Skip to main content

Jerome Eisenberg returns antiquities: new deal with Italy

Reports are breaking that Jerome Eisenberg of the Royal-Athena Galleries in New York has returned eight antiquities worth US$510,000 to Italy (Alessandra Migliaccio and Adam L. Freeman, "Art Dealer Eisenberg Returns Antiquities to Italy", Bloomberg.com, November 6, 2007; Ariel David, "Looted Art Returns to Italy From NY", Guardian Unlimited, November 6, 2007).

This comes hard on the heels of the news that Princeton has come to an agreement with Italy.

The items, some of which had already been sold, include "three bronze Etruscan statues, four vases" and "a 1st century Roman statue of a reclining woman that was used to decorate a fountain". Two items are reported to have been returned to Italy in the fall of 2006.

Ariel David notes that most of the returning items were acquired at auction in London during the 1980s.

Eisenberg, who has been exhibiting at the Basel Ancient Art Fair over the last few days, is quoted as saying:

It was the right thing to do and maybe it will set an example for other people.

Who are the other people? Fellow dealers or private collectors?

Royal-Athena Galleries, which handled some of the antiquities that have been returned from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu, belong to the International Association of Dealers in Ancient Art (IADAA).

It is now clear that the Code of Ethics and the due diligence processes conducted by members of the IADAA are not rigorous enough.

Perhaps more significant is the fact that members of the IADAA agree to the following action:
All members undertake to check objects with a purchase value of Euro 3000 or over (or local currency equivalent) with the Art Loss Register unless the item has already been checked.

Antiquities worth over half a million US dollars are likely to have fallen into this category.

Did the Art Loss Register (ALR) --- an organisation also present at Basel --- issue certificates to say that the items had been checked? And if so, does the ALR need to address, as a matter of urgency, the issue of researching antiquities ?

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

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.



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 …