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.

Athenian black-figured amphora from the Medici Dossier.

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know


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 …

Sardinian warrior from "old Swiss collection"

One of the Sardinian bronzes of a warrior was seized from an as yet unnamed Manahattan gallery. It appears to be the one that passed through the Royal-Athena Gallery: Art of the Ancient World 23 (2012) no. 71. The collecting history for that warrior suggests that it was acquired in 1990 from a private collection in Geneva.

Other clues suggested that the warrior has resided in a New York private collection.

The identity of the private collection in Geneva will no doubt be telling.

The warrior also features in this news story: Jennifer Peltz, "Looted statues, pottery returned to Italy after probe in NYC", ABC News May 25 2017.

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.