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The Met hands over ancient sculpture with disputed past

Plus: Indonesian-Chinese collector Budi Tek receives Légion d’Honneur | Five antiquities dealers arrested in Jerusalem over Hobby Lobby case | and recovered Guercino alterpiece to undergo extensive conservation

2 August 2017

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

The Met hands over ancient marble sculpture with disputed past | An ancient marble sculpture of a bull’s head which was on loan to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art has been handed over to state authorities, after a museum curator raised suspicions that the artefact may have been looted from Lebanon during the civil war of the 1980s, the New York Times reports. This is the second report in as many days of the Met being asked to turn over an antiquity to Manhattan prosecutors on the basis of disputed provenance. The bull’s head, which is around 2,300 years old and believed to be of Greek origin, is currently owned by American collectors Lynda and William Beierwaltes, who sold it in 2010 but were asked to take it back and compensate the buyer after questions were raised over its past. The Beierwaltes are suing the Manhattan prosecutors and the Lebanon antiquities directorate for the object’s return.

Indonesian-Chinese collector Budi Tek receives Légion d’Honneur | France’s highest decoration, the Légion d’Honneur in the rank of Chevalier, is to be awarded to Indonesian-Chinese art collector Budi Tek, in recognition for his contributions to the advancement of cultural relations between China and France and the ‘development of human society’. Tek is the founder of the Yuz Foundation, which encompasses a major collection of contemporary art and a public museum. He will receive the honour at a ceremony at the Yuz Museum in Shanghai, on 13 August.

Five antiquities dealers arrested in Jerusalem over Hobby Lobby case | NPR reports that five Palestinian antiquities dealers in Jerusalem have been arrested by Israeli police, who believe that the dealers were involved in the smuggling scandal which saw American retailer Hobby Lobby fined $3 million and forced to forfeit thousands of Iraqi antiquities imported to the US. The five dealers, who police claim sold some $20 million worth of artefacts to Hobby Lobby’s president Steve Green, are suspected of tax evasion and money-laundering, and numerous items have been confiscated from their homes and shops.

Recovered Guercino alterpiece to undergo extensive conservation | A large alterpiece by Italian baroque painter Guercino, which was stolen from a church in Modena in 2014 and recovered this February in Casablanca, will require extensive conservation work to reverse damage sustained during the theft. The Art Newspaper reports that the painting, which had been rolled up inside a carpet, has lost 30 per cent of its pigment. It will be restored by specialists at Rome’s Superior Institute for Conservation and Restoration, with treatment expected to take a year.

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