Tuesday, July 19, 2011

More on Joseph Lewis, collector indicted in major antiquities bust

Lee Rosenbaum at CultureGrrl has obtained a list from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts of works that were loaned by Joseph Lewis II, who was indicted last week with three dealers. There are 8 artifacts, all of which appear to be Egyptian. Many have ambiguous and suspect provenances in Swiss collections conveniently dated before 1970; Dr. David Gill questions exactly which Swiss collections these are, and whether they belonged to Swiss dealers'. The museum stated that they were all accepted in "good faith". Please. Anyone even slightly involved in this business knows that Switzerland has no policy on importing and exporting antiquities, making it the perfect destination for dealers who need to fake provenances. These pieces may or may not have been looted, but the museum should have been much more thorough in researching the origins of their pieces, regardless of the owner, as opposed to blindly accepting objects "in good faith". Have we learned nothing from all the major museum scandals over the past decade?

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