Skip to main content

Sotheby's (London) and the Returns to Italy

Common threads are beginning to emerge from a study of the recent returns to Italy. It is possible to start building up a picture, even though some of the institutions (and the single private collector) have yet to issue detailed information (see earlier comments).

At least seven of the pieces appear to have "surfaced" at a Sotheby's auction in London. These were clearly purchased in "good faith".
  1. New York, MMA 1985.11.5. Attic red-figured amphora, attributed to the Berlin painter. S (L) 1982 December 13-14, lot 220.
  2. Boston, MFA 1998.588. Lucanian nestoris. S (L) 1982 December 13-14, lot 298.
  3. Boston, MFA 1988.431. Apulian loutrophoros, attributed to the White Sakkos painter. S (L) 1984 December 10, lot 366.
  4. New York, Jerome Eisenberg. 1992. Attic black-figured neck-amphora, attributed to the Leagros gorup. S (L) 1985 July 17-18, lot 257 (it then passed through Galerie Günter Puhze in Freiburg; reported to have been acquired by Royal-Athena Galleries in 1992).
  5. New York, Shelby White. Attic black-figured neck-amphora of Panathenaic shape, attributed to the painter of Louvre F 6. Glories no. 104; S (L) 1985 July 17, lot 313.
  6. New York, Jerome Eisenberg. 1991. Attic red-figured column-krater, attributed to the Geras painter. S (L) 1987 December 14, lot 295.
  7. Boston, MFA 1999.735. Attic red-figured bell-krater, attributed to the painter of the Louvre Centauromachy. S (L) 1995 December 14, lot 95.
Who consigned the pieces?

Peter Watson's study, Sotheby's, the inside story (London: Bloomsbury, 1997), pp. 117, 120, commented on two of these specific sales:
  • July 1985: '104 unprovenanced antiquities' consigned by Christian Boursaud of Geneva (PO Box 41, 57 Avenue Bois de la Chapelle, 1213 Onex, Geneva)
  • December 1987: '360 lots, 101 were sent in by Editions Service' (of Geneva)

Image
Apulian loutrophoros, attributed to the White Sakkos painter. © MiBAC.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Getty Kouros: "The moral is, never ever buy a piece without a provenance"

In the wake of the 1992 Athens conference to discuss the Getty kouros (85.AA.40), one of the delegates, a "distinguished" American museum curator, was quoted ("Greek sculpture; the age-old question", The Economist June 20, 1992):
The moral is, never ever buy a piece without a provenance.
The recent discussions about the return of antiquities from North American museums to Italy and Greece may seem far removed from the acquisition of what appears to be a forged archaic Greek sculpture in the 1980s. However, there are some surprising overlaps.

The statue arrived at the Getty on September 18, 1983 in seven pieces. True (1993: 11) subsequently asked two questions:
Where was it found? As it was said to have been in a Swiss private collection for fifty years, why had it never been reassembled, though it was virtually complete?
A similar statue surfacing in the 1930s
A decision was taken to acquire the kouros in 1985. The official Getty line at the time (and reported in Russell…

Symes and a Roman medical set

Pierre Bergé & Associés of Paris are offering a rare Roman bronze medical set (16 May 2018, lot 236). Its recorded history is: "Ancienne collection Hishiguro, Tokyo, 1992". The catalogue entry helpfully informs us that the set probably came from a burial ("Cette trousse de chirurgien a probablement été découverte dans une sépulture ...").

The set appears to be the one that has been identified by Dr Christos Tsirogannis from an image in the Schinousa archive thus linking it to Robin Symes.

Given that the catalogue entry suggests that this piece came from a funerary context and that the history of the piece can only be traced back to 1992 (and not to 1970), questions are being raised about the set's origins.

What due diligence was conducted on the medical set prior to offering it for sale? Did Symes sell the set to Hishiguro? How did Symes obtain the set? Who sold it to him?

I understand that the appropriate authorities in France are being informed about the …

The Minoan Larnax and the Michael C. Carlos Museum

I was recently asked to comment on the acquisition of recently surfaced antiquities in Greece as part of an interview. One of the examples I gave was the Minoan larnax that was acquired by the Michael C. Carlos Museum. Although this piece has been discussed in the Greek press, the museum has not yet responded to the apparent identification in the Becchina archive.

Is the time now right for the Michael C. Carlos Museum or the wider authorities at Emory University to negotiate the return of this impressive piece so that it can be placed on display in a museum in Greece?