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Bonhams and Robin Symes

The Times (London) carries a striking headline today (October 10, 2008 [story]) in response to Francesco Rutelli's press conference yesterday:

Bonhams urged to halt sale of Italian antiquities

The dispute is over an Apulian (South Italian) volute-krater from the "Robin Symes Collection" that is due to be auctioned next week. Bonhams will apparently press ahead with the sale.

It is reasonable for Rutelli to be asking questions, whether or not the piece has come from the dispersal of the assets of Robin Symes. How did the krater enter the Symes collection? Who was the previous owner?

It is public knowledge that the cemeteries of ancient Apulia have been devastated by systematic and extensive looting. Can Bonhams demonstrate that the krater was known prior to, say, 1970?

It is also public knowledge that 15 or so antiquities returned from various museums and private collectors in North America to Italy and Greece had passed through the hands of Robin Symes.

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