London - A group of eight works of art were returned to Italy today in a project of cooperation facilitated by the Italian Embassy, London, Christie’s and the current owners of the objects. The works, that had been acquired in the past in good faith, were more recently identified as not having the required, verifiable title, export or provenance details needed to proceed with a sale and as such were returned voluntarily.
“Our primary goal today is to return these objects and to raise awareness of how vital it is to have access to all information to continue to ensure only legitimate works are offered to the market. Research and its publication is a vital part of our work,” said Stephen Brooks, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Christie’s. “As custodians of the art that passes through our doors, we have a duty to carefully research the art and objects we handle and sell. There is a well-established, honourable market in the arts of the ancient world. Our processes of due diligence make full use of current, available research and we continue to work closely with organisations, authorities and art loss databases to ensure we have verifiable title and provenance.”
Christie’s are fully committed to the elimination of any modern trade in illicit antiquities. In line with company policy, if an object is identified and confirmed as not having the correct export or provenance details, Christie’s will work with all parties and authorities to try to facilitate a solution for that work, including in some cases, the restitution of the piece. It remains highly unusual for works to be withdrawn from the sale process, representing less than 0.8% of the hundreds of items offered.
“We would like to thank all parties involved. We are honoured by the presence today of Mr. Alberto Bonisoli, the Minister for Culture and we would like to thank Mr. Raffaele Trombetta, the Italian Ambassador, for his support with this project. With even closer future cooperation, we hope to ensure the required research takes place ahead of catalogue publication to continue to ensure only legitimate objects are offered in our auctions,” Mr. Brooks concluded.
Christie’s are global auction leaders in sales of Antiquities. While the company remains sensitive to claims for restitution by source countries of cultural property, there is a long-standing and legitimate market for works of antiquity which have been collected for centuries and have had a profound effect on the development of Western culture.
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Christie’s is a name and place that speaks of extraordinary art, unparalleled service and international expertise. Founded in 1766 by James Christie, Christie's has conducted the greatest and most celebrated auctions through the centuries providing a popular showcase for the unique and the beautiful. Christie’s offers around 350 auctions annually in over 80 categories, including all areas of fine and decorative arts, jewellery, photographs, collectibles, wine, and more. Prices range from $200 to over $100 million. Christie’s also has a long and successful history conducting Private Sales for clients and online sales are offered year-round across all categories. Christie’s global presence is spread across a network of international salerooms and 61 representatives and offices. Christies.com provides detailed articles and videos on the objects offered for sale alongside the latest advances in digital viewing tools to make Christie’s accessible to all.
*Please note when quoting estimates above that other fees will apply in addition to the hammer price - see Section D of the Conditions of Sale at the back of the sale catalogue.
*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium. Sales totals are hammer price plus buyer’s premium and are reported net of applicable fees.