Skip to main content

A Porphyry Tyche from the Borowski Collection

Christie's has announced one of the highlights for its June 2008 auction ("Rare Roman Statue is Extraordinary Highlight of Christie's Antiquities Spring Sale"). The "Ancient Art" department will be offering "an exquisite Roman statue of the goddess Tyche".

The piece first surfaced in 1967 and has been on loan to the Liebieghaus, Frankfurt, (1980-1986), and later at the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto (1986-1991).

G. Max Bernheimer, International Department Head for Antiquities, raves about it:
This is the most spectacular and beautiful sculpture that I have ever had the pleasure to work with ... The fact that it’s still in impeccable condition, makes it all the more exceptional.
So why comment? After all, the piece surfaced before 1970.

The reason is that the "statue was formerly in the private collection of Dr. Elie Borowski, collector and connoisseur of ancient art".

What the text fails to mention is that Borowski was also a dealer. His name is associated with the Fano Athlete (now in the J. Paul Getty Museum), and it also appears in the famous organigram that features in The Medici Conspiracy.

Bernheimer can hardly be unaware of this. The description on his website notes:
He is the author of several volumes documenting the collection of Dr. Elie Borowski including, "Ancient Gems from the Borowski Collection (2007)"; "Glories of Ancient Greece (2001)" an exhibition catalogue for ancient Greek vases and jewelry from the collection; "Reflections on Ancient Glass from the Borowski Collection (2002);" and a contributor to the exhibition catalogue "Dragons, Monsters and Fabulous Beasts (2004)" at the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem.
He has also been known to praise the Borowski collection:
This was a sale for true connoisseurs ... A variety of international buyers, including a number of prestigious museums, bid enthusiastically for pieces that once formed one of the most outstanding private collections in existence. This encyclopedic assemblage of world-class masterpieces was unparalleled in terms of quality and provenance.
No doubt there is a little bit of hype and rivalry going on. Sotheby's stole the limelight with the sale of the Guennol Lioness last December for just over US$57 million; earlier in the year they sold the bronze Artemis and a Stag for US$28.6 million. It rather places the £7.9 million raised by Christie's (London) for the Jenkins Venus in the shade.

How much will the Borowski Tyche fetch? Will another record be broken? Who knows ... "Estimate on Request".


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.

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…