Skip to main content

Financial Innovations and the Lease of Antiquities

I have been reading the Milken Institute's Financial Innovation Lab Report on Financial Innovations for Developing Archaeological Discovery and Conservation (December 2008) [pdf: registration required].

Three "Financial Innovations for Developing Archaeological Discovery and Conservation" are presented. (It is a pity that the innovations did not cover discovery, conservation and publication.)

The first solution is to "Promote long-term museum and exhibit leases". The report highlights the income generated by the recent treasures of King Tutankhamun tour which is expected to generate US $40 million for the new Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
These tours, while generating capital for the companies that sponsor them, could work within lease models, with museums collaborating on the exhibition of specific collections from countries of origin to create shared revenue pools.
There have been models for such collaborative loan schemes: a good example was provided by "The Emory University Museum International Loan Project" (EUMILOP) from the 1980s.

Would such leases cover the more eye-catching pieces? What about the less significant objects? Would such schemes encourage detailed publication (as EUMILOP achieved)? Would the money generated be returned to the conservation, preservation, display and publication of archaeological monuments and finds in the countries of origin? Or would the money be seen as part of a country's income stream?

Who would be the brokers in such leases? What would be their "cut"?

Who would decide on the choice of items? Museum curators? National archaeologists?

There are a plenty of questions and this only relates to the least controversial of the three "solutions".

Comments

Surely something better can be done with all the objects that sit in storage or piled up - often haphazardly - in museums in, say, Italy.

Why shouldn't the home countries use these objects to generate revenue?

A bigger problem to my mind is that these state-run museums and the national structures that control them are ill-suited to take advantage of this potential economic gain. A well run museum in, e.g., Vetulonia, doesn't stand to earn money for itself by trying to arrange such international loans.

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 …

Mithras relief from Tor Cervara

A fragmentary relief of Mithras was discovered in 1964 at Tor Cervara on the outskirts of Rome. It was acquired by the Museo Nazionale Romano.

A further fragment of the relief was acquired by the Badisches Landesmueum in Kalrsruhe in 1976. The source was an unstated Swiss dealer. This fragment has been reunited with the rest of the relief [press release].

Today a further fragment of the relief was reunited with the other pieces. This had been recovered during a raid in Sardinia.

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.

Reference
Tsirogiannis, C. 2017. "Nekyia: Museum ethics an…