February 1, 2014

Archaeologist and journalist Vernon Silver Reports on the Underwater Discovery of the Apollo of Gaza for Bloomberg Businessweek

From Bloomberg Businessweek
Vernon Silver, author of The Lost Chalice: The Real-Life Chase for One of the World's Best Masterpieces (Harper Collins) about recovering a cup designed by the Greek artist Eurphronios, writes in Bloomberg Businessweek about the underwater discovery of the bronze Apollo of Gaza ("The Apollo of Gaza: Hamas's Ancient Bronze Statue", January 30, 2014).

Last year in August, Silver retells, 26-year-old fisherman Jouda Ghurab dived into the Mediterranean off the Gaza Strip and discovered what would ultimately turn out to be a bronze statue:
The Apollo of Gaza is almost six feet tall and made of bronze. He has finely wrought curly hair, one intact inlaid eye, an outstretched right hand, and a green patina over most of his body, which weighs about 1,000 pounds. His slim limbs are those of a teenager, and he’s so unusually well preserved that his feet are still attached to the rectangular bronze base that kept him upright centuries ago. On the international market, bronzes have become the rarest and most disputed artifacts of antiquity. Few survive today; over the past 2,000 years most have fallen victim to recycling: melted in antiquity for weapons or coins and later for church bells and cannon. The survivors are mostly those saved by mishaps or disasters—sinking in shipwrecks or buried by volcanic ash.
Silver includes a quote from Giacomo Medici on the rarity of the bronze statue:
“A bronze of this size is one of a kind,” says Giacomo Medici, a dealer whose 2004 conviction in Rome for acting as a hub of the global antiquities trade led to the repatriation of works from the world’s biggest museums and richest collectors, including the Getty and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. If the Apollo could be sold, such a statue would bring “20, 30, 40 million euros, maybe more, 100 million for the highest quality,” Medici says, speaking by phone from house arrest at his villa north of the Italian capital. “You could make it a centerpiece of a museum or private collection.”
As for the estimated value, Silver reports:
By way of comparison, an ancient bronze a little more than half the Apollo’s size, depicting the goddess Artemis with a stag, sold for $28.6 million at Sotheby’s (BID) in New York in 2007. “That’s a good guide” for understanding the value of the Gaza bronze, says James Ede, chairman of London-based antiquities dealer Charles Ede. “Of course, it’s worth a lot of money if it can be sold, but it can’t be,” he says. A thicket of issues surrounding the Apollo’s provenance and ownership will make it hard to establish legal title, he says. It doesn’t help that Gaza is governed by Hamas, the Islamist movement considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. and the European Union. Says Ede, “It would be a hell of a furor if they tried to sell it.”
 You can read more of this article through this link to Bloomberg Business week. And you can read more about The Lost Chalice on the publisher's page here.

Mr. Silver presented at the ARCA Conference in Amelia on "Crime Scenes as Archaeological Sites" in 2011.

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