Skip to main content

An Etruscan bronze athlete from an old Swiss collection

Source: Schinousa archive
Dr Christos Tsirogiannis has drawn attention to four items in the December sale of antiquities at Gorny & Mosch in Munich.

I am particularly interested in the fifth century BC Etruscan bronze figure of a youth. The collecting history is given as follows:
Ex Sammlung R.G., Deutschland. Bei Royal Athena Galleries, New York, Catalogue XXI, 2010, 43. Ex Sotheby´s Catalogue of Antiquities 13. Juli 1981, 341.
If we tidy this up, it could be presented as:
R.G. Collection, Germany; Sotheby's (London) 13 July 1981, lot 341; Royal Athena Galleries, New York, Catalogue XXI, 2010, no. 43.
However if you check the Royal-Athena Galleries catalogue for 2010, the following collecting history is provided:
Athos Moretti collection, Bellinzona, Switzerland; Royal-Athena Galleries, 1985; R.G. Collection, Calodyne, Mauritius, 1985-2008.
From my notes on the piece I can provide a little more information:
Athos Moretti collection, Bellinzona, Switzerland; Sotheby's (London) 13-14 July 1981, lot 341; Royal-Athena Galleries, Catalogue IV, 1985, no. 185; Dr Leo Mildenberg for the R.G. Collection; R.G. Collection, Calodyne, Mauritius, 1985-2008.
I am curious about the information in the Gorny & Mosch catalogue:

  • Why is there no mention of the Athos Moretti collection in Bellinzona? What is the authenticated documentation that it was in this collection?
  • Why is there no mention of the Royal-Athena Galleries catalogue of 1985?
  • Why is there no mention of Dr Leo Mildenberg?
  • Why place the R.G. collection in Germany rather than Mauritius?

The more intriguing question is when was the bronze handled by Robin Symes? And why is there no mention of this?

It would be interesting to learn more about the collection of Dr Athos Moretti, not least because the Dallas Museum of Art is reported to have acquired a large part of his collection of jewellery in 1991.

It does suggest that the due diligence process for Gorny & Mosch needs to be tightened. For previous mentions of this auction house see Operation Ghelas.

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know


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 …

Sardinian warrior from "old Swiss collection"

One of the Sardinian bronzes of a warrior was seized from an as yet unnamed Manahattan gallery. It appears to be the one that passed through the Royal-Athena Gallery: Art of the Ancient World 23 (2012) no. 71. The collecting history for that warrior suggests that it was acquired in 1990 from a private collection in Geneva.

Other clues suggested that the warrior has resided in a New York private collection.

The identity of the private collection in Geneva will no doubt be telling.

The warrior also features in this news story: Jennifer Peltz, "Looted statues, pottery returned to Italy after probe in NYC", ABC News May 25 2017.

Attic amphora handed back to Italians

The research of Dr Christos Tsirogiannis has led to the return of an Attic red-figured amphora, attributed to the Harrow painter, to Italy (Tom Mashberg, "Stolen Etruscan Vessel to Be Returned to Italy", New York Times March 16, 2017).

The amphora is known to have passed through the hands of Swiss-based dealer Gianfranco Becchina in 1993, and then through a New York gallery around 2000 (although its movements between those dates are as yet undisclosed).

During the ceremony, Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., the District Attorney stated:
“When looters overrun historic sites, mine sacred spaces for prized relics, and peddle stolen property for top dollar, they do so with the implicit endorsement of all those who knowingly trade in stolen antiquities” More research clearly needs to be conducted on how material handled by Becchina passed into the North American market and into the hands of private and public collectors.