Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from April, 2008

Iraq: Returning Antiquities

Dr Bahaa Mayar, advisor to the Iraq Minister of Tourism & Antiquities, has been discussing antiquities from Iraq with Mark Lawson on BBC Radio 4's Front Row. The programme abstract said that he would talk about:
the situation in the country regarding cultural heritage and explains why he thinks more should be done by the international community to safeguard treasures which have worldwide importance.Mayar, talking in the wake of the recent return of some 700 objects from Syria, called for a ban on the trade in Iraq antiquities arguing that this would "strip" the commercial value of any items on the market. He then explained about the problems (and expense) of taking action in the courts to prove that antiquities had been stolen from Iraq. He noted that some unsuccessful legal challenges had been used by some to legalise their tentative hold on pieces. He explained that a unified legal procedure across Europe would help to control the trade.

He then talked about the prob…

Stewardship vs. Ownership?

Looking at my bookshelves I see Who Owns Objects? and Who Owns the Past?; soon they will be joined by Who Owns Antiquity?

I have had cause to comment on essays from or comments in the first two:
Sir John Boardman
James CunoJames Ede
John H. MerrymanPeter K. Tompa and Ann M. BroseGeorge Ortiz
Michael WardI have also remarked on James Cuno's forthcoming book (and also here).

SAFECORNER has now noted the proliferation of books and articles asking the "Who Owns ...?" question ("To own or not to own: Is that the question?").

And it struck me that while archaeologists and politicians have been talking about the stewardship of archaeological sites and cultural property, dealers and museum directors have been addressing a totally different question.

The Acquisition and Exhibition of Classical Antiquities

The proceedings of a symposium held at the Snite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame, February 24, 2007 have appeared.

Robin F. Rhodes, Associate Professor of Art History at Notre Dame, has a concluding chapter in which he contrasts the range of positions:
at one end of the spectrum the American director of one of the world's great encyclopedic museums, at the other an Italian field archaeologist charged, among other things, with the responsibility of protecting provincial archaeological sites in Sicily from looting.
Rhodes argues for "the increasingly important voice of university museum directors, whose constituency and mission inevitably place them in a position of compromise between the encyclopedic museum and the field archaeologist". But did he write too soon given the returns from the Princeton University Art Museum?

Rhodes, R. F. Editor. 2007. The acquisition and exhibition of classical antiquities: professional, legal, and ethical perspectives. Notre Dame, Ind.:…

Michael Conforti and the Licit Market in Antiquities

Michael Conforti, the president elect of the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) and Director of the Clark in Williamstown. Ma, has been talking about his views on the "licit trade" in antiquities ("More Talk With: Michael Conforti", Time, March 28, 2008). In the wake of some many returns of antiquities from museums that are members of the AAMD it is interesting to read these comments:
There also needs to be established a "licit" market in works of art, including antiquities, in those countries that currently ban it. That's clearly what's encouraging so much illicit excavation. The source countries have a responsibility to establish some way that they can endorse a licit market. And that's a process that we would like to be part of at the Association of Art Museum Directors. We see traditional acquisitions as part of the future of museums as well.These comments of course are recycled from John Merryman, James Cuno and Michael Brand (amon…

"Due diligence and good faith inquiries are no longer sufficient"

An extract of James Cuno's new book, Who Owns Antiquity? [Princeton UP, 2008] [WorldCat]) has appeared in the Wall Street Journal (April 26, 2008).

I am waiting to read the whole volume but I would like to comment on a few of points.

Language is important. Christopher Chippindale and I have long argued that the word "provenance" (and with it "unprovenanced") is confusing. We have tended to use the terms "history" and "archaeology". The first maps the collecting history and documentation (e.g. "from the Thomas Brand collection" or "given by Giacomo Medici"). The second provides information on where it left the ground (e.g. "excavated from tomb 42 at Abydos" or "said to be from Cerveteri"). Cuno comments:
Archaeologists argue that unprovenanced antiquities are almost always looted from archaeological sites or from what would become archaeological sites. But strictly speaking, since provenance is a matter…

Cosmopolitanism: "the past does in some sense belong to all of us"

World culture is part of our cosmopolitan heritage. I would agree with James Ede:
the past does in some sense belong to all of us.
There is common ground between dealers, museum curators, archaeologists and policy makers.

