Skip to main content

Becchina: More Revelations from North American Museums?

Roman marble janiform head
North American museum directors and their curatorial staff know all too well the way that the Medici Dossier has shown how past acquisitions have damaged institutional reputations. Of course, more revelations from the Medici Dossier are likely to appear.

But I suspect the attention is beginning to shift to the Becchina archive. Readers will know that raids on this facility in Basel yielded 10,000 photographs as well as 200 bundles of receipts.

Becchina's name has been linked to an Athenian red-figured pelike, an Apulian situla, and the Roman marble janiform head seized from Christie's, the returned Etruscan hydria from the Toledo Museum of Art, the Apulian krater and the Campanian krater from the Dallas Museum of Art. Earlier returned pieces that had passed through Palladion Antike Kunst in Basel are three pieces (an Attic black-figured hydria, an Attic red-figured pelike, and an Apulian bell-krater) from Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, and two (an Attic red-figured amphora, and the Asteas krater) from the Getty. Perhaps one of the best-known pieces linked to Becchina is the Getty kouros.

Operation Andromeda has shown some of the contacts made by Becchina. There are also unresolved cases surround material in Madrid, the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam, and in the Michael C. Carlos Museum. Material once handled by Becchina also continues to appear on the New York market.

It is likely that there will continue to be more identifications as attention switches to the 10,000 photographs and the associated receipts.

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Codename: Ainsbrook

I have been watching (UK) Channel 4's Time Team this evening. The programme looked at an undisclosed field (under a potato crop) where a Viking burial had been found. The location in Yorkshire was so sensitive that it was given a codename: Ainsbrook. Here is the summary:
In late 2003 two metal detectorists were working in a field in Yorkshire. They found 'treasure' buried just beneath the surface – a collection of Viking material next to a body. Although they had been detecting on the site for a number of years, during which time they had made large numbers of finds, nothing they had uncovered previously compared with this. They decided to share their discovery with archaeologists.The programme explored the tension between metal-detectorists and the English Heritage sponsored archaeologists putting six trenches into the field based on a geo-physical survey. Finds made by the metal-detectorists did not easily map onto the archaeological features.

Part of the programme had an …

The scale of the returns to Italy

I have been busy working on an overview, "Returning Archaeological Objects to Italy". The scale of the returns to Italy from North American collections and galleries is staggering: in excess of 350 objects. This is clearly the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the material that has surfaced on the market without a history that can be traced back to the period before 1970. 

I will provide more information in due course, but the researcher is a reminder that we need to take due diligence seriously when it comes to making acquisitions.

Stele returns to Greece

The Hellenic Ministry of Culture has announced (Saturday 8 September 2018) that a stele that had been due to be auctioned at Sotheby's in London in June 2017 has been returned to Greece (Friday 7 September 2018). The identification had been made by Cambridge-based forensic archaeologist Dr Christos Tsirogiannis.

It appeared that the stele had been supplied with a falsified history as its presence with Becchina until 1990 contradicted the published sale catalogue entry. It then moved into the hands of George Ortiz.

A year ago it was suggested that Sotheby's should contact the Greek authorities. Those negotiations appear to have concluded successfully.

The 4th century BC stele fragment, with the personal name, Hestiaios, will be displayed in the Epigraphic Museum in Athens. It appears to have come from a cemetery in Attica.