Munich’s Gorny & Mosch Auctioning Hundreds of Antiquities lacking pre-1970 provenance June 2013
The June 19, 2013, 784-lot auction at Munich-based Gorny & Mosch features hundreds of antiquities that lack a pre-1970 provenance. The “pre-1970” refers to the date of an international UNESCO convention aimed at halting the looting of antiquities. As the New York Times reported, ‘In 2004 the Association of Art Museum Directors declared “member museums should not acquire” any undocumented works “that were removed after November 1970, regardless of any applicable statutes of limitation.”’ Numerous American museums – including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Boston’s Museum of Fine Art and the Getty in Los Angeles – have been forced to return looted antiquities to their host countries.
In a bid to assuage any concerns bidders might have, the sale catalogue states: “Gorny & Mosch have retained the Art Loss Register to check all uniquely identifiable items offered for sale in this catalogue that are estimated at more than the equivalent of 1,000.– € against the Art Loss Register‘s computerized database of objects reported as stolen or lost.” Unfortunately, most looted works have not previously been documented and reported as stolen, so this check is largely ceremonial. All of these works may have been legally excavated and sold, but the auction house has not provided that information.
The sale include Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Middle Eastern, Pre-Columbian and other antiquities, including this “familiar face” – a pair Roman bronze attachments (one show, below) that appeared in a previous entry about auctions with antiquities lacking pre-1970 provenance. The pair were at Christie’s in October 2012 and carried an estimate of £100,000 – £150,000 ($160,200 – $240,300). Bidding stopped at £65,000 and they failed to sell.
Also noted in that same previous post – the New York Times reports collectors are having a harder time disposing of works – either through sale or donation – of non pre-1970 works:
Alan M. Dershowitz, the Harvard law professor, is … [a]n antiquities collector … eager to sell an Egyptian sarcophagus he bought from Sotheby’s in the early 1990s. But he is stymied, he said, because auction houses are applying tighter policies to the items they accept for consignment.
Maybe he should try Gorny & Mosch.