Saturday, 1 September 2007

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?


David Gill said...

For further information:

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.

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