Skip to main content

Theft of Egyptian antiquities in Amsterdam: update

In May I commented on the seizure of some antiquities at an unspecified Manhattan auction-house by agents of ICE (US Immigration and Customs Enforcement). The pieces had been stolen from the Bijbels Museum in Amsterdam on July 29, 2007. The objects were identified by the staff of the Art Loss Register (ALR).

The staff of ICE seem to have been regular visitors to Manhattan auction-houses this year. Their activity includes the seizure of a Corinthian krater from Christie's on 1 June, and more recently an Apulian situla and an Attic red-figured pelike. A Roman wall-painting was also seized from the premises of a Manhattan auction-house at the beginning of June, again with the assistance of the ALR.

But to return to the stolen Egyptian antiquities. Judith H. Dobrzynski on "Real Clear Arts" also covered the story (May 28, 2009) but telephoned the ALR where she spoke to a member of staff:
When I called Christopher A. Marinello, ALR's executive director, he declined to name the auction house, but he said that it was one of the big two -- Christie's and Sotheby's.
Today I emailed the press offices of both auction houses.

The press office at Sotheby's was extremely helpful and sent me a short comment:
I’ve now checked with our New York office since I had no recollection of this, and I can confirm that no seizure of this description took place at Sotheby’s.
The public relations officer at Christie's sent a brief statement:
I am unable to confirm this.

I am extremely grateful to the relevant press officers for their prompt and instructive responses.

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Comments

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 …

Sardinian warrior from "old Swiss collection"

One of the Sardinian bronzes of a warrior was seized from an as yet unnamed Manahattan gallery. It appears to be the one that passed through the Royal-Athena Gallery: Art of the Ancient World 23 (2012) no. 71. The collecting history for that warrior suggests that it was acquired in 1990 from a private collection in Geneva.

Other clues suggested that the warrior has resided in a New York private collection.

The identity of the private collection in Geneva will no doubt be telling.

The warrior also features in this news story: Jennifer Peltz, "Looted statues, pottery returned to Italy after probe in NYC", ABC News May 25 2017.

Attic amphora handed back to Italians

The research of Dr Christos Tsirogiannis has led to the return of an Attic red-figured amphora, attributed to the Harrow painter, to Italy (Tom Mashberg, "Stolen Etruscan Vessel to Be Returned to Italy", New York Times March 16, 2017).

The amphora is known to have passed through the hands of Swiss-based dealer Gianfranco Becchina in 1993, and then through a New York gallery around 2000 (although its movements between those dates are as yet undisclosed).

During the ceremony, Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., the District Attorney stated:
“When looters overrun historic sites, mine sacred spaces for prized relics, and peddle stolen property for top dollar, they do so with the implicit endorsement of all those who knowingly trade in stolen antiquities” More research clearly needs to be conducted on how material handled by Becchina passed into the North American market and into the hands of private and public collectors.