Art Crime pp 200-228 | Cite as

Something Is Confidential in the State of Christie’s

  • Christos Tsirogiannis


In 1995, the Italian and Swiss authorities confiscated the Giacomo Medici archive in the Free Port of Geneva.1 Later, in 2002, the same authorities confiscated the Gianfranco Becchina archive in Basel.2 In 2006, during a raid at a villa complex maintained by the Papadimitriou family (descendants of the antiquities dealer the late Christos Michaelides), the Greek authorities confiscated the archive of the top antiquities dealers of modern times, Robin Symes and Christos Michaelides.3,4 These three archives — and, especially, the combined information they include (almost exclusively after 1972) — provide an unprecedented insight into the international antiquities market. Research in the archives uncovers the ways in which thousands of looted antiquities from all over the world were smuggled by middlemen, and “laundered” by auction houses and dealers, before being acquired by museums and private collectors, in contradiction of the guidelines of the 1970 UNESCO Convention5 and the 1970 ICOM statement on Ethics of Acquisitions.


Private Collection Auction House Wooden Base Professional Image Metropolitan Museum 
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© Christos Tsirogiannis 2016

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  • Christos Tsirogiannis

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