Skip to main content

St Louis Art Museum: another legal development

I have made several comments about the Egyptian mummy mask in the St Louis Art Museum (SLAM) (most recently here). Ricardo A. St Hilaire has commented on the legal action taken by the US authorities (and full text here).

There are two sections that will be of particular interest:
14. In 1966, the Mask and other objects from the same burial assemblage were removed from packaging in Saqqara and given to the Egyptian Antiquities Organization Restoration Lab located in Cairo in preparation for future display.
15. The Mask traveled to Cairo from Saqqara in box number fifty-four. This was the last documented location of the Mask in Egypt.
The fact that the mask was record in 1966 is significant. (It is also apparently recorded in July 1959 and in 1962 (sections 12 and 13).

I have rehearsed the alleged collecting histories before here.

It is important to realise that the mask's excavator, Mohammed Zakaria Goneim, died in 1959.

Yet, although the mask was apparently still known in Egypt at late as 1966, it is claimed by Swiss national Charly Mathez that the mask was seen in 1952 at the premises of an antiquities dealer in Brussels. Indeed it has been suggested that it was given to an Egyptian official shortly after its discovery in 1952.

Moreover, it is reported that in 1962 (or thereabouts) the mask was acquired by the "Kaloterna Collection".

It is then claimed that around 1967 it was acquired by "an unnamed Swiss citizen". This person, a resident of Geneva, has been identified.

The collecting history as it was supplied to SLAM now looks less secure. Is it time for a thorough review of the due diligence process?


Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

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.



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 …