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Looting Matters: looking back on 2017

My predictions for 2017 make a good introduction: further seizures as a result of the photographic archives, heritage crime at archaeological sites in the UK, and moves in Westminster to address the protection of cultural property in time of war. I have not covered the latter on LM as some of the discussions are sensitive.

Seizures
The year started with the news of several thousand seizures in a Europe wide Operation Pandora. A major set of seizures were made on the collection formed by the Hobby Lobby.

Smaller seizures included sculptures from Eshmun in the Lebanon, and a fragment of a Persepolis relief.

A head of Drusus Minor was returned to Italy from the Cleveland Museum of Art after it was realised that it had come from a known excavation and had been removed from the archaeological store.

A series of objects were seized from an unnamed Manhattan gallery (Sardinian warrior, Paestan lekythos, Apulian kantharos from the 'J.M.E. collection'). Another seizure included an Attic…

Responsible metal-detecting: a revised code of practice

The annual heritage day at the RSA earlier this month provided an opportunity to discuss the new Code of Practice for Responsible Metal Detecting in England and Wales (2017) on an informal basis.

The endorsements of the revised code are notable by the absence of certain organisations:
Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum of Wales / PAS Cymru, Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers, British Museum / Portable Antiquities Scheme, Chartered Institute for Archaeologists, Council for British Archaeology, Country Land & Business Association, Institute for Archaeology (University College London), Historic England, National Farmers Union, Royal Commission on the Historical & Ancient Monuments of Wales, Society of Museum Archaeologists. The endorsement by UCL's Institute of Archaeology is interesting given the forum piece on metal-detecting that appeared in the Papers of the Institute of Archaeology(and that is largely uncited by members of PAS although is noted by arch…

An athlete, Robin Symes and the Paris market

Dr Christos Tsirogiannis has identified a Roman marble athlete from the Robin Symes archive. The statue is due to be auctioned in Paris this Friday, 8 December 2017 (Drouot lot 292).

The history of the statue is provided:
Royal Athena Galleries, New York:  Art of the Ancient World 4 (1995), p.75-76, lot n°236. This does not explain why the statue appeared in the confiscated Symes archive. 
Tsirogiannis has also spotted that the statue surfaced at Sotheby's in London Sotheby's on 5th of July 1982. lot 397. Who consigned the statue to that sale? Why does the Paris description fail to mention the Sotheby's information? Would it raise questions about how it surfaced?

Where was the statue between 1982 and 1995?

I understand that the French authorities have been informed about the sale.

Lucius Verus said to be from Bubon

I am reviewing some long-standing claims of cultural property. Among them is the head from a bronze portrait of Lucius Verus. This is said to be from the Sebasteion at Bubon in Turkey.

It surfaced on the London market in the summer of 1970 after being restored by Peter Smith and Anna Plowden (Bernard Weinraub, "Squashed Bust of an Emperor Restored by 2 Young Britons", New York Times 7 June 1970). A representative of Spink & Son suggested that the head had been "excavated in Eastern Europe, probably Hungary, after World War II".

Yet by 1981 Jiri Frel could claim that the head was "said to be from Bubon" (Roman Portraits, no. 62; inv. 73.AB.100). This reflected the research of Jale Inan and Cornelius C. Vermeule. Carol Mattusch in 1996 noted, "Reported to be from Ibecik (ancient Bubon in Lycia), Turkey."

The head was acquired by the J. Paul Getty Museum subsequent to the 1970 UNESCO Convention. Will the museum be returning the head to Turkey a…

Treasure Finds and metal-detecting

Ian Richardson has commented on his favourite Treasure Finds (Laurence Cawley, "Treasure finds in England top 1,000 for first time", BBC News 23 November 2017). This coincides with the number of Treasure Finds passing the 1,000 mark for the third year in a row. (See statistical summary here.)

Norfolk and Suffolk top the list with 211 finds. Julie Shoemark, the finds liaison officer for Norfolk, commented that "the rising number of reported treasure finds corresponded to a growth in the numbers of metal detecting clubs."

