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Announcing news on Thanksgiving Day

Steinhardt Sardinian Figure
Source: Tsirogiannis / ARCA
The apparent removal of the Steinhardt Sardinian figure from auction at Christie's is timely. After all, today is Thanksgiving Day. Eight years ago, also in late November, the J. Paul Getty Museum announced the return of its first batch of material to Italy.

So perhaps it is a day to bury "bad news".

But what is surprising is that a major institution like Christie's has not absorbed the lessons of the last eight years in what has become known as "The Medici Conspiracy".

Academic researchers now realise that it is important to probe and investigate "collecting histories".

And we know that it is important to check the photographic archives that have been seized by the Italian authorities.

Staff in the "Ancient Art" department at Christie's need to adopt a more rigorous due diligence process to prevent this type of incident happening again. They ought to recognise that their present process is not "fit for purpose".

It is perhaps timely that my next essay in the 'Context Matters' series for the Journal of Art Crime is on this very theme.

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kyri said…
hi david,do the people at christies have access to the "seized archives"if they dont how could they possibly do their due diligence.
Constant and permanent observation of all those who stand to benefit from the selling of objects with dubious history is what academics should have learnt from the experience of the last two decades. Kwame Opoku.
David Gill said…
For the body responsible for checking if objects are on a database of "stolen" objects see here:
kyri said…
hi david,firstly let me congratulate you on your academia page,very impressive,i will enjoy reading some of the papers when time allows.
so it seems christies did not consider ex-medici pieces to be "problematic" or stolen property,if that is the case than they are going to have to withdraw many more pieces in the future and they deserve all the bad publicity that they we know the ALR is not fit for purpose when conducting due diligence on antiquities so if christies are relying mainly on them they will have problems but my question is would the italian authorities tell christies if a piece is in the dossier or wait till the catalogue is published,so they can get maximum publicity out of any returns?if they say ,"yes" to christies the piece is in the dossier,than what will stop the piece just disappearing underground and sold privately.unless the italians are willing to help and christies are willing to disclose the id of the consigner at the very least,the status quo will not change.i personally dont believe the italians will tell them anything and so christies could not do their due diligence,maybe im wrong. christies can take a big step in the right direction by accepting that anything in the medici dossier is very problematic,that is a very basic requirement in my eyes.

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