I was rather surprised to read the rather unbalanced and uncritical article by Maria Baugh, "Antiquities: The Hottest Investment", Time, December 12, 2007. She has clearly been distracted by the sale of the Guennol lion. But Time does seem to have moved into a pro-collecting-and-ignore-the-consequences position reflected in interviews with Philippe de Montebello, as well as reports on the restrictions of coin imports from Cyprus.
Baugh quotes Hicham Aboutaam of Phoenix Ancient Art:
Check the authenticity of the piece. Who is selling it and who has seen it in terms of scholars or experts?Perhaps the buyer needs to do a little bit more than that. Is the piece known before 1970? Is the documentation secure? Who were the previous collectors? Are they named or anonymous?
And certainly check who is selling it. This is important given the associations between certain North American dealers and the antiquities returned to Italy over the last few years. But Baugh does not even consider this as an issue.
No doubt the advice will be to check the Art Loss Register. But that does not have a good track record for newly surfaced antiquities.
You can be certain that I will not be buying antiquities for Christmas.
Nadolig llawen i chi!