Skip to main content

Looking back over 2009

I started the year by looking ahead.

I suggested that we would continue to see fallout from the Medici Conspiracy. This has included the seizure of a Corinthian krater from Christie's in New York, as well as two pieces that had passed through a gallery in California. A further mural fragment from the J. Paul Getty Museum has been returned to Italy; this seems to form part of a series of fragments that had formed parts of two separate New York collections. Giacomo Medici's appeal against his conviction failed, while the Rome trial of Marion True and Robert Hecht has continued. Returned objects from the Cleveland Museum of Art went on display in Rome. However the case of the Cleveland Apollo remains unresolved. A new exhibition of returned objects went on display in the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome.

The situation with the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek and the Miho Museum remains unresolved, though in the former case more information has become available.

Italian authorities recovered frescoes found at Boscoreale: parts were recovered in London and New York.

The AAMD's position on the loan of archaeological material took an interesting twist during the review of the MOU with Italy. Member institutions need to look at the long-term loan of archaeological material where the histories ("provenance") cannot be traced back to the period before 1970.  New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art adopted 1970 as a benchmark for acquisitions. The AAMD's new policy on acquisitions seems to be having an impact on private collectors.

The US issued a MOU with China over the import of archaeological material. China made the headlines over the sale of Chinese antiquities at the Yves Saint Laurent sale in Paris. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) case against the US State Department brought by the ACCG, the IAPN and the PNG came to a significiant conclusion.

It also appears that the market is still nervous about the acquisition of antiquities. A fuller analysis is in preparation.

Long-standing issues over cultural property have been discussed with the opening of the new Acropolis Museum in Athens. Zahi Hawass has also been renewing calls for the return of the Rosetta Stone.

Other stories included the statements following the reported arrest of a Swiss-based dealer in Sofia, Bulgaria, after the issuing of an arrest warrant by Egyptian authorities. A head of Asklepios stolen from the Butrint Museum was returned to Albania. A bronze rider found in Cambridgeshire was sold on the London market and then "redeemed" by public money. The UCL report on the incantation bowls became widely available. Egypt was successful in its bid to recover paintings from a Theban tomb (TT15) that had been acquired by the Louvre in Paris.

2009 saw the launch of the Journal of Art Crime. Looting Matters has a regular column.

Finally Looting Matters has been working with PR Newswire to bring key stories to a wider readership ... though it did not use advertising on London buses.


Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Getty Kouros: "The moral is, never ever buy a piece without a provenance"

In the wake of the 1992 Athens conference to discuss the Getty kouros (85.AA.40), one of the delegates, a "distinguished" American museum curator, was quoted ("Greek sculpture; the age-old question", The Economist June 20, 1992):
The moral is, never ever buy a piece without a provenance.
The recent discussions about the return of antiquities from North American museums to Italy and Greece may seem far removed from the acquisition of what appears to be a forged archaic Greek sculpture in the 1980s. However, there are some surprising overlaps.

The statue arrived at the Getty on September 18, 1983 in seven pieces. True (1993: 11) subsequently asked two questions:
Where was it found? As it was said to have been in a Swiss private collection for fifty years, why had it never been reassembled, though it was virtually complete?
A similar statue surfacing in the 1930s
A decision was taken to acquire the kouros in 1985. The official Getty line at the time (and reported in Russell…

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 …

The Getty kouros: a modern creation?

The refurbished galleries of the J. Paul Getty Museum no longer include the Getty kouros, a sculpture purchased in 1985 (Christopher Knight, "Something's missing from the newly reinstalled antiquities collection at the Getty Villa", LA Times April 19, 2018). Knight explains:
Unexpectedly, the Getty kouros, a controversial sculpture even before the museum acquired it more than 30 years ago, has been removed from public view. The work is now in museum storage.   For decades, the life-size carving of a standing nude youth carried one of the most distinctive labels of any work of art in an American museum: “Greece (?) about 530 B.C. or modern forgery.” The label encapsulated puzzling issues about the work, whose questionable status as dating from the archaic dawn of Western civilization had been the focus of scholarly and scientific research, debate and international symposiums for years. It is ten years since I provided an overview of the kouros here on LM. And over 20 year…