Thursday 8 December 2016

Lessons from the “Torlonia Peplophoros”

Fifteen Roman statues were stolen from the Villa Torlonia mansion in Italy on Nov. 13, 1983. The thief was never caught. The statues seem to have been lying in 'distancing' storage for more than a decade ('Evidence of How the "Legitimate" Antiquities Market Operates and Deals with any Possible Paper Trail'). After this, at least one of them was smuggled into the United States in the late 1990s.There it again lay low a while before being purchased for $81,000 by a private art collector in 2001. Sadly, he lost his money because he'd not demanded documented proof that it was indeed of legal origins:
When the collector learned the piece had been pilfered while trying to auction it off in 2015, he turned it over to the FBI in New York, the feds said. The FBI briefly put the statue on display at the New York Historical Society Library on Central Park West and West 76th Street on Wednesday afternoon before shipping it back to its home.
This shows the importance of not buying artefacts which have no proper documentation to support the dealer's word-of-mouth assurances that the item is kosher. The Torlonia Peplophoros proved to be an expensive lesson for one collector. Let's hope the dealer is still in business and the collector sues him for a return of his money.


kyri said...

shame they dont name the could anyone spend so much money without asking the right questions but to be fair to the collector god knows what dodgy provenance was provided with the piece.some of the faked provenances,old labels,invoices ect are very convincing it has become an art form in itself.

lalbertson said...

A second piece from the same Villa Torlonia theft (unfortunately there have been several Torlonia thefts), a first century CE marble head of Dionysus was hacked off its marble body in the stables during the theft. Best they can tell it was acquired sometime before 1990, first by a Japanese museum that then went out of business several years afterward. Then it rolled around until it was consigned for auction at Christie's in New York for USD $25,000 in September 2002.

Anna Mach said...

Hello. This is a rather unrelated comment, but I would like to contact you regarding Timelines Originals - I would appreciate your advice as I've just bought something from them and then started having doubts as to their reliability. I contacted you via LinkedIn so this is how we can get in touch if you accept my invitation there. Apologies for spamming this post but when I realised there is an expert on this topic in Warsaw, I decided to give it a try. Regards, Anna

Paul Barford said...

Anna I tried to add you to Linked in, but so rarely use it (I hate that kind of thing) that I forgot the password. Send me your email address as a comment (which I will not publish) and I'll mail you. I'd be interested to hear more about your problem.

kyri said...

hmmm timelines originals LOL ,i bought some pieces from them last year and had a very hard time returning them[they were fakes].they do have some "experts" but they obviously do not look at all 2000 their last sale they had a campanian bell krater and published it as apulian something any half decent dealer would never do.if you google timeline fakes you will see allot of stuff come up.

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