There is no comment from Richardson on the scale of the lost or damaged archaeological contexts represented by the 1,120 Treasure Finds.


Attic cup surfacing in Munich identified from Medici Dossier

An Attic red-figured cup known from the Medici Dossier has surfaced at an auction of Gorny & Mosch in Munich (Auction 252, December 13, 2017, lot 66). This identification has been made by Cambridge-based academic, Dr Christos Tsirogiannis. The attribution is to the Hegesiboulos painter.

The cup first surfaced at Sotheby's in London on 13-14 December 1982, lot 248 (BAPD 7047). Two items also from this sale, an Attic red-figured amphora attributed to the Berlin painter and a Lucanian nestoris, have already been returned to Italy from two separate North American museum collections (see here). The catalogue entry notes that the cup is being sold with a copy of the Sotheby's catalogue entry.

The cup then passed into the 'P.C.' collection in southern Germany (a detail apparently unknown to the Beazley Archive).

The same auction-house has been trying to sell other material identified from the range of photographic archives (also identified by Tsirogiannis): a Gnathian ask…

Gordon McLendon and Fritz Bürki

The returns from the J. Paul Getty Museum have included Apulian pots that were given by Gordon McLendon in 1977 (Inv. 77.AE.14–15). 

Some of McLendon's gifts were derived from Fritz Bürki:
a. Apulian volute-krater, attributed to the Baltimore painter. Inv. 77.AE.112. Acquired from Bürki in 1977.
b. Apulian volute-krater, attributed to the Baltimore painter. Inv. 77.AE.113. Acquired from Bürki in 1977.
c. Apulian volute-krater, attributed to the Patera painter. Inv. 77.AE.114. Acquired from Bürki in 1977.
d. Apulian volute-krater, attributed to the Patera painter. Inv. 77.AE.115. Acquired from Bürki in 1977.
e. Apulian bell-krater, attributed to the Patera painter. Inv. 77.AE.116. Acquired from Bürki in 1977.

Note that these Apulian pieces moved almost directly from Bürki to the museum via McLendon.


Persepolis Relief Seized in New York

A fragment from one of the Persepolis reliefs has been seized at TEFAF in New York (James C. McKinley Jr, "Ancient Limestone Relief Is Seized at European Art Fair", New York Times October 29 2017).

The relief was recorded at Persepolis as late as 1936 (see here). It was acquired by the Montreal Museum of Fine Art in the 1950s from Frederick Cleveland Morgan. (It is not clear how it moved from Persepolis to Montreal.) The relief was stolen from the museum in September 2011, and recovered in Edmonton in January 2014. The insurers apparently sold the relief to Rupert Wace Ancient Art from whose stand at TEFAF the piece was seized.

It is not clear why the relief was not spotted from the archive photographs when it formed part of the collection in Montreal. It can only be assumed that the dealer assumed that there was no problem with the history of the relief fragment.

The relief was clearly removed after the 1930 legislation (see here) that would have made its export illegal.


Greece issues statement over marble funerary markers

The Greek authorities (The Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sport) have issued a statement over the two marble funerary markers that were on sale in London by Jean-David Cahn [press release, 26 October 2017].

The statement makes it plain that the Greek authorities are seeking the return of the objects to Greece (Οι εν λόγω ελληνικές αρχαιότητες διεκδικούνται ήδη από το Υπουργείο Πολιτισμού και Αθλητισμού, το οποίο θα συνεχίσει τις προσπάθειες επαναπατρισμού τους αξιοποιώντας κάθε πρόσφορο μέσο).

We can only presume that the Swiss authorities will want to avoid any damaging legal process that will explore the sale of this material.

Can we also presume that the Greek authorities will be reopening the investigation into the three objects in the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University?


See also ARCA

"The Greeks are the rightful owner"

Dr Christos Tsirogiannis has been interviewed by The Times over the marble lekythos and the marble loutrophoros that were being offered for sale in London by Jean-David Cahn (Jack Malvern, "Expert attacks sale of 'stolen' Greek vases", The Times 24 October 2017).

