Wednesday 11 April 2012

Ka Nefer Nefer and the SLAM-Promoted Collecting (III) The Kaloterna Collection

In the 2006 article "Out of Egypt", Malcolm Gay tells us that the next step in the SLAM-promoted collecting history of this object is: 
According to the museum's provenance, the mask next surfaced in the "early 1960s" in the "Kaloterna Collection." The document provides no further information about the change in ownership other than to speculate in a footnote that "Kaloterna" might be a misspelling of "Kaliterna," a common Croatian surname. The mask was soon resold, according to the provenance, this time to a "Private Collection, Switzerland". The transaction is said to have occurred in the "early 1960s."
 This is odd, there is no trace anywhere else of there ever having been a "Kaloterna" collection, either in Croatia (then in Communist Yugoslavia behind the iron Curtain) or outside. How did this Kaloterna get the object from "Brussels" through the Iron Curtain? How did the object get back through the same barrier in "the early 1960s" at the height of the Cold War?

So let us summarise the two versions:
SLAM claims:
1952 object given to the excavator who immediately sends it out of Egypt and sells it (how?) and it ends up in a Brussels gallery.
1952 on sale in an unnamed Brussels gallery
1953 onwards, the mask is bought in Brussels by a mysterious "Kaloterna"- possibly Croatian.
"the early 1960s" - "Kaloterna" soon sells it to a mysterious "Swiss collector". It was in that collection  for 40 years. In 1997 the mask was purchased for an undisclosed sum by Phoenix Ancient Art.

The Egyptian and US government claim: 

1952 the object was still in Egypt.
In 1953 onwards it cannot have been in an otherwise unknown "Kaloterna" collection, since it was still in Egypt.
Soon after its purchase by the otherwise unknown "Kaloterna" it cannot have been sold to the otherwise unknown "Swiss collector" in the early 1960s, since it was still in Egypt. To be precise it was in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. It remained there until 1962, when the mask was still in Egypt and was transferred back to Saqqara.
The verified complaint further states that the Mask cannot have been in a Swiss collection in 1966 since in that year it was taken from Saqqara and went back to the Cairo Egyptian Museum in “box number fifty-four”. This is the “last documented location of the Mask in Egypt”. The boxes were placed in storage and it was only when they were opened in 1973 for inventorying that it was discovered that in the seven-year period (1966-73) the object had been taken from its box and now could no longer be found in the Museum. There is no record of any legal purchase of this object, or any legal transport of this object out of Egypt between 1966/73 and 1997.
In 1997 the mask was purchased for an undisclosed sum by Phoenix Ancient Art.

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