And the displays in great national and university museums have helped to develop a strong admiration for, say, the material culture (and art) of Greece.

Yet there has been a continuing problem with looting. The recent return of some 100 antiquities to Italy from public and private collections (as well as one dealer) remind us of the scale of the problem. And these objects represent perhaps as little as 1% of the objects captured on film by one dealer. Some of the objects were found together: the fragments of wall-painting, the 'Morgantina' silver. But all of the returning objects represent now lost archaeological contexts.

And this destruction is massive. If Elia is correct, some 94.5% of Apulian figure-decorated pots have been deprived of their archaeological co…

Vergina: Was Philip II's Tomb Looted in Antiquity?

The stunning finds from Tomb II at Vergina in Macedonia have frequently been taken to be associated with Philip II of Macedon. Eugene N. Borza and Olga Palagia have now talked about why they think the accepted interpretation is incorrect (Sara Goudarzi, "Alexander the Great's "Crown," Shield Discovered?", National Geographic News, April 23, 2008).

Borza comments:
Tomb II is a generation later than Philip II's death.I agree with this interpretation as the weight inscriptions on the silver from Tomb II cannot, in my view, be earlier than the reign of Alexander the Great (if they were applied in Macedonia). My research (which is due to be published this summer) seems to be cited (without acknowledgement):
a number of silver vessels discovered in Tomb II and Tomb III are inscribed with their ancient weights, which use a measurement system introduced by Alexander the Great a generation after Philip II's death.So where was Philip II buried? My hunch is that Tomb…

Greece: More Returns Expected?

Details about the return of a marble lekythos to Greece are beginning to emerge (see Press Release from the Hellenic Ministry of Culture [in Greek]). The piece, almost certainly looted from a late classical cemetery in Attica, now appears to have been identified from photographs seized in some police operation against looters (though it is unclear if these were Polaroids seized in operations in Switzerland and handed over to the Greek authorities in 2005).

Michalis Liapis, the Minister for Culture, has stepped up the campaign against looted antiquities in Greece. He has also indicated that other objects have been identified from photographs and that more returns can be expected in the near future.

Are these pieces on the market or have they already passed into public and private collections? Are we about to see returns on the scale of those from North America to Italy? (See the material exhibited in Nostoi.)

Greece's strategy seems to be threefold:
material known to have been stolen …

Iraq: Antiquities Returned from Syria

News is breaking that Syria has handed over some 700 antiquities to Iraq ("Syria returns stolen antiquities to Iraq", AFP, April 23, 2008). The report continues:
Syria on Wednesday returned to Iraq around 700 pieces of antiquities, including gold coins and jewellery, which were stolen in the aftermath of the US-led invasion of its neighbour.

Culture Minister Riad Naassan-Agha handed over the artefacts to the minister of state for tourism and archaeology, Mohammed Abbas al-Oraibi, at a ceremony at Damascus national museum.

"These objects stolen in Iraq were seized by Syrian customs officials," Naassan-Agha said, according to the official SANA news agency, adding that other "very precious" artefacts will be returned soon.Image
Syrian Culture Minister, Riyadh Na’ssan Agha, right, at the National Syrian Museum in Damascus, hands back to Iraq's state minister for tourism and antiquities affairs, Mohammad Abbas al-Oraibi, one of some 700 Iraqi antiquities which…

Advertising Ancient Art

I was browsing through the Spring/Summer number of the British Museum Magazine and spotted a half-page advertisement for Rupert Wace Ancient Art (RWAA) complete with a headless Hellenistic marble Aphrodite.

