Showing results 1 - 12 of 37 for the tag: Auctions.

September 2, 2016

Export bans – is Britain a cultural one way street?

Posted at 1:13 pm in Similar cases

Why do we feel other countries should share their culture, but then place bans on the export of our own

Institutions like the British Museum, along with much of the British Press, regularly denounce as cultural nationalism, claims by countries such as Greece and Egypt that looted artefacts should be returned. These countries are castigated for not sharing and they should be proud of the fact that other countries want their heritage, rather than seeing it as something that they want to retain.

When there is a chance of important British works ending up in foreign collections however, we regularly place export bans on them. While we encourage others to share, we are unwilling to do so ourselves. The situation is even more perverse than it first appears though -while the British items up for export are invariably up for sale in a public auction at the request of the current owner, many of the items that others ask to be returned were seized in times of war, or looted and then smuggled into the country without any permission being given.

Every few years a major export ban crops up in the news. Often, it is not even for a work that was originally British (such as the Picasso in the examples below), but something that we happened to acquire and would like to hang on to. We see something’s existence in Britain as making it a part of our culture, but we decry others for far lesser requests.

Queen Victoria's coronet, currently subject to an export ban

Queen Victoria’s coronet, currently subject to an export ban

From:
BBC News

Export ban placed on Queen Victoria’s wedding coronet
28 August 2016

A temporary export ban has been placed on a sapphire and diamond coronet that belonged to Queen Victoria, preventing it from being sold abroad.

The coronet, designed by Prince Albert for their wedding in 1840, is at risk of being exported unless a UK buyer matches the £5m asking price.
Read the rest of this entry »

May 20, 2016

USA returns stolen artefacts to Russia

Posted at 7:48 am in Similar cases

28 official documents stolen in the 1990s were handed over at a ceremony in Moscow

Twenty eight documents, including Imperial Decrees dating back to the eighteenth century were stolen from three federal Russian archives during the 1990s. Since 2006, they have appeared at auctions in the US and been seized under the instructions of the US department of Homeland Security, although Russia had not at that point realised they were missing.

They have now been handed back to Russia in a ceremony at the house of the US Ambassador in Moscow.

Ceremony at home of US Ambassador to Russia, for handover of recovered looted documents

Ceremony at home of US Ambassador to Russia, for handover of recovered looted documents

From:
Russia Today

Historic homecoming: US returns stolen artifacts to Russia
Published time: 3 Mar, 2016 20:10

American authorities returned 28 crucial historical documents dating back to the 18th-20th centuries to the Russian government on Thursday in an official ceremony held at the residence of the US Ambassador in Moscow.

Among them are imperial decrees signed by several Russian emperors, Joseph Stalin’s mandates and several works of art. The documents include 10 authentic imperial decrees concerning the royal household and gratuities, signed by Russian emperors from Peter the Great to Pavel the First, an original decree to the People’s Commissar of Defense of the USSR signed by Joseph Stalin (dating March 14, 1944) and 17 drawings made by architect Yakov Chernikhov, a prominent representative of Soviet constructivism, that date back to the first half of the 20th century.
Read the rest of this entry »

February 27, 2015

Bronze Statuette returned to Oliveriano Archaeological museum

Posted at 1:57 pm in Similar cases

A bronze statuette stolen from an Italian museum has been returned after it was identified at an Auction in New York.

Bronze statuette of Hercules from Oliveriano Archaeological Museum in Pesaro

Bronze statuette of Hercules from Oliveriano Archaeological Museum in Pesaro

From:
BBC News

25 February 2015 Last updated at 16:13
Stolen art returned to Italy from New York

An ancient statuette and an 18th Century painting have been returned to Italy, having turned up in New York decades after being stolen.

The painting, The Holy Trinity Appearing to Saint Clement, is by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, a Venetian artist born in 1696.
Read the rest of this entry »

December 5, 2014

Christies halts sale of disputed Sardinian bronze age pagan icon

Posted at 10:50 am in Similar cases

Following growing levels of protest, Christies has put on hold the sale of a 4,500 year old Bronze Age statuette, thought to be worth over $1 million.

Sardinian politician Mauro Pili has led the campaign, asking the Auction House to provide more details of who the vendor is, and requesting that the seller proves that they are the legitimate owner of the artefact.

