Wednesday, 29 February 2012

"Sold by Spinks, no Paperwork" eh?

In my post about the statue from Koh Ker, Cambodia, mention was made of the "surfacing" of a statue removed from the site and the country at some time in the 1970s (it seems). An attempt was made by a "noble European woman" to sell it at Sotheby's but the items was spotted as having been taken from Koh Ker and the sale suspended.
Sotheby’s says that the seller is a “noble European lady” who acquired it in 1975. Although it was severed from its feet and pedestal, which were left behind at a remote Cambodian archaeological site, Sotheby’s says there is no proof that it was taken illegally. They say that their pre-sales research proved that its unnamed client has had “clear title” to the work since buying it from Spink & Son in London in December 1975. Most inconveniently, or perhaps conveniently, a spokeswoman for Spink said the 1975 records about where the company had obtained the statue were no longer available.
Now Spink's is more generally associated with the sale of dugup and other coins, nevertheless the same year as the Khmer Rouge began their reign of terror and destruction, this broken-off statue had already surfaced on the London market. Spink's bought it, goodness knows why and goodness knows how they thought it had come onto the market, they've not kept any paperwork that would allow that question to be answered.

Spink's might be thought to have an aversion to paperwork. It was Spink's that sold the ACCG some Chinese and Cypriot coins in 2007 and not only exported them to the USA without the paperwork required by the CCPIA (which Spink's should have been aware of) but also failed to supply it in the ninety days allowed by US law to allow such documentary lacks to be dealt with.

Vignette: Spink's by appointment...


Cultural Property Observer said...

It's not surprising that documentation from 1975 is no longer available. After all, that was 37 years ago, and at the time, despite the UNESCO Convention, there would be no reason to think one would need to keep such documentation.

Paul Barford said...

Really? NO reason you can see?

Frankly (apart from Art 10 of the Convention you mentioned), if it emerged that my firm might have been dealing 'Blood antiquities' with Pol Pot and the rest of them, I'd damn well wish I'd kept any paperwork which would show otherwise if I had any.

The fact that whatever paperwork they had on purchases of Khmer antiquities in or about 1975 might be taken by some as suspicious, don't you think?

I also think the tiled "European lady" who bought this from them, and now cannot get rid of it for the estimated value might want to know why Spink's cannot show the legitimacy of what they sold her when required. I hope she sues them.

I certainly will not be doing any business with Spink's.

Paul Barford said...

Also, I do not know how it is in your country, but in mine, if you have certain types of medical treatment, the medical services are obliged to maintain records of that for fifty years, though in practice the records end up being kept in electronic form even longer. 37 years is not very long.

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