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

Marble bull's head from the temple of Eshmun

Excavations at the temple of Eshmun in Lebanon recovered a marble bull's head. It is now suggested that it was this head, apparently first published in 1967, that was placed on loan to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art (Tom Mashberg, "Met Museum Turns Over Another Relic With Disputed Past to Prosecutors", New York Times August 1, 2017 ). The head is reported to have been handed over to the Manhattan district attorney after a request was received from the Lebanese authorities.

It is suggested that the head may have been looted from an archaeological storage area at Byblos in the 1980s during the Lebanese civil war. Mashberg has rehearsed the recent collecting history:
The owners of the bull’s head, Lynda and William Beierwaltes of Colorado, say they have clear title to the item and have sued Manhattan prosecutors for its return.  The Beierwaltes bought the head from a dealer in London in 1996 for more than $1 million and then sold it to another collector, Michael …

The Toledo skyphos and a Swiss private collection

The Attic red-figured skyphos attributed to the Kleophon painter in the Toledo Museum of Art (inv. 1982.88) is now coming under further scrutiny following the research of Dr Christos Tsirogiannis. The skyphos shows Hephaistos returning to Olympos.

Tsirogiannis has identified what appears to be this skyphos in five photographs in the Medici Dossier. The museum acknowledged that the skyphos had resided in a 'private Swiss collection'. Tsirogiannis suggests that this is probably a reference to Medici.

Enquiries to the museum by Tsirogiannis elicited the information that the skyphos had been acquired from Nicholas Koutoulakis (although that information does not appear on the museum's online catalogue).

The curatorial team at the Toledo Museum of Art will, no doubt, be contacting the Italian authorities to discuss the future residence of the skyphos.

For further discussion of the Toledo Museum of Art on LM see here.

Reference
Tsirogiannis, C. 2017. "Nekyia: Museum ethics an…

Metropolitan Museum of Art hands over Paestan krater

In May 2014 I commented on a Paestan krater acquired by New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art after it had been identified by Dr Christos Tsirogiannis in photographic images seized from Giacomo Medici. Tsirogiannis published his full concerns in the Journal of Art Crime in 2014, but it has taken a further three years for the museum to respond.

The krater showing Dionysos in a hand-drawn cart was purchased in 1989 from the Bothmer Purchase Fund (details from the Museum's website, inv. 1989.11.4). The krater surfaced through Sotheby's New York in June 1989.

It is unclear who consigned the krater to Sotheby's New York.

It has now been revealed that the krater has been handed over to the US authorities after a warrant had been issued (Tom Mashberg, "Ancient Vase Seized From Met Museum on Suspicion It Was Looted", New York Times July 31, 2018).

It appears that the museum did make an attempt to resolve the case in December 2016. Mashberg notes:
The Met, for its par…