Skip to main content

German Courts and an Apulian Helmet

Last week a German court rejected an Italian claim on a helmet that is alleged to have been removed from an archaeological context in Apulia (Sabine Deckwerth, "Prozess um einen Paradehelm Italien verlangt einen wertvollen antiken Kopfschutz zurück - und zog deshalb vor das Verwaltungsgericht", Berliner Zeitung December 10, 2010). The Italians claim it came from illicit activity in 1993 ("Der hegte einen Verdacht: Dass der Helm aus einer Raubgrabung in Apulien im Jahre 1993 stammt.") The helmet, dating from between 900 and 700 BCE, then passed to the Axel Guttman collection, and after his death in 2001 was offered on the London market (2002). It was spotted in a catalogue by an Italian academic, and in 2004 Italian authorities submitted a claim; the helmet was seized pending the court case.

The German judge has stated that the Italian authorities were unable to demonstrate that the piece had been looted or been able to show when the helmet entered Germany ("Man wisse nicht, ob der Helm tatsächlich aus einer Raubgrabung stammt und wann er von Italien nach Deutschland gelangte"). The court decided to apply a statue of limitation to the case which expired in 2008.

What was the fully documented collecting history for the Apulian helmet?


Sales of the Axel Guttmann collection include:


For earlier comments on the role of Germany in the antiquities market see here.


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 …

The scale of the returns to Italy

I have been busy working on an overview, "Returning Archaeological Objects to Italy". The scale of the returns to Italy from North American collections and galleries is staggering: in excess of 350 objects. This is clearly the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the material that has surfaced on the market without a history that can be traced back to the period before 1970. 

I will provide more information in due course, but the researcher is a reminder that we need to take due diligence seriously when it comes to making acquisitions.

Stele returns to Greece

The Hellenic Ministry of Culture has announced (Saturday 8 September 2018) that a stele that had been due to be auctioned at Sotheby's in London in June 2017 has been returned to Greece (Friday 7 September 2018). The identification had been made by Cambridge-based forensic archaeologist Dr Christos Tsirogiannis.

It appeared that the stele had been supplied with a falsified history as its presence with Becchina until 1990 contradicted the published sale catalogue entry. It then moved into the hands of George Ortiz.

A year ago it was suggested that Sotheby's should contact the Greek authorities. Those negotiations appear to have concluded successfully.

The 4th century BC stele fragment, with the personal name, Hestiaios, will be displayed in the Epigraphic Museum in Athens. It appears to have come from a cemetery in Attica.