June 6, 2014

Noah Charney Interviews Three Leading Art Lawyers: Ian de Freitas, Howard Spiegler and Fabio Moretti in the Spring 2014 issue of ARCA's Journal of Art Crime

by Noah Charney

The Journal of Art Crime had the pleasure of interviewing three leading art lawyers, Ian de Freitas, Howard Spiegler, and Fabio Moretti. We spoke of art law, forgery, intellectual property, and fashion law, with each responding to questions related to their personal specializations. Ian de Freitas practices in the UK with Berwin Leighton Paisner and specializes in intellectual properties law. Howard Spiegler practices in the US with Herrick, Feinstein and is an expert in art reparations and repatriation, particularly with regard to art that changed hands during the Second World War and its aftermath. Fabio Moretti practices in Italy with Moretti & Burgio, and is an expert in fashion law. All three will be speaking at the UIA (Union Internationale des Avocats) conference held in Florence, Italy on October 31, 2014, a conference in which ARCA representatives will be participating.

Noah Charney: I like to give my students a puzzle, Howard. Whose culture heritage is a Titian painting of a Habsburg prince that hangs in Madrid? It might be claimed by Spain, Italy, Venice (which likes to think of itself as a different state, and was when Titian was around), or even Austria or Switzerland (where the Habsburgs originated). In legal terms, it is the property of the last legal owner, but in the moral debate of whose “cultural heritage” it is, how do you deal with the situation when multiple nations can claim a single work?

Howard Spiegler: I like to say that as an attorney, my job is relatively straightforward: I just have to deal with the law and not the often complex policies and moral issues that may pertain to these kinds of questions. In general, if the country from which the work has been illegally expropriated has a so-called patrimony law providing for ownership by that country’s government of every antiquity found in or on the ground, and the effective date of that law is prior to the time that the antiquity was expropriated, then the US courts will permit the foreign government to sue in the United States to recover it, subject to defenses like the statute of limitations. If I were to venture into the moral realm, it would be difficult for me not to favor the return of items to a country from which it was expropriated without permission, but if such a position is not viable under the existing law, I would encourage negotiation to ensure a mutually acceptable resolution. This might involve, for example, a confirmation by the possessor that the antiquity is rightfully owned by the source nation, but could provide for a long-term loan of the item, perhaps in return for similar loans to the country involved, especially if the possessor is a museum. As far as multiple nations claiming the same antiquity, when this has occurred in a U.S. litigation, the jury essentially decided that none of the countries involved were able to establish that the antiquity involved had been illegally excavated from one rather than another of the countries, and ruled in favor of the possessor, even though it was clear that it must have come from one of these lands. Proving that the illegal excavation took place in a particular country is often one of the hardest elements of the plaintiff’s case in these actions, mainly because ancient boundaries of nation-states do not necessarily correspond to the current boundaries of modern nations. 

NC: The Internet Age has seen a lot of lawsuits dealing with art looted during the world wars, because all of a sudden families could locate online the works lost to their families decades prior. Before the digitalization of museum collections, it was a lot harder to know where your art might be, if you didn’t just stumble on it. We hear a lot about the restitution of Nazi-looted art, but very little about art looted by the Red Army. Why is that?

HS: Actually, there have been claims brought against Russia with respect to artworks taken during the War, but in general, Russia subscribes to the concept that anything taken from Germany during and after the War represents just compensation for the enormous losses of life and property suffered by Russia during the War. This concept is not in accord with usual precepts of international law, however, and obviously makes it more difficult to resolve these claims. In one case, currently pending in the U.S., the Jewish religious sect Chabad brought an action to compel Russia to turn over archives and a library to Chabad, allegedly misappropriated by Russia or its predecessor governments. After losing a motion to dismiss, Russia remarkably refused to participate in the lawsuit any further, and the court imposed a default judgment against it. Attempts to enforce the judgment, including with sanctions levied against Russia, have been met with resistance from the U.S. government and have yet to be resolved.

You may finish reading this interview in the Spring 2014 issue of The Journal of Art Crime by subscribing through the ARCA website or ordering an issue through Amazon.com.

