Thursday 27 February 2014

Two more objects surface from Medici and Becchina archives in London auction houses

cute, but Becchina
University of Cambridge researcher Dr. Christos Tsirogiannis has reviewed the catalogues for three upcoming London auctions of antiquities (Bonhams on April 1; at Christie's on April 2; and again at Bonhams on April 3) and he has identified two objects as having figured in photos of objects in the archives of two art dealers, Giacomo Medici and Gianfranco Becchina. These archives were confiscated by Italian and Greek police and have been used to identify objects handled by these two dealers which had been looted and smuggled from at least 1972 until 2006. Obviously the continued surfacing of objects that have passed through these dealerships is of interest and concern.

1) Lot 173 in Christie's Sale 1548: Greek Core-Formed Glass Oinochoe "from the Eastern Mediterranean", circa 2nd-1st century B.C. Tsirogiannis has determined that the object figures in the Medici archive, but the declared collecting history is vague in the extreme: "Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, London, 11 July 1988, lot 198".

 2) Lot 22 in Bonhams April 3 sale (#21926): Canosan polychrome painted lidded pottery pyxis, circa 3rd century B.C. Tsirogiannis has determined that the object figures in the Becchina archive, the declared collecting history is not much better: "American private collection, New York, acquired from Ariadne Galleries, New York City in the late 1980s". Tsirogiannis indicates documentation which suggests that Ariadne Galleries bought the items from Becchina.
"Why do Christie's and Bonhams still fail to supply the full and correct collecting history of the objects, especially when they advertise their due diligence before the auctions?" Dr. Tsirogiannis wrote. "Why are these objects depicted in the Medici and the Becchina archives?"
Catherine Sezgin, 'Dr. Christos Tsirogiannis matches two objects up for auction in London with objects identified in the Medici and Becchina archives', ARCA Art News blog March 27, 2014.

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