Greek pot set for return thanks to photo archive

“Attic Red-Figure Nolan Amphora, ” a dual-handled vessel dating from 470 B.C.E.

Tom Mashberg reported last week for the New York Times that this red figure amphora will be sent to Italy because of a connection with Gianfranco Becchina.

The match was made thanks to the work of researcher Christos Tsirogiannis, who linked the object with some of the thousands of photographs he has been given access to by Italian authorities. The object was voluntarily relinquished by the gallery, the Royal-Athena Galleries, which have a showroom in Manhattan.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., in a press release stated:

When looters overrun historic sites, mine sacred spaces for prized relics, and peddle stolen property for top dollar, they do so with the implicit endorsement of all those who knowingly trade in stolen antiquities, . . . Placing profit above provenance is unacceptable, particularly on the part of those with the means and expertise to recognize signs of trafficking. I encourage individuals, gallery owners, art collectors, and academics to report potential thefts to my Office and our partners in law enforcement.

One more looted vase will return to Italy, and that is certainly a good thing as this most certainly was looted and smuggled. Yet how effective does the law and the market police the trade in art absent an intrepid researcher with a massive photographic archive? Or is this another example of repatriated art on a table at a press conference whose benefits are momentary?

  1. Tom Mashberg, Stolen Etruscan Vessel to Be Returned to Italy, The New York Times, Mar. 16, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/16/arts/design/stolen-etruscan-vessel-to-be-returned-to-italy.html[https://perma.cc/E5NC-JNHH].
  2. MANHATTAN DA’S OFFICE RETURNS ANCIENT ETRUSCAN VESSEL TO ITALY | The New York County District Attorney’s Office (Apr. 16, 2017), http://manhattanda.org/node/6395/print [https://perma.cc/VV5J-74D6].

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