Noah Charney is a professor of art history specializing in art crime and an international best-selling author of fiction (The Art Thief) and non-fiction (Stealing the Mystic Lamb). He teaches for American University of Rome and Brown University, and is an award-winning columnist for a variety of popular magazines and newspapers. He is the founder of ARCA, and has served as its president since its inception.

June 5, 2014

Sofia Cecchi Interviews Ricardo J. Elia in the Spring 2014 issue of ARCA's Journal of Art Crime

Ricardo J. Elia is Associate Professor of Archaeology at Boston University. He has published extensively about archaeological ethics, law and heritage management, policy and the antiquities market. As the author of some of the most influential works in the history of illicit antiquities research, he generously answered our questions on this topic.

Sofia Cecchi is an archaeologist specializing in cultural heritage management and museology. Originally from Italy and Chile, she studied at Columbia University (BA) and the University of Cambridge (MPhil), where she analyzed the relationship between museums and the illicit antiquities market. Sofia currently works as a researcher for a global heritage consultancy that plans and develops projects across the cultural sector. Her other interests have taken her all over the world, from archaeological fieldwork in Latin America to exhibition development at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Here's the beginning of the interview as published in the Spring 2014 issue of The Journal of Art Crime:
Sofia Cecchi: What was the initial spark that made you want to study the ethics of collecting and the trade in illicit antiquities? 
Professor Elia: While a grad student digging at Stobi (then Yugoslavia, now the Republic of Macedonia) in the late 1970s, my mentor, James R. Wiseman, showed me how looters were destroying archaeological sites in the search for marketable antiquities. Prof. Wiseman also created an innovative section of the new Journal of Field Archaeology, called “The Antiquities Market,” which featured articles about the topic. I also learned a lot from the writings of Oscar White Muscarella, who among other things destroyed the myth of the "reputable dealer" in the antiquities market. 
Sofia Cecchi: “Collectors are the real looters.” More than twenty years have passed since you made this memorable statement. Have any positive changes occurred in the past decade? 
Professor Elia: There is definitely more public awareness than ever about the problem of looting and the fact that collectors, both private and institutional, are driving the market by creating the demand for antiquities. Looters, of course, are the ones doing the looting, but they are operating in a supply-and-demand economic system that starts with the creation of demand for cultural objects. So collectors, whether they are private individuals or museums are, indeed, the real looters and in the last two decades there has been a huge growth in public awareness of this fact. This comes from several sources: increased media attention; more aggressive legal actions by source countries; and a depressing spate of armed conflicts in the world that have resulted in both destruction looting of archaeological sites.
You may finish reading this interview by subscribing to the Spring 2014 issue of The Journal of Art Crime or ordering it at Amazon.com

June 4, 2014

Wednesday, June 04, 2014 - ,, No comments

Cambodia celebrates the reunion of three Hindu statues after four decades

Photo credit to Tess Davis (Facebook)
by Catherine Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor

Tess Davis, former ARCA lecturer in Cultural Property Law for our program in 2009 and 2010, is in Cambodia celebrating the return of three ancient statues and posting links on Facebook to news headlines.

"Statues 40 year reunion":  Laignee Barron & Vong Sukheng reported for The Phneom Penh Post:
Three of Cambodia’s ancient sandstone warriors were welcomed back to their birthplace yesterday, greeted by lotus wreathes and a troupe of traditional dancers adorned in gold. The ceremony marked the end of a 40-year absence for the Duryodhana, Bhima and Balarama statues. The mammoth, 10th-century characters all belong to the same tableau of mythological Hindu figures once locked in battle at Prasat Chen, a remote jungle temple in Preah Vihear. Over the past year, Cambodia has regained five of the nine statues pillaged from the temple’s Eastern entrance, haphazardly hacked from their pedestals and sold on to international art markets during the Khmer Rouge era. “Surviving civil wars, looting, smuggling and travelling the world, these three have now regained their freedom and returned home,” Deputy Prime Minister Sok An said during yesterday’s repatriation ceremony.
Here's a link to a video of the ceremony.

