Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Michael C. Carlos Museum: Unresolved issue with Greece?

In 2007 Nikolas Zirganos announced in the Greek press that three items in the Michael C. Carlos Museum (acquired in 2002 and 2004) could be linked to photographic evidence available to the Greek authorities. The three items have been identified in the Greek press. A press statement was issued by the museum in September 2008 in response to a report that the Hellenic Ministry of Culture had made a formal request for their return. As far as I know, this is unresolved more than three years on.

I had another look at the story and in particular the Minoan larnax (an identification made originally, as I understand it, by Cambridge researcher Christos Tsirogiannis). Zirganos had published images of the three pieces (see archived stories). It appears that the larnax features in a photograph linked to a receipt issued by "Antike Kunst Palladion". This suggests the paperwork was obtained as part of the 2005 Basel raid on the premises linked to Gianfranco Becchina.

If you enlarge the image you can see quite clearly the typed name of the purchaser (and this is helpfully given in the caption).

Palladion Antike Kunst has been linked to objects returned to Italy from the J. Paul Getty Museum and Boston's Museum of Fine Arts. The Getty is also reported to have purchased the "Getty kouros" from Becchina. Palladion Antike Kunst appears to have supplied objects now in Amsterdam's Allard Pierson Museum, the Miho Museum in Japan, and Madrid's National Archaeological Museum. Press reports suggest that Italy's Operation Andromeda demonstrated links between Becchina and a certain Japanese dealer.

When will the Michael C. Carlos Museum resolve this issue? When will they publish the full collecting histories for the three pieces? And remember, "The Museum will not knowingly acquire any object which has been illegally exported from its country of origin".

Image
Source: Enet.

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