There is a short statement about the appearance of such advertisements in the Magazine:
It is the policy of the British Museum Friends to accept antiquities advertisements only where we receive assurance from the advertiser that the illustrated object is documented to have formed part of a legitimate collection prior to 1970.The Aphrodite is to feature in the RWAA Gallery's exhibition, "In Our Own Image: Gods and Mortals in Ancient Art" (4 June - 11 July 2008); an alternative title, "In Our Own Image: Gods and Mortals in Antiquity" is also used for the Press Release issued by Sue Bond, Press Relations Consultant. Further details about the statue (as well as an image) can be found in the press release:
Perhaps the centrepiece of the exhibition is the marble figu…

From Gortyn to Switzerland ... and Back Again

Yesterday's news about the return of a marble lekythos to Greece from a Swiss-based dealer of antiquities made me go back through my notes. I see that in June 2007 a statue of Apollo was returned to Greece from Switzerland ("Greece reclaims stolen Apollo statue", AFP, June 14, 2007; see also "Greece hails return of stolen ancient statue", Reuters, June 14, 2007). The Apollo had been excavated by Federico Halbherr at Gortyn on Crete, and stolen from the site in 1991.

AFP commented:
Greece on Thursday presented a Hellenistic-era torso of the ancient Greek god Apollo discovered in Switzerland more than 15 years after it was stolen from an excavation site on Crete.

The headless torso was in the possession of art dealer David Cahn in Basel, and the Greek authorities intervened just before it was delivered to a private buyer, Culture Minister George Voulgarakis told a news conference.

...

The 1st-century BCE statue of Apollo ... was stolen from the archaeological site of …

"The Acquisition of Undocumented Antiquities": A Diversion From Real Arguments?

I am looking forward to reading James Cuno's new book, Who Owns Antiquity? [Princeton UP, 2008] [WorldCat]). He has issued a short essay: "Who Owns the Past? Antiquities from great cultures belong to humanity, not nation states that emerged centuries later", YaleGlobal, 21 April 2008.

Cuno seems to suggest that nationalism is a major threat and tries to explain the present debate in these terms:
Most nation states have cultural property laws that restrict the international movement in archaeological artifacts found within their borders. But some antiquities are undocumented, lacking evidence of archaeological circumstances or removal. In the current debate over the acquisition of undocumented antiquities, the world’s archaeological community has allied with nationalistic programs of nation states.While it may be true that some archaeologists—but surely not "the archaeological community"—promote "nationalist retentionist cultural property laws", others …

Marble Lekythos Returns to Greece

Mihalis Liapis revealed today that a marble funerary lekythos has been returned to Greece from an antiquities dealer in Switzerland ("Ancient Lekythos Returned", Athens News Agency, April 21, 2008). It is reported:
It is a funerary lekythos depicting a farewell banquet for the deceased, in a classic farewell scene. It was presented at an international antiquities dealers exhibition in 2007 in Maastricht, where it was put up for auction by a Swiss antiquities dealer.

After a series of negotiations, the Swiss dealer decided to hand over the lekythos to the Greek government in an out-of-court settlement, without reservations or conditions. It was delivered to a representative of the Greek embassy in Berne and then crated in the customs free zone in Basel before being transported to Greece.The lekythos appears to have surfaced at TEFAF Maastrict in March 2007. The press release does not name the dealer. (The TEFAF website only lists those who are due to exhibit in 2009). It would…

Context Matters: The Derveni Krater

I noticed this initiative from the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA). They have launched a new series, "Ancient Art and Architecture in Context", with the publication of The Derveni Krater: Masterpiece of Classical Greek Metalwork (2008) by Beryl Barr-Sharrar.

The report of the lecture on April 3, 2008, noted:
The aim of the Ancient Art and Architecture in Context series, published with the support of the Getty Foundation, a groundbreaking concept, is to emphasize that ancient art found in Greece can only be properly understood by scholars if the provenance of the antiquities is known.
It then adds this comment from Charles Watkinson, Director of ASCSA Publications at Princeton:
In other words, we are making a very strong statement against the trade in illicit antiquities.Context matters because looting has intellectual as well as material consequences.

Marcus Aurelius and the Paris Connection: Update

A Roman portrait of Marcus Aurelius was returned to Algeria in January ("Marcus Aurelius and the Paris Connection"). It had been stolen from the Skikda Museum in 1996 and was recognised by the Art Loss Register (ALR) at a June 2004 auction at Christie's (New York); it has been consigned by "Galerie Samarcande" of Paris.

