Sunday 5 July 2015

Collector Shlomo Moussaieff Dies

Quoting from Benny Ziffer' (5th July 2015) opinion piece 'The colonial powers should have plundered more antiquities':
Shlomo Moussaieff, a Jerusalem-born magnate and a Jew with deep national feelings, died on Monday night. Moussaieff devoted all his energies to collecting objects relating to the archaeology of the ancient Near East and the Land of Israel. Even though he did not have a university education, he had an intuitive feeling for archaeology. Once in his possession, every find, be it a Jewish clay oil lamp from Israel, or part of the wall of an Assyrian palace that was smuggled out of Iraq, became like a lost child who returned home. To visit his homes in London and in Herzliya was to step into a time machine. And, contrary to the myths about collectors, he did not want to freeze the items in a glass case; just the opposite: He encouraged scholars to publish articles about them and thereby relocate them within history. Because of the laws that prohibit or at least limit commerce in antiquities, and certainly their theft, the higher-education establishment treated him with a mixture of suspicion and admiration. In at least one case he got into trouble when he tried to import part of a wall from a palace of the Assyrian kings that had been acquired by theft in Iraq. He wanted that particular item to be in Israel, but on that occasion he failed. In general, Moussaieff scoffed at convention. He was the friend of extreme right-wingers, and of former criminals. In his living room, one encountered the last people in the world that an average person would expect to find in the home of a person of his standing. And he had strong views – always right-wing – about what this country should look like in terms of Palestinians.
Another, less contentious, obituary: Ronen Shnidman, 'Shlomo Moussaieff Jeweler to Royalty Dies at 92' Diamonds net Jul 2, 2015, and this from Robert Deutsch, "The Death of Shlomo Moussaieff" Zwinglius Redivivus  June 29, 2015. See also: Sara Leibovich-Dar A man of good fortune' (Haaretz Oct. 10, 2001), and others...

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