Skip to main content

The Fano Athlete: Legal Case in Final Stages


Elisabetta Povoledo has covered the final stages of the legal wranglings over the Fano Athlete presently in the J. Paul Getty Museum ("Italy Presses Its Fight for a Statue at the Getty", New York Times January 16, 2010). The Italian legal team have been concentrating one one key questions: "Was the museum acting in good faith when it purchased the statue for a little less than $4 million in 1977?" Povoledo reports the Italian assertation that "the museum was willfully negligent in carrying out due diligence before buying the work".

Alfredo Gaito, one of the legal team representing the J. Paul Getty Museum is reported: "Consistent documentation suggests that the sale was done in good faith because the seller offered sufficient guarantees to overcome every doubt." Such claims of acquisitions made in "good faith" were also recorded by the Princeton University Art Museum and the private collector Shelby White (see my earlier comments on this phrase); in both those examples the objects have been handed over to Italy. Even James Cuno accepts "due diligence and good faith inquiries are no longer sufficient".

Revelations made by Jason Felch in the LA Times have reminded us of some of the issues surrounding the acquisition. Now Alberto Berardi who speaks for the return of the Fano Athlete is quoted: "No museum in the world should exhibit works whose provenance is clearly illegal".

The next stage in the legal tussle is for the Pesaro judge, Lorena Mussoni, to decide if the statue should be seized. A decision is expected in the next month.

Povoledo also notes the Italian praise for the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in New York. There is an implicit acknowledgment that the MOU between the USA and Italy is helping to reduce the movement of recently looted archaeological material.

Image
From the J. Paul Getty Museum

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 …

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…

Metropolitan Museum of Art hands over Paestan krater

In May 2014 I commented on a Paestan krater acquired by New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art after it had been identified by Dr Christos Tsirogiannis in photographic images seized from Giacomo Medici. Tsirogiannis published his full concerns in the Journal of Art Crime in 2014, but it has taken a further three years for the museum to respond.

The krater showing Dionysos in a hand-drawn cart was purchased in 1989 from the Bothmer Purchase Fund (details from the Museum's website, inv. 1989.11.4). The krater surfaced through Sotheby's New York in June 1989.

It is unclear who consigned the krater to Sotheby's New York.

It has now been revealed that the krater has been handed over to the US authorities after a warrant had been issued (Tom Mashberg, "Ancient Vase Seized From Met Museum on Suspicion It Was Looted", New York Times July 31, 2018).

It appears that the museum did make an attempt to resolve the case in December 2016. Mashberg notes:
The Met, for its par…