December 2, 2013

Monday, December 02, 2013 - , No comments

Persian chalice authentic or fake? Dutch Art Investigator Arthur Brand has no doubts

Dutch art investigator Arthur Brand is of the opinion that the chalice "that helped make possible the Iran nuclear deal, as reported in the media, is a fake."

In the LA Times article by Christi Parsons "The chalice that helped make possible the Iran nuclear deal" has been surrounded by controversy regarding its authenticity:
Some experts believe the vessel, known as a rhyton, was crafted in the 7th century BC in what later became the Persian Empire, now Iran. It features three trumpet-shaped cups that sprout from the body of a griffin, a fabled creature that typically has the head and wings of a bird and the body of a lion. On the chalice, the eyes are deep-set and wide open, like those of a bird of prey. The object was allegedly part of a cache of antiquities found in a cave near the Iraqi border in the 1980s, shortly after Iran's Islamic Revolution. "These were great treasures from a great civilization," said Fariborz Ghadar, an Iranian scholar who served as a deputy economic minister to Iran's shah. "Their discovery was of great significance to those who consider themselves Persians, who honor that period in history." 
In 2003, the chalice surfaced in the hands of a well-known antiquities dealer, Hicham Aboutaam, who ran a firm based in Geneva. As he passed through U.S. customs at Newark International Airport, Aboutaam presented a certificate indicating the vessel was from Syria. He was waved through. Aboutaam then set out to document the object's value. Three experts he consulted determined it was from Iran; two concluded it was consistent with the antiquities taken from the cave. An art collector was prepared to pay $1 million, but federal investigators caught wind of it. They charged that the object had been taken from Iran illicitly, making its importation to the U.S. illegal. The dealer was prosecuted and paid a $5,000 fine. The chalice was then placed in a climate-controlled storage unit. The value of the chalice remains uncertain. Some have maintained that it is not 2,700 years old at all, but a modern fake. But Iranian officials have insisted it is genuine and demanded its return.
Arthur Brand pointed out previous questions about the object's authenticity in an Oct. 14 article by Frud Bezhan in Radio Free Europe "U.S. Gift To The Iranian People A 'Fake':
Unfortunately, according to Hamid Baqaie, the former head of Iran's Cultural Heritage Organization, the artifact is without question a modern forgery. "Firstly, the way it has been made and the style in which it has been made shows it's a fake. This artifact doesn't have any roots in ancient Iran," Baqaie says. "Secondly, from a technical point of view the materials used to make it also show that it's not an original." 
Archeologist Oscar White Muscarella, a former curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, has gone on record as saying he, too, does not believe the artifact is the real deal. He wrote in a paper published last year that it took only a glance at a photograph of the artifact to convince him it was a fake.
Dutch art investigator Arthur Brand wrote in an email:
I saw many western-cave objects, some looted, more fake. I saw them too in the Aboutaams' shop. The one the USA gave to Iran is mostly fake, partly constructed from original pieces. I even know who did the construction. It is the same man who made the partly fake which was offered in Germany a few years ago. I made a documentary about that piece, together with the German ARD. Skip to 8.10.
Another Western-cave invention of the Aboutaams, in their shop, secretly filmed by me (see photo below):


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