Monday 27 May 2019

Renewed Italian claims on the Getty

Back in January 2013 LM noted that Fabio Isman had noted that two funerary lions in the J. Paul Getty Museum, acquired in 1958 (inv. 58.AA.7, 58.AA.8), had been photographed in an Italian collection in 1912. It now appears that the Italian authorities have requested clarity on the histories of the two lions [press release, May 22, 2019]. The lions were both acquired from Nicholas Koutoulakis.

In addition, a Roman mosaic with the head of Medusa has been included in the request. It is alleged that it was stolen from the Museo Nazionale Romano. The mosaic was acquired from the Royal Athena Galleries in 1971 (inv. 71.AH.110). It is noted that the mosaic was found on the Via Emanuele Filiberto, Rome, Italy and was first recorded in A. Pasqui 1911 ("Roma. Nuove scoperte nella citta e nel suburbio." Notizie degli Scavi 8 (1911), 338-339). Further details on the findspot can be found here.

What is so surprising is that it has taken the Getty more than six years to respond to the claims over the two lions.

UPDATE: The J. Paul Getty Museum has reminded me that the Italian authorities have not requested the return of the three items discussed in this post. Rather, they have invited further information and discussion, specifically on the "provenance": 'specifici negoziati per una verifica congiunta della provenienza di quattro reperti esposti sempre nel museo di Malibù'.

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Monday 20 May 2019

Toledo Museum of Art and an Attic skyphos

Source: Toledo Museum of Art
In 2017 Dr Christos Tsirogannis wrote a study of the Attic red-figured skyphos attributed to the Kleophon painter (by Dietrich von Bothmer) and acquired in 1982. Tsirogiannis had spotted that the skyphos featured in the Medici Dossier, and elicited from the museum that it had been acquired from Nichols Koutoulakis. 

It has now been announced by the Italian authorities that the skyphos will be returned to Italy [press release, 16 May 2019].
Il ministero per i Beni e le attività culturali della Repubblica italiana e il Toledo Museum of Art (TMA) hanno annunciato oggi di aver raggiunto un accordo per il trasferimento alla Repubblica italiana di uno skyphos attico risalente al V secolo a-C (Vaso Potorio), che raffigura il ritorno di Efesto sull'Olimpo. Lo skyphos è stato acquistato da TMA nel 1982, ma recentemente, il Museo ha ritenuto di dover acquisire ulteriori informazioni dal Mibac circa la sua provenienza. In collaborazione con il Ministero e alla luce de informazioni fomite da questo, il TMA ha ritenuto appropriato di trasferire lo skyphos all'Italia. Il Mibac ha accettato di concedere in prestito lo skyphos al Museo per 4 anni e, al termine del periodo di prestito, di effettuarne di ulteriori su base rotativa.
The skyphos will be placed on loan to Toledo for 4 years. It is significant that the role of Tsirogiannis has not been acknowledged.

Toledo has placed a statement on its website. It includes this paragraph:
The Toledo Museum of Art purchased the skyphos in 1982 for $90,000 with funds gifted from Edward Drummond Libbey. The provenance of the object was called into question in 2017 by Christos Tsirogiannis, a forensic archaeologist, after which the Museum began an internal investigation and contacted the Italian authorities.
The entry for the skyphos in the Toledo Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum does not provide information about the piece's previous history.

Toledo has already returned an Etruscan kalpis, also acquired in 1982. What else was acquired in this period from the same sources? Museums need to be revisiting any material that passed through the hands of Koutoulakis.

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Another Bubon bronze head likely to be repatriated

It appears that a bronze head acquired by the J. Paul Getty Museum from Nicolas Koutoulakis has been removed from display and appears to be...