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A success story of UNESCO Chair's WG on Illicit Trafficking of Antiquities: Christie’s withdraws Greek vases from auction over links to convicted dealer

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Posted: 10-04-2024 00:07 | Views: 1069
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The Guardian: Christie’s has withdrawn four ancient Greek vases from Tuesday’s auction after a leading archaeologist discovered that each of them was linked to a convicted antiquities dealer Giannfranco Becchina.

The disputed antiquities include an Attic cup, decorated with warriors and other figures, from around 570-560BC. It had been estimated to fetch $15,000 to $20,000 in the Ancient Greek Vases from the Zimmermann Collection auction, but it has now disappeared from the online page, after the auction house was challenged with Dr. Tsirogiannis’s evidence.

The sale catalogue notes: “The ancient Greek vases collected by Dr. Manfred Zimmermann (1935-2011) rank among the finest private collections of their kind assembled during the late 20th-early 21st century.”

Other disputed antiquities included Lot 3, the lid of a lekanis or bowl decorated with sphinxes from about 570-550 BC and estimated at $8,000 to $12,000, and Lot 10, a hydra or water pot featuring Dionysos with a drinking horn, circa 530-520 BC, estimated at $7,000 to $9,000. They, too, have disappeared from the online catalogue.

Over the past 18 years, Tsirogiannis has identified more than 1,700 looted antiquities within auction houses, galleries, museums, and private collections, notifying Interpol and other police forces.

Although he is based in Cambridge, he heads illicit antiquities trafficking research for the Unesco Chair on Threats to Cultural Heritage at the Ionian University in Corfu, Greece.

The late Paolo Giorgio Ferri, the Italian public prosecutor who pursued and prosecuted traffickers in looted antiquities, so valued Dr. Tsirogiannis’s research that he made available to him tens of thousands of images and other archival material seized in police raids from Becchina and dozens of traffickers. >> read more 


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