On the left (no. 237), the history of the lekythos is given as "Formerly Swiss art market, October 1977". I understand from Dr Tsirogiannis that the lekythos was listed by Gianfranco Becchina on 5 September 1977. Was this information known to Cahn? The lekythos is listed as co-owned by Becchina and George Ortiz.

On the right (no. 239), the history of the loutrophoros is given as "Formerly Swiss art market, October 1977".

These two funerary markers are almost certainly from a cemetery in Attica, and Tsirogiannis is right to suggest that "the Greeks are the rightful owner", especially if there is no documentation relating to their movement from Greece to Switzerland.

More troublin…

What does "mint provenance" mean?

The identification of a marble lekythos and a marble loutrophoros that had formed part of the stock of Gianfranco Becchina raises concerns about how the history of the objects was recorded.

The dealer, Jean-David Cahn, states:
In the past few years, the gallery has been rethinking its acquisition policy, pinpointing quality as well as provenance even more. Our profile is then to provide/show quality pieces with a strong expertise and mint provenance. Were these two pieces offered with the information that they were linked to Becchina? What sort of due diligence process had been conducted by the gallery? Had the gallery contacted the Greek authorities to check that the objects had not been removed from the country illegally?

A "mint provenance" would provide the full, documented and authenticated history of the object from when it left the ground to the point of its present sale.

Michael C. Carlos Museum under renewed scrutiny

Objects in the Michael C. Carlos Museum are under renewed scrutiny after the latest Becchina appearances of archaeological material from Greece in London. The museum has let the case go unresolved for 9 years; the story was broken in the Greek press more than 10 years ago.

There are three items: a Minoan larnax, a pithos, and a statue of Terpsichore.

It is about time that the curatorial team at the Michael C. Carlos Museum offered to return the items to Greece.

Becchina and the Funerary Markers from Greece

Cambridge-based academic, Dr Christos Tsirogiannis, has identified two Attic funerary markers that have surfaced on the Swiss market (Howard Swains, "Looted antiquities allegedly on sale at London Frieze Masters art fair", The Guardian October 22, 2017). The items feature in the Becchina archive.

The marble lekythos and loutrophoros were displayed by Swiss-based dealer Jean-David Cahn at the Frieze Masters art fair in Regent's Park in London.

It appears that the items are being offered on behalf of the Swiss canton of Basel-Stadt. They had apparently formed part of the stock seized from Becchina's warehouse in Switzerland. (For more on this see here.)

Strangely the Swiss authorities are claiming that the Italian authorities have given permission for the material to be sold. But these two items are objects that were created in Attica for display in Attic cemeteries. They are from Greek, not Italian, soil.

The key question is this: did the Swiss authorities as well as …

Looting of archaeological sites in East Anglia

BBC Look East has covered the problem of looting on archaeological sites in East Anglia (October 17, 2017). The report covers the problem of illegal metal-detecting on the site of Great Chesterford, the response from the police (including PC Andy Long of Essex Constabulary) and landowners, as well as from metal-detectorists. Police will be installing cameras at key sites, as well as deploying drones to identify criminal activity.

The message that needs to get through is that archaeological contexts are being lost, and key pieces are not being reported.

The programme is available here for 24 hours.

Further statue from temple of Eshmun, Lebanon seized in New York City

ARCA (and other sources) has commented on the seizure of a second statue from the temple of Eshmun in Lebanon that had formed part of a New York private collection. The figure is holding an animal: a calf, sheep or goat. The collector is reported in the legal papers as Michael Steinhardt.

The marble bull's head that was also seized in New York is due to be returned to the Lebanon in the next two weeks.

Christos Tsirogiannis has established that the Beierwaltes, through whose hands the bull passed, were clients of Robin Symes. Is this the source for the bull?

And if so, did Symes handle the other statue?

And what other material removed from Lebanon could have passed through this route?

