Skip to main content

From Virginia to Sicily: more returning antiquities

Elisabetta Povoledo has today reported on the return of two antiquities to Sicily from the University of Virginia Art Museum in Charlottesville ("Two Marble Sculptures to Return to Sicily", New York Times, September 1, 2007).

The two sixth-century BCE sculptures will be displayed in the archaeological museum at Aidone. They will be joined by other antiquities returning from North American collections: the "Morgantina" silver (now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York), and an acrolitihic statue in the J. Paul Getty Museum.

The Viriginia sculptures are reported to have been looted from Morgantina in the 1970s (and said to have been seen in the boot of a car in 1979). They then surfaced in the hands of Robin Symes who sold them (in 1980) to Maurice Tempelsman (for a reported US$1 million).

Antiquities from the former Tempelsman collection form part of the agreement with the J. Paul Getty Museum. Symes has also been associated with many of the returning objects from North America - and indeed others which are still under investigation.

What other agreements can be expected in the coming months?

Comments

David Gill said…
For further information:
http://www.cavalierdaily.com/CVArticle.asp?ID=30600&pid=1605
David Gill said…
See Culture Without Context 2 (Spring 1998):

Morgantina is also thought to be the probable source of the Greek acroliths - marble heads, hands and feet - of statues of the goddesses Demeter and Persephone bought by Robin Symes in Switzerland and subsequently sold to the New York collector Maurice Tempelsman in 1980 for more than $1 million (although it is claimed that the clandestine received only $ 1,100 for their labours). The Italian government is preparing yet another case but local schoolchildren had already in 1994 written to Mr Tempelsman asking for the return of their history. Italian antiquities, it seems, are now rather a risky investment, especially if their provenance is not known.

Popular posts from this blog

Codename: Ainsbrook

I have been watching (UK) Channel 4's Time Team this evening. The programme looked at an undisclosed field (under a potato crop) where a Viking burial had been found. The location in Yorkshire was so sensitive that it was given a codename: Ainsbrook. Here is the summary:
In late 2003 two metal detectorists were working in a field in Yorkshire. They found 'treasure' buried just beneath the surface – a collection of Viking material next to a body. Although they had been detecting on the site for a number of years, during which time they had made large numbers of finds, nothing they had uncovered previously compared with this. They decided to share their discovery with archaeologists.The programme explored the tension between metal-detectorists and the English Heritage sponsored archaeologists putting six trenches into the field based on a geo-physical survey. Finds made by the metal-detectorists did not easily map onto the archaeological features.

Part of the programme had an …

The scale of the returns to Italy

I have been busy working on an overview, "Returning Archaeological Objects to Italy". The scale of the returns to Italy from North American collections and galleries is staggering: in excess of 350 objects. This is clearly the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the material that has surfaced on the market without a history that can be traced back to the period before 1970. 

I will provide more information in due course, but the researcher is a reminder that we need to take due diligence seriously when it comes to making acquisitions.

Stele returns to Greece

The Hellenic Ministry of Culture has announced (Saturday 8 September 2018) that a stele that had been due to be auctioned at Sotheby's in London in June 2017 has been returned to Greece (Friday 7 September 2018). The identification had been made by Cambridge-based forensic archaeologist Dr Christos Tsirogiannis.

It appeared that the stele had been supplied with a falsified history as its presence with Becchina until 1990 contradicted the published sale catalogue entry. It then moved into the hands of George Ortiz.

A year ago it was suggested that Sotheby's should contact the Greek authorities. Those negotiations appear to have concluded successfully.

The 4th century BC stele fragment, with the personal name, Hestiaios, will be displayed in the Epigraphic Museum in Athens. It appears to have come from a cemetery in Attica.