Disputed "mother goddess" icon from Sardinia

Disputed “mother goddess” icon from Sardinia

From:
Independent

Mother Goddess auction: Christie’s halts sale of ‘stolen’ $1m Bronze Age pagan icon after Sardinia campaigns for its return
Michael Day
Rome – Tuesday 02 December 2014

A campaign in Sardinia to reclaim a 4,500-year-old pagan idol from a US auction house is gathering pace ahead of its scheduled sale next week, as Italy steps up the fight against the theft of its precious cultural patrimony.

Christie’s in New York had listed the marble religious artefact Dea Madre, or Mother Goddess, dating from about 2500BC, for sale on 11 December. Auctioneers hoped to sell the Bronze Age statuette for as much as $1.2m (£770,000). But campaigners claimed an initial victory today after hearing that the sale had been put on hold.
Read the rest of this entry »

April 29, 2014

The shame associated with the Sevso Hoard

Posted at 1:06 pm in Similar cases

Part of the disputed Sevso Hoard was recently returned to Hungary (purchased off an unidentified seller in London).

Colin Renfrew looks at some of the history of the treasure, and the losses both to archaeology & to peoples reputations over what has happened with it in the years since its discovery.

Sevso treasure in 1990

Sevso treasure in 1990

From:
Art Newspaper

Shame still hangs over the Sevso hoard
The recent return of seven of the 14 pieces of Roman silver to Hungary from the UK is a positive development in the find’s sad history
By Colin Renfrew. Comment, Issue 257, May 2014
Published online: 29 April 2014

It is a relief that the sorry story of the misappropriation of the great treasure of late Roman silverware known as the Sevso hoard now seems to be reaching an acceptable conclusion. A tangled tale of greed and irresponsibility by “collectors” in high places who might have known better, seeking a quick and easy profit and showing little respect for the world’s archaeological heritage, it ends where it presumably began, in Hungary.
Read the rest of this entry »

April 25, 2014

Auction houses turn a blind eye to looted artefacts

Posted at 2:22 pm in Similar cases

Just when I was thinking that the claims of due dilligence by auction houses were too good to be true – it turned out that they were.

Prasat Thom temple in Cambodia

Prasat Thom temple in Cambodia

From:
Gulf Times

Return to sender: Not easy at all
24 April 2014
By Kate Bartlett

Cambodia filed a suit against Sotheby’s, claiming the auction house had agreed to sell a warrior statue known as the Duryodhana while knowing it had been looted from its pedestal during the 1970s. By Kate Bartlett

Cambodia, which was heavily looted of many of its cultural riches during the Khmer Rouge years and the turbulent civil war that followed, is making concerted efforts to get its priceless antiquities back.
Read the rest of this entry »

April 16, 2014

Brit fined for attempting to auction looted Egyptian artefacts

Posted at 8:09 am in Similar cases

This case intrigues me for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, the level of the fine is tiny – considering the crime involved & the value of the artefacts, it counts somewhat lower than a slap on the wrist in the overall scheme of things.

Secondly, the auction house (In this case Christies, although in my past experience, none of the big auction houses have a particularly good reputation when it comes to looted artefacts) takes the moral high ground, making a point about how their due diligence is responsible for bringing about this case. Now, unless I’m misunderstanding the article completely (or the article is incorrect), the sequence of events is rather different to this.

Firstly, Christies lists the looted artefacts. Then, the true origin of the artefacts is spotted by Marcel Marée, a curator at the British Museum, who goes on to alert Christies of this. Finally, Christies contacts the Metropolitan Police’s Arts and Antiques Unit. I see nothing here that really makes me confident in Christies due diligence – the only reason the items didn’t end up at auction was because they happened to be spotted by someone who was entirely independent of the Auction House, who then took their own effort to alert them.

The fact also needs to be noted that the items were smuggled from Egypt in a suitcase on a flight – more needs to be done by countries to protect the egress of looted artefacts through their borders, helping to stop the trade by making it much more difficult for international buyers.

Lot 61 An Egyptian painted limestone relief fragment 1550.1069 B.C

Lot 61 An Egyptian painted limestone relief fragment 1550.1069 B.C

From:
Ahram Online

Briton fined £500 by UK court for attempted sale of smuggled Egypt antiquities
Amer Sultan in London
Tuesday 15 Apr 2014

A UK court has fined a British citizen £500 after he admitted having attempted to sell a number of ill-gotten Egyptian antiquities.

