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"The trade and auction houses are doing the best they can "

I have been interested to read the responses to the decision to withdraw four antiquities from Christie's. The latest is by Georgina Adams ("The Art Market: Blue Period Picasso emerges", Financial Times 17 April 2015). A spokesperson for Christie's commented that they needed access to the confiscated archives, and Chris Marinello of the Art Recovery Group is quoted, "The trade and auction houses are doing the best they can with the available information".

One of the withdrawn pieces passed through the December 1985 sale at Sotheby's. Any "due diligence researcher" or member of an auction house will know the significance of that sale. And to help them along their way the list of consignments from Boursaud (and ultimately, it seems, from Giacomo Medici) has been published. Six years ago I drew attention to some of the issues relating to the year 1985, so to miss this item in such a sale but then to state that "The trade and auction houses are doing the best they can with the available information" suggests that some of these so-called "researchers" need to do better. Indeed one of the 1985 pieces was seized from an auction-house beginning with ... C ...

One of the other pieces also surfaced through Sotheby's in 1986. Again a researcher familiar with these sales should have been alerted: the "Medici youth" from 2010, and the Graham Geddes collection in 2008. And it is a year that I highlighted back in 2010.

For the other two pieces Montreal and Japan are both significant for potential associations with Gianfranco Becchina ... and Tsirogiannis has linked them to objects in the Basel Dossier.

I have a great deal of respect for Marinello when it comes to fine art but I wonder if he has not understood the toxicity of the antiquities market.

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Comments

kyri said…
hi david,yes the mid 80s and the sothebys connection,i avoid any pieces from 1980s sothebys like the plague.just one look at the graph in vinnie norskovs book on greek vases tells the story.from 1981-83 an average of 60 apulian vases on the market in any one year and by 1984 that figure jumped to 180+ and continued like that,[probably thanks to medici] for the next 10 years but there was a healthy market before 1970 with thousands of greek vases for sale.there are many licit pieces out there,the licit market cant be dismissed out of hand,in fact according to norskov our very own ashmolean museum purchased over 160 greek vases in 1966 alone.
kyri.

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