Skip to main content

Looking back over 2012

Source: MiBAC
January 2012 started with some extraordinary events: the numismatic raid in New York city (the dealer later submitted a guilty plea), the announcement that Princeton University Art Museum would return antiquities to Italy, and the return of  pottery fragments once owned by Dietrich von Bothmer, as well as a bronze from a New York dealer. The Princeton returns appear to have made Maxwell Anderson scrutinise earlier acquisitions by Dallas, and several items were returned later in the year. Other museums linked to the same dealer have also come to light. Other material that were auctioned in New York were also returned to Italy. In spite of this former Medici material continued to appear in New York. The Toledo Museum of Art joined other major North American museums in sending material back to Italy. The Getty returned material once handled by Robin Symes.

At the same time the Cleveland Museum of Art is attempting to undermine the AAMD guidelines over recent acquisitions of antiquities.

Turkey has started to suggest that various museums return antiquities. These include New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the J. Paul Getty Museum. A dealer in North America has submitted a guilty plea in a case relating to Egyptian antiquities. A mosaic has been returned from Dallas.

In July a seizure of Indian antiquities in New York opened up a global search for objects linked with a specific dealer. This has had implications for museums in Australia. There have also been revelations about Cambodian antiquities.

The appearance of a dodgy papyrus from Egypt alos caused great concern.

There have been thefts from major archaeological collections, such as Olympia in Greece. Arrests were made later in the year.

In Britain the Portable Antiquities Scheme were involved in an unfortunate programme about "Secret Treasures". Yet there continues to be an issue with Heritage Crime in England.

Robert Hecht, a figure associated with recently surfaced antiquities, died during the year.

What will 2013 hold?

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know


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 …

Sardinian warrior from "old Swiss collection"

One of the Sardinian bronzes of a warrior was seized from an as yet unnamed Manahattan gallery. It appears to be the one that passed through the Royal-Athena Gallery: Art of the Ancient World 23 (2012) no. 71. The collecting history for that warrior suggests that it was acquired in 1990 from a private collection in Geneva.

Other clues suggested that the warrior has resided in a New York private collection.

The identity of the private collection in Geneva will no doubt be telling.

The warrior also features in this news story: Jennifer Peltz, "Looted statues, pottery returned to Italy after probe in NYC", ABC News May 25 2017.

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.