Since 2007 Tsirogiannis, a Cambridge-based Greek forensic archaeologist has drawn attention to and identified antiquities of potentially illicit origin in museums, collections, galleries auction houses, and private collections that can be traced to the confiscated Giacomo Medici, Robin Symes-Christos Michaelides and Gianfranco Becchina archives. Tsirogiannis teaches as a lecturer on illicit trafficking with ARCA’s Postgraduate Program in Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection.
Münzen und Medaillen AG, Basel, May 6, 1967, lot 2
Robin Symes, London, very probably acquired at the above auction
Howard and Saretta Barnet, New York, acquired from the above on November 16, 1973 .
For its literature, the auction house mentions the following text: Zimmermann, Les chevaux de bronze dans l’art géométrique grec, Mainz and Geneva, 1989, p. 178.
Through my own explorations I found that Scholar Paul Cartledge, in The Classical Review 41 (1):173-175 (1991), stated:
|Three, (3) photos from the Symes -Michaelides Archive
provided by Christos Tsirogiannis
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
In 1999 the family of Howard J. Barnet donated a Black-Figure Kylix, ca. 550-525 B.C.E attributed to the Hunt Painter to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. That object according to an article by Dr. David Gill, was relinquished by the museum via a transfer in title in a negotiation completed with the Italian Ministry of Culture on February 21, 2006 and returned to Italy in one of the first repatriation agreements between Italy and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
While the Barnet’s may have been selective in the quality of the pieces they purchased for their collection, their relationships with dealers known to have dealt in plundered antiquities such as Symes, as well as collecting transactions with private collectors such as George Ortiz, who is also known to have purchased tainted objects, leaves one to question how carefully the Barnet’s vetted the objects they acquired.
Take the provenance listed in this sales event for example. If the object’s listing of a sale at Münzen und Medaillen AG, Basel in May 6, 1967 is not a fabrication, then exploring this sale in Switzerland, determining who the consignor was, might give us another name name in the looting/trafficking/laundering chain which could help us determine the country of origin and be worthwhile for law enforcement in Switzerland and New York to explore.
At the very least, this upcoming auction notice seems to indicate that the auction house did not contact Greek or Italian source country authorities before accepting the object on consignment. This despite the object’s passage through the hands of a British antiquities dealer long-known to have been a key player in an international criminal network that traded in looted antiquities.