Skip to main content

Karlsruhe and Greece: update

I have commented earlier today on the claim on two pieces in the Badisches Landesmuseum in Karlsruhe. We should note that Lord Renfrew is due to lecture in Karlsruhe on 23 February 2012 as part of the activities surrounding the exhibition. He has spoken out about the looting of archaeological sites in the Cyclades.

There is a suggestion that the Cycladic figure and bowl were derived from Dr Elie Borowski. Will the museum confirm or deny that Borowski was the source? I note that the museum acquired several pieces, including at least two Cycladic figures, in  1975.

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Comments

Marc Fehlmann said…
I would be interested to know on what grounds the Hellenic Republic is claiming the two pieces from Karlsruhe. After all, they have been repeatedly published since 1976 (including by Lord Renfrew), and the Hellenic Republic had plenty of previous opportunities to ask them back. So why do the Greeks want them now?

Karlsruhe has more Cycladic material that was acquired after 1970. What is the true incentive behind the claim for those two pieces? Could it be that the idol is exceptionally large (88,8 cm are indeed impressive)?

Is this most recent attempt by the Hellenic Republic based on the assumption that any material handled by Elie Borowski, Gorges Zakos, Nicolas Kotoulakis or whoever was active in the 1970s has now to be considered “tainted” as if these dealers had only dealt in illegally gained artefacts?

The Hellenic Republic has surely every right to expect the highest ethical standards from museums that organise shows with loans from Greece. Do Greek officials apply the same ethical standards at home when similar shows are staged at the Nicholas P. Goulandris Foundation - Museum of Cycladic Art? Or does a Cycladic artefact from a clandestine dig provide more scientific information to the scholarly community when sitting in Athens than in Karlsruhe?
kyri said…
isnt there a 30 year cut off point for the restitution of pieces from the time of publication?im not sure.
anyhow,another case of guilty by association,the greeks have known these pieces existed decades ago and did nothing.any restitution now could open the flod gates and the museum knows it.
i remember that renfrew was lambasted by certain archaeologists for publishing some un provenaced pieces in this collection.
kyri
Anonymous said…
@ Kyri:

If there would be such a 30 year cut off point, is there also a release date --- 25 years --- or so, when a museum releases finally information who was the previous owner of an object? In 50 years people will still ask questions where the objects came from since they will not have been grown like potatos in the fields around Karlsruhe.
Marc Fehlmann said…
@ Avater:
From your point of view Karlsruhe would be (almost) everywhere ...
Anonymous said…
@ Marc:

Yes. It looks like it. Ok, but honestly, were do they keep this information? In a bunker that can only be opened when officers looking for evidence for tax frauds or so? Has a citzen of Baden-Württemberg who is paying for this museum no right in knowing where the objects in it are from?

@ Marc: "So why do the Greeks want them now?"

This is the question that comes so often. For me, it is almost a rhetoric one. "Why is Bulgaria sending a request now?" It might be because of a new found power, might be because Italy and Greece and the rightful returns of looted objects and the photograph of an old blond lady trying to shield her face with her handbag that it is just about time.

No escape. At one point Greece is gonna get them back!

.. and because of "loting matters."
Emmanuel said…
@Marc:
1. “… based on the assumption that any material handled by Elie Borowski, Gorges Zakos, Nicolas Kotoulakis … has now to be considered “tainted” …”
I agree, not everything handled by those being active in the 70s should be considered “tainted”. On the other hand, when certain people (dealers, collectors, curators etc) have been involved in handling (in one way or another) looted artifacts, yes, everything already handled by them should be considered “tainted” until proven otherwise. Few years ago no one would question the origin of an artifact donated by Shelby White to a museum, although no info on origin or collecting history of the object would have ever been provided. Today, everyone would be suspicious…

2. “Do Greek officials apply the same ethical standards at home when similar shows are staged…”
No, I am afraid they don’t (for additional info – and for those who can read Greek – you may refer to http://news.kathimerini.gr/4dcgi/_w_articles_civ_2_06/07/2008_276663).
The Pazardzhik (?) Byzantine silver hoard is another example of loosely applied collecting history standards and where the due diligence process ought to be more thorough...
I am sure everybody will welcome a “Code of Ethics” published in all Greek museum sites as soon as possible.
Emmanuel said…
Dear David,
The claim of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture regarding the return of the two pieces from the Badisches Landesmuseum in Karlsruhe has finally come to a successful end. According to today’s article in «ΚΑΘΗΜΕΡΙΝΗ» newspaper, both pieces will be officially presented tomorrow morning at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.
Best regards,
Emmanuel

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 …

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.

The Toledo skyphos and a Swiss private collection

The Attic red-figured skyphos attributed to the Kleophon painter in the Toledo Museum of Art (inv. 1982.88) is now coming under further scrutiny following the research of Dr Christos Tsirogiannis. The skyphos shows Hephaistos returning to Olympos.

Tsirogiannis has identified what appears to be this skyphos in five photographs in the Medici Dossier. The museum acknowledged that the skyphos had resided in a 'private Swiss collection'. Tsirogiannis suggests that this is probably a reference to Medici.

Enquiries to the museum by Tsirogiannis elicited the information that the skyphos had been acquired from Nicholas Koutoulakis (although that information does not appear on the museum's online catalogue).

The curatorial team at the Toledo Museum of Art will, no doubt, be contacting the Italian authorities to discuss the future residence of the skyphos.

For further discussion of the Toledo Museum of Art on LM see here.

Reference
Tsirogiannis, C. 2017. "Nekyia: Museum ethics an…