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“Looting Matters” Raises Concerns about Items in Upcoming Antiquities Sale – UPDATED

June 1, 2012

Lot 99. A PAIR OF CANOSAN POTTERY VOLUTE-KRATERS 
APULIA, CIRCA EARLY 3RD CENTURY B.C. 
Each decorated in bright polychromy over white slip, the obverse with a winged Nike driving a quadriga to the left, the goddess’ wings and her chariot box in blue, the horses with varied coats, one with its head turned back, ovolo on the shoulders, a scale pattern on the neck, vertical lines on the rim; the reverse with a winged head of Nike amidst scrolling tendrils, with blue wings and dark red curly hair, wave on the shoulders, laurel on the neck, pink and blue rays along the foot, the volutes molded with mascaroons on both sides
Each: 20 3/8 in. (51.8 cm.) high (2). Estimate: $40,000 – $60,000. This lot did not sell.

Looting Matters, published by archaeologist David Gill, has posted the following story about Lot 99 in Christie’s upcoming antiquities sale in New York:

Italian journalist Fabio Isman has written in today’s edition of Il Messaggero (May 31, 2011) about a new sighting from the Medici Dossier. He reports that Cambridge University researcher Christos Tsirogiannis has identified the pair of Canosan kraters in Christie’s Rockefeller Plaza sale on June 8, 2012 (lot 99) from polaroids. The kraters were reported to have been in a private collection in New York, and were sold at Sotheby’s New York in 1986 (30 May 1986, lot 24).

Who consigned the kraters to Sotheby’s in 1986? What other material originating from Medici was passing through the New York market in that period?

The Medici Dossier was discussed by Gill and Tsirogiannis in their article “Polaroids from the Medici Dossier: Continued Sightings on the Market” for the fifth issue of The Journal of Art Crime (Spring 2011), as noted on the ARCA arts crimes blog. The abstract for the article states:

The series of returned antiquities to Italy have been a reminder of the role of Giacomo Medici in the movement of antiquities to North American public and private collections. A dossier of images was seized during a series of raids on premises in the Geneva Freeport linked to Medici. Such images have made it possible for the Italian authorities to make identifications with recently surfaced antiquities. In spite of the publicity some involved with the trade of antiquities continue to offer recently-surfaced objects that can be traced back to Medici and his consignments to the London market.

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