"Cambodia welcomes back looted 10th-century statues": Kate Bartlett, Anadolu Agency, reported:
With the help of the U.S. government and UNESCO,Cambodia first got the ball rolling in 2012 when it filed a suit against the New York-based auction house Sotheby's after the institution put a statue known as "The Duryodhana" -- valued at about $3 million -- up for sale. Earlier this year, with the case still ongoing, Sotheby's agreed to return the statue. The mighty "Duryodhana" was one of the impressive pieces unveiled at Tuesday's ceremony, alongside statues known as the Bhima and Balarama, returned by the Norton Simon Museum of California and Christie's auction house, respectively. While legal action was originally taken against Sotheby's in the case of the "Duryodhana," Christie's returned its statue voluntarily after discovering it was looted. The Norton Simon Museum did the same. 
Tess Davis, an affiliate researcher at the University of Glasgow who specializes in cultural heritage law, said Tuesday, "It's a very exciting day, not just for Cambodia, but for all countries that have been plundered." "Cambodia's on the right side of history here," she added. 
Anne Lemaistre, head of Cambodia's UNESCO office, called the statues' return "a big coup" for Cambodia and said that it might act as an incentive for other museums and private collectors to return looted antiquities. "Now let's see what Cleveland would say," Lemaistre said, referring to the museum’s recent denial that the Angkor statue in its possession was looted. 
Buddhist majority Cambodia, which has a rich cultural heritage influenced by Indian traditions and Hindu legends, is famed for its temples, and the intricate engravings of graceful traditional dancers and mythological characters adorning their walls. Representatives from Christie's and the Norton Simon who attended the ceremony said they were delighted to have been able to help Cambodia recover some of its valuable cultural heritage. "These statues... were callously hacked... and trafficked on the international art market," Jeff Daigle, deputy chief of mission for the U.S. Embassy in Cambodia, said in a speech, expressing the U.S.’s commitment to stopping the illegal arts trade. "We must not forget that the commercial trade in illicit art remains," he added.
 In 2011, Ms. Davis wrote about the lack of provenance in auction catalogue for objects from Cambodia.

@artrecovery highlights FBI's Bonnie Magness-Gardiner's talk & the mention Fake Matisse in Venezuela that hid a theft for ten years

NYTimes: Matisse's Odalisque
by Catherine Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor

Here's one of the Tweets sent by @artrecovery (the work of Jerome Hasler) from the Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Symposium (June 4-6) at New York University today in regards to speaker Bonnie Magness-Gardiner of the FBI's Art Theft Program:
BMG - discussing faking of Matisse's 'Odalisque in Red Pants', all manner of issues with authentication once fake discovered #artcrime
A search on the Internet found a July 19, 2012 article in The New York Times by William Neuman, "Stolen Matisse, 'Odalisque in Red Pants Surfaces' (or "Topless Woman Found. Details Sketchy") about the recovery of a painting by Henri Matisse -- apparently the canvas hanging on the wall of the Contemporary Art Museum of Caracas in Venezuela, had obscured the theft of the original:
The theft of the painting was first discovered in late 2002, when the Contemporary Art Museum of Caracas was contacted by a Miami gallery owner saying that someone had offered to sell it to him. Experts at the museum inspected the likeness and were shocked to find that it was a fake, and not a very good one, at that. Someone had removed the original painting from its frame and put the fake in its place, leaving it to be exhibited as if it were the real thing. And no one noticed. The fake painting appears to have been hanging in the museum for at least two years and perhaps longer. Marianela Balbi, a journalist who wrote a book about the theft, said that a photograph taken in September 2000 shows President Hugo Chávez standing in the museum in front of the fake Matisse. That is the earliest indication of the switch, she said. The next month the museum heard from a Matisse expert that someone was shopping the painting around, Ms. Balbi said. But it appears no one followed up, and the theft went undiscovered for an additional two years.
The original painting by Matisse was recovered in Florida in Miami in a FBI undercover operation.

