Sotheby’s sells Greek marble stele from Becchina at London auction, June 12, 2017

Greek funerary stele on sale at Sotheby’s, London auction 12/6/2017. Screenshot from the Sotheby’s homepage from 9/6/2017.

Sotheby’s offers the upper part of a Greek marble funerary stele on his next auction in London, on June 12, 2017 (lot 8) (see picture on the right). The funerary stele derives clearly from the confiscated Gianfranco Becchina archive according to Dr. Christos Tsirogiannis, a forensic archaeologist and Affiliated Researcher in the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research at the University of Glasgow. It seems as if the funerary stele was in Becchina’s hands from 1977-1990, and then sold to George Ortiz. Neither of them is mentioned by Sotheby’s in the ‘provenance’ section of the stele. Instead, Sotheby’s states as provenance:

  • John Hewett, Bog Farm, Kent, 1960s
  • New York art market, acquired from the above on November 3rd, 1980
  • American private collection
  • American family trust (Sotheby’s New York, December 10th, 2008, no. 28, illus.)
  • acquired by the present owner at the above sale

This antiquity clearly comes from Greece. Also Sotheby’s themselves state that ‘The composition of the anthemion is closely paralleled on the stele of Pytharhos from Rhamnous‘ (outside Athens, in the Attica region). Also, there are ‘evidence of the use of the name Hestiaios in Attica‘. The involved trafficker who supplied Becchina with this antiquity was known to have been involved in the acquisition of numerous illicit antiquities from Greece in the past.

The images below derive from the confiscated Becchina archive.

Hopefully Greece will claim the stele back. Dr. Christos Tsirogiannis already notified the Art and Antiques Unit of the Scotland Yard, INTERPOL, and the Greek police Art Squad.

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