New York: Christie’s selling objects connected to Becchina and Symes

Dr. Christos Tsirogiannis has identified two potentially tainted antiquities, scheduled to be auctioned by Christie’s auction house in New York on 18 April 2018.  Law enforcement authorities were informed in late March. One of the objects is now withdrawn from the auction.

The two images from the Becchina archive, showing the amphora.

Lot 26, an Etruscan ‘Pontic’ black-figured neck-amphora, from two Polaroid images included in the confiscated Becchina archive, where the same amphora is depicted in fragments, with soil and salt encrustations, on what appears to be a bamboo chair or table. By contrast, the ‘Provenance’ given by Christie’s is:

‘with Galerie Gunter Puhze, Freiburg. Acquired by the current owner from the above, 1993’

This excludes Gianfranco Becchina, a known and convicted trafficker. The two images from the Becchina archive are stuck on a A4 page, dated 22/6/1993 and referring to the price paid (30,000 Swiss Francs) and sold (47,000 Swiss Francs) (see images on the right).

The vase is Etruscan and could be claimed by the Italian state. Since April 11, the amphora is withdrawn from the auction. Its sale price was estimated $30,000-50,000 USD.

The bronze boar as found in the Symes-Michaelides archive.

Lot 48, a Roman bronze boar, depicted in two separate professional images (on the right) from the confiscated Symes-Michaelides archive. Symes and Michaelides, known traffickers, are not included in the Christie’s ‘Provenance’ section. It is still unclear which country should claim this figure. The ‘Provenance’ given by Christie’s is:

“with Mathias Komor, New York, 1974. Christos G. Bastis (1904-1999), New York. The Christos G. Bastis Collection; Sotheby’s, New York, 9 December 1999, lot 159.”

Further Info and more details can be found on the homepage of ARCA.

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