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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Emmanuel said...

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

Maybe yes, maybe not... What if the “buyers” of those three items are in fact the consignors? Is it not worth trying creating one more dummy provenance entry for few additional dollars and – at the same time – protect your consigned item of being characterised as “unsold”? I would assume that the consignors of such toxic antiquities, which have undoubtedly been identified from the Medici Dossier and the Becchina and Schinousa Archives, are more than willing “buying” one more potential “bought in good faith” excuse statement for any future legal actions against them, if the country involved does not react legally as soon as the item appears in the catalogue and before the actual auction date. In such a case, the extra commission paid by the “buyers” of their own items would be just a fraction of their profit in few years time, when those items re-enter the market...

David Gill said...

Are you assuming that the Italian authorities did not contact the auction house?

Emmanuel said...

Dear David,
It is my belief that the country, or countries, involved should have stopped the auction by presenting to the court all the evidence available. I am sure the evidence in the archives used by Christos Tsirogiannis in identifying the items as toxic, are also available in the local authorities concerned. The fact that those specific items were not withdrawn before the auction was started does not mean that the auction house was confident about the thoroughness of the due diligence process followed. So, either the country or countries involved have unsuccessfully tried to stop the items being auctioned (nothing relevant on the local press, at least in Greece), or, they haven’t (yet?) contacted the auction house for some good reason. Other possible explanations are more than welcome...

A Sardinian boat-shaped lamp from an "old Austrian collection"

Sardinian boat-shaped lamp.  Left: Bonhams. Right: Becchina archive (courtesy of Christos Tsirogiannis) The sale of antiquities at Bonhams (...