Follow Art Recovery International's NYU Art Crime Conference June 4-6 via "live tweeting" (@artrecovery)

Jerome Hasler will begin "live tweeting" Wednesday morning from the Art Crime Conference designed by New York University and Art Recovery International (Christopher Marinello's new venture). The three-day conference will cover the subjects of fakes, forgeries, and looted and stolen art. You can follow the @artrecovery Twitter account for updates. The first day of the conference, organized under the title of "Art Theft", will include opening remarks by Alice Farren-Bradley, Moderator, Museum Security Network; Associate Director of Recoveries, Art Recovery International Ltd.; Jane C.H. Jacob, President, Jacob Fine Art, Inc.; and Christopher A. Marinello, Attorney and Founding Director, Art Recovery Group. Anthony Amore, Director of Security, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum; coauthor, Stealing Rembrandts, will deliver the Keynote Lecture: "Art Theft in America". Milton Esterow, former Editor and Publisher, of ARTnews will speak on "Investigating the Market and Informing the Public"; Joe Medeiros, Director and Writer, will discuss "Mona Lisa Is Missing: The Truth about the Man Who Stole the Masterpiece". You may read the rest of the program here.

Gurlitt Art Collection: An open letter to the Trustees of the Kunstmuseum Bern, Hodlerstrasse 8–12 CH-3000 Bern 7, Switzerland

by Judge Arthur Tompkins*

As the trustees of the Kuntsmuseum in Bern, you have an sudden, unique and unforeseen opportunity, as you consider whether or not to accept the unexpected inheritance from Herr Cornelius Gurlitt, to avoid and indeed remedy the numerous mistakes made by the German federal and state authorities as they dealt with the hoard of artworks hidden by Herr Gurlittfor many decades, in his apartment and elsewhere.

After the news of the existence of Herr Gurlitt’s hoard broke in November 2013, stonewalling and bluster and a dismissively bureaucratic attitude were all on display, until the belated acknowledgement that this was not just another local tax evasion case. The release of details of the art works continued to be frustratingly slow and incomplete, even after the multinational Task Force to investigate the provenance of the art works was announced by the German Government. Then there was the deal negotiated between Mr Gurlitt’s legal guardian, his defense counsel and the Bavarian authorities just before Herr Gurlitt’s death, “to allow provenance research on a voluntary basis once the works are released from police custody,” but including a self-imposed and unrealistic one-year deadline.

The confusion and uncertainty left behind by Herr Gurlitt is not a German, or indeed a Swiss, tangle to unravel. It is unavoidably an international one. I urge the Trustees to accept this inheritance, with the clear-headed and sure acceptance that this extraordinary and storied collection of art works brings with it great challenges. These are challenges that should be embraced, and viewed as an opportunity to right great wrongs.

What should happen, and immediately after the acceptance of the inheritance, is the creation by the museum of an independent, well-resourced international tribunal to determine the fate of each and every one of the many art works. The tribunal itself should consist of international jurists and others with a range of art-crime related skills, assisted by a staff of independent provenance researchers, cataloguers, art and general historians, claimant advocates, and dispute resolution specialists.

After identifying each art work, promulgating identifying and other characteristics widely, and proactively inviting and assisting claimant contact with the tribunal, the tribunal should resolve the fate of each art work by employing first a range of appropriate dispute resolution processes so as to reach an agreed, just and fair solution. Failing agreement, the tribunal should determine each individual case by giving due weight and recognition both to the relevant legal factors, but also and crucially to the moral aspects as well.

A transparent and just process as outlined would avoid heaping future injustice on the top of past wrongs. It would propel the Kunstmuseum in Bern to the forefront of efforts to undo some of the great harm done 70 years ago, amid the chaos and confusion of war.

* Judge Arthur Tompkins is a New Zealand Judge. He teaches Art in War each year as part of the Postgraduate Certificate in Art Crimes Studies offered by the Association for Research into Crimes against Art, in Umbria, Italy.

