A spokesperson for Phoenix Ancient Art has responded to the seizures of antiquities that took place last week (see Search Warrant listing the items). In a statement to Artnet News ("New York Antiques Dealer Phoenix Fine Art Raided on Suspicion of Selling Looted Artifacts", 11 January 2018) it was stated:
“We immediately notified the US private collection that consigned the works to us of the situation, and we do know that the works have a long museum exhibition history spanning from the Geneva Musée d’art et d’Histoire, 1978–1981, and at the Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 1984–1996.”The temporary display of recently surfaced antiquities in public museums is an interesting one. How are these documented? What about the display of the Ka Nefer Nefer mummy mask in Geneva? And was the (anonymous?) loan to the J. Paul Getty Museum by a dealer or a collector? This recalls the loan of fragments of the Berlin painter krater, a pot that was subsequently returned to Italy.
Should museums be accepting loans for antiquities that do not have documented and authenticated histories that stretch back to the period before 1970?
North American museums will be aware of The Association of Art Museum Directors Releases New Guidelines on Loans of Antiquities and Ancient Art (2006) that states "Potential long-term loans (i.e. loans not part of visiting exhibitions) with incomplete relevant provenance histories should be evaluated under criteria comparable to those for acquisitions". This should now be read against Revisions to the 2008 Guidelines on the Acquisition ofArchaeological Material and Ancient Art (2013), and specifically, "Member museums normally should not acquire a Work unless provenance research substantiates that the Work was outside its country of probable modern discovery before 1970 or was legally exported from its probable country of modern discovery after 1970".