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The Minoan Larnax and the Michael C. Carlos Museum

I was recently asked to comment on the acquisition of recently surfaced antiquities in Greece as part of an interview. One of the examples I gave was the Minoan larnax that was acquired by the Michael C. Carlos Museum. Although this piece has been discussed in the Greek press, the museum has not yet responded to the apparent identification in the Becchina archive.

Is the time now right for the Michael C. Carlos Museum or the wider authorities at Emory University to negotiate the return of this impressive piece so that it can be placed on display in a museum in Greece?

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Antiquities seized in Lazio

A group of archaeological material worth approximately 900,000 Euros has been seized in Lazio ("Sequestrati reperti archeologici per 900 mila euro", ansa.it 11 May 2018; press release). The finds include an Attic black-figured horse head amphora, an Attic red-figured column-krater, a fragment of a tufa column, and other terracotta sculptures from the 4th to 2nd centuries AD. 

Symes and a Roman medical set

Pierre Bergé & Associés of Paris are offering a rare Roman bronze medical set (16 May 2018, lot 236). Its recorded history is: "Ancienne collection Hishiguro, Tokyo, 1992". The catalogue entry helpfully informs us that the set probably came from a burial ("Cette trousse de chirurgien a probablement été découverte dans une sépulture ...").

The set appears to be the one that has been identified by Dr Christos Tsirogannis from an image in the Schinousa archive thus linking it to Robin Symes.

Given that the catalogue entry suggests that this piece came from a funerary context and that the history of the piece can only be traced back to 1992 (and not to 1970), questions are being raised about the set's origins.

What due diligence was conducted on the medical set prior to offering it for sale? Did Symes sell the set to Hishiguro? How did Symes obtain the set? Who sold it to him?

I understand that the appropriate authorities in France are being informed about the …

Symes and a Geometric horse

Dr Christos Tsirogiannis has identified a geometric horse from the Symes archive. The horse is due to be auctioned at 'The Shape of Beauty: Sculpture from the Collection of Howard and Saretta Barnet' at Sotheby's New York on 14 May 2018 (lot 4). 

Sotheby's provide a history of the horse and do acknowledge the link with Symes:

Münzen und Medaillen AG, Basel, May 6, 1967, lot 2 Robin Symes, London, very probably acquired at the above auction Howard and Saretta Barnet, New York, acquired from the above on November 16, 1973
When did the horse leave Greece? Who consigned it to the sale in Basel? Did the Barnets acquire other material from Symes?


The Getty kouros: a modern creation?

The refurbished galleries of the J. Paul Getty Museum no longer include the Getty kouros, a sculpture purchased in 1985 (Christopher Knight, "Something's missing from the newly reinstalled antiquities collection at the Getty Villa", LA Times April 19, 2018). Knight explains:
Unexpectedly, the Getty kouros, a controversial sculpture even before the museum acquired it more than 30 years ago, has been removed from public view. The work is now in museum storage.   For decades, the life-size carving of a standing nude youth carried one of the most distinctive labels of any work of art in an American museum: “Greece (?) about 530 B.C. or modern forgery.” The label encapsulated puzzling issues about the work, whose questionable status as dating from the archaic dawn of Western civilization had been the focus of scholarly and scientific research, debate and international symposiums for years. It is ten years since I provided an overview of the kouros here on LM. And over 20 year…

Heritage and Cultural Property Crime

The Heritage and Cultural Property Crime: National Strategic Assessment 2017 is now available online

The key threats to heritage in England and Wales are perceived as:

Architectural theft – in particular metal and stone Criminal damage – in particular damage caused by fire (‘arson’) Unlawful metal detecting (‘nighthawking’) Unlawful disturbance and salvage of maritime sites Anti-social behaviour – in particular fly-tipping and off-road drivingUnauthorised works to heritage assetsIllicit trade in cultural objects
Some of these issues (e.g. lead theft from churches, so-called nighthawking, metal-detecting and the code of practice, off-road driving, and the illicit trade in cultural objects) have been covered by LM (and its sister blog, Heritage Futures) over a long period of time.


Pontic amphora withdrawn from sale in New York

Christie's (New York, 18 April 2018, lot 26) has withdrawn a Pontic amphora, attributed to the Paris painter, after the pot was identified from the Becchina archive by Dr Christos Tsirogiannis. 

Christie's state that the history of the piece is as follows:

with Galerie Günter Puhze, Freiburg;Acquired by the current owner from the above, 1993;Manhattan private collection. Tsirogiannis has drawn attention to the notes from the Becchina archive that shows that the amphora was dated 22 June 1993 (along with the price paid and sold, in Swiss Francs, viz. 30,000 / 47,000 SF). 
If the amphora was purchased from the Freiburg gallery in 1993, and that the piece was still with Becchina in late June of the same year, was Puhze buying directly from Becchina? What other Puhze material came from this same source?
Who restored the amphora? When did this happen?
An Attic black-figured amphora that had passed through Puhze (after surfacing through Sotheby's) was returned to Italy.