Saturday, 21 December 2019

It's Not All Greek: Aphrodite Ancient Art and Cyrenaica

Aphrodite Ancient Art was one of those annoying firms that would keep spamming my Internet viewing with irritating popup adverts. Thankfully, this is not happening now, and it is intriguing to know that there may be a reason for this. Lynda Albertson has a text on a recent issue the  dealer has reportedly had with the law (Friday, December 20, 2019 'Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) seizes a female funerary statue previously on sale on the online website Live Auctioneers')
Tuesday, December 17, 2019 agents with the United States Department of Homeland Security - HSI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) seized a female funerary statue previously listed for sale last April for an estimated Estimation 500.000-800.000 USD on the online website Live Auctioneers. The statue, advertised at:, was listed as Lot 0032. In its description, the dealers had stated that the statue was "an impressive Greek marble three quarter life-size figure of a veiled woman, likely among a handful available [of] available Greek figures for sale." While the auction page for this antiquity has since been removed, the heavy 400 pound statue of a Greek funerary deity, from the Hellenistic period, has been identified as having come from Cyrenaica, in present-day Libya a name not mentioned in the description by the sellers. [...] Veiled marble sculptures such as the one seized in New York City this week are not found in Greece. They are only found in the ancient Greek cemeteries of the ancient cities of Cyrenaica [...] concern over the object's pending sale on the ancient art market was widely publicized by the Archaeology Information Network (ArchaeologyIN) through their Archaeology in Libya social media network. Drawing the public's attention to the fact that plundered Libyan artifacts were appearing on the licit market, the grass roots activist group included a link to the auction which identified the sellers as Aphrodite Gallery, an online branch of Aphrodite Ancient Art. Both of these ancient art enterprises are owned and/or operated by Jamal and Jad Rifai. The object's provenance was listed as: "Ex. Swiss private collection, from the 1980's, with import document and Art Loss Register certificate."
Again, raising questions about the value of the 'Art Loss Register certificate' as a means of legitimising paperless artefacts. Lynda's blog has further details.

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