Stolen

Getty Museum returns the Head of Hades to Italy

Sometime between 300-400B.C., an unknown artist in Morgantina, Italy carefully sculpted this terra-cotta replica of the famed god of the Underworld, the feared Hades.  The skull or head itself was carefully sculpted on its own, and later the curly hair and beard were individually added, one curl at a time, just before the final firing in the kiln. Afterwards, it was carefully painted, and some parts of the paint remain such as the red in his hair and the blue in his beard.  This beautiful artifact is an amazingly well-preserved momento of painstaking artistry.

The piece goes by both the name “Head of Hades” and “Bluebeard” and was illegally excavated from an Italian archaeological dig during the 1970s. Afterwards it was sold and ended up at the Getty Museum in the USA.  

According to the Getty Website, the work was initially believed to be a depiction of Hades’ brother, Zeus (known occasionally as Bluebeard).  However, examination of the nearby discovered artifacts and the knowledge that Morgantina worshipped Persephone (kidnapped wife of Hades), they now believe it is actually Hades instead.  The kidnapping of Persephone is thought to have occurred at a lake near the city.  

Long story short, because the work was illegally excavated, it technically still belongs to Italy and was stolen property, meaning the Getty had to repatriate the bust to its nation of origin.  Although the legal exchange happened a couple years ago, the official trade occurred recently when Italian officials arrived to take over possession.  

One of the interesting notes to me is the fact that the Getty has owned this work since 1985 according to their own website. It is unclear why this is only being repatriated now.  

Either way, the work is finally home as Hades returns to his royal lands, protecting the good and punishing the wicked as they pass into his deadly realm.

Resources:

  1. Getty Website
  2. Yahoo! News
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What the Internet’s free culture has cost us in art

“What the Internet’s free culture has cost us in art”

via “PBS Hours

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How my family recovered a painting stolen by the Nazis and sold it for $2.9 million

“How my family recovered a painting stolen by the Nazis and sold it for $2.9 million”

by Peter J. Toren via “Yahoo! News

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On a warm, humid June evening on Regent Street in London, among the fanciest stores in the world, the international art auction house, Sotheby’s, auctioned the Max Liebermann painting Two Riders on a Beach, for many times the pre-sale estimate to an unknown buyer. The painting, a 1901 scene of two elegantly dressed men riding chestnut horses with the surf breaking behind them, belonged to my great great uncle David Friedmann, and was stolen from him by the Nazis.

I saw the painting in person with my son for the first time the day before the auction. German tax investigators found the painting in the Munich home of Cornelius Gurlitt, the son of the infamous art dealer to the Nazis, Hildebrand Gurlitt. Two Riders was part of a 1,200-work trove that was found in Gurlitt’s home in Munich, which included some invaluable pieces that had been stored in tomato crates. While a number of the other works were likely also stolen from Jewish owners, the German government has only returned one painting to its rightful Jewish owner other than Two Riders.

The history of the painting, and especially its recovery, represents a story of success, struggle, survival and redemption that many Jewish families have gone through in the last 100 years.

David Friedmann’s family, a wealthy and successful German-Jewish family, owned a 10,000-acre sugar beet farm, that included a distillery for making schnapps and a “castle,” near Breslau, now Wroclaw in western Poland. Friedmann was an avid collector of art, and in addition to Two Riders, also owned works by Camille Pissarro, Gustave Courbet, Jean Francois Raffaelli, and Henri Rousseau, along with a remarkably comprehensive collection of Italian, German and Dutch fine pottery.

Villa Grisebach, the German auction house, also sold from the Gurlitt trove another Liebermann, The Basket Weavers, looted from Friedmann. My father, who vividly remembers Two Riders hanging in a sunroom in Friedmann’s home in Breslau, recalls him as a kindly, though imposing man, who liked to give parties, attended by German intellectuals including the composer Richard Strauss.

