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December 11, 2014

Researcher Christos Tsirogiannis succeeds in getting suspected looted objects withdrawn from Christie's sale

Attic red-figured krater / Swingler
Source: Tsirogiannis (See Looting Matters)
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin,
 ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

As noted first on Paul Barford's blog, Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues, the three items at Christie's identified last week by Dr. Christos Tsirogiannis as suspected looted objects have been withdrawn from this month's sale in New York City.

"Paul Barford notified me," Dr. Tsirogiannis wrote in an email to the ARCA blog, "I then verified it from Christie's website."

Dr. Tsirogiannis, a forensic archaeologist, identified images in the Christie's sales catalogue that matched images from the Symes-Michaelides and the Swingler archive (Professor David Gill provides more specific information here on his blog Looting Matters).

I asked Dr. Tsiogiannis who contacts the art market when researchers identify objects suspected to have been stolen? This is his response:
The auction houses, and the members of the international antiquities market in general, always have the opportunity to contact the Italian and Greek authorities directly, before the auctions. These authorities will check, for free, every single object for them. Instead, the members of the market not only are not contacting the authorities, but also complain publicly that they have no access to the archives. As long as the market does not cooperate with the relevant state authorities, those authorities will continue to intervene ex officio.