Saturday 29 June 2013

Operation Ifegenia: Etruscan antiquities seized

One of the seized Etruscan urns
Source: MiBAC
The Italian Ministry of Culture has announced a major seizure of Etruscan antiquities in Rome [press release]. The finds included 23 Etruscan funerary urns, and some 3000 other antiquities. The haul was made by one of the protagonists in the illicit trade in antiquities ("uno dei protagonisti del commercio illecito di beni culturali").

It appears that the urns came from a cemetery in the vicinity of Perugia. Inscriptions suggest that they are likely to come from a common context, probably a family burial associated with the CACNI.

This is a reminder that removal of this sort of archaeological material destroys evidence and has intellectual consequences for the study of the past.

It will be interesting to see if any funerary urns from this haul had already passed onto the market.

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Wednesday 19 June 2013

Images of the Bothmer fragments

In March LM noted that Christos Tsirogiannis had linked fragments of an Attic red-figured cup from the Bothmer bequest to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, to fragments in Rome attributed to the Euaion painter. It was not stated how Bothmer had acquired the fragments.

Tsirogiannis has pointed out to me that the MMA has removed the relevant image from its website. What is the reason?

The MMA has a responsibility to publish the full collecting histories of the fragments along with their images in case further connections can be made.

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Saturday 8 June 2013

The Art Loss Register and Antiquities

One year ago LM posted a piece on the Art Loss Register and Christie's. I wonder if the ALR read it.

The question is why the ALR did not appear to have spotted that Christie's was offering material identified from the Medici Dossier and the Becchina and Schinousa Archives. But perhaps they had.

The use of an unacknowledged antiquity linked to Robin Symes (via the Schinousa Archive) as the cover image for the Christie's sale catalogue suggests that the problem of toxic antiquities continues to fester.

What positive actions will the ALR take to reassure potential buyers?

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Friday 7 June 2013

Recently surfaced antiquities on the market

The results of the Christie's Rockefeller Centre sale are now available. Readers will know some of the items identified from the Becchina, Medici, and Schinousa archives by Cambridge University researcher Christos Tsirogiannis went under the hammer.

  • Lot 540: Euboean black-figured amphora. Sold: $15,000. Estimate: $15,000-$20,000. [LM]
  • Lot 543: East Greek bronze warrior. Unsold. Estimate: $30,000-$50,000. [LM]
  • Lot 546: Attic black-figured column-krater, attributed to the Bucci painter. Sold: $37,500. Estimate: $35,000-$55,000. [LM]
  • Lot 600: Gnathian bell-krater. Unsold. Estimate: $10,000-$15,000. [LM]
  • Lot 610: Marble Apollo. Sold: $195,750. Estimate: $200,000-$300-000. [LM]

Why did Christie's due diligence search fail to identify these pieces?

Buyers of three of these pieces may yet find that they will be contacted by the Italian authorities.

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Thursday 6 June 2013

The Apollo from the Schinousa Archive

Apollo from the Schinousa photographic archive
Cambridge-based researcher, Christos Tsirogianns, has shared an image of a fragmentary marble Apollo with me. It had featured in the Schinousa archive. This photographic archive records the material that passed through the hands of a London-based dealer. If material from this archive resurfaces on the market, it would be reasonable to see the full collecting history indicated. But such information would no doubt be provided by rigorous due diligence searches.

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Saturday 1 June 2013

An East Greek Bronze Warrior from the Medici Dossier

Cambridge University researcher Christos Tsirogiannis has reminded me of some of the images from the Medici Dossier that have been published in Greece. One shows a series of small bronzes lined up on shelving, some with sale tags attached. The image includes a small bronze of a running warrior. It is clear that one of the legs has been damaged.

This bronze appears to be close to the one due to be auctioned at Christie's Rockefeller Centre on June 6, 2013 (lot 543). The collecting history is:

  • Thétis Foundation, Geneva, acquired prior to 1987; sold at Sotheby's, London, 23 May 1991, lot 77.

So what was the full collecting history of the bronze prior its acquisition by the Thétis Foundation?

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Another Bubon bronze head likely to be repatriated

It appears that a bronze head acquired by the J. Paul Getty Museum from Nicolas Koutoulakis has been removed from display and appears to be...