Friday, July 25, 2014

Forfeiture and Becchina: another link to Canada

Ric St Hilaire has written about a new forfeiture of two items that seem to be identified from the Becchina archive. The two items are an Attic red-figured skyphos and an Apulian bell-krater, valued at $55,000. They are reported to have been consigned to Christie's in New York. It is reported that they were seized in 2011 from from Walter M. Banko Enterprises, Ltd. of Montreal.

It appears that the paperwork for the objects may have been fabricated as the skyphos passed through the hands of Becchina in 1982 even though there had been a link with Borowski. The krater appears to have been in Becchina's possession in 1992 even though the paperwork suggested an alternative collecting history.

St Hilaire notes the quoted collecting history for the krater that was later moved from France to Canada:
Documents recovered from the search of Becchina’s gallery and warehouse reveal the occurrence of the following events: in February of 1992, Becchina purchased the Krater, in fragments, from Raffaele Monticelli. On or about October 24, 1992, Becchina delivered the Krater to Ettore Bruno who was to restore the Krater. On or about July 15, 1993, Ettore Bruno sent a photograph of the restored Krater to Becchina. On or about August 10, 1993, Robert Guy answered Becchina regarding the Krater’s attribution and the scientific study of the Krater. Ettore Bruno returned the Krater to Becchina in March of 1994. Becchina paid 8,490 Swiss francs for the restoration of the Krater. On May 1, 1994, Bechina noted that the Krater was then located in his warehouse at Porto Franco di Basilea (Switzerland).
I have raised the issue of Walter Banko before in the case of the janiform head also identified from the Becchina archive. This head had passed through Christie's in 2009.

Will Christie's have to explain the rigour of their due diligence process?

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

'Provenance' at SBL

I note that papyri are coming under the spotlight at SBL in San Diego this November. The session on 'Archaeology of Religion in the Roman World' includes a section on 'Issues of Provenance'. I have argued that the word provenance is now obsolete, and I would encourage participants to start thinking in terms of the collecting history of particular papyri and objects.
This session will consist of a panel of speakers addressing the ethical and scholarly issues concerning the presentation and publication of unprovenanced artifacts.
The line-up appears to be:
Organized by Christine Thomas (University of California, Santa Barbara) and Daniel Schowalter (Carthage College).
The speakers are: 
  • Timothy Potts (Getty Museum)
  • Roberta Mazza (University of Manchester)
  • Michael Peppard (Fordham University)
Responses from: 
  • Douglas Boin (St. Louis University)
  • David Trobisch (Green Collection)
  • Cary Summers (Museum of the Bible).
I presume that somebody will ask Michael Peppard about the documentation over the Late Antique mosaics acquired by Fordham. Will there be some searching comments about recently surfaced papyri. And will Tim Potts elaborate on the 'Sumerian' statue acquired by the Kimbell?


Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Arts Council England and Northampton

Arts Council England (ACE) is due to make a decision today about Northampton Borough Council's decision to sell an Egyptian statue from the Northampton Museum and Art Gallery (see Gareth Harris, "Northampton awaits Arts Council's response after controversial sale", Art Newspaper 24 July 2014). The decision will be announced on 1 August.

If ACE removes accreditation from Northampton, it will mean that the borough will be unable to apply for funding for the proposed development of the museum.
Scott Furlong, the director of ACE’s Acquisitions Exports Loans Collections Unit, says: “Those who choose to approach the sale of collections cynically or with little regard for the sectoral standards or their long-term responsibilities will only further alienate both key funders and the public who put their trust in them to care for our shared inheritance.”

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Metal Detectorists raid English Heritage site in Kent



The grounds of Eynsford Castle in Kent (not far from Lullingstone Roman Villa) have been pockmarked by what appear to be the telltale signs of metal-detecting. This is a protected site and there can be no excuse for this activity.

Such infringements bring us back to the core issues raised in the forum debate in the Papers of the Institute of Archaeology [link].