My father and his brother were the only members of his family to survive the Holocaust and as a child of a survivor, I grew up listening to my father tell me stories of my family’s German history and the connection to David Friedmann. My grandfather was a prominent lawyer in Breslau, and as dispensation for serving as a Colonel in the German Army in the First World War, he was able to continue to represent Jewish clients even after other German Jewish lawyers could no longer do legal work. On November 10, 1938, the morning after Kristallnacht, when Jewish stores and businesses were looted, and Jews were beaten and killed, my grandfather was required to assist Friedmann in “selling” some of his property to the Nazi General Ewald von Kleist. . . . .

 

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Smuggled artefacts to return to Egypt from Switzerland

“Smuggled artefacts to return to Egypt from Switzerland”

by Nevine El-Aref via “Ahram Online

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“A collection of 32 ancient Egyptian artefacts is to return back to Egypt in June after Egypt successfully asserted ownership of the objects.

Ali Ahmed, director of antiquities repatriation, told Ahram Online that the objects included limestone and wooden statues as well as a collection of limestone blocks from chapels across dfferent pharaonic periods.

The objects were seized by the Swiss police within the framework of a bilateral agreement between Egypt and Switzerland that prohibits the illegal import and export of cultural properties.

Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh Eldamaty said the objects are to be handed over to Egypt’s ambassador to Switzerland at the Federal Office for Culture in Bern during an event to mark tenth anniversary of the passage into Swiss law of a prohibition on illegal trade in cultural property.”

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“Australia Returns Two Stolen Ancient, Priceless Idols to India”

“Australia Returns Two Stolen Ancient, Priceless Idols to India”

via “IBNLive.com”

New Delhi: Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott who is on a state visit to India is returning two looted idols seized from Australian museums during a meeting with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Friday.

Abbott is personally delivering the National Gallery of Australia’s Rs 30 crore ($5 million) Dancing Shiva or Nataraja Ardand and the Art Gallery of New South Wales’s Rs 2 crore ($300,000) Ardhanarishvara to Modi as a “gesture of good will” at a state reception at the Rashtrapati Bhawan in the evening.

Both priceless objects were stolen from temples in India and later sold to the museums by Manhattan dealer Subhash Kapoor, who, his gallery manager has admitted, created falsified ownership documents to hide their illicit origins.

Australia returns two stolen ancient, priceless idols to India

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is personally delivering the Dancing Shiva or Nataraja Ardand and Ardhanarishvara to Narendra Modi.

The Australian returns mark the first major repatriations in the Kapoor case, but are unlikely to be the last. Dozens more Kapoor objects acquired by the Australian museums were sold with false ownership histories similar to those used with the returned objects. Several will likely play a prominent role in Kapoor’s criminal trial in Chennai, India, which has been on hold pending the return of the NGA’s looted Shiva says an exclusive website for the Hunt for Looted Antiquities in the World’s Museums ‘Chasing Aphrodite’.

The Tamil Nadu Police had produced evidence to establish that the idol was stolen from a temple at Sripuranthan in Tamil Nadu. They had arrested Kapoor for his alleged involvement in the theft. He is now lodged in the Chennai prison and is facing trial.

Meanwhile, Kapoor’s international network of looters and smugglers is still being mapped by authorities in the United States, who have already seized over Rs 600 crore ($100 million) in art from the dealer’s Manhattan gallery and storage facilities.

Federal investigators in the United States are methodically working through mountains of evidence seized from Kapoor, probing his ties to a number of American and foreign museums that did business with the dealer. Indian authorities, meanwhile, are considering a broader campaign to reclaim stolen antiquities from foreign institutions.

Over the past two years, we’ve traced hundreds of suspect Kapoor objects to museums around the world. To date, the Kapoor case has received the most attention in Australia, whose National Gallery for months stonewalled press and government inquiries and dismissed mounting evidence before agreeing to take the stolen idol off display. The Art Gallery of New South Wales took a slightly more proactive approach, releasing the ownership history that Kapoor supplied for its sculpture of Ardhanarishvara (left.) Soon after, Indian art blogger Vijay Kumar identified the temple from which the sculpture was stolen. . . . .

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