Showing posts with label Pergamon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pergamon. Show all posts

December 19, 2020

Unsolved string of incidents at multiple museums, vandalising more than 100 objects, in Germany

Last October the museum world was shocked by mysterious vandalism of sixty objects in four hours at three prominent German museums on Berlin's Museumsinsel (Museum Island), the Pergamon Museum, Alte Nationalgalerie, and the Neues Museum.  On October 3rd of this year, the artefacts were splashed with an oily liquid.  Nothing more about the substance of the liquid has been shared with the media and it is unknown at what time the widespread vandalisation occurred. 

News of the attacks was not made public for more than two weeks after the damage was identified and a police report on the incidents was not published until October 21st, the results of which were brief and gave few little details:

“Unknown perpetrators attacked numerous works of art and artifacts in several museums on Berlin's Museum Island from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on October 3. The strangers applied a liquid to the objects and thus caused damage that cannot yet be quantified. The responsible commissioner for art offences in the Berlin State Criminal Police Office has taken over the investigation. In order not to jeopardize the investigations and research, the investigators decided, in coordination with the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, not to comment publicly on the event for reasons of tactical investigations and only now to address the public with a call to witnesses.” 

The vandalism occurred on German Unity Day, a public holiday which commemorates German reunification in 1990 when the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic were unified. It is, however, unclear whether the motivation behind the attack was political, as the incidents are believed to have occurred on the first day that the Pergamon and other museums reopened following a shutdown related to the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions earlier this year. 

Image Credit: Markus Schreiber-AP.  Friederike Seyfried, director of Antique Egyptian Department of the Neues Museum in Berlin, shows media a stain from the liquid on the Sarcophagus of the prophet Ahmose on Wednesday.

The criminal director at the State Criminal Police Office, Carsten Pfohl, has commented that they would not “engage in speculation” about motives behind these incidents as they have not been able to identify any of the perpetrators on the security footage.  No link has been found between the damaged artefacts at the three museums, and a full accounting of which objects were affected has not been made public, although it is believed to include an Egyptian sarcophagi, some stone sculptures, and painting frames.  

Image Credit: Markus Schreiber-AP News

The lack of concrete information regarding the motivations of the perpetrator(s) has led some in the German media to speculate about why the museums' artworks were targeted.  While the true motives of the culprit(s) remain to be determined, one theory proffered places blame for the damage on having been inspired by conspiracy theorist Attila Klaus Peter Hildmann.

Hildmann, a best-selling cookbook author, turned QAnon follower, has been wildly outspoken regarding Covid-19 who sees the coronavirus in connection with the planned introduction of a so-called “ New World Order. ”  He has also been vocal in his criticism of the Pergamon museum, launching protests and accusations denouncing it as “the throne of Satan.”  Hildmann has also made wild claims about night-time practices surrounding the use of the museum's reconstructed Pergamon altar, a Hellenistic Period (c. 200-150 BCE) altar to the Greek gods Zeus and Athena which was created in Pergamon, Turkey.

Calling the museum a "centre of global satanists and Corona criminals" he has implied that the alter (currently closed for restorations, has been used for human sacrifice.   In one of his accusations he referenced Revelations 2:12-13 which reads:

“To the angel of the church in Pergamum write:  These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword.  I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, not even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city—where Satan lives.” 

While Hildmann has made no comment regarding his involvement in the museums' vandalism, he has tweeted links to articles which reference his potential involvement.  Hildmann has also made comments in the past encouraging his supporters to take action against the museum, encouraging them to storm the museum in August.  The deputy director of the museum, Christina Haak, commented that there had been many acts of vandalism over the summer, mostly limited to the exterior of the museum and involving either graffiti or torn posters.  

On October 21st the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation held a press conference and questions were asked regarding the potential involvement of Hildmann or his supporters.  Pfohl commented that the police suspect a single perpetrator but could not rule out the involvement of multiple people at this time.  He also commented that the participation of Hildmann supporters could neither be excluded, nor confirmed, at the moment.  

Image Credit: Markus Mayer, Flickr

As a result of the vandalism, an offer of aid in the restoration of the objects has come in from the Ernst von Siemens Art Foundation which has said that it will provide €100,000 to assist the museums. A spokesperson for the Berlin State Museums, who spoke with Artnet News  said that they were “very pleased about the fast and unbureaucratic support.”  The costs of the damage have not been assessed, but the funds will undoubtedly be needed. 

In November the German daily newspaper, Frankfurter Rundschau, based in Frankfurt am Main reported additional attacks at the Wewelsburg district museum in North Rhine-Westphalia and an attack in the Cecilienhof Palace in Potsdam, as well as an earlier Mid July attack at the Wewelsburg district museum over the summer.  In the latter incident and similar to the attack in Berlin, employees discovered 50 objects which had also been damaged by an oily substance.  According to that newspaper, the liquid used in Potsdam and Berlin tested as being vegetable-based. 


