Roman Limestone Funerary Busts at Bonhams: Withdrawn
The three Roman funerary busts that were due to be auctioned at
Bonhams next week have been withdrawn: lots 399-401 (“This lot has
been withdrawn”). All three had the same collecting history:
“Acquired on the London art market in 1998. Accompanied by a
French export licence.”
The three had been identified by Cambridge researcher, Christos
Tsirogiannis, who drew them to my attention in May 2009; they had
failed to sell last year and were back on the market.
It can now be revealed that the three pieces featured in the Robin
Symes archive seized on Schinoussa. The images clearly show traces of
dirt indicating that they were fresh out of the ground.
This latest news brings into question the value (if any) of “a French
export licence”. The indication of such a licence was perhaps meant to
reassure potential buyers. What is more interesting is who purchased
the other three pieces last summer?
Had the staff at Bonhams conducted a due diligence search on the three
busts? Were they aware of the Symes connection?
And if so, the staff at Bonhams were hardly unaware of the
implications of handling Symes material given the events of October
The presence of Medici and Symes material at a London auction in 2010
is a matter of serious concern.
Composite images of three Roman limestone funerary busts from the
Robin Symes “archive”.