PARIS: auction of doubtful Roman marble statue at Millon

As recently discovered by Dr. Christos Tsirogiannis, a forensic archaeologist and Affiliated Researcher in the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research at the University of Glasgow, Lot no. 292, from the forthcoming auction of Millon, on Friday, 8th of December, in Paris, at Hotel Drouot, has quiet some doubtful origin. According to the Millon catalogue, the only provenance worth indicating is: ‘Royal Athena Galleries, New York, Art of the Ancient World, IV, 1995, p. 75-76, lot no. 236’. (1995 might be a printing mistake – the statue appeared actually for sale in 1985). No further provenance is mentioned, and it is here where it gets interesting.

Images of the marble statue from the Symes-Michaelides archive.

Connection to Symes and Michaelides

The same statue is depicted in three professional images (see below) in the confiscated archive of the biggest illicit antiquities dealers during the last quarter of the 20th century, Robin Symes and Christos Michaelides. Their photographic archive has been confiscated by the Greek police art squad in 2006 in the Aegean island of Schinousa. At Millon, this connection is not mentioned.

Sotheby’s

Moreover, in 2006 the same statue was sold in Sotheby’s, in London, during the 5th of July 1982 auction, as lot 397, as discovered by Dr. C. Tsirogiannis. This information, also, has been excluded by Millon from the ‘provenance’ section.

Who owns it?

It is important to be found who is the consignor (owner) of the statue in the Millon auction, but, most importantly, who was the consignor of the statue in the 1982 Sotheby’s auction in London, as we do know that Sotheby’s in London during the 1980’s and 1990’s was the place where Medici, Becchina and others used to consign and/or launder illicit antiquities. Medici and Becchina were among the main suppliers of Symes and Michaelides.

Although the statue is not depicted in any other archive apart from the Symes – Michaelides one and that -so far- it is not clear in which country was originally discovered, it is important that everybody who is involved in its true collecting history that Dr. C. Tsirogiannis reconstructed (and Millon is not mentioning) – Eisenberg, Sotheby’s and Symes-Michaelides –  have been involved in numerous cases of illicit antiquities.

The French police art squad is already informed.

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