At the time of the return Marcy M. Forman, Director of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Investigations, commented ("Immigration and Customs Enforcement Returns Ancient Marble Sculpture of Roman emperor to Algerian Government", US Fed News, January 15, 2008):
It is always a pleasure to return cultural artifacts to the people of another nation, particularly when they are stolen from public museums or other cultural heritage institutions ... This item is not a souvenir to be sold to the highest bidder, but a priceless treasure that holds an important place in Algerian history. ICE will do everything in its power …

Elgin, the Firman, and the Parthenon Marbles

Dorothy King has discussed the issues surrounding her research on the firman issued to Elgin concerning the removal of the Parthenon marbles ("The Firman: Bring me the head of ..."). She has found a further version of the text—"a manuscript in a collection"—and has posted a working translation ("Elgin's Firman - permission to remove the Marbles"). (King has indicated that she will be issuing a "tidy" version shortly.)

No doubt the key phrases will be much discussed:
"when they want to carry away any of the stones with old inscriptions, or figures, you are not to oppose them in any way""you are not to interfere with their scaffolding, nor their tools, with which they make moulds, nor are you to oppose them in any way should they wish to take away with them any old pieces of stone with inscriptions, or figures, and this is the manner in which you are to operate, and to behave yourselves"But will a decision to retain or return…

Looted Antiquities and Cosmopolitanism

Kwame Anthony Appiah, the Laurence S. Rockefeller University Professor of Philosophy for the Center for Human Values at Princeton University, now features regularly in discussions of cultural property (see Philippe de Montebello in "An Era of Scrupulous Acquisition Policies"). Appiah addresses cultural property in a chapter, "Whose culture is it, anyway?", in his excellent Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers (2006).

Appiah understands some of the issues raised by archaeologists. In his discussion of terracottas from Mali he accepts the intellectual consequences of the desire to own these "wonderful sculptures". He comments:
They were sold to collectors in Europe and North America who rightly admired them. Because they were removed from archaeological sites illegally, much of what we would most like to know about this culture—much that we could have found out by careful archaeology—may now never be known.Such a position is equally true for marble…

Hillary Clinton on Looted Antiquities

What do the US Democratic presidential hopefuls think about the looting of antiquities?

I came across this from 2000 (Walter V. Robinson, "Art Collection Said to Brake Appointment", The Boston Globe, June 29, 2000):
The issue might also prove awkward for Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is campaigning for the New York Senate seat that Moynihan is relinquishing. In Turkey last November, Clinton decried the looting of archeological sites in that country. For several years, Turkey has been pressing White and Levy to return the top half of a marble statue of the "Weary Heracles" that Turkey and experts say was looted about 1980.

The bottom half sits, incomplete, in a museum in Antalya that Hillary Clinton visited. Years ago, Levy and White donated a half-interest in the top of the statue to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, which has also rebuffed Turkish pleas for its return.I have discussed the Weary Herakles before. Half of the upper part was given to the MFA in 1981 through …

Lucius Verus to go on Display in Rome

A batch of figure-decorated pottery looted from Etruscan tombs and a marble portrait of Lucius Verus (130-169 CE; co-emperor, 161-69 CE, with Marcus Aurelius) have been recovered from a "boat garage" at Fiumicino near Rome ("Italian police recover rare statue of 'shy' Roman emperor among stash of looted antiquities", International Herald Tribune, April 11, 2008). The portrait is thought to have been taken from a site in Campania.

Lucius Verus will be displayed in Castel Sant'Angelo along with a marble portrait of Faustina (d. 140 CE), wife of the emperor Antoninus Pius. Faustina had been stolen from the theatre at Minturno (Minturnae) in 1961 and had resurfaced in a North American private collection during the 1980s.
"Recuperate due sculture di età imperiale", Guardia di Finanza (Press Statement, April 11, 2008)Portraits from Minturnae in the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology [Review] [Exhibition]
Image
Guardia di F…

Pots Passing Through The Market (Ancient and Modern)

I have been working my way through Trademarks on Greek vases: addenda (2006). The index has a section, "Vases once on the market, present location unknown". Alan Johnston notes in the "Introduction" (p. vii):
It will not escape those even skimming the following pages that the bulk [sc. of new material] has appeared, depressingly, on the antiquities market, virtually always without provenance; I retain a column "provenance" in the catalogue, but it is thinly populated indeed with respect to the addenda.
Here are some of the recent "surfacings" (but "present location unknown") on the largely unnamed North American and Swiss markets (ordered by Johnston Type) since the publication of the original volume in 1979. (I exclude here the 75 or so pieces from Sotheby's, London that entered the market in the 1980s and 1990s, as well as named dealers in Switzerland). In one case it has been possible to identify the present proprietors.
Type 6A, 1…

The Art Loss Register: The Wording on the Certificate

I have drawn attention to the use of the Art Loss Register (ALR) certificate as part of the due diligence process for antiquities.

