Skip to main content

Shelby White: "it’s not as though she is hiding anything"

Back in 2006 Frances Marzio, a curator at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, was interviewed for The New York Observer (Jason Horowitz, "How Hot Vase It?", February 19, 2006). The context was the investigation by Italian authorities into objects in the Shelby White collection including an Attic red-figured calyx-krater attributed to the Eucharides painter.
The krater is one of several objects named some time ago in documents obtained by The New York Observer, in which Italian prosecutors charge that several key treasures in Ms. Shelby’s collection were mined illegally from Italian soil.
Horowitz continued:
On Monday, Paolo Ferri, a leading prosecutor in the Italian investigation, told The Observer that his team had unearthed fresh evidence on Jan. 31 linking new items in Ms. White’s collection to the Aboutaam family, the owners of the Phoenix Ancient Art gallery and the target of several investigations and convictions in Egypt and New York. ...

“Now we have new documents through Aboutaam,” said Mr. Ferri. “We have photographs and paper trails that link even more of the Levy-White collection to the Aboutaams and [Giacomo] Medici ... The connection is very strong.”

He would not specify which new pieces in Ms. White’s collection were coming under scrutiny as a result of the Aboutaam evidence.
How did Shelby White respond back in 2006?
Let me put it this way: We bought in good faith, we published everything, we supported archeology, and we supported conservation ... We acted in good faith, and if we did anything wrong, I am prepared to address that.
And that probably explains why on mid-January she handed over nine antiquities to Italian authorities (and a tenth will follow). (We are still waiting for the publication of the list, though nine of the pieces are going on display in Rome.)

So it was back in 2006 that Frances Marzio was asked about her views on Shelby White:
“In the case of people like Shelby White, it’s not as though she is hiding anything,” said Frances Marzio, a curator at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. “She is lending things internationally, publishing things. I don’t see any deviousness; she funds excavations. If you don’t put things out there, how will we learn about their history? You take a risk by putting things out there. People could claim it.”
What we now know is that at the time a bronze krater was on loan from Shelby White to Houston.

Frances Marzio reassures us about Shelby White:
it’s not as though she is hiding anything.
Shelby White has been quoted as saying:
I want to be helpful.
So there is nothing to hide and Shelby White wants to be helpful.

Please could the collecting history for the bronze krater in Houston be disclosed?

Image

Attic red-figured calyx-krater attributed to the Eucharides painter. Once in the Shelby White collection; once on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; perhaps handed over to Italian authorities. Source: The New York Observer.

Comments

phrygian said…
The poll has shown that vast majority of this blog readers would like to know the history of the Shelby White bronze krater (The Koreschnica Krater) on loan to the MFA in Houston.

The results are representative for the view of the informed public in general and as such should be presented to the MFA in Houston (and maybe to Shelby White?).

The MFA in Houston, or any museum for that matter, can not ignore the view of the public when its very existence is based upon that public and aimed at serving the same.

It would be very informative to know where MFA stands on this poll. A no reply would be just repeated confirmation of scraping the AAMD Guidelines and choosing to serve private interests instead (those of Shelby White in this case).

For background on how deep and enduring Shelby White's privileges are, see "Statues of Limitations" The Village Voice, August 22nd, 2000. Shelby's interlocking within the Academia is especially intriguing, knowing that she holds no degree in any related field.
David Gill said…
Thank you for these comments and link to The Village Voice. Hillary Rodham Clinton's comments on the "Weary Herakles" are very relevant.
David Gill said…
See comments by Janice Berg at "Up For Grabs".
phrygian said…
Good news!

As the public pressure upon MFAH mounts, the curatorial staff there will need rethink their position and adjust the museum’s loan acceptance and disclosure policies, as well as start cooperating with their colleagues.

The article "Borrowing trouble / Long-term loans don't let museums off the hook" that Janice Berg refers to, was pulled off-line around 9 PM GMT on Tuesday, March 4, 2008 --- just hours after David Gill’s comment...

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 …

Sardinian warrior from "old Swiss collection"

One of the Sardinian bronzes of a warrior was seized from an as yet unnamed Manahattan gallery. It appears to be the one that passed through the Royal-Athena Gallery: Art of the Ancient World 23 (2012) no. 71. The collecting history for that warrior suggests that it was acquired in 1990 from a private collection in Geneva.

Other clues suggested that the warrior has resided in a New York private collection.

The identity of the private collection in Geneva will no doubt be telling.

The warrior also features in this news story: Jennifer Peltz, "Looted statues, pottery returned to Italy after probe in NYC", ABC News May 25 2017.

Attic amphora handed back to Italians

The research of Dr Christos Tsirogiannis has led to the return of an Attic red-figured amphora, attributed to the Harrow painter, to Italy (Tom Mashberg, "Stolen Etruscan Vessel to Be Returned to Italy", New York Times March 16, 2017).

The amphora is known to have passed through the hands of Swiss-based dealer Gianfranco Becchina in 1993, and then through a New York gallery around 2000 (although its movements between those dates are as yet undisclosed).

During the ceremony, Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., the District Attorney stated:
“When looters overrun historic sites, mine sacred spaces for prized relics, and peddle stolen property for top dollar, they do so with the implicit endorsement of all those who knowingly trade in stolen antiquities” More research clearly needs to be conducted on how material handled by Becchina passed into the North American market and into the hands of private and public collectors.