
Although a number for the Beazley Archive is provided (9024849) this does not appear to refer to a specific item.
Tsirogiannis notes that the cup appear to feature in the Becchina archive.  A note suggests that this was one of four cups purchased by Raffaele Monticelli on 4 March 1993. Becchina's Polaroid is marked that it was sold to 'Hae[ring]'.

Lot 16. Attic red-figured lekythos, attributed to the Sabouroff painter
Estimate: £7000-£10000
Collecting history:
Private collection, United Kingdom, acquired prior to 1980. with Galerie am Museum Jürgen Haering, Freiburg. Prof. H.-H. Heissmeyer collection, Schwäbisch Hall, acquired from the above in 1992 (inv. no. 23). Beazley Archive no. 21590.
Although a number for the Beazley Archive is provided (21590) this does not appear to refer to a specific item.
Publication: J. H. Oakley, The Achilles Painter, Mainz, 1997, pl. 181C. Vasen, 2008, no. 9 and Vases, 2015, p. 31, no. 10.
Tsirogiannis notes that the lekythos appears in the Becchina archive. A note suggests that the transaction took place in November 1978.


Lot 93. Attic red-figured lekythos attributed to the Nikon painter
Estimate: £25000-£30000
Collecting history:
Anonymous sale; Münzen und Medaillen AG, Basel, 14 November 1986, lot 213. Formerly private collection, Japan, acquired privately in 1997.
Tsirogiannis notes that this lot was confiscated in the Geneva Freeport by the Swiss authorities from Noriyoshi Horiuchi in 2008 (see Operation Andromeda). He also notes that the lekythos has been offered for sale by Phoenix Ancient Art (website) and subsequently sold. [It also features on pinterest.] It is not clear why Christie's have not provided the full collecting history for the lekythos.

It appears that Christie's has not conducted a sufficiently rigorous due diligence process to identify material from the Becchina archive. Will the auction house be withdrawing the lots prior to the sale?

I am grateful to Dr Tsirogiannis for sharing his identifications with me.


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