Wednesday 3 September 2008

Athens: Two Antiquities from the Shelby White Collection on Display

Mihalis Liapis, the Hellenic Minister of Culture, has spoken about the two antiquities returned to Greece by Shelby White (press release). The ceremony held at the National Museum, Athens today revealed the two pieces; they will be on temporary display in the museum. These are confirmed as the stele fragment (Glories of the Past no. 97) and the bronze calyx-krater (though no mention is made of the catalogue, Greek Bronze Vessels from the Collection of Shelby White & Leon Levy no. 9).

Liapis spoke about the "trauma" of looting in Greece. He called for co-operation between governments, museums and collectors so that the full educational benefits of archaeological finds could be appreciated. He described the returned items, the upper part of a funerary stele from Attica and a bronze calyx-krater from Pieria in northern Greece. Liapis spoke about the continued fight against looters through the development of a new directorate to deal with the protection of cultural objects. He turned from this "war" on criminal activity to mention that he had raised the issue of the Parthenon sculptures at a recent meeting of the European ministers of culture.

Further details about the funerary stele were provided in the press release, including a reference to the work of Georgios Despinis who spotted the link with the piece excavated at Porto Raphti (and now in the museum at Vrauron, inv. BE6). The krater had been identified by an investigative journalist, Nikolas Zirganos. The piece was very similar to the krater excavated from a tomb at Pieria.

The agreement between the Ministry of Culture and Shelby White acknowledges that the collector had acquired the pieces in "good faith". However there is an explicit statement that the Ministry reserves the right to make claims on further objects in her collection («το Υπουργείο Πολιτισμού επιφυλάσσεται κάθε νομίμου δικαιώματός του για οποιαδήποτε μελλοντική διεκδίκηση που αφορά σε κάποια από τις άλλες αρχαιότητες»).

The handover had taken place on Wednesday July 30, 2008 in the Hellenic consulate, New York with Jennifer Chi (Associate Director for Exhibitions and Public Programs at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York) acting as Shelby White's representative.

Γ. Δεσπίνης, «Επιτύμβια στήλη από το Πόρτο Ράφτη: αποκατάσταση και σχόλια», Εγνατία 3- 1991-2, 7-27.


Γρηγορης Αντωνοπουλος said...

According to the newspaper Τα Νέα, the Greek Government will embark on claiming another three looted antiquities now on display at the Μichael Carlos Μuseum of Emory University of Atlanta.These are (according to the article):

(a) a life-size marble statue of Terpsichore (4th-2nd c. BC) that was kept in a barn in Ioannina before it was smuggled abroad (?), worth at least 10 million dollars,

(b) a monumental pithos probably form Rhodes (650-600 BC)

(c) a complete Minoan clay larnax with rich painted decoration of sea creatures (14th c. BC) probably from Crete.

From the Michael C. Carlos museum website the pieces are the following:

(a) Marble Terpsichore

(b) The pithos

(c)The larnax

The full article here:

David Gill said...

For further reports on the return:

Another Bubon bronze head likely to be repatriated

It appears that a bronze head acquired by the J. Paul Getty Museum from Nicolas Koutoulakis has been removed from display and appears to be...