Neil Kingsbury, who had previously worked on BBC documentary series about the discovery of the Rosetta Stone and other early archaeological adventures, was arrested after six items were identified in Christie’s London antiquities sale last year.
Read the rest of this entry »

March 31, 2014

Half of looted Sevso Silver returns to Hungary

Posted at 5:50 pm in Similar cases

It appears that China isn’t the only country that has decided that buying disputed artefacts back is sometimes the simplest way to re-acquire them following looting.

In this instance, it is the Sevso Silver, fourteen items which Hungary claims were looted, but were sold to private buyers during the 1980s. The treasure constitutes fourteen items in total. This purchase re-acquires seven of them for €15 million, from undisclosed sellers.

My earlier reservations still stand, as do those presented previously by Kwame Opoku.

Sevso treasure in 1990

Sevso treasure in 1990

From:
Guardian

Sevso treasure items repatriated by Hungarian government after UK sale
The Roman silver, discovered in Hungary in the 1970s, was bought from an ‘unidentified London seller’ for €15m
Dalya Alberge
Thursday 27 March 2014 17.51 GMT

The Hungarian government has repatriated seven of the 14 pieces from the Sevso treasure, a spectacular hoard of 4th-century Roman silver whose ownership had long been contested by several countries.

The Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán, announced this week that the pieces have been repatriated to Budapest in return for €15m, reportedly paid to unidentified sellers in London. The pieces include the so-called “Hunting Plate” and the “Dionysiac Ewer”.
Read the rest of this entry »

December 10, 2013

Your chance to purchase a historic cast of the Parthenon frieze

Posted at 2:13 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Quite aside from the ethical implications, no private individual today is ever going to get to own the Parthenon Sculptures. The closest you could get to having a piece of them in your own home is to have a high quality cast. Many casts were made at one time or another, but some are better than others – it depends a lot on which generation they are, in terms of how far removed they are from the original sculptures.

Nowadays the British Museum Shop makes resin casts. The horse of Selene appears in Charlton Heston’s garden at the end of the film Bowling for Columbine, and I happen to know that British TV presenter William G Stewart also has a similar piece in his garden.

Some of the best casts are those that were made by the Brucciani company. Laura Steel, a teacher in Classics at Northern Illinois University, acquired what is thought to be one of these casts, and she has now advertised it for sale on Ebay.

Its the sort of thing that should ideally go to a university or museum, but I would imagine that it would also be of interest to many private collectors too.

For those of you gulping at the price tag for a plaster cast, as she explains at the end of the auction notes, this is comparable to the values that other similar pieces have sold for in recent years.

Parthenon frieze slab cast by D Brucciani & Co

Parthenon frieze slab cast by D Brucciani & Co

From:
Ebay

Full-sized Brucciani plaster copy of Parthenon frieze slab Athena Greek Greece
RARE and IRREPLACEABLE cast of one of the Elgin Marbles

Price:
US $7,500.00

Seller Notes: “Excellent used/vintage condition, with no visible flaws in the front surface. There is one larger chip in rear lower framing and a few tiny flakes from upper/lower edges (see photos).”

Regarding the piece for sale:
This piece is an irreplaceable, vintage, life-scale plaster copy of the East V Parthenon frieze slab depicting Athena and Hephaestus seated that was likely situated directly above the main entrance to the Parthenon (see photo for accepted scholarly placement of this slab within the frieze). The original is one of the Elgin Marbles held by the British Museum. While it would be even more ideal for potential buyers to see this piece in the (plaster) flesh, the photos should at least demonstrate that the cast is in excellent condition and is made in the traditional way, with un-sanded plastered strips along the back. It measures approximately 119 x 101 x 13 cm and appears to have metal framing, at least along the top edge, that would be strong enough to hang the piece on a wall surface without attaching any additional hardware.
Read the rest of this entry »

September 13, 2013

Interested in the Acropolis? There are some old photos of it for auction (guide $30,000)

Posted at 12:46 pm in Acropolis

It would be amazing to see more images of the Acropolis before 1870, showing it free from many of the modern interventions that are now present on the site.

