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Showing posts from February, 2012

Timothy Potts: "the problem hasn't gone away"

Lee Rosenbaum of Culturegrrl has published the second part of her interview with Timothy Potts who is moving from Cambridge to the J. Paul Getty Museum. Rosenbaum makes this striking statement:
What most startled me was his [Potts'] lack of thorough knowledge about the Getty's written antiquities-collecting policy, which is more stringent than the UNESCO Convention's guidelines regarding cultural property. (UNESCO's rules, ratified by the U.S., restrict museums from acquiring objects lacking a well documented, clean provenance that goes back at least to November 1970.)

In light of the Getty's history of past antiquities-related mishaps and scandals (which led to its adoption of its unusually strict policy), the failure of Getty officials to fully brief its prospective museum director (and to seek his concurrence) regarding these acquisition rules seems a significant omission, calling into question the current administration's wholehearted commitment to the poli…

Princeton and transparency

W. Barksdale Maynard has presented an important report on the recent return of antiquities to Italy ("Art museum returns more ancient artworks to Italy", Princeton Alumni Weekly March 7, 2012). It is claimed that the museum initiated the return ("The University said the art museum undertook an internal analysis of items in its collections and then approached Italian authorities") and an agreement was signed in June 2011. This does not explain the report in the New York Timespublished in June 2010.

One matter of concern is that no definitive list of the publications has been issued by Princeton. Maynard's report notes:
Princeton declined to release any information relating to their acquisition or to provide identifying information that would allow the provenance to be tracked, citing a confidentiality clause in the agreement.However it is possible to reconstruct the list using Princeton's own publication of its acquisitions.

My own concern about Princeton'…

Olympia thefts: list released

The Hellenic Ministry of Culture has released a list of 77 items stolen from one of the museums at Olympia.

They include:

lamps (1-13)Athenian red-figured lekythos (14)bronze figure (15)Bronze Age gold ring (16)Bronze Age sealstone (17)Geometric bronzes (18-28)Geometric tripod (29-33)Geometric charioteer (34-37)Geometric horses (38-51)Geometric bulls (52-58)Geometric bronze (59)Terracotta figure (60-63)Terracotta animals (64-74)Various offerings (75-76)Hellenistic kantharos (77)
Dealers in small Greek antiquities need to be on the look out for these objects.

Olympia theft: "it will be really difficult to get rid of them"

Some of the images of objects stolen from one of the museums in Olympia can now be seen in a video on (UK) Channel 4's website. Cambridge researcher Christos Tsirogiannis makes the important point that the objects are well documented and will be recognised if they are offered for sale.

This theft from a world-class heritage site is a crime against cosmospolitan society (not least in an Olympic year). Civilised commentators will condemn this act without reservation.

A short statement (in Greek) is available from the Hellenic Ministry of Culture.

Douris, Borowski and a new appointment

The J. Paul Getty Museum is to have a new director, Dr Timothy Potts, presently director of the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge ("Dr. Timothy Potts Named Director of the J. Paul Getty Museum", press release). James Cuno, president and CEO of the Getty Trust, is quoted:
I have known Dr. Potts for almost fifteen years and have worked closely with him on policy positions taken by the Association of Art Museum Directors. I know him to be a person of integrity, intelligence, advanced learning, and refined connoisseurship.The press release draws attention to Potts' acquisition of an Athenian cup attributed to Douris for the Kimbell (inv. AP 2000.02). The cup appeared in the Royal Ontario Museum exhibition, Glimpses of Excellence: a Selection of Greek Vases and Bronzes from the Elie Borowski Collection. A Special Exhibition---18 December 1984 to 30 June 1985 (no. 12). The cup was sold at Christie's Rockefeller Plaza New York (Ancient Greek Vases Formerly in the Private Colle…

Theft from Olympia

The BBC (among other news outlets) is reporting a major theft from one of the archaeological collections in Olympia ("Thieves loot Greece's Ancient Olympia museum", February 17, 2012).
Two masked men smashed display cabinets and took more than 60 objects after overpowering a guard at the museum in Olympia, officials said.This recalls the major theft of material from the Archaeological Museum in Corinth. Objects from that theft re-appeared at auction in New York.

Dealers in ancient art need to be on the look out for possible stolen objects.

Robert Hecht: "bought from Medici in good faith"

The Daily Telegraph (London) has published a full obituary of Robert Hecht. The focus of the obituary is the sale of the Sarpedon krater to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art but careful attention is paid to the implications of the Medici Conspiracy. The writer is well aware that there are many more antiquities to identify in European, Japanese and Asian Collections.
Yet welcome as they were, such acts of restitution were no more than gestures. Few doubt that hundreds of objects with dubious pedigrees retain pride of place in renowned collections, and that each year numerous others continue to come to market.Museums in the UK will perhaps be wise to check to see which pieces in their holdings were derived from this controversial dealer.

