Skip to main content

"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One of the withdrawn pieces passed through the December 1985 sale at Sotheby's. Any "due diligence researcher" or member of an auction house will know the significance of that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.

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

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.

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 …

The Toledo skyphos and a Swiss private collection

The Attic red-figured skyphos attributed to the Kleophon painter in the Toledo Museum of Art (inv. 1982.88) is now coming under further scrutiny following the research of Dr Christos Tsirogiannis. The skyphos shows Hephaistos returning to Olympos.

Tsirogiannis has identified what appears to be this skyphos in five photographs in the Medici Dossier. The museum acknowledged that the skyphos had resided in a 'private Swiss collection'. Tsirogiannis suggests that this is probably a reference to Medici.

Enquiries to the museum by Tsirogiannis elicited the information that the skyphos had been acquired from Nicholas Koutoulakis (although that information does not appear on the museum's online catalogue).

The curatorial team at the Toledo Museum of Art will, no doubt, be contacting the Italian authorities to discuss the future residence of the skyphos.

For further discussion of the Toledo Museum of Art on LM see here.

Reference
Tsirogiannis, C. 2017. "Nekyia: Museum ethics an…

Metropolitan Museum of Art hands over Paestan krater

In May 2014 I commented on a Paestan krater acquired by New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art after it had been identified by Dr Christos Tsirogiannis in photographic images seized from Giacomo Medici. Tsirogiannis published his full concerns in the Journal of Art Crime in 2014, but it has taken a further three years for the museum to respond.

The krater showing Dionysos in a hand-drawn cart was purchased in 1989 from the Bothmer Purchase Fund (details from the Museum's website, inv. 1989.11.4). The krater surfaced through Sotheby's New York in June 1989.

It is unclear who consigned the krater to Sotheby's New York.

It has now been revealed that the krater has been handed over to the US authorities after a warrant had been issued (Tom Mashberg, "Ancient Vase Seized From Met Museum on Suspicion It Was Looted", New York Times July 31, 2018).

It appears that the museum did make an attempt to resolve the case in December 2016. Mashberg notes:
The Met, for its par…