Wednesday 22 March 2023

Further returns to Greece

Source: Manhattan DA

The Manhattan DA has announced the return of 29 antiquities, worth over $20 million, to Greece ("D.A. Bragg Returns 29 Antiquities to Greece", March 21, 2023 press release; see also here).

The items include a gold coin celebrating the assassination of Julius Caesar that surfaced on the Munich market in 2016.

The press release mentions the seizure of a bronze krater:
The Bronze Calyx Krater, which dates to 350 B.C.E., once held the bones of a deceased individual in a chamber tomb. It was looted and smuggled into Switzerland, where it was cleaned and restored by Fritz and Harry Bürki, the Zurich-based restorers and business partners of Robert Hecht. Hecht then arranged to smuggle the piece into New York, where it was sold to Leon Levy and Shelby White. It was seized by the Office in January of this year.
This seems to be a companion to the krater apparently looted from Pieria that was returned to Greece in 2008.

Unmentioned in the release, but placed next to the krater, was a bronze hydria that appears to be the one from the Shelby White collection (Bronzes no. 8). It is decorated beneath the vertical handle with a relief of Orpheus and a satyr. Chi and Gaunt draw attention to a companion piece in the Michael C. Carlos Museum (inv. 2002.012.001) that was acquired from Robert Hecht.

The release also mentions the return of a Late Neolithic marble group:
The Neolithic Family Group, which dates to 5000-3500 B.C.E and valued at $3 million. This group of objects compromises five human and animal figures carved from marble, and was looted from the island of Euboea by a Greek trafficker who smuggled the pieces into Switzerland. In 1982 dealer-trafficker Nicolas Koutoulakis sold the group to New York-based collectors Leon Levy and Shelby White. White loaned the group to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2000, where they remained on display until March of this year, when it was seized by the Office.
The group had been owned by Charles Gillet and Marion Schuster. They are "said to be from Euboea, or the east coast of Attica opposite, near Porto Raphti, perhaps from an islet attached to the mainland in prehistoric times" (Glories no. 8). It is interesting that the release emphasises the findspot on Euboea rather than Porto Raphti or more generally Attica preferred by Getz-Preziosi and Thimme. There are aspects of the group that make me wonder if they are ancient, a concern raised by Thimme back in 1977.

Next to the Late Neolithic group, but unmentioned in the release, was a double Cycladic figure: a small female figure standing on the head of a larger one. This appears to be the figure in the Shelby White collection (NAC no. 18; Glories no. 9; Katonah no. 15). Next to them was an Early Cycladic II bowl that also appears to be from the Shelby White collection (Glories no. 15).

Among the other items that appear to have been other items that formed part of the Shelby White collection:
  • Glories no. 76: A Late Geometric pair of horses 'said to have been found on Corfu, and for at least twenty years was in a collection in Austria. In October 1970, the group was lent to the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna for restoration.'
  • Glories no. 80: an armlet, two lidded pyxides, and an oinochoe from a hoard of at least 40 pieces found in northern Greece.
  • Glories no. 141: a gold treasure consisting of a pair of coiled snake armbands, a pair of earrings with swans, a gold and carnelian necklace, a gold ring with carnelian intaglio, part of a gold wreath, and a gold diadem. 
The press release mentions that the Royal-Athena Galleries have co-operated with the investigation suggesting that some of the other items were from that source (perhaps including a fragment of wall-painting).

I note that Christos Tsirogiannis was involved with some of the identifications. 

We await for a full list of the return.

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1 comment:

David Gill said...

Was the Hellenistic glass in Hamburg found in the same grave as the gold jewellery?

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