June 3, 2014

The Gurlitt Collection: Kunstmuseum Bern will proceed with assessment as to whether or not to accept their inheritance

The Swiss museum Cornelius Gurlitt bequeathed his paintings will begin the process of deciding whether or not to accept the inheritance, they announced in a press release today:
On May 26, 2014, the board of trustees of the Kunstmuseum Bern met for the first time in a special session to examine the situation in regard to Mr Cornelius Gurlitt naming the Kunstmuseum Bern as his unrestricted sole heir. The will has not been opened yet; once this is the case, the museum will have a deadline of six months in which it must decide on whether it will accept the inheritance. In this period the Kunstmuseum Bern will make an assessment of the situation by collecting as much material containing relevant information as possible. Thus the Kunstmuseum Bern does not yet have an inventory at its disposal, and it has not been able to inspect the art collection. On the occasion of a visit to Munich, the president of the board of trustees and the director communicated with the authorities there. The political authorities in Switzerland are being kept informed on a regular basis. It has been decided that the Kunstmuseum Bern will seek legal assistance; the name of our legal advisor will be made known publicly when he or she has been definitively appointed. The Kunstmuseum Bern will notify the media when relevant new information is available, at the earliest at the beginning of July.

Kirsten Hower reviews Rick Gekoski's book "Lost, Stolen or Shredded: Stories of Missing Works of Art and Literature" in the Spring 2014 issue of The Journal of Art Crime

Rare book dealer Rick Gekoski's published his book on loss in art and literature with Profile Books in 2013. Kirsten Hower, ARCA's Social Networking Correspondent and List-Serve Manager, begins her review:
It starts with the theft of a mysterious smile and ends with the unbuilt architectural wonders of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Rick Gekoski, a rare book dealer and writer, brings together the worlds of art and literature to explore their hidden pasts. Often kept separate when discussing the arts—the exception being illuminated manuscripts—in his book Gekoski groups them together in considering their dark and hidden pasts. There is, understandably, a bias towards literature in the text, but not enough to detract from the tales concerned with works of art. 
“I am anxious about the destruction of the historical record. We live, understand and accumulate a sense of ourselves as a culture through the preservation of the pieces of paper that record what we truly are, and have been.” (p 120) 
Rather than taking a purely academic and stiff approach to recounting the tales of his chosen works of both art and literature, Gekoski instead takes the more passionate and narrative approach of a storyteller chronicling his favourite stories. In this way, Gekoski’s book acts more like an anthology of crime stories rather than a diatribe concerning art crime. The story of each work of art and literature, ranging from the nearly infamous theft of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa by Vincenzo Perugia in 1911 to the almost non-existent poem Et Tu, Healy by a very young James Joyce, is told with the detail, suspense, and passion of a novel. Gekoski’s attention to detail and ability to bring each tale to life makes his book an easy and enjoyable read for readers with or without a background in art or literary crime. 
An additional intrigue to this book is Gekoski’s ability to look at the loss of literary works from the perspective of a book lover who is saddened by the cultural loss as well as the rare book dealer who can see the monetary loss of each work. This intriguing dual perspective adds an interesting twist to narratives that could have instead been dripping in patronizing rhetoric; instead, Gekoski’s narration brings both a practical and intimate nature to the tales he recounts. Each of the crimes he recounts carry both of these tones and draw the reader further into the tale.
You may continue reading this review in The Journal of Art Crime by either subscribing through ARCA's website or ordering it through Amazon.com.

June 2, 2014

Marc Balcells reviews "Lost Lives, Lost Art" by Melissa Müller and Monika Tatzkow in the Spring 2014 issue of ARCA's Journal of Art Crime

Marc Balcells reviews Lost Lives, Lost Art (Vendome 2010) by Melissa Müller and Monika Tatzkow in the Spring 2014 issue of The Journal of Art Crime:
The phenomenon “Monuments Men” has passed, at least cinematographically: it looks like the dust raised by the ‘in favor’ and ‘against’ factions has settled. Yet the topic of WWII restitutions is far from being settled: the Gurlitt trove and the multiple apartments holding a cache of looted art, which unfolded at the same time as the “Monuments Men” momentum, really showed how open and unsolved this issue is. All these cases made me revisit some of the books that I own on the topic, and my attention wandered to Lost Lives, Lost Art by Melissa Müller and Monika Tatzkow. 
This non-fiction book follows a coffee table format: bigger than a regular book, hardcover, glossy pages and profusely illustrated. The book’s main theme is to chronicle the lives of fifteen prominent Jewish art collectors and how their collections got dispersed during the ascent to power of the Nazi party, and during the war. However, the book does not stop here and depicts the fate of the works of art and the current owners of the pieces: as the reader can imagine, in most of the cases, the art never went back to their owners, and it the object of many legal cases. In that sense, the book has a similar vibe to Hector Feliciano’s The Lost Museum (1995), which one of its parts revolves around five particular cases (the Rothschild collection, the gallery of Paul Rosenberg, the Bernheim-Jeune collection, the David David-Weill collection and the Schloss collection).
You may finish reading this review in the Spring 2014 issue of The Journal of Art Crime by subscribing to it here or ordering it on Amazon.com.