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Personal Styles and Cycladic Figures

My review of the (slightly) revised edition of Pat Getz-Gentle's Personal Styles in Early Cycladic Sculpture. Wisconsin Studies in Classics (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2013) has now appeared on BMCR. I consider some of the intellectual issues surrounding this category of material and discuss some of the figures appearing on the market. I remake the case for using the term "Keros Haul" (rather than "hoard") for the fragmentary Cycladic figures.
It is unnecessary to revisit some of the concerns about reconstructing artistic personalities in the third millennium BC. The progression of style is unsupported by any evidence, and relies more on the art historian's perception of how the corpus should be ordered.

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Greece pursuing war-loot through INTERPOL

The Greek press is reporting that INTERPOL will be working with Greek authorities to recover some 100 objects removed during the occupation of Greece in WW2 ("Ministry to work with Interpol to trace artifacts", Ekathimerini.com July 12, 2014).

This news comes in the wake of the news that over 10,000 objects have been returned to Greece from Germany. They had been excavated in Thessaly in 1941.

One of the first posts on LM was on this very topic and the Greek authorities may like to start in Hannover.

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Sekhemka: Museums Association comment

The Museums Association has updated its comment on the sale of Sekhemka by the Northampton Museum and Art Gallery. This statement includes the very telling section:
... the MA said that Northampton Borough Council has not demonstrated that the sale of Sekhemka is funding of last resort in relation to the development plans for the museum site. In addition, its plans to share the proceeds from the sale indicate that legal title of the object is not resolved.
It will be interesting to see how this is resolved.

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Proceeds from the sale of Sekhemka


Councillor David Mackintosh has announced that Lord Northampton will be donating £1 million from the sale of the Egyptian statue of Sekhemka to community projects.

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Sekhemka: The Art Fund issues a statement

The sale of the the Egyptian statue of Sekhemka at Christie's earlier this week has prompted a statement from the Art Fund (press release, 11 July 2014). The determination by the officers and councillors of Northampton Borough Council to ignore the ethical guidance offered by the Museums Association seems to have prompted the response that any museum professional would have expected.

The satement says:
in line with the Museum Association’s Code of Ethics for museums, we [the Art Fund] remain strongly opposed to deaccessioning any item for financial reasons except in exceptional circumstances, where the funds will directly benefit the museum collection and only after all other options have been explored. 
This is not the case with the sale of Sekhemka and as such, having gone against the sector's ethical guidance, it risks being stripped of its accredited status. This is therefore a financially as well as morally harmful decision for Northampton Borough Council to take. Not only will they receive only 55% of the final hammer price of £15.8m, but Northampton Museum and Art Gallery will no longer be eligible to apply to us and other major funders for funding for acquisitions, capital projects (including the planned £14m extension), and artistic or educational programming.
The statement reminds Northampton, and any local authority planning to follow in that authorty's footsteps:
Selling items from collections, as Northampton and Croydon have both done in recent months, does not just impact on one particular museum and its visitors; it reduces public trust and risks lessening donors’ desire to give items to museums for their long-term safe-keeping.
Democratically elected local councillors seem to have forgotten the public-interest issue.

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Northampton Borough Council issue a statement over the sale of Sekhemka

Northampton Borough Council (NBC) has issued a statement over the sale of the statue of Sekhemka for over £15 million (Thursday 10 July 2014, press release). NBC hopes to retain c. £8 million for the museum development project that they expect to cost £14 million (see here).

This means that NBC will be needing to attract some £6 million worth of funding. The press release tells us:
"The Borough Council is in the process of developing a funding package to take the extension forward, including putting together a bid for support from the Heritage Lottery Fund."
In other words, NBC are expecting to look to the Heritage Lottery Fund to provide a large portion of the additional funding. But there is a great demand for these funds, and the HLF panel have the potential of not looking too kindly on what has happened in Northampton (and especially against the advice of the Museums Association).

The press release also suggests that the Borough Council has realised that the accreditation of the museum service has been jeopardised by the sale:
The Council is also continuing to talk to the Arts Council about museum accreditation.
If accreditation is suspended it probably means that the museum development project will have to be halted and the sale of Sekhemka will have been for nothing.

And the residents of Northampton will have missed out twice over.

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails