Antiquities and Archaeology
Medici “loot” for sale?
Two works coming to auction with Bonhams appear similar to those pictured in Polaroids found in the convicted dealer’s Geneva store
By Fabio Isman and Melanie Gerlis. Market, Issue 217, October 2010
Published online: 05 October 2010
london. Bonhams London is to auction two antiquities that may have passed through the hands of the dealer Giacomo Medici, who has twice been found guilty of trafficking in antiquities in Italy, but is free as he mounts his third and final appeal. As we went to press, the auction house had not withdrawn the lots because the necessary information on the items had not been released, despite Bonhams’ repeated requests to the Italian authorities, they say.
Pictures in the Bonhams catalogue of the two works coming to auction on 6 October appear similar to Polaroids found in Medici’s Geneva store, which were seized in 1995 and presented as evidence during his trials, although these particular objects were never examined in court. This means that the objects have not been studied to establish their origins and whether or not they were illegally excavated or exported and may be legitimate.
The two objects are an Attic jar (lot 94, pictured), around 440-415BC (est £3,000-£5,000), and a Greek pottery pitcher (lot 95), around 400-350BC (est £2,000-£3,000).
Spokesman Julian Roup said that the firm has yet to have any proof that the pieces’ provenance is questionable. The auction house says that no items in its sales appear on any stolen art databases (including the Art Loss Register, and the Interpol database), adding that the so-called Medici Dossier currently “does not appear on any of the checkable databases”. The problem is common across the trade. Christie’s told us: “We would encourage anyone with knowledge of [suspicious] works to register with the appropriate bodies.”
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