Saturday, 28 March 2020

The anonymous history of a Minoan larnax

Minoan larnax from the Becchina archive (l), and in the Michael C. Carlos Museum (r)
The Minoan larnax in the Michael C. Carlos Museum has been provided with a 'history'.

  • Ex private collection, Switzerland, 1980s. 
  • Ex private collection, Japan, 1990s. 
  • Purchased by MCCM from Robert Haber & Associates, Inc., New York, New York.

As the larnax appears in the Becchina photographic archive, it would be logical to identify Becchina (a dealer) as 'private collection, Switzerland'. There is no history prior to Becchina; in other words, there is no history that predates the 1970 UNESCO Convention.

The identity of the 'private collection, Japan' is not provided. But we know that Becchina had links with at least one Japanese dealer. And as the Michael C. Carlos Museum seems to describe dealers and private collections, it could be fair to assume the possibility that the 'private collection, Japan' is also a 'dealer, Japan'.

As for Robert Haber & Associates, there is an instance of them handling what appears to be ex-Becchina material. What was their due diligence process to check the history of the larnax?

A responsible university museum would have resolved an issue that was first raised in 2007. Are the museum's curatorial team unaware of the apparent Becchina link with this piece? How do they explain the movement of the larnax from Crete to Switzerland in the '1980s'? Is there any supporting documentation?

I am grateful to Associate Professor Christos Tsirogiannis who made the first identification of the larnax from the Becchina archive.

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