Journal of Art Crime 6 (2011)

I have now seen a copy of the fall number of the Journal of Art Crime 6 (2011).

Readers of LM will be interested in the following:

Derek Fincham, "The Empty Frame. Cerveteri: a vulnerable ancient masterpiece", 50-51.David W.J. Gill, "Context matters. Compliance and the antiquities market", 52-56.Paolo Giorgio Ferri, "Are penal procedures only a last resort?", 65-67.General B(a) CC Giovanni Pastore, "Archaeology and the problem of unauthorized excavation in Italy", 68-72.

Edoardo Almagia and antiquities: overview

Death of Robert Hecht announced

It appears that Robert Hecht died in Paris earlier today (February 8, 2012). Details have been posted by Jason Felch on LA Times (Culture Monster) ("Robert E. Hecht Jr., figure in antiquities case involving the Getty, is dead") although I have had separate confirmation from Rome.

Hecht, whose final years of life were dominated by his trial in Rome, was linked with a number of antiquities that were returned to Italy from North American collections (such as the Sarpedon krater and the Morgantina hoard plus antiquities in BostonCleveland and Princeton), as well as the infamous Athena II Fund. Other items include the Butrint Livia and antiquities in Copenhagen and other north European collections (including the UK).

Did the sale of the Sarpedon krater to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1972 lead directly to the passing of the 1973 AIA resolution? So perhaps Hecht was responsible (unintentionally!) for setting in motion the line of enquiry that led to the unmasking…

Princeton and Almagia

While I have listed what appears to be the list of objects that have been returned to Italy from Princeton, there are still some items linked to Edoardo Almagià that are listed in the Record of the Princeton University Art Museum.

Campanian stamnoid pyxis. Inv. 87-3 a-b. Gift of Edoardo C. Almagià.Two fragments of Roman Arretine bowls. Inv. y1992.66-67. Gift of Edoardo C. Almagià.Bone female doll. Roman. Inv. y1993-13. Gift of Edoardo C. Almagià.Fragment from a satyr antefix, terracotta / 1 antefissa a volto di Satiro. Etruscan. Inv. 1996-339. Gift of Edoardo C. Almagià.Fragment from an acroterion, terracotta. Etruscan / 1 acroterio. Inv. 1996-340. Gift of Edoardo C. Almagià.Fragment from a nereid antexfix, terracotta; with remains of cover tile. Etruscan / 1 antefissa con nereide. Inv. 1996-341. Gift of Edoardo C. Almagià.Pair of fragmentary architectural revetments with reliefs of chariot horses, terracotta. Etruscan / 2 rilievi con cavalli. Inv. 1996-342.1-2. Gift of Edoardo C. Alma…

Boston and Almagia

Boston's Museum of Fine Art has the following objects listed as linked to Edoardo Almagià (and noted back in 2010):
Roman imperial marble portrait statue. Inv. 1991.534. "By 1991: with Edoardo Almagià, 136 East 56th Street, New York, NY 10022; purchased by MFA from Edoardo Almagià, May 22, 1991".Italian impasto kantharos. Inv. 1995.820. "By 1993: with Edoardo Almagià, 136 East 56th Street, New York, NY 10022 (said to have been purchased in Basel); February 15, 1995: purchased by Jonathan Kagan and Sallie Fried from Edoardo Almagià; gift of Jonathan Kagan and Sallie Fried to MFA, accessioned January 24, 1996".Italian impasto cup, Lazio. Inv. 1995.821. "By 1993: with Edoardo Almagià, 136 East 56th Street, New York, NY 10022 (said to have been purchased in Basel); February 15, 1995: purchased by Jonathan Kagan and Sallie Fried from Edoardo Almagià; gift of Jonathan Kagan and Sallie Fried to MFA, accessioned January 24, 1996".Italian impasto cup, Lazio. In…

The Getty and Almagia

It is now reported by Chasing Aphrodite that the J. Paul Getty Museum acquired an Attic red-figured cup attributed to the Marley painter from Edoardo Almagià in 1986 (inv. 86.AE.479 [Beazley Archive 41037]). The cup was listed as "New York market". There is now the added information that it was purchased in Switzerland and found in southern Italy.

Tampa and Almagia

I am grateful to Todd Smith, Executive Director of the Tampa Museum of Art, for clarifying which item in the collection is linked to Edoardo Almagià. The piece is an Apulian loutrophoros attributed to the White Sakkos painter acquired in 1987 from a private collector (inv. 1987.037). The private collector is reported to have purchased the pot from Almagià.

An Apulian loutrophoros features in an article by Michael Padgett ("A modern delight at the Tampa Museum of Art", Tampa Bay Magazine January / February 1991, 29-31 [p. 30]).  It is recorded as the gift of Mr & Mrs C.W. Sahlman.

Tampa also holds pieces from the Keros haul of Cycladic figures. They, too, are derived from the Sahlman family.