Skip to main content

All quiet in Madrid

Madrid has yet to respond to the suggestion that 22 antiquities acquired in 1999 appear in the Medici Dossier or the Becchina Stache. Fabio Isman reported that "requests to the Madrid museum from The Art Newspaper to comment on these allegations remained unanswered at time of publication". I also emailed the press office at the museum yesterday but have not received a reply.

Spanish readers may like to look up the July 5, 2010 edition of El Pais ("La cultura dice basta a Berlusconi"). The story is commenting on the proposed changes to Italian legislation (see details here).
El mercado ilegal del arte antiguo en Italia mueve millones de euros anuales, y ha sido objeto de numerosas investigaciones judiciales. Las arqueomafias, o redes criminales internacionales, cubren todo el circuito: señalan las piezas en iglesias y excavaciones y luego las colocan en museos extranjeros, como el Museo Getty de Los Ángeles, cuya comisaria, Marion True, está procesada desde 2005 en Roma por tráfico ilícito de obras de arte junto al comerciante suizo Robert Hecht y el anticuario italiano Giacomo Medici. 
Los jueces italianos llevan años lidiando con tipos como Medici, un romano especializado en arte etrusco, o Gianfranco Becchina, que según estiman los investigadores ha saqueado desde 1970 un millón de restos arqueológicos. Los indicios de que las mafias tienen este tráfico entre sus favoritos son abundantes.
Reporters from El Pais need not have looked so far away for an example to illustrate their story.

Image
Athenian black-figured amphora from the Medici Dossier.

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Codename: Ainsbrook

I have been watching (UK) Channel 4's Time Team this evening. The programme looked at an undisclosed field (under a potato crop) where a Viking burial had been found. The location in Yorkshire was so sensitive that it was given a codename: Ainsbrook. Here is the summary:
In late 2003 two metal detectorists were working in a field in Yorkshire. They found 'treasure' buried just beneath the surface – a collection of Viking material next to a body. Although they had been detecting on the site for a number of years, during which time they had made large numbers of finds, nothing they had uncovered previously compared with this. They decided to share their discovery with archaeologists.The programme explored the tension between metal-detectorists and the English Heritage sponsored archaeologists putting six trenches into the field based on a geo-physical survey. Finds made by the metal-detectorists did not easily map onto the archaeological features.

Part of the programme had an …

George Ortiz collection to be displayed in London

Christie's is due to display part of the former collection of the late George Ortiz in London in a non-selling show to mark the 25th anniversary of the exhibition at the Royal Academy. There is a statement on the Christie's website ("The Ortiz Collection — ‘proof that the past is in all of us’"). Max Bernheimer is quoted: ‘Ortiz was one of the pre-eminent collectors of his day’.

We recall the associations with Ortiz such as the Horiuchi sarcophagus, the Hestiaios stele fragment, the marble funerary lekythos, and the Castor and Pollux.

Bernheimer will, no doubt, wish to reflect on the Royal Academy exhibition by reading Christopher Chippindale and David W. J. Gill. 2000. "Material consequences of contemporary classical collecting." American Journal of Archaeology 104: 463-511 [JSTOR].

Bernheimer will probably want to re-read the two pieces by Peter Watson that appeared in The Times: , "Ancient art without a history" and "Fakes - the artifice b…

Tutankhamun, Christie's and rigorous due dligence

It was announced today that the Egyptian authorities would be taking legal action against Christie's over the sale of the head of Tutankhamun ("Egypt to sue Christie's to retrieve £4.7m Tutankhamun bust", BBC News 9 July 2019).

The BBC reports:
Egypt's former antiquities chief, Zahi Hawass, said the bust appeared to have been "stolen" in the 1970s from the Temple of Karnak. "The owners have given false information," he told AFP news agency. "They have not shown any legal papers to prove its ownership." Christie's maintain the history of the piece as follows:
It stated that Germany's Prince Wilhelm von Thurn und Taxis reputedly had it in his collection by the 1960s, and that it was acquired by an Austrian dealer in 1973-4. However the family of von Thurn und Taxis claim that the head was never in that collection [see here].

Christie's reject any hint of criticism:
"Christie's would not and do not sell any work whe…