Archaeoporn has an entry illustrating one of the problems with buying illicit antiquities. It turns out that not all criminals are trustworthy people. Take for instance the Seal of Yzbl, it’s a seal of Queen Jezebel as mentioned in the Bible. At least it is if you don’t look at it too closely. If you do, then all sorts of oddities appear – that’s not a problem it was found at… umm… oh dear.
David Gill has also talked about the Bolton Princess recently. If you don’t know this story, Bolton Council had the opportunity to buy a statue of the Amarna Princess, a 3000+ year old statue from Egypt. There was no check on the provenance and the sellers wish to remain anonymous. This is par for the course in antiquities sales so far. Nothing more would have been heard were it not for the fact that the same sellers tried to sell some wall reliefs to the British Museum and some spelling mistakes were spotted. An investigation followed and a search revealed three more Amarna Princesses which had been knocked up over a few weeks by a bloke in a shed.
It’s possible the Bolton Armana Princess is a fake.
David Gill has a sensible and grown-up reaction to the news. Me, I’m reminded of the K Foundation and want to applaud. The case suggests that the sting was about art rather than money. The perpetrators were described as living in “abject poverty.” If there were a scheme to ensure the provenance of artefacts for sale then maybe this wouldn’t happen. I’m surprised that reputable collectors and auction houses aren’t clamouring for such a scheme.
— and an update before this post goes live —
I write quite a few posts in advance, and this is one of them, so I can include another Greenhalgh forgery thanks to the Cranky Professor. The Art Institute of Chicago has a Greenhalgh Gaugin. These things could become collectible. If you can fake provenances, then how many unprovenanced antiquities on display are fake?