Skip to main content

Christie's and recently surfaced antiquities

Cambridge University researcher Christos Tsirogiannis has written on antiquities identified at Christie's during 2012 ("Something is confidential in the state of Christie's", Journal of Art Crime [Spring 2013] 3-20). They include items spotted in the Medici Dossier as well as the Symes Archive. At least one object passed through the Summa Galleries.

The article makes uncomfortable reading for the members of the Christie's Ancient Art team in both New York and London. It suggests that their due diligence process is not identifying controversial material.

Will this research by Tsirogiannis encourage Christie's to tighten up their processes?

This appears to be the first in a series of articles by Tsirogiannis.

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know


kyri said…
maybe christies should offer mr,tsirogiannis a job as a reseacher to do their due diligence for them.surely that would be the best move for their antiquities department.also mr tsirogiannis would have the opportunity to clear up the market a little bit,after all thats what he wants,isnt there a better way of doing that,other than from the inside.
Emmanuel said…
Kyri is right. But then, who will be responsible for filling up the due diligence inadequacies at Bonhams?

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.

Attic amphora handed back to Italians

The research of Dr Christos Tsirogiannis has led to the return of an Attic red-figured amphora, attributed to the Harrow painter, to Italy (Tom Mashberg, "Stolen Etruscan Vessel to Be Returned to Italy", New York Times March 16, 2017).

The amphora is known to have passed through the hands of Swiss-based dealer Gianfranco Becchina in 1993, and then through a New York gallery around 2000 (although its movements between those dates are as yet undisclosed).

During the ceremony, Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., the District Attorney stated:
“When looters overrun historic sites, mine sacred spaces for prized relics, and peddle stolen property for top dollar, they do so with the implicit endorsement of all those who knowingly trade in stolen antiquities” More research clearly needs to be conducted on how material handled by Becchina passed into the North American market and into the hands of private and public collectors.