Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Playing Gotcha

The Greek Reporter has a short  profile of  Dr. Christos Tsirogiannis, a Glasgow researcher, who uses police files procured "under the table" from the Greek authorities to play "gotcha" with auction houses and collectors.  CPO believes such behavior should not be celebrated but condemned.  The fair thing for Greek authorities to do would have been to share the materials with major auction houses so it can be reviewed as part of their due diligence process.  Instead, the Greeks (and presumably their Italian counterparts) use Tsirogiannis and his go-to blogger, David Gill, to publicly humiliate auction houses and prominent collectors with privileged information.  This gives the Greek and Italian cultural bureaucracies an easy "win" when the embarrassed collector and auction house surrender the artifact, and Tsirogiannis and Gill, two otherwise obscure academics, get some notoriety.   Perhaps all this helps divert attention away from the gross underfunding, bureaucratic incompetence and corruption that bedevils Greece's and Italy's poor stewardship of their own cultural patrimony, but it doesn't make it right.


John H said...

It doesn't say much for the efficiency of the Greek Police if they have to rely on the 'Miss Marple' efforts of Tsirogiannis and his go-to blogger, David Gill, for results.

Indeed, sharing police files with non-police personnel is itself a very dubious activity, possibly even, corrupt and as serious as antiquity smuggling.

There must surely be an investigation into Tsirogiannis' dealings with the Greek Police

Society needs to know whether money is changing hands in this unorthodox relationship and the source of that money.

Best wishes

John Howland

kyri said...

hi peter,you are being very disingenuous to gill and tsirogiannis,for one thing,i would hardly call david gill "an obscure archaeologist" anyone taking one look at his academia page would put that remark to bed.i have read a few of his papers and while i dont agree with everything he says[his theory of skeuomorphism regarding greek vases being one]i did read a paper where christies are quoted as saying,pieces shown to be in the medici files were as far as they were concerned "not problematic"so if they take that view,than they have got the blinkers on.also there have been instances where auction houses have been warned privately about certain pieces and still proceeded with the sales.personally i would also like to see all the archives made public but unless the auction houses make some kind of agreement with the police,that whenever a piece does show up they will inform on the consignor,which wont happen because of all sorts of reasons than im afraid they will be stuck with the status quo.this should not stop them doing a thorough due diligence on all the other paper work[mostly falsified with medici pieces]or checking any other verifiable provenance.we are not talking about $2k pieces hear but $100k,there has to be some kind of paper trail for these pieces and they should be able to do a better job than they are doing you say "this gives them an easy win"why should they give that up with nothing in return.

Cultural Property Observer said...

Kyri, Gill may have a good background, but no one would have ever heard of him or his blog without this notoriety he's received based on playing "Gotcha."

Yes, I can see your point about the need to check the provenance on the $100k piece, but I simply don't think that makes playing "Gotcha" right, particularly when the Greek authorities have apparently leaked the information to a private party and invited them to engage in vigilantism.