A detective’s work at the MFA

Boston Globe 12 December 2011
By Geoff Edgers

This spring in the Netherlands, a curator from the Museum of Fine Arts spotted a 17th-century gold medallion at the famed Maastricht art fair and knew she had to have it. There was just one problem: Nobody could tell her how the precious piece left Germany after World War II.

Enter Victoria Reed, the MFA’s curator of provenance. Her job, which is almost as rare in the museum world as is the medallion, is to research works with questionable histories both in the collection and on the MFA’s shopping list. As a result, Reed’s other job is to break curators’ hearts.

Through months of research, Reed traced the medallion to a museum in Gotha, Germany, that she knew had been looted during the Nazi era. With that information, the MFA’s jewelry curator, Yvonne Markowitz, put the brakes on its purchase. And in September, the Art Loss Register announced that S.J. Phillips Ltd., the dealer who had offered the medallion, would be returning it to the Castle Friedenstein museum.
© website copyright Central Registry 2023