Saturday 22 November 2014

Million Dollar (?) Steinhardt Idol in Medici Archive

lot 85 'A Sardinian Marble Female Idol, Ozieri Culture, circa 2500-2000 B.C.', 'Property from the Michael and Judy Steinhardt Collection', is estimated at $800,000-1,200,000. Its provenance given by Christie's is: 'with Harmon Fine Arts, New York. with The Merrin Gallery, New York, 1990 (Masterpieces of Cycladic Art, no. 27). Acquired by the current owner, 1997.'
Catherine Schofield Sezgin, 'Dr. Christos Tsirogiannis identifies rare Sardinian idol to be auctioned at Christie's December 11 in New York City', ARCA Blog November 21, 2014. The photo in the Medici archive shows a shattered and dirty piece, the Christie's photos hows it tarted up with a reconstructed head - the extent of restoration is not mentioned in the catalogue entry.

On this blog we've come across this collector before ('Feds Seize Fresco Looted from Italian World Heritage Site' Monday, 18 November 2013). I've earlier discussed another part of the Michael and Judy Steinhardt Collection, and in particular how some of the objects in it got into it, (Friday, 26 April 2013, "A Treasured Legacy": The Michael and Judy Steinhardt Judaica Collection"). In particular I noted how the collector had been criticising the Metropolitan Museum, reportedly saying "that he was “less than overjoyed” with how that institution has handled antiquities controversies". Let's see how they themselves deal with this one. What documentation came with this item from Harmon Fine Arts and The Merrin Gallery?

UPDATE November 22 2014
David Gill has made a number of very important observations about this piece: 'The Steinhardt Sardinian Figure and the Medici Dossier' Looting Matters  Saturday, November 22, 2014
"Christie's would be wise to re-investigate the collecting history of the figure as a matter of urgency. Have they contacted the Italian authorities?"

Photo: the Steinhardts interviewed

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