Sunday, 28 November 2010

So Where are the Objects Sold by Oying Alexanian ?

Antiquities collectors frequently stress how many items on the market arrived there legitimately, before local and international regulation of the trade. A Cairo bank vault full of part of the stock of an Armenian dealer, Oying Alexanian where it had lain since the first part of the twentieth century has been turned over to the Egyptian Antiquities Service.
This collection includes pieces from the ancient Egyptian, Graeco-Roman, Coptic and Islamic eras. Among them are limestone statuary heads of ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman deities such as Horus, Hathor and Ptah, as well as Roman terracotta figurines and 20 Islamic and modern coins, including gold coins. Hussein Bassir, head of the legal and technical committee that checked the authenticity of the objects, says the most significant item in the collection was the diary of an Armenian man called Oying Alexanian which contained the names and telephone numbers of antiquities dealers of the time, as well as the number of antiquities sale contracts. "These two things gave us a vision of how the antiquities trade in Egypt was rum at the time, especially that antiquities trading was legal," Abdel-Bassir said.
But where are the items he legitimately sold? Is there a private collector out there who can show us an object accompanied by documentation that it had been sold by this dealer?

Collectors insist that they should be able to take care of "surplus" items from the splitting up of existing museum collections, but are unable to show that when they do have items with a legitimising collecting history, they are able to maintain the records showing a chain of legitimate ownership for any length of time.

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