Skip to main content

Collecting histories matter

I see that there continues to be significant issues raised over the four antiquities withdrawn from Christie's. the key issue that needs to be addressed is an improvement in the due diligence process. It would appear that the collecting histories for these four objects were either incomplete or had not been authenticated. The advocates of a licit market need to demonstrate how an object passed through known collections and sales, and that paperwork should be authenticated. This is not an issue about access to images but rather about the rigour of those undertaking the research by or on behalf of the auction houses. 

Separately, how often are dealers represented in the paperwork as collectors? so, for example, is, say, a Japanese Collector shorthand for a Japanese dealer operating out of Switzerland? 

Comments

kyri said…
hi david,unfortunately in the real world documents,invoices,lables even letters are faked.if a consignor produces an invoice from a dealer who is no longer trading or a shop which closed in the 50s its near impossible to have it verified.alot of business is conducted in good faith and the antiquities trade is no different.i remember the famous faker john andrews producing fake british museum letters and official stamps that fooled alot of people.its not as easy as your making it out to be.faking paperwork that is unverifiable is not hard at least with the polaroids the physical evidence is there and its a bit rich when institutions are pointing fingers but not releasing information that would help the auction houses do their job properly.
kyri
David Gill said…
Kyri
Thank you for your comments. I think that you are confirming my point that documentation can be faked. This has implications for the so-called licit market.
David

Popular posts from this blog

The Getty Kouros: "The moral is, never ever buy a piece without a provenance"

In the wake of the 1992 Athens conference to discuss the Getty kouros (85.AA.40), one of the delegates, a "distinguished" American museum curator, was quoted ("Greek sculpture; the age-old question", The Economist June 20, 1992):
The moral is, never ever buy a piece without a provenance.
The recent discussions about the return of antiquities from North American museums to Italy and Greece may seem far removed from the acquisition of what appears to be a forged archaic Greek sculpture in the 1980s. However, there are some surprising overlaps.

The statue arrived at the Getty on September 18, 1983 in seven pieces. True (1993: 11) subsequently asked two questions:
Where was it found? As it was said to have been in a Swiss private collection for fifty years, why had it never been reassembled, though it was virtually complete?
A similar statue surfacing in the 1930s
A decision was taken to acquire the kouros in 1985. The official Getty line at the time (and reported in Russell…

Symes and a Roman medical set

Pierre Bergé & Associés of Paris are offering a rare Roman bronze medical set (16 May 2018, lot 236). Its recorded history is: "Ancienne collection Hishiguro, Tokyo, 1992". The catalogue entry helpfully informs us that the set probably came from a burial ("Cette trousse de chirurgien a probablement été découverte dans une sépulture ...").

The set appears to be the one that has been identified by Dr Christos Tsirogannis from an image in the Schinousa archive thus linking it to Robin Symes.

Given that the catalogue entry suggests that this piece came from a funerary context and that the history of the piece can only be traced back to 1992 (and not to 1970), questions are being raised about the set's origins.

What due diligence was conducted on the medical set prior to offering it for sale? Did Symes sell the set to Hishiguro? How did Symes obtain the set? Who sold it to him?

I understand that the appropriate authorities in France are being informed about the …

The Minoan Larnax and the Michael C. Carlos Museum

I was recently asked to comment on the acquisition of recently surfaced antiquities in Greece as part of an interview. One of the examples I gave was the Minoan larnax that was acquired by the Michael C. Carlos Museum. Although this piece has been discussed in the Greek press, the museum has not yet responded to the apparent identification in the Becchina archive.

Is the time now right for the Michael C. Carlos Museum or the wider authorities at Emory University to negotiate the return of this impressive piece so that it can be placed on display in a museum in Greece?