In Paris – Lots of Antiquities – No Provenance – UPDATED WITH SALE RESULTS
The first 92 lots in the March 13, 2013 archaeology-themed auction at Paris’ Néret-Minet Tessier & Sarrou – antiquities from ancient Egypt, Etruria, Rome, Greece, Persia, Luristan and China including the two illustrated here – have no listed provenance. This is not to just to conclusions and say the works are all looted – I don’t know – but to not provide any dated provenance for antiquities at auction is, to be charitable, unwise. UPDATE - There was a high buy-in rate for these works – 38 of the 92 objects sold.
As noted in an earlier posting, increasingly, major museums are following the American Association of Museum Directors guidelines and are limiting their antiquities acquisitions to those works only with a pre-Nov. 1970 provenance, a date coinciding with of the ratification of a UNESCO accord on cultural property protection (this is not to say that works with a pre-1970 provenance are not subject to repatriation claims because several source countries have laws preventing the export of patrimony that were enacted years and decades prior to the UNESCO action). And, latest Art Newspaper details how museums are dealing with pieces that may be problematic.
Perhaps officials from source countries will have to bear down on smaller auction houses, as they have with Christie’s and Sotheby’s, to bring about broader change.