Wednesday 2 March 2022

Revised history for the Carlos Museum Minoan Larnax

L: image from Becchina archive.
R: larnax in Michael C. Carlos Museum

Back in 2007 Christos Tsirogiannis identified a Minoan larnax in the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University from an image in the Becchina archive showing that it had passed through Palladion Antike Kunst. The larnax had been acquired in 2002. The museum has apparently declined to negotiate with the Hellenic authorities.

Two years ago, almost to the day, I checked the history of the larnax and found that the sequence was presented as:
  • Ex private collection, Switzerland, 1980s. 
  • Ex private collection, Japan, 1990s. 
  • Purchased by MCCM from Robert Haber & Associates, Inc., New York, New York.
The paperwork for the Steinhardt seizure mentioned the Carlos Museum larnax (due to the mention of Haber [pp. 70–71]). This has prompted me to check the museum website and found that the history of the object has been clarified and amplified.

PROVENANCE With Nicolas Koutoulakis (1910-1996), Geneva, Switzerland, late 1960s. Ex private collection, Switzerland, 1980s. Ex coll. Noriyoshi Horiuchi, Japan, 1990s. Purchased by MCCM from Robert Haber & Associates, Inc., New York, New York.

It now appears that the anonymous Japanese collection is in fact the dealer Noryioshi Horiuchi. Horiuchi was linked to Becchina as a result of the investigations as part of Operation Andromeda.  It is unclear why the museum still fails to acknowledge that the larnax passed through Palladion Antike Kunst: why is a gallery and a dealer described as a Swiss private collection? Is the Becchina image too awkward to accept?

It now appears that Koutoulakis has been added to the history with a date just prior to the 1970 Convention. What is the authenticated documentation to support this claim? Why has it taken twenty years for this information to come to light? Indeed, the association of an object with Koutoulakis should sound an alarm bell. Another Koutoulakis linked larnax is currently in New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art: what is its (authenticated) prior history? (For more on Koutoulakis see here.)

Is the time fast approaching when the Michael C. Carlos Museum will return to the values held by EUMILOP in the late 1980s? A university museum needs to uphold the highest ethical standards when it comes to acquisitions as well as resolving cases when new information comes to light. 

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