Seizure of 2,300-Year-Old Vessel from the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Last night, Tom Mashberg of the NY Times broke the story about an ancient vase that was seized from the Metropolitan Museum of Art (“the Met”). The 2,300-year-old object, the “Python Vessel,” had been displayed at the NY institution since 1989, when it was purchased from Sotheby’s for $90,000. Matthew Bogdanos, a celebrated and Assistant District Attorney in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office (as well as author and colonel in the United States Marine Corps Reserves), seized the work based on evidence that it was looted from Italy in the 1970s. He was presented with evidence from forensics archaeologist Christos …

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The Case Against Hobby Lobby

The owners of Hobby Lobby, a devoutly Christian company, have been profiled during the past few years for their questionable acquisitions of historic artifacts and the lack of reputable provenance research related to those items. The problems related to their purchases were publicly aired years ago, with evidence that the company acquires looted items from the Middle East. However, earlier this year, Hobby Lobby came under government scrutiny, leading to a civil forfeiture of thousands of artifacts. As an advocate for responsible acquisition practices, it was an honor to consult with the Eastern District of New York regarding national and international cultural heritage laws …

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Getty Villa Returns Statue to Italy

The Getty Villa has long been scrutinized for acquiring objects without complete provenance, in turn, supporting the market for looted antiquities. These questionable activities were the focus of Chasing Aphrodite. The book delves into the often hidden world of museum management, exposes some of the unethical practices of museum employees, and examines the purchase of looted items, including the famed Venus of Morgantina (perhaps actually a representation of Persephone) that was eventually returned to Sicily. During the past decade, the Getty has returned dozens of looted items to Mediterranean nations. In 2006, the museum returned or committed to return four looted …

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Amineddoleh & Assoc. at Cultural Heritage Preservation Law Conference

Join Amineddoleh & Associates LLC in Washington, DC next week as our founding partner, Leila Amineddoleh, will speak at the Cultural Heritage Preservation Law Conference hosted by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Georgetown University Law Center. The event promises to be a great one, as the conference includes many experts in the heritage field. To attend the conference, register here: http://forum.savingplaces.org/learn/conferences-training/plt/law

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Repatriation of Ancient Artifacts to Italy

Yesterday Amineddoleh & Associates LLC had the honor of attending the repatriation ceremony for a collection of ancient artifacts returned to the Italian Republic. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. recognized the importance of returning antiquities and honoring their repatriation with a ceremony and press release. He noted that the trade in looted objects signals the willingness of collectors and institutions to condone this harmful practice, and that efforts should be made to halt the trade in looted works. The seized pieces were returned to the Consul General of Italy in New York, Francesco Genuardi who thanked the DA …

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Congratulations to Thirst Street!

CONGRATULATIONS to our clients, the director and producers of Thirst Street. The film follows the life of American flight attendant Gina (Lindsay Burdge) arriving at each new destination in a state of emotional paralysis following her lover’s suicide. She eventually snaps out of her funk when she meets the sophisticated and charming Parisian bartender Jerome (Damien Bonnard) and hastily moves to his home city. Blinded by unrequited love, Gina teeters on the edges of heartbreak and sanity when an old flame of Jerome’s suddenly reenters his life. The film received excellent reviews at its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival …

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Today’s Auction of Purportedly Looted Artifact Exceeds Expectations

Christie’s offered the rare opportunity to own “an iconic work of art from the 3rd millennium BC.” The auction house describes the truly exceptional object as follows: Standing 9 inches high, the Guennol Stargazer is one of the finest and largest preserved Anatolian marble female idols of Kiliya type — and will be offered in the Exceptional Sale on 28 April at Christie’s in New York. The Guennol Stargazer is from the Chalcolithic period, between 3000 and 2200 BC, and is considered to be one of the most impressive of its type known to exist. It is further distinguished by its exhibition history, having been on …

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Return of Roman Bust to Italy

I spend a great deal of my academic research, writing, and lecturing focused on the illicit market for looted antiquities. What often shocks me is the lack of due diligence by private buyers, and sometimes even public institutions. What’s more, insufficient diligence often reflects the lack of good faith on the part of the buyer. And even more than that, it’s shocking that buyers proceed with their purchases when common sense considerations suggest that a purchase is imprudent. Case in point: collectors who continue purchasing items from art dealers with poor reputations and histories of legal improprieties. I understand that …