June 1, 2014

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Python bell-krater acquired in 1989 matches object documented in confiscated Medici archive, according to forensic archaeologist Christos Tsirogiannis: "The evidence suggests that the vase has most likely been unlawfully removed from Italian soil"

Medici polaroid of Python's bell-krater 
The Classic Greek mixing-bowl attributed to the artist Python (active ca. 350 – 325 BC) of Poseidonia (Paestan) on display in Gallery 161 of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City should be returned to Italy because it has no collecting history before 1989 and has been matched with photographs in the possession of a convicted art dealer, according to the work of looted antiquities researcher Christos Tsirogiannis. (You can see The Met’s description of the object online here ). 

This terracotta bell-krater, described in detail in Dr. Tsirogiannis’ column "Nekyia" in the Spring 2014 issue of The Journal of Art Crime, appears with soil/salt encrustations in five photographs from the confiscated Medici archive – including one Polaroid image. Then, “The object was auctioned by Sotheby’s in New York in June 1989 and the same year appeared as part of The Met’s antiquities collection,” Dr. Tsirogiannis reports.

Medici photograph of Python bell-krater
Art dealer Giacomo Medici was convicted in 2005 of participating in the sale of looted antiquities. The story of how illicit antiquities were sold to art galleries and museums in Europe and North America was detailed in the 2006 book by Peter Watson & Cecilia Todeschini, The Medici Conspiracy: the illicit journey of looted antiquities, from Italy’s tomb raiders to the world’s greatest museums (Public Affairs). The Medici archives (or the “Medici Dossier”)  were described as “thirty albums of Polaroids, fifteen envelopes with photographs, and twelve envelopes with rolls of film … [along with] 100 full rolls of exposed film … [for] a total of 3,600 images” found in Medici’s warehouse of antiquities in Geneva in 1995.

Christos Tsirogiannis and archaeologist David Gill have both written in The Journal of Art Crime (and elsewhere) about ancient objects for sale at auction houses with dubious collecting histories, focusing on information from this “Medici Dossier”. In 2009, Gill wrote in his column “Context Matters” that the raid on Medici’s warehouse drew attention to the scale of looting of archaeological sites in Italy.

Medici close up of Python's bell-krater on display at The Met
In this current case of identification, photographs of The Met’s Python bell-krater in the archive of the convicted art dealer Giacomo Medici suggest – as pointed out in The Medici Conspiracy – along with the lack of earlier documented collecting history that this vase was very likely illegally excavated after 1970 (the date of the UNESCO Convention against illicit trade antiquities), Dr. Tsirogiannis writes in “A South Italian Bell-Krater by Python in the Metropolitan Museum of Art” (Spring 2014, The Journal of Art Crime). He explains:
The bell-krater is photographed using Polaroid technology not commercially available until after 1972; the krater is situated not in its archaeological context with a measuring tool, but with soil encrustations, on an armchair; in the regular photographs, the vase appears against a background whose brick-red colour seems clumsily matched with the dark red velvet surface, the same surface on which Medici photographed several other antiquities which later proved to be illicit and were repatriated to Italy (e.g. the 20 red-figure plates attributed to the Bryn Mawr Painter, once offered to the Getty Museum; see Watson & Todeschini 2007:95-98, 205; Silver 2010:138-139, 143). It is profoundly clear that the bell-krater was not in a professional environment or treated in a professional way.
Fourth photo of Medici's bell-krater
Dr. Tsirogiannis, a Greek forensic archaeologist, studied archaeology and history of art in the University of Athens, then worked for the Greek Ministry of Culture from 1994 to 2008, excavating throughout Greece and recording antiquities in private hands. He voluntarily cooperated with the Greek police Art Squad on a daily basis (August 2004 – December 2008) and was a member of the Greek Task Force Team that repatriated looted, smuggled and stolen antiquities from the Getty Museum, the Shelby White/Leon Levy collection, the Jean-David Cahn AG galleries, and others. Since 2007, he has been identifying antiquities in museums, galleries, auction houses, private collections and museums, depicted in the confiscated Medici, Becchina and Symes-Michaelides archives, notifying Italy's public prosecutor Dr. Paolo Giorgio Ferri and the Greek authorities. He received his Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge on the international illicit antiquities network viewed through the Robin Symes–Christos Michaelides archive.

