October 19, 2019

A statement from Dirk Obbink and an interesting link to Mahmoud Elder, Scott Carroll and a collector named Andrew Stimer

Screenshot: 19 October 2019
https://www.museumofthebible.org/collections/artifacts/7505-letter-from-plutarchos-to-theoninos-poxy-1775#/
Friday, the Waco Tribune-Herald received a statement, relayed by the attorneys of Dirk Obbink, contesting the claims linking him with the illegal sale of ancient material to Hobby Lobby, Inc., which have been determined to have come from the Oxyrhynchus Papyri Collection, which are the property of the Egypt Exploration Society.

That quote, with a link to the original Waco Tribune-Herald article, is listed in its entirety here. 

"The allegations made against me that I have stolen, removed or sold items owned by the Egyptian Exploration Society collection at the University of Oxford are entirely false," he stated. "I would never betray the trust of my colleagues and the values which I have sought to protect and uphold throughout my academic career in the way that has been alleged. 
"I am aware that there are documents being used against me which I believe have been fabricated in a malicious attempt to harm my reputation and career. I am working with my legal team in this regard."

Obbink's personal statement begs the further question as to why the MacArthur “Genius Award” grantee waited from August 2016, when the EES did not re-appoint him as a General Editor of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri "primarily because of unsatisfactory discharge of his editorial duties, but also because of concerns, which he did not allay, about his alleged involvement in the marketing of ancient texts", until October 2019 to issue a statement which in effect says he's being framed.

More importantly what is he saying he was framed for? 

It is clear from the archives on the website for the Museum of the Bible that Professor Obbink found himself in the unique position as a learned scholar to leverage the value of his knowledge in ancient texts to a greater advantage financially and was actively selling directly to the Greens at least as far back as 2010, during the early formation of the family's buying spree, and in anticipation of the opening of a future biblical museum sponsored by the evangelical family.  

The photo at the top of this article, of a Letter from Plutarchos to Theoninos. (P.Oxy. 1775) was acquired by Dirk Obbink in 2009-2010 from the United Theological Seminary, Dayton, Ohio and very quickly, privately sold to the Green Collection in 2010. 

Likewise the 1 Peter Fragment (P.Oxy. 1353; Uncial 0206)  was acquired by Dirk Obbink in 2009 from the United Theological Seminary, Dayton, Ohio and very quickly, privately sold to the Green Collection in 2010. 

Likewise the Lease of Land (P.Oxy. 1688)  was acquired by Dirk Obbink in 2009–2010 from the United Theological Seminary, Dayton, Ohio and very quickly, privately sold to the Green Collection in 2010. 

Likewise the Account of Receipts and Expenses (P.Oxy. 1728) was acquired by Dirk Obbink in 2009–2010 from the United Theological Seminary, Dayton, Ohio and very quickly, privately sold to the Green Collection in 2010. 

Likewise the Psalms Fragment (P.Oxy. 1779; Rahlfs 2073) was acquired by Dirk Obbink in 2009–2010 from the United Theological Seminary, Dayton, Ohio and very quickly, privately sold to the Green Collection in 2010. 

Likewise the Return of Unwatered Land (P.Oxy. 1459) was acquired by Dirk Obbink in 2009–2010 from the United Theological Seminary, Dayton, Ohio and very quickly, privately sold to the Green Collection in 2010. 

Likewise the Letter from Theon to His Mother (P.Oxy. 1678) was acquired by Dirk Obbink in 2009–2010 from the United Theological Seminary, Dayton, Ohio and very quickly, privately sold to the Green Collection in 2010. 

Likewise the Letter from Sarapion to his Father Dionysius (P.Oxy. 1756) was acquired by Dirk Obbink in 2009–2010 from the United Theological Seminary, Dayton, Ohio and very quickly, privately sold to the Green Collection in 2010. 

Likewise a Draft of Release of Claims Concerning Receipt of Dowry was acquired by Dirk Obbink in 2009–2010 from the United Theological Seminary, Dayton, Ohio and very quickly, privately sold to the Green Collection in 2010. 


While the Museum of the Bible may not comprehensively list all the provenance on all the objects within the museum's collection, this is at least ten other documented examples of sales where Dirk Obbink was not serving simply as a scholarly advisor to the Greens, but rather as a direct supplier of manuscripts to the family in addition to the purported sale of pieces already earmarked to be restituted to the EES.  

Then there are the other fargments sold to a collector named Andrew Stimer, two of which are also linked to the EES inquiries, where Stiner has stated that he purchased the pieces from M. Elder of Dearborn, Michigan.  

Stimer writes: 

"I acquired both of the manuscripts in the summer of 2015 from Mr. M. Elder of Dearborn, Michigan. He bought them the previous year, in April 2014, via a private treaty sale executed by Christie’s London. The fragments were part of a collection of texts that had been in the Pruitt family since the 1950s. Dr. Rodman Pruitt was an industrialist and inventor in southern Indiana who was known as a collector of manuscripts, books and artifacts of various kinds. He acquired his papyri from Harold Maker, a well-known dealer in manuscripts who was based in Irvington, New Jersey. I am told that the Trismegistos database lists numerous published papyri originally sold by Harold Maker. [Coincidentally, I have another manuscript in my collection that also came through Harold Maker, and with it are copies of sales materials he issued in the early 1950s.] I contacted Christie’s London to confirm that they had indeed conducted the private treaty sale of manuscripts that had passed by descent through the Pruitt family. I communicated with Dr. Eugenio Donadoni, Director of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts. He confirmed that the consignor of the collection that was sold in April 2014 was a relative of Dr. Rodman Pruitt, though he was of course restricted in the amount of information he was at liberty to provide to me. The sale included various papyri, in Coptic, Greek and Syriac. I was satisfied that the information I had been given at the time of the acquisition was correct."

As mentioned in an earlier blog post, Stimer's name has been attached to Scott Carroll who has been discussed at length on this blog and Mahmoud Elder appears to have formed a joint business initiative with Obbink as one of the two founding officers of Castle Folio Limited, which was incorporated 11 March 2014 and dissolved some years later.  

The Edler-Obbink company's first introductory post on Facebook reads:

"The Castle Folio began as an idea between collectors and investors with a simple question: what would it take to start a company that provided services to prepare an exhibition focusing on ancient texts and antiquities for any major public viewing? 


We collaborated with historians, linguistics, art conservationist, appraisers and dealers to work on our board's private collection, refining our services until we were ready to offer them. 
We are not only investors. Every member of The Castle Folio family is a serious collector with a passion for collecting and preserving our shared history. 
Please take a minute to explore our services and see how we can be of help. 
The Castle Group is an Elder-Marini Group held company."

On 28 January 2015 Castle Folio's facebook page has a entry which links to a now deleted page on the company's website which gives reference to the so called First-Century Fragment of Mark's Gospel, but interestingly tries to imply that "A print of the ancient Gospel of Mark has been discovered inside of an ancient Egyptian mummy mask that had been fashioned with recycled papyri. Researchers have dated this fragment to be from before the year 90 A.D.!"  

The unknown author of this entry uses the significance of the find to try to put a lid on the debate over the controversial text fragment recovery method, as the process of extracting the papyrus ultimately destroys the mummy masks.  It also appears that saying the fragment was discovered inside a cartonnage mummy mask would draw less attention to the fragment than "finding" it and removing it from the Oxyrhynchus Papyri collection.

By:  Lynda Albertson

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