I closed with this question:
Does the ALR need to start ensuring that its certificates are issued with a reminder that they provide no guarantee that the object has not appeared on the market as the result of recent looting?Christopher A. Marinello, Executive Director & General Counsel at the ALR, has kindly responded in order to clarify the point. He states:
Please note that The Art Loss Register certificate contains the following…

“2) The database does not contain information on illegally exported artefacts unless they have been reported to us as stolen.”Marinello answers my point.

There is a huge difference between objects that have appeared on the market as the result of recent looting and "illegally exported artefacts" that have been reported as stolen. Or to put it another way, there is a difference between an Athenian red-figured amphora l…

Antiquities Waiting to be Returned to Greece?

The return of antiquities to Italy has been setting the agenda for discussion. The Polaroids seized in Geneva gave an advantage to the Italian negotiating teams.

But we also know that a set of Polaroids were handed over to Yiannis Diotis, the Greek prosecutor in 2005 (Nikolas Zirganos and Daniel Howden, "Greece and Italy team up to recover stolen antiquities", Independent, February 24, 2006). Zirganos and Howden reported
These images are said to include scores of ancient works, looted from Greece and sold to wealthy private collectors or major museums. The items were photographed while in the possession of crooked dealers and circulated to potential buyers, typically, before being sold through Swiss auction houses which operate outside EU laws on trafficking in stolen goods. Mr Diotis will now spearhead the effort to trace the pictured items, said to include priceless statues, vases, ornate wreaths and sculpted reliefs.So what is happening to the Greek investigation?

Three item…

The "Preveza" Athlete and Lost Context

Italy has had recent successes in retrieving antiquities looted from archaeological sites. But what about about other source countries?

I have been re-watching Network: The Illicit Trade of Antiquities (DVD) that has Greece as a focus. One of the cases dates back to May 1998 when the Greek authorities intervened in the suspected purchase of a large classical bronze figure of a youth ("Police in Germany seize cache of Greek antiquities", AP, May 30, 1998). A police raid intercepted the statue in a crate (apparently labelled "USA") at Saarlouis and arrested a man, Michail Kotsaridis, a Greek national who lived in Saarbrücken, Germany.

It appears that Marion True of the J. Paul Getty Museum had been negotiating with Christoph F. Leon of Switzerland for the statue. Remember that 1998 is after the the revised acquisition policy of the J. Paul Getty Museum (see my earlier comments). Leon supplied at least one Athenian calyx-krater that has been returned to Italy (formerly …

Aegean Waves: Collecting Cycladic Figures

The Museum of Cycladic Art has published a volume, Aegean Waves, to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of its foundation. It is beautifully produced, with colour illustrations, and is "addressed ... principally to the general public".

It notes the phenomenon of
illegal excavations on the Cyclades Islands, particularly during the 1950s and 1960s, to meet the demand on the international [emphasis mine] antiquities market. The result of this intensive activity on the part of antiquities smugglers was the plundering of hundreds of Early Cycladic tombs and the removal of evidence of inestimable value for scholars. (p. 41)There is acknowledgment of the "Keros haul" (and Sotirakpoulou has written a definitive study of what she considers a "hoard"). Entry 14 shows a selection of fragmentary figures attributed to the "haul" and notes that it is "a characteristic example of the intense antiquities-smuggling that went on in the Cyclades ... in order t…

Operation "Ulisse": Oplontis Fresco on Display in Rome

In February I noted the seizure of antiquities at a private residence in Paris as part of the Italian Operation "Ulisse".