In this case of The Met's Python bell-krater, Dr. Tsirogiannis questions how the ancient mixing bowl reached Sotheby’s in 1989 (Sotheby’s has a policy of not disclosing the name of the consigners or the buyers of objects). Dr. Tsirogiannis writes:
The Met has a long history of acquiring looted and smuggled antiquities after the 1970 UNESCO Convention. The two most prominent cases were the Euphronios krater acquired in 1972 from the notorious dealer Robert Hecht during the directorship of Thomas Hoving, and the Morgantina treasure acquired in 1981, again from Hecht, during the directorship of Philippe de Montebello. On February 21, 2006, de Montebello signed an agreement in Rome to return both krater and treasure to Italy among 21 antiquities in total (Provoledo 2006). In January 2012, Italy announced the repatriation of c. 40 vase fragments from The Met; Fabio Isman revealed that the fragments matched vases already repatriated to Italy from North American museums, and noted that these fragments previously belonged to the private collection, kept in The Met, of the museum’s antiquities curator Dietrich von Bothmer (Italian Ministry of Culture 2012; Isman 2012).
Fifth Medici photo of Python bell-krater
Dietrich van Bothmer, who had a 60-year career at The Met as a curator and an expert in ancient Greek vases, died in 2009 (here's his obituary in The New York Times).

Dr. Tsirogiannis points out in his column the need for further academic research on the Python bell-krater acquired in 1989:
The identification of the vase in the Medici archive, with the handwritten note below the Polaroid image, not only suggests that the vase has most likely been unlawfully removed from Italian soil, but also highlights discrepancies between published interpretations of the main scene depicted on the vase.
In conclusion, Dr. Tsirogiannis writes in his column:
The Met has several questions to answer. What is the ‘Bothmer Purchase Fund’? It has been proved that Dietrich von Bothmer played a crucial role in the acquisition of archaeological material, looted and smuggled after 1970, both on behalf of The Met and for his personal collection formed during the same period (Gill 2012:64; this obvious conflict of interest was overlooked by the museum; see Felch 2012, Tsirogiannis & Gill forthcoming 2014). My email to The Met (February 7, 2014) querying this point and requesting the full collecting history of the krater, remains unanswered, although it was sent to three different offices. No contact details for the Department of Greek and Roman Art are available on the museum website. In a wider perspective, the Python bell-krater at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is one of many similar cases. North American museums, recently found to have acquired illicit antiquities, and forced to return those objects, still have in their possession many more. The very museums which advertise their case for transparency, in practice continue to conceal the full collecting history of tainted objects they own, and wait for them to be discovered. In this regard, the story of the Python bell-krater case is obviously typical.
In an email to the ARCA blog, Dr. Tsirogiannis wrote that American and Italian authorities have been informed about this identification, and added:
It seems that the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, after the identification of the Bothmer kylix fragments and their repatriation to Italy last year, has to do much more work to present all the antiquities that lack a pre-1970 collecting history in its collection, rather than waiting to be confronted with more cases in the future. This will be honest due diligence, not just meaningless words in official statements.
You may read Dr. Tsirogiannis’ column in the Spring 2014 issue of The Journal of Art Crime by subscribing via the ARCA website or ordering the issue through Amazon.com.

Included in this post are the five photographs of the Python bell-krater in the Medici archive.

The Met owns another terracotta bell-krater (mixing bowl) attributed to Python that it purchased in 1976 and has on view in Gallery 171.

Here's a link to a video showing the three Greek temples at Paestum in Southern Italy and another link to a video showing how ancient Greek vases were made out of refined baked clay.