Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Paperless antiquities and that hoary old "from a Swiss family collection" excuse

Supposing you are offered a marble Roman head which you are told was from a Swiss family collection,” whinges Günter Puhze, a Freiburg-based dealer in antiquities. “How could you get an export licence from the country of origin without knowing exactly where it was dug up, maybe decades ago? Would you have to go to all the states that were once part of the Roman Empire?”

“Supposing you are offered a marble Roman head which has the documentation you need to demonstrate it has a verifiable collecting history which shows it  was licitly acquired and exported from the source country". Well, obviously the responsible dealer guarding his reputation would buy the one, and not give the other shelf space in his stockroom. Maybe Gunter Puhtze will buy the paperless one. He certainly seems to be indicating here that this is the case. Swiss collectors get your paperwork in order before trying to cash in on Granddaddy's art stash. After all, it could also be Holocaust art, couldn't it? 

1 comment:

Andi said...

Museums and reputable dealers have, for a great many years, managed to find ways of documenting the provenance of items long held in family collections. In most cases of that nature, it is possible to find records of insurance valuations, restoration work, family journals or correspondence referencing the piece, even documentation of professional services aimed at properly displaying the object within the family's collection. Yes, there is a burden in the form of research, etc. But the value of an object with proper provenance is significantly higher than that of a comparable item without.

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