Postscript
Colin Moyniham, "Couple Drops Lawsuit Over Disputed Antiquity", New York Times, October 13, 2017: "The calf bearer sculpture passed though some of the same hands as the bull's head, according to the letter. It too had been excavated at Eshmun and was stolen from the Leban…

Stonehenge and the National Trust

Stonehenge is part of one of the most important prehistoric (and historic) landscapes in England. A members' resolution has been presented to the National Trust AGM on Saturday (21 October 2017) that aims to protect and preserve the integrity of the UNESCO World Heritage site in the face of the proposed tunnel construction.

Members of the National Trust can vote on the resolution on-line here. Details of the resolution can be downloaded here.

The Heritage Journal lays out some of the concerns here.

Details of the story from the BBCRescue on the Resolution

Public Archaeology and Looting Antiquities

A new volume, Key Concepts in Public Archaeology, edited by Gabriel Moschenska of UCL has been published (UCL Press) [open access pdf].

Readers of LM will find some of the chapters of interest.

Paul Burtenshaw ("Economics in public archaeology", pp. 31–42) touches on how to reduce looting and preserve sites by showing the economic benefits of heritage through tourism.

Don Henson ("Archaeology and education", pp. 43–59) shows how education can be used to reduce the risk of looting.

Roger Bland, Michael Lewis, Daniel Pett, Ian Richardson, Katherine Robbins, and Rob Webley write on "The Treasure Act and Portable Antiquities Scheme in England and Wales" (pp. 107–121). They have a section on the Staffordshire Hoard with the subtitle, "archaeology captures the public imagination". The authors respond to criticisms (without citing any studies; see the Forum discussion in Papers from the Institute of Archaeologyapparently unknown to the authors) that th…

Aydin Dikmen and the forging of antiquities

Suzan Mazur has published a timely piece on Aydin Dikmen ("Anatolian Stargazer Fakes?—The Aydin Dikmen Connection", Huffington Post September 22, 2017). She raises the spectre that some of the more complete Anatolian "Stargazer" figures could be modern creations. 
Mazur notes the presence of such figures in the hands of Aydin Dikmen who was separately reported as having made the "best fakes" (though not specifically of Anatolian figures). Dikmen's basement in Konya was also reported to have been equipped to make objects from marble.

There are clear intellectual consequences if the insecure "Stargazers" are allowed to join the corpus of Anatolian figures that have been recovered from scientific excavations.

Owners of "Stargazers" that surfaced on the market since 1960 need to check their full histories.

It needs to be stressed that some of these "Stargazers" could indeed be ancient, but the absence of contextual informati…

The Guennol Stargazer and its findspot

There has been much attention paid to Turkey's claim on the Guennol Stargazer. It needs to be remembered that Pat Getz-Gentle (Getz-Preziosi) appeared to confirm that the figure was found in central Anatolia, i.e. Turkey.

Incidentally, the Guennol Stargazer is reported to have been found with the Stargazer in the Shelby White collection as well as other figures in several other North American private collections.

The authority for Getz-Gentle's statement is unclear. How did she know that the six figures were found together? Did they pass through common hands?

The Guennol Stargazer

Suzan Mazur has written on the Guennol Stargazer, an Anatolian style figure ("Klejman or Hecht?—Who Sold the Guennol Stargazer to Tennis’s Alastair Martin?", Huffington Post September 18, 2017).

G. Max Bernheimer described the piece: "The Guennol Stargazer is an iconic work of art and one universally recognised as the finest Kiliya idol in existence".

The collecting history is:

Collection of Alastair Bradley Martin and his wife, EdithLoan to New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1966-93 (L.66.11)Merrin Gallery, 1993New York private collector, reported to be Michael Steinhardt
The figure was sold at Christie's New York on 28 April 2017 (lot 12) for $14,471,500. The sale was subject to a claim from the Republic of Turkey.

The Horse in Ancient Greek Art

The exhibition, 'The Horse in Ancient Greek Art', will be on show at the National Sporting Library and Museum, and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. It will include a number of objects from private collections. I hope that the full collecting histories will be provided.

