Christie’s Withdraws Greek Vases from Auction Due to Ties with Convicted Dealer

Christos Tsiogiannis is a forensic archaeologist, an Associate Professor and a Research Fellow (2019-2022) at the Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies, University of Aarhus, Denmark, researching international networks of trafficking in antiquities.

Christie’s has withdrawn four ancient Greek vases from an upcoming auction following revelations that each of them is associated with a convicted antiquities dealer.

Dr Christos Tsirogiannis, an archaeology lecturer at the University of Cambridge specializing in looted antiquities, uncovered damning evidence linking the vases to Gianfranco Becchina, a dealer convicted of illegal antiquities trading.

Christos Tsirogiannis. Photograph: Marie-Christine Imbert
Christos Tsirogiannis. Photograph: Marie-Christine Imbert

Despite Christie’s previous sale of three of the objects in 1979, the auction house omitted the crucial fact that they were consigned by Becchina. Tsirogiannis criticized Christie for concealing this connection, highlighting the market's deception at the highest level.

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Christie’s Withdraws Greek Vases from Auction Due to Ties with Convicted Dealer 1

The disputed antiquities, including an Attic cup and a lid of a lekanis, were estimated to fetch significant sums in the auction. However, following challenges based on Tsirogiannis’s evidence, they have been removed from the online catalogue.

Tsirogiannis has been instrumental in identifying over 1,700 looted antiquities worldwide, collaborating with authorities to combat illicit trafficking. Despite the auction house's claims of rigorous provenance research, Tsirogiannis's findings underscore the ongoing challenges in the antiquities market.

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