In what can only be described as a highly unusual art law case, a Manhattan federal judge has ordered Christie’s auction house to identify the winning—yet ultimately unsuccessful—bidder of a 5,000-year-old artifact that Turkey is claiming as stolen cultural property.
The bizarre part? The troubled deal stemmed from an auction in late April that was never consummated. The buyer reneged and Christie’s still possesses the piece, described as an Anatolian marble female idol of Kiliya type. The artifact, known as the Guennol Stargazer, has been in the US for nearly 60 years and has already passed through the hands of several owners since it was allegedly illegally excavated and smuggled out of the country.