Friday 17 February 2012

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 Collection of Dr. Elie Borowski on Monday 12 June 2000, lot 81 for $1.766 million. The Kimbell claims that after the Toronto exhibition the cup was "sold to a Japanese oil company, probably late 1980s". It is also claimed that Borowski had acquired the cup by 1977 (although the basis of this statement is not provided).

Borowski's name appears in the infamous "organigram" that features so centrally in the Medici Conspiracy.

I raised the earlier collecting history of the cup in my Fall 2009 review of James Cuno (ed.), Whose Culture? (2009) in the Journal of Art Crime. I also noted the Kimbell's ("temporary") acquisition of a "Sumerian" statue for a reported $2.7 million in 2000.

It would be interesting to learn more about Potts' position on recently surfaced antiquities. Lee Rosenbaum has a helpful transcript of Potts' response at the 2006 symposium on "Museums and the collecting of antiquities" (that forms the basis of Cuno's uneven Whose Culture?). Ralph Frammolino and Jason Felch have an assessment of Potts' appointment and comment specifically on the Douris cup.

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