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Due Diligence and Auction Houses: Lessons from the Geneva Freeport

Events at Bonhams in April reminded us of the problems that can be caused when auction-houses do not conduct rigorous due diligence searches to ensure that collecting histories can be traced back to the period before 1970. It is still not clear how an auction-house that had been caught in the spotlight over the sale of the Geddes Collection could, a mere 18 months later, be selling objects that could be traced to the notorious Geneva Freeport.

But Bonhams was not alone. During 2009 three items, apparently identified from images confiscated in the Geneva Freeport, were reportedly seized from a single New York dealer: a Corinthian krater, an Attic pelike and an Apulian situla.

As the June sales approach, we would hope that New York auction-houses would have adopted checking procedures to ensure that they were not going to be handling any material that could be traced back to a certain dealer and his operation in Geneva.

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Damien Huffer said…
We'll see... I'm sure we'll be surprised...

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