Skip to main content

Robin Symes, the furniture collection and the "shady lady"

Mark Townsend ("The dealer, the $10m and the missing art treasures: Family of trader's late partner allege new twist in decade-long fight for control of collection", The Observer September 13, 2009) has provided a fuller account of the furniture collection that was once displayed in the Chelsea home shared by Robin Symes and Christo Michaeilidis. Townsend reports:
Private investigators hired to accrue evidence against Symes now claim to have exposed a fresh trail of duplicity, double-dealing and evidence of money laundering involving the Gray artefacts, a well-known French bank and the transfer of suspicious payments to accounts in London, Liechtenstein and Gibraltar. During the course of their inquiry, detectives examined allegations involving a mystery blaze on a luxury Greek yacht and a fictitious millionairess from the Middle East.
It is reported that the furniture had been bought by the Michailidies family. The article continues:
Investigators for the Michailidis family have now allegedly accumulated evidence that Symes managed to surreptitiously sell the Gray masterpieces through a Parisian art dealer.

London law firm Bird & Bird, which represents the Michailidis family, has obtained details of Symes's bank accounts that it claims reveal a money trail emanating from the secret sale of the Gray collection. They allegedly indicate that Symes received a $10.3m payment for the collection which, it is claimed, he then tried to hide using a sophisticated pan-European laundering scam.

According to the court documents, a major French bank laundered the $10.3m through a Liechtenstein-based "front" company called Lombardi, whose sole beneficiary was Symes. The money was then deposited to an account in Gibraltar and forwarded to Symes in London. Neither the court nor the Michailidis family was informed of the payment to the antiques dealer.
Apparently the appearance of the money in Symes' account was due to a transaction from the so-called "shady lady" based in the Middle East who is said to have asked Symes to sell her jewellery. The woman - whose identity could not be revealed appears to be fictitious.

The furniture collection is now said to be in Qatar.

Townsend also notes:
A court document, dated 9 April 2009, from solicitors representing the Michailidis family accuses Symes of attempting to hide the money trail in a case that throws fresh light on the murky world of antiquities smuggling.
It would be enlightening if this trail came to light - and could indeed provide information about recently-surfaced antiquities.

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Codename: Ainsbrook

I have been watching (UK) Channel 4's Time Team this evening. The programme looked at an undisclosed field (under a potato crop) where a Viking burial had been found. The location in Yorkshire was so sensitive that it was given a codename: Ainsbrook. Here is the summary:
In late 2003 two metal detectorists were working in a field in Yorkshire. They found 'treasure' buried just beneath the surface – a collection of Viking material next to a body. Although they had been detecting on the site for a number of years, during which time they had made large numbers of finds, nothing they had uncovered previously compared with this. They decided to share their discovery with archaeologists.The programme explored the tension between metal-detectorists and the English Heritage sponsored archaeologists putting six trenches into the field based on a geo-physical survey. Finds made by the metal-detectorists did not easily map onto the archaeological features.

Part of the programme had an …

The scale of the returns to Italy

I have been busy working on an overview, "Returning Archaeological Objects to Italy". The scale of the returns to Italy from North American collections and galleries is staggering: in excess of 350 objects. This is clearly the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the material that has surfaced on the market without a history that can be traced back to the period before 1970. 

I will provide more information in due course, but the researcher is a reminder that we need to take due diligence seriously when it comes to making acquisitions.

Stele returns to Greece

The Hellenic Ministry of Culture has announced (Saturday 8 September 2018) that a stele that had been due to be auctioned at Sotheby's in London in June 2017 has been returned to Greece (Friday 7 September 2018). The identification had been made by Cambridge-based forensic archaeologist Dr Christos Tsirogiannis.

It appeared that the stele had been supplied with a falsified history as its presence with Becchina until 1990 contradicted the published sale catalogue entry. It then moved into the hands of George Ortiz.

A year ago it was suggested that Sotheby's should contact the Greek authorities. Those negotiations appear to have concluded successfully.

The 4th century BC stele fragment, with the personal name, Hestiaios, will be displayed in the Epigraphic Museum in Athens. It appears to have come from a cemetery in Attica.