Unfortunately I don’t think many will be able to afford it with a guide price of USD $30-50,000. That said, they are originals from the very early days of photography – so their price is justifiable.

From:
Art Daily

Sotheby’s announces its bi-annual auction of Photographs in New York on 2nd October

NEW YORK, NY.- On 2nd October 2013 Sotheby’s will present its bi-annual auction of Photographs in New York. The sale will feature a range of imagery from the 19th to 21st centuries and is especially rich in masterworks from the first half of the 20th century, including several iconic American photographs by artists such as Alfred Stieglitz, Ansel Adams, and Paul Outerbridge. The sale is led by the intimate Georgia O’Keeffe: A Portrait—Torso, circa 1919, by Alfred Stieglitz, one of only three prints known and the only one in private hands (est. $300/500,000). The pre-sale exhibition opens on 28th September.

Ansel Adams is represented by a strong group of five mural-sized photographs, most notably his majestic Tetons and Snake River (est. $250/350,000) and the stark Winter Sunrise (est. $150,000/250,000). A brilliant color carbro Advertising Study created by Paul Outerbridge for ScotTissue, circa 1938, showcases the unique talent of one of the progenitors of modern color photography (est. $50/80,000).
Read the rest of this entry »

September 10, 2013

Provenance, forged antiquities, auction houses & the Art Loss Register

Posted at 1:43 pm in Similar cases

This story highlights a number of issues with the global trade in antiquities.

Firstly, there is the fact, that the international art market is a murky world full of forgeries, items lacking provenance & other artefacts that aren’t quite what they first appear to be. Next, is the issue of checking the status of the artefacts against a single register, that is not in any way authoritative. It is a voluntary register, and as such is far from comprehensive. My final issue though is that the auction house acts as though this is pretty much acceptable. They were selling forged artefacts & really only made the most cursory of checks to see whether they were authentic or not. Its almost as though they are worried about asking too many questions, as they’ll uncover stuff they didn’t want to know and then no longer be able to sell it.

From:
Art Newspaper

Guilty plea over antiquities
Suspect admits falsifying provenance of Egyptian items offered for auction in London

By Martin Bailey and Melanie Gerlis. News, Issue 249, September 2013
Published online: 05 September 2013

Neil Kingsbury, of Northwood, London, has pleaded guilty to charges relating to the provenance of Egyptian antiquities that were consigned to Bonhams and Christie’s.

Kingsbury was arrested after misrepresented items were identified in Christie’s London antiquities sale of 2 May. Marcel Marée, a curator at the British Museum, saw the published catalogue a week earlier and spotted that a relief fragment of a Nubian prisoner appeared to come from the Amenhotep III temple in Thebes, across the Nile from Luxor. He contacted Hourig Sourouzian, the site’s conservation director, who confirmed that the relief was missing. It was excavated a decade ago and had been kept in storage.
Read the rest of this entry »

March 14, 2013

71 Native American Hopi & Zuni masks to be auctioned in Paris despite protests

Posted at 1:57 pm in Similar cases

71 native American masks are being auctioned, despite protests from the tribes that they belonged to. There are laws in place in many countries now that cover return of human remains & there are also laws in the US relating to Native American artefacts. However, these items are not covered by any of these & as such the auction is legal. One has to ask the question though of whether it is Moral though? These items could not be taken now from native tribes in the same way as happened originally.

From:
Indian Country Today Media Network

71 Hopi and Zuni Masks to be Auctioned in Paris
ICTMN Staff
March 07, 2013

On April 12, a collection of 71 Hopi and Zuni masks will be auctioned by Neret-Minet at the Druout Richelieu gallery and auction house in Paris, France. The array of katsinam masks was amassed by a collector over the course of 30 years, and date to the late 19th and early 20th century, according to the description at Druout.com (a translated version can be found at ArtDaily.org).

“The idea that a people would dedicate so much time and energy to the rise of celestial bodies fascinated our collector,” reads the auction’s description. “In his collection, the CROW MOTHER mask, Angwusnasomtaqa in the Hopi language, held pride of place, and he had to wait over 20 years to attend the Powamu rituals in early February, the only time the mother of all the Katsinam appears in the village. By his own admission, you have to see the masks in dances to fully appreciate them.”
Read the rest of this entry »