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

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…

Symes and a Roman medical set

Pierre Bergé & Associés of Paris are offering a rare Roman bronze medical set (16 May 2018, lot 236). Its recorded history is: "Ancienne collection Hishiguro, Tokyo, 1992". The catalogue entry helpfully informs us that the set probably came from a burial ("Cette trousse de chirurgien a probablement été découverte dans une sépulture ...").

The set appears to be the one that has been identified by Dr Christos Tsirogannis from an image in the Schinousa archive thus linking it to Robin Symes.

Given that the catalogue entry suggests that this piece came from a funerary context and that the history of the piece can only be traced back to 1992 (and not to 1970), questions are being raised about the set's origins.

What due diligence was conducted on the medical set prior to offering it for sale? Did Symes sell the set to Hishiguro? How did Symes obtain the set? Who sold it to him?

I understand that the appropriate authorities in France are being informed about the …

The Minoan Larnax and the Michael C. Carlos Museum

I was recently asked to comment on the acquisition of recently surfaced antiquities in Greece as part of an interview. One of the examples I gave was the Minoan larnax that was acquired by the Michael C. Carlos Museum. Although this piece has been discussed in the Greek press, the museum has not yet responded to the apparent identification in the Becchina archive.

Is the time now right for the Michael C. Carlos Museum or the wider authorities at Emory University to negotiate the return of this impressive piece so that it can be placed on display in a museum in Greece?