One of the seized items, a Roman fresco removed from a Roman villa at Oplontis, went on display in the Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, Rome ("Rosso pompeiano. La decorazione pittorica nelle collezioni del Museo Nazionale di Napoli e a Pompei") last week ("Stolen Vesuvian fresco on show in Rome", ANSA, March 27, 2008). This painting (further image) shows:
a bower of vines, a satyr riding a mule, and a cloaked woman making a sacrifice at an altar. The three-metre long fresco is the largest landscape-themed painting ever found in the Vesuvian area.The trail of the painting has now been released. It was apparently in Geneva in the early 1980s (but where? in a private collection? with a dealer?) before being displayed "in the house of a rich industrialist in Brussels" (who?). It was found "in the house of French publisher and art c…

La Forza del Euphronios: Sarpedon Carried to Mantua

Four antiquities returned from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York are on display in Rome. However the Sarpedon krater is now in an exhbition, "La Forza del Bello", in the Palazzo Te, Mantua ("Ancient Greek art dazzles Mantua", ANSA, March 31, 2008).

The press release provides further information:
The exhibition also features a small ''bonus'' section at the end, showcasing three masterpieces that US museums have recently returned to Italy after lengthy negotiations.

These include a marble ceremonial basin decorated with Nereids and a striking painted marble sculpture of griffons attacking a doe, both returned from the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

The third piece - returned from New York's Metropolitan Museum this January after decades of discussions - is a terracotta drinking cup [sic.] painted by the 5th-century BC Greek master Euphronios.

Homecomings: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

One of the first agreements to return antiquities to Italy was made with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (February 21, 2006) [Press Release]. The discussion has tended to centre around the Sarpedon krater but there were other pieces as well.

The current Nostoi exhibition in the Palazzo Poli in Rome contains the following pieces (with the number in the previous Nostoi exhibition):
Laconian cup with warrior. Attributed to the Hunt painter. Formerly New York 1999.527. Gift from the family of Howard J. Barnet. "Lent to the Museum periodically since 1981" (Mertens). Publ. Joan R. Mertens, in "Ancient World", The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, New Series, 58, No. 2, Recent Acquisitions: A Selection 1999-2000 (Autumn, 2000), 13 [JSTOR]. (Nostoi no. 3; old no. 3).Attic red figure psykter with young horsemen. Attributed to Smikros (attributed by J. Robert Guy). Formerly New York L1980.104 (loan from Mr & Mrs Spears, Riverdale [NY]); 1996.250. Gift of Thom…

Nostoi: Capolavori Ritrovati. Exhibition List

The list of objects now on display at the Palazzo Poli, Rome has now been issued. (There are differences from the earlier exhibition.) The present exhibition that opened last weekend consists of the following:
Boston, Museum of Fine Arts (12): nos. 7, 10, 16, 19, 30, 31, 47, 48, 50, 56, 59, 74.France, private collection (1): no. 42.London, Robin Symes (1): no. 66.Malibu, J. Paul Getty Museum (41): nos. 2, 4, 6, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 20, 21, 22, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 32, 33, 34, 38, 40, 41, 46, 49, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 58, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 67, 68, 69, 72, 73.New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art (4): nos. 3, 15, 17, 57.New York, Royal Athena Galleries (5): nos. 23, 35, 39, 43, 71.New York, Shelby White collection (9): nos. 5, 8, 18, 36, 37, 44, 45, 65, 70.Princeton, University Museum of Art (1): no. 1. I posted a list of the Shelby White material yesterday. As there has been a suggestion that my list varies from the Italian list, I reproduce it here with the Italian titles, Nostoi catal…

The Art Loss Register: Readers' Views

How do readers of Looting Matters perceive the Art Loss Register?

I felt that it was a question worth asking as there appears to be a little bit of confusion among museum curators and dealers.

The Director of the St Louis Art Museum (SLAM) felt he could buy an Egyptian mask with confidence because it did not appear in the ALR database.

Hicham Aboutaam was quoted in 2005 as saying that the ALR was "a registry for stolen and looted artifacts".

Due Diligence is now a key issue - but does the ALR solve the problem of recently surfaced antiquities? What does an ALR Certificate say about an object passing through the antiquities market?

So I posed the question:
What does it mean when a certificate from The Art Loss Register (ALR) accompanies an antiquity that is for sale?70 people cast a vote (and they could choose more than one option).

The different options were:
The object does not appear in the ALR database [60 votes]The object comes from a documented old collection [4 votes]The objec…