Skip to main content

Looted Antiquities from Puglia on Display in Rome


Antiquities looted from Puglia have gone on display in a special exhibition, "Marble's Secret - Polychrome Marbles of Ascoli Satriano", at the Palazzo Massimo in Rome. The objects include a marble lekanis, and a marble group of two griffins attacking a fallen doe. Both had formed part of the Maurice Tempelsman collection in New York, and were acquired by the J. Paul Getty Museum in 1985. They have formed part of the returns to Italy.

The exhibition press release, "Tomb raiders' marbles feted in Rome" (January 5, 2010), notes that the pieces were looted from a tomb outside the ancient city of Ausculum, the modern Ascoli Satriano, in Puglia. Christopher Chippindale and I have noted elsewhere the links with Giacomo Medici, Robin Symes, and Robert Hecht. There were also reports that the tomb contained pots attributed to the Darius painter (works attributed to this pot-painter feature promiently in the returns to Italy).

The exhibition is a reminder how North American private collectors were buying recently-surfaced antiquities from Italy. 

The marble pieces will go on permanent display in the Museo Civico in Ascoli Satriano once the exhibition closes.

Further details
Gill, D. W. J., and C. Chippindale. 2007. "From Malibu to Rome: further developments on the return of antiquities." International Journal of Cultural Property 14: 205-40. [Abstract and link]

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 …

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…