By:  Lynnette Turnblom


Bibliography

Brown, Kate. 2020. “An Art Foundation Has Pledged €100,000 in Aid to a Group of German Museums Attacked by Vandals.” Artnet News. October 22, 2020. https://news.artnet.com/art-world/berlin-museum-vandalism-security-1917316.

Eddy, Melissa. 2020. “Vandals Deface Dozens of Artworks in Berlin Museums.” The New York Times, October 21, 2020, sec. Arts. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/21/arts/design/berlin-museums-vandalism.html.

Koldehoff, Stefan, and Tobias Timm. 2020. “ZEIT ONLINE | Lesen Sie Zeit.de Mit Werbung Oder Im PUR-Abo. Sie Haben Die Wahl.” Www.Zeit.De. October 20, 2020. https://www.zeit.de/kultur/2020-10/kunst-vandalismus-berlin-museumsinsel-recherche.

Kurianowicz, Tomasz. 2020. “Attila Hildmann: Pergamonmuseum Beherbergt „Thron Satans“.” Berliner Zeitung. October 21, 2020. https://www.berliner-zeitung.de/kultur-vergnuegen/attila-hildmann-pergamonmuseum-beherbergt-thron-des-satans-zerstoerung-museumsinsel-berlin-li.112933.

Morris, Loveday, and Luisa Beck. 2020. “Dozens of Artifacts Vandalized in Three Berlin Museums.” Washington Post, October 21, 2020. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/berlin-museum-vandalism-germany/2020/10/21/2cb1e194-1383-11eb-a258-614acf2b906d_story.html.

Nicholson, Esme. 2020. “Dozens Of Artifacts Apparently Vandalized At Berlin’s Museums.” NPR.Org. October 21, 2020. https://www.npr.org/2020/10/21/926200421/nearly-70-artifacts-apparently-vandalized-at-berlins-museums?t=1603358606430.

Oltermann, Philip. 2020. “Berlin: Vandalism of Museum Artefacts ‘Linked to Conspiracy Theorists.’” The Guardian, October 20, 2020, sec. World news. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/oct/21/berlin-vandalism-of-museum-artefacts-linked-to-conspiracy-theorists.

“Weiteres Museum von Attacken betroffen” The Frankfurter Rundschau, November 20, 2020. https://www.fr.de/ratgeber/medien/weiteres-museum-von-attacken-betroffen-zr-90107022.html

“Zahlreiche Kunstwerke Mit Flüssigkeit Angegriffen – Zeugen Gesucht.” 2020. Www.Berlin.De. October 21, 2020. https://www.berlin.de/polizei/polizeimeldungen/pressemitteilung.1006830.php.


October 19, 2011

The Collecting History of Stolen Art: Hercules and his son Telephos in the Chiaramont Museum inside the Vatican

by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, 
ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

Updated August 19, 2013

Even the Roman general Pompey wanted a souvenir when he defeated Mithradates VI of Pontus and brought the Kingdom of Armenia into the Roman Empire.

In The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates: Rome's Deadliest Enemy (Princeton University Press, 2009), Adrienne Mayor has a photo of Hercules and his son Telephus in the Chiaramonti Museum at the Vatican. This sculpture shows Hercules in a lion-skin cape holding an infant. Ms. Mayor writes: "Recent analysis of portraiture in contemporary coins and sculpture suggests that the model for the little boy was none other than Mithradates!"


Heracles with infant Telephos
Pompey the Great recognized the likeness of the baby Telephus to Mithradates and took it to Rome after defeating Mithradates in 63 BC (Mayor):  "Pompey installed this Hercules statue in his Theater on the Field of Mars in Rome.  The statue was discovered in 1507 in Campo dei Fiori, near the ruins of Pompey's Theater."

The 19th century Chiaramonti Museum, one of the buildings known as the Vatican Museum set up more than 500 years ago.

In August 2013, when I revisited this subject, I found an image of the sculpture of "Heracles with infant Telephos" on the website of the Chiaramonti Museum. When I first wrote about this work in 2011 after reading Ms. Mayor's biography of Mithradates  on the sculpture of "Heracles with infant Telephos", the Chiaramonti had no such entry. The Chiaramonti writes that "Heracles with infant Telephos" is a second century AD copy.

Heracles with infant Telephos
Cat. 1314
This statue, which was discovered in Rome in the vicinity of Campo de' Fiori, was one of the first sculptures to come into the Vatican collections. Pope Julius II (1503-1573) exhibited it in the Courtyard of the Statues in the Belvedere. The presence of Heracles, in fact, leads us back to the mythological origins of Rome, and alludes in particular to the victory of the Romans over the tribes of ancient Latium. The god Heracles, with his club and lion skin, holds his son Telephos in his arms. Telephos is the son born to Heracles by the priestess Auge who was forced to abandon the child in the mountains of Arcadia, where he was nourished by a doe until he was rescued by his father.

Telephos became King of Mysia and one of the leading characters in a rich and complex mythology that sees him involved in the Greek expedition against Troy. This statue is a second century A.D. copy, probably of a Late Hellenistic original.