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Showing posts from June, 2015

From the Koutoulakis Collection

Peter Watson explored the relationship between Giacomo Medici and Nikolas Koutoulakis. Koutoulakis' name also appears in the 'organigram'. So would a potential buyer be nervous if a Greek object was on offer with its stated collecting history ("provenance") as 'from the Koutoulakis collection'?

The Koutoulakis Herm returns to Greece

In October 2014 Bonhams offered a Roman herm that it was claimed to have been in the collection of Nicolas Koutoulakis collection in Geneva since 1965. But Glasgow University researcher Dr Christos Tsirogiannis spotted that the head had been offered on the market in the spring of 1987, undermining the collecting history presented in the catalogue.

The head has now been returned to Athens and features in a major press release. Sadly Tsirogiannis' contribution is not acknowledged.

I have written on the issues relating to this herm in the Journal of Art Crime ("Context Matters: Learning from the Herm: The Need for More Rigorous Due Diligence Searches").

This case reminds us of the need to authenticate the documentation used to present collecting histories, and it brings into question the issues relating the due diligence search conducted by Bonhams (and its agents).

It perhaps shows that objects associated with Koutoulakis are not above suspicion. I was recently viewing suc…

Journal of Art Crime 2015 (Spring)

The Spring number of the Journal of Art Crime, edited by Noah Charney, is now available.

Here is the table of contents for the latest issue of this bi-annual publication listing the archaeological papers that will be of interest to readers of LM:


Analyzing Criminality in the Market for Ancient Near Eastern Art by Ryan Casey Damaging the Archaeological Record: The Lenborough Hoard by David Gill“But We Didn’t Steal It:” Collectors’ Justifications for Purchasing Looted Antiquities by Erin L. Thompson 

Context Matters “From Palmyra to Mayfair: The Movement of Antiquities from Syria and Northern Iraq” by David Gill Nekyia “Duplicates and the Antiquities Market” by Christos Tsirogiannis 


New Archaeological Discoveries and Cultural Ventures beyond War Threats: A Model of Excellence Stemming from Iraqi-Italian Cooperation by Francesca Coccolo 


Cultural Heritage Ethics: Between Theory and Practice Edited by Constantine Sandis Reviewed by …

From an old Montecito collection

When a Palmyrene sculpture appears on the market you would expect the auction house to provide an authenticated collecting history. "Acquired prior to 1996" sounds rather imprecise and suggests that there is no documented collecting history showing the sculpture's origins.

The impact of the Medici and Becchina archives

The Art Newspaper (Melanie Girlis, "Calls to open looted-art archives grow louder", 2 June 2015)has published a skewed comment on the impact of the photographs (and other documentation) from the Medici and Becchina archives (and there is, of course, the Schinoussa archive). Over 300 items have been returned to Italy as a result of the on-going investigations into the trade in recently surfaced archaeological material (see interim report). Museums have included: Boston's Museum of Fine Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the J. Paul Getty Museum, New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Princeton University Art Museum. (The Dallas Museum of Art conducted a voluntary internal review and returned a number of items.) The returns have included private collectors such as Shelby White and the late Leon Levy, Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman, and Muarice Tempelsman. And objects have been withdrawn, returned or seized from auction houses and galleries in North America. And eve…