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August 17, 2010

Loot from Giacomo Medici’s warehouse up for auction?

Posted at 2:08 pm in Similar cases

Much of Italy’s recent success in restitution claims against institutions in the USA stems from the raids on the Geneva warehouse of Giacomo Medici. It now seems that other artefacts seen in photographs seized in the raids are now coming up for auction.

From:
New York Observer

Digging Up the Past
By Michael H. Miller
May 25, 2010 | 3:17 p.m

In June 1964, a group of fishermen off the northern Adriatic coast pulled a dull gray mass, shaped like a man, covered in barnacles, out of the water. It was the statue now known as Victorious Youth, believed to be the work of Lysippus-Alexander the Great’s personal sculptor. The fishermen took the statue ashore and sold it, cheap. It changed hands many times after that, quietly, until 1977, when the J. Paul Getty Trust purchased it for a then-record sum of $4 million from a Munich art dealer. In February 2010, Italy won a lawsuit in Italian court against the Los Angeles museum, demanding the statue’s return. The Getty, appealing, has yet to comply, arguing it was a Greek statue found in international waters.
Victorious Youth is far from the only masterpiece in limbo-or in court. As million-dollar antiquities auctions (and a controversy surrounding them) kick off in in New York the week of June 6, never has the tension between collector, dealer and so-called “source” nation been higher. Late last week, Germany’s Foreign Minister formally spurned Egypt’s request for the return of the 3,000-year-old Bust of Nefertiti that sits in a Berlin Museum; three months ago Egypt hosted an international conference demanding the return of the Rosetta Stone from the British Museum, which has had it for 200 years. There are ongoing legal battles and new, or louder, claims from Turkey, China and Greece for the return of items. But Italy has been the most aggressive, successfully demanding the return of objects from both the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Getty. (The Getty has returned 39 disputed objects to Italy since 2006, and isn’t finished, according to the museum’s general counsel, Stephen Clark.) Such disputes have pulled in collectors and chilled the climate for buying certain works, regardless of quality, dealers and auctioneers report. Now, three pricey ancient Greek items up for sale at Christie’s next month threaten to become a part of the messy, murky issues clouding the market.
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