Skip to main content

Further sightings on the London market

Glasgow University researcher Dr Christos Tsirogiannis has identified four items that are due to be auctioned at Christie's King Street (London) on 1 October 2015. I understand that Interpol, the Carabinieri Art Squad and Scotland Yard Art and Antiques Unit have been notified.

Three of the lots come from the Heissmeyer Collection (lots 1-34).
The Heissmeyer collection brings together vases and figural vessels of Greek antiquity from Athens to South Italy, dating from the 8th-4th century B.C. Professor Heissmeyer assembled his collection in affection for the craftsmanship of the ancient potter and painter, considering the vases his 'guests', and as such 'able to move on and delight others'. Prof. Heissmeyer published his collection in two volumes: Vasen und figürliche Gefässe aus der griechischen Antike. Katalog einer süddeutschen Sammlung, Dettelbach, 2008 and Vases and Figure-Shaped Vessels of Greek Antiquity: Catalogue of a Collection in South Germany, Schwäbisch Hall, 2015 (referred to below as 'Vasen, 2008' and 'Vases, 2015').

The pieces are:

Lot 6. Attic head vase.
Estimate: £4000-£6000.
Collecting history:
Private collection, Germany, acquired prior to 1990. with Galerie am Museum Jürgen Haering, Freiburg. Prof. H.-H. Heissmeyer collection, Schwäbisch Hall, acquired from the above in 2005 (inv. no. 32).
Publication: Vasen, 2008, no. 19 and Vases, 2015, p. 67, no. 21.
Although a number for the Beazley Archive is provided (9024860) this does not appear to refer to a specific item.
Tsirogiannis notes that a Polaroid photograph that appears to show this oinochoe features in the Becchina archive. A note shows that it was sent for restoration on 1 December 1989 to Sandro Cimicchi.


Lot 8. Attic black-figured Droop cup
Estimate: £4000-£6000.
Collecting history:
Private collection, Switzerland, acquired prior to 1980. with Galerie am Museum Jürgen Haering, Freiburg. Prof. H.-H. Heissmeyer collection, Schwäbisch Hall, acquired from the above in 1995 (inv. no. 17). 
Publication: Vasen, 2008, no. 3 and Vases, 2015, p. 15, no. 5.
Although a number for the Beazley Archive is provided (9024849) this does not appear to refer to a specific item.
Tsirogiannis notes that the cup appear to feature in the Becchina archive.  A note suggests that this was one of four cups purchased by Raffaele Monticelli on 4 March 1993. Becchina's Polaroid is marked that it was sold to 'Hae[ring]'.

Lot 16. Attic red-figured lekythos, attributed to the Sabouroff painter
Estimate: £7000-£10000
Collecting history:
Private collection, United Kingdom, acquired prior to 1980. with Galerie am Museum Jürgen Haering, Freiburg. Prof. H.-H. Heissmeyer collection, Schwäbisch Hall, acquired from the above in 1992 (inv. no. 23). Beazley Archive no. 21590.
Although a number for the Beazley Archive is provided (21590) this does not appear to refer to a specific item.
Publication: J. H. Oakley, The Achilles Painter, Mainz, 1997, pl. 181C. Vasen, 2008, no. 9 and Vases, 2015, p. 31, no. 10.
Tsirogiannis notes that the lekythos appears in the Becchina archive. A note suggests that the transaction took place in November 1978.


Lot 93. Attic red-figured lekythos attributed to the Nikon painter
Estimate: £25000-£30000
Collecting history:
Anonymous sale; Münzen und Medaillen AG, Basel, 14 November 1986, lot 213. Formerly private collection, Japan, acquired privately in 1997.
Tsirogiannis notes that this lot was confiscated in the Geneva Freeport by the Swiss authorities from Noriyoshi Horiuchi in 2008 (see Operation Andromeda). He also notes that the lekythos has been offered for sale by Phoenix Ancient Art (website) and subsequently sold. [It also features on pinterest.] It is not clear why Christie's have not provided the full collecting history for the lekythos.

It appears that Christie's has not conducted a sufficiently rigorous due diligence process to identify material from the Becchina archive. Will the auction house be withdrawing the lots prior to the sale?

I am grateful to Dr Tsirogiannis for sharing his identifications with me.


Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The scale of the returns to Italy

I have been busy working on an overview, "Returning Archaeological Objects to Italy". The scale of the returns to Italy from North American collections and galleries is staggering: in excess of 350 objects. This is clearly the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the material that has surfaced on the market without a history that can be traced back to the period before 1970. 

I will provide more information in due course, but the researcher is a reminder that we need to take due diligence seriously when it comes to making acquisitions.

Stele returns to Greece

The Hellenic Ministry of Culture has announced (Saturday 8 September 2018) that a stele that had been due to be auctioned at Sotheby's in London in June 2017 has been returned to Greece (Friday 7 September 2018). The identification had been made by Cambridge-based forensic archaeologist Dr Christos Tsirogiannis.

It appeared that the stele had been supplied with a falsified history as its presence with Becchina until 1990 contradicted the published sale catalogue entry. It then moved into the hands of George Ortiz.

A year ago it was suggested that Sotheby's should contact the Greek authorities. Those negotiations appear to have concluded successfully.

The 4th century BC stele fragment, with the personal name, Hestiaios, will be displayed in the Epigraphic Museum in Athens. It appears to have come from a cemetery in Attica.



Codename: Ainsbrook

I have been watching (UK) Channel 4's Time Team this evening. The programme looked at an undisclosed field (under a potato crop) where a Viking burial had been found. The location in Yorkshire was so sensitive that it was given a codename: Ainsbrook. Here is the summary:
In late 2003 two metal detectorists were working in a field in Yorkshire. They found 'treasure' buried just beneath the surface – a collection of Viking material next to a body. Although they had been detecting on the site for a number of years, during which time they had made large numbers of finds, nothing they had uncovered previously compared with this. They decided to share their discovery with archaeologists.The programme explored the tension between metal-detectorists and the English Heritage sponsored archaeologists putting six trenches into the field based on a geo-physical survey. Finds made by the metal-detectorists did not easily map onto the archaeological features.

Part of the programme had an …