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A Rogues’ Gallery of Art Crime

Leila’s curation of the exhibition Art Crime: Looters, Forgers, Thieves & Vandals was featured this week in NYU News’ “A Rogues’ Gallery of Art Crime.” The article discusses Leila’s seminar “Art Crime and the Law,” the first course of its type offered by NYU’s Department of Art History. Like the exhibition, the article examines some of the famous art crimes through history, including illicit activities directed toward fine art, antiquities, and collectibles.  The article also reminds the reader that art crimes are usually not committed by dashing Clooney-like thieves (as incorrectly portrayed by Hollywood’s glamorizing of crime), but by gang members, …

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Unpredictability of the Art Market

Armory Show Panel: Art Market Remains Unpredictable On March 3, 2017, the Armory Show in New York held a panel called Conversation on Collecting: Hypotheses on the Future of the Art Market. The talk, presented by Athena Art Finance Corp and moderated by art market reporter Kelly Crow of the Wall Street Journal, encompassed expert panelists in the market: auctioneer Simon de Pury, gallerist Dominique Lévy, collector Alain Servais, Todd Levin, director of the Levin Art Group, and Athena Art Finance CEO, Andrea Danese. The panelists’ predictions on the art market’s future recapped the longstanding debate about the motivations of collectors—whether the purchase of art is driven by …

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Anonymity and the Art Market

On Sunday, the New York Times published an insightful article, “Has the Art Market Become an Unwitting  Partner in Crime?,” examining how anonymity and shell companies have affected the commercial art market. Mr. Bowley’s and Mr. Rashbaum’s piece provide an overview of how anonymity in art transactions have facilitated scandals including the forgery scheme that took down the Knoedler Gallery, the ongoing dispute between Russian billionaire collector Dmitry E. Rybolovlev and his one-time buyer Yves Bouvier, and the United States’ recent allegations that Malaysian government officials have allegedly embezzled more than $1 billion in public funds (and allegedly spent $130 billion of those laundered funds purchasing artwork at auction). Of course, anonymity in …

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Client Spotlight: Samuel Amoia

Amineddoleh & Associates’ client Samuel Amoia was recently featured in Forbes magazine for his impressive work completing numerous commissioned furniture pieces and interiors for the exclusive Itz’ana Hotel and Residences in Belize. The Forbes article, is one of many honors celebrating Amoia’s unique aesthetic and flourishing design career. Known for his modern geometric designs, organic textures, international client base, and celebrity fans, Samuel Amoia has enamored the art and design world with numerous projects ranging from high-end residential and commercial properties to custom furniture for clients including Stella McCartney, Calvin Klein, and Dior. In 2015, Amoia was named one of …

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Clarion List’s 2017 Resolutions

With the soaring prices of art, it’s essential that buyers protect their purchases. The Clarion List featured Amineddoleh & Associates LLC for our advice to collectors in the group’s 2017 resolution article, “2017 Resolutions You Must Make.” The article provides advice to art collectors. As always, we recommend that our clients complete due diligence prior to purchases in order to protect art assets. Read the article here.

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Newly enacted U.S. Law could reopen Russian art loans

The Art Newspaper recently reported that the long-held freeze on museum loans between Russian and U.S. museums could finally come to an end. In December, both the Senate and President Obama approved the Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity Clarification Act. The Act is intended to protect artworks and culturally significant objects on temporary loan to the United States from foreign institutions, by granting those artworks immunity from seizure. Director of the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Mikhail Piotrovsky, openly praised the Act to The Art Newspaper, noting that the law could potentially provide new assurances that Russian-owned artworks would …

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Amineddoleh & Associates Featured in Digital Guardian

Amineddoleh & Associates LLC was featured in Digital Guardian this morning. In the feature, Leila discusses the best way to secure intellectual property against loss or compromise. You can read her advice, along with perspectives from others, online: https://digitalguardian.com/blog/how-to-secure-intellectual-property#Amineddoleh

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