Skip to main content

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

© David Gill
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.

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know


I agree entirely with your view and sentiments regarding this outrageous and brazen act of robbery.

But what do you mean by "cosmopolitan society?"
Larry Rothfield said…
It is true that they will be difficult to sell on any licit market, and that is helpful, documentation does not mean it is impossible for criminals to profit from antiquities theft. The Olympia antiquities may have been stolen to order for a collector who has already paid, or they may be offered for sale to a collector who has no plan to ever resell them, or they may be sold to one of the mafias (we know they use artworks and antiquities as a form of currency amongst themselves). Or they may simply be stockpiled for a few decades until a buyer can be found after the heat dies down, as is the case with much of what has been looted from the Iraq Museum.
Xabi said…
Dear David,

i just found the list of the stolen artefacts on the net.
You might find a way to spread it a bit.


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.

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