I looked up the Attic red-figured column-krater attributed to the Orestes painter (and featured on the exhibition website). It surfaced in the Fortuna gallery in Zurich in 1980 (and was re-offered in 1983), and then was for sale in the Royal-Athena Galleries, New York in 1983. It was then offered through the Old World Galleries, New York before being auctioned at Christies (June 8, 2004, lot 328) where it was sold for $47,800. It then passed into a Virginia private collection. What was the collecting history of this krater prior to 1980?

I note that other kraters attributed to this painter were found at Agrigento, Camarina (two), Chiusi and Spina. Where was the Virginia krater found? And when? Its fairly compl…

Marble bull's head from the temple of Eshmun

Excavations at the temple of Eshmun in Lebanon recovered a marble bull's head. It is now suggested that it was this head, apparently first published in 1967, that was placed on loan to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art (Tom Mashberg, "Met Museum Turns Over Another Relic With Disputed Past to Prosecutors", New York Times August 1, 2017 ). The head is reported to have been handed over to the Manhattan district attorney after a request was received from the Lebanese authorities.

It is suggested that the head may have been looted from an archaeological storage area at Byblos in the 1980s during the Lebanese civil war. Mashberg has rehearsed the recent collecting history:
The owners of the bull’s head, Lynda and William Beierwaltes of Colorado, say they have clear title to the item and have sued Manhattan prosecutors for its return.  The Beierwaltes bought the head from a dealer in London in 1996 for more than $1 million and then sold it to another collector, Michael …

The Toledo skyphos and a Swiss private collection

The Attic red-figured skyphos attributed to the Kleophon painter in the Toledo Museum of Art (inv. 1982.88) is now coming under further scrutiny following the research of Dr Christos Tsirogiannis. The skyphos shows Hephaistos returning to Olympos.

Tsirogiannis has identified what appears to be this skyphos in five photographs in the Medici Dossier. The museum acknowledged that the skyphos had resided in a 'private Swiss collection'. Tsirogiannis suggests that this is probably a reference to Medici.

Enquiries to the museum by Tsirogiannis elicited the information that the skyphos had been acquired from Nicholas Koutoulakis (although that information does not appear on the museum's online catalogue).

The curatorial team at the Toledo Museum of Art will, no doubt, be contacting the Italian authorities to discuss the future residence of the skyphos.

For further discussion of the Toledo Museum of Art on LM see here.

Reference
Tsirogiannis, C. 2017. "Nekyia: Museum ethics an…

Metropolitan Museum of Art hands over Paestan krater

In May 2014 I commented on a Paestan krater acquired by New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art after it had been identified by Dr Christos Tsirogiannis in photographic images seized from Giacomo Medici. Tsirogiannis published his full concerns in the Journal of Art Crime in 2014, but it has taken a further three years for the museum to respond.

The krater showing Dionysos in a hand-drawn cart was purchased in 1989 from the Bothmer Purchase Fund (details from the Museum's website, inv. 1989.11.4). The krater surfaced through Sotheby's New York in June 1989.

It is unclear who consigned the krater to Sotheby's New York.

It has now been revealed that the krater has been handed over to the US authorities after a warrant had been issued (Tom Mashberg, "Ancient Vase Seized From Met Museum on Suspicion It Was Looted", New York Times July 31, 2018).

It appears that the museum did make an attempt to resolve the case in December 2016. Mashberg notes:
The Met, for its par…

Protecting Heritage in Scotland

I could not help noticing that ancient monuments in Scotland not in State Guardianship have prominent reminders about their protection.

Mithras relief from Tor Cervara

A fragmentary relief of Mithras was discovered in 1964 at Tor Cervara on the outskirts of Rome. It was acquired by the Museo Nazionale Romano.

A further fragment of the relief was acquired by the Badisches Landesmueum in Kalrsruhe in 1976. The source was an unstated Swiss dealer. This fragment has been reunited with the rest of the relief [press release].

Today a further fragment of the relief was reunited with the other pieces. This had been recovered during a raid in Sardinia.