Saturday, 11 October 2008

Press Exposure and Bonhams

Bonhams experienced some light-hearted publicity when it announced details of its forthcoming sale of antiquities from the collection formed by Graham Geddes. The profile of a fragmentary Roman sarcophagus evoked "the King" and the headline writers went to town.

But now the New York Times has joined the commentary on the sale of antiquities next week: Elisabetta Povoledo, "Italy Questions Items in Antiquities Auction", October 10, 2008. The focus is on a single Apulian krater that had once passed through the collection of Robin Symes.

Yet there is a more important issue at stake. What are the sources for antiquities that have no declared (and secure) histories ("provenance") prior to 1970?

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A Sardinian boat-shaped lamp from an "old Austrian collection"

Sardinian boat-shaped lamp.  Left: Bonhams. Right: Becchina archive (courtesy of Christos Tsirogiannis) The sale of antiquities at Bonhams (...