Investigation into the provenance of museum collections in connection with the theft, confiscation and sale of objects under duress between 1933 and 1945.

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Allard Pierson Museum

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Allard Pierson Museum

Oude Turfmarkt 127 1012 GC Amsterdam

Investigation results

This museum has 1 object with a potentially problematic provenance.

Result of this investigation

Allard Pierson Museum carried out an intensive investigation into its collection and found a number of objects in the report with an unusual provenance. Further investigation showed that the provenance of one work of art in the collection was indeed problematic.

The investigated its inventory records, cards and the object archive. Where necessary, the museum also investigated the inventory cards of Museum Scheurleer, Scheurleer archive and Allard Pierson Foundation’s archive. In several cases, old auction catalogues were referenced and the National Archive records were also consulted. Many of the museum’s original holdings came from the Scheurleer collection and that of the former Museum of Applied Arts (Kunstnijverheid) in Haarlem. Both of these collections were assembled before 1933.

In 1947, the museum bought a papyrus tube at Van Gend en Loos. This had been brought to Cairo to be sent in 1939. Payment had not been made, the sender failed to appear and so the item remained unsent and unsold. The sender’s name is not really legible in the accompanying letter. The Van Gend en Loos records at the National Archive provide little information about the object. Although the acquisition raises questions, the case does not fall within the parameters of this investigation.

The provenance of a marble head of Emperor Tiberius, acquired in 1968 from a private source, may be problematic. The inventory card states: ‘Bought during the war (40-45) from antiquarian Groen’s predecessor on Spiegelgracht. He surmised that the bust originated in Germany.’

The museum also investigated the events relating to the Zadoks-Josephus Jitta collection which the museum bought after it had been obtained by Liro Bank. After the war, the rightful ownership of the collection was disputed. Eventually it was restored to Mrs Zadoks and Allard Pierson Foundation received compensation from Amsterdam municipality and Liro Bank.

Information from previous research (report Museum Acquisitions 1940-1948)

View reaction of Allard Pierson Museum in the report Museale acquisitions 1940-1948 which was published in 1999 in response to the previous museum research.

About this museum and its collection

Allard Pierson Museum is the University of Amsterdam’s archaeological museum. Its collection encompassed fine art and utensils from a period ranging from 4000 BC to AD 500, from ancient Egypt, the Middle East, the Greek world, the Etruscans and the Roman Empire. Among the highlights of the presentation are mummies, sarcophagi and figures of people and gods.


Bust of Tiberius

Head of Tiberius

Artist/ Creator
Anonymous (Roman Empire/Asia Minor)
Head of Tiberius
AD 25–50
28,8 x 22,7 cm
APM 8355
Allard Pierson Museum

Investigation results


It is unclear who P. Otten bought the object from: ‘Antiquarian Groen’s predecessor’ may refer to Mozes Groen’s father, Barend Groen, or his...

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