The First Provenance Research Head at the Met

The First Provenance Research Head Title at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art Will Go to Lucian Simmons.

Mar 23, 2024By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
The Met, The First Provenance Research
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) entrance facade in Upper East Side, Manhattan, New York City. Via Wikipedia.


The first provenance research head title, at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, will go to Lucian Simmons. Simmons is presently vice chairman and the global head of the reparation division. Also, he is a senior specialist in Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art Department. He starts his new job in May.


The Position Opened After Six Seizures

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, The First Provenance Research
The Met. Via archive


The Met encountered questions about the origins of its 1.5 million possessions. The job became available following six seizures in 2022 alone. The Manhattan District Attorney’s office confiscated $1.1 million in artefacts from Greece, Italy, and Egypt. The government also confiscated a $25 million statue of a Roman emperor, unlawfully relocated from a Turkish archaeological spot.


“He has a vast amount of experience understanding the level of research you need to apply and what timelines you need to set to get to a result”, Max Hollein, the museum’s director and chief executive said. “He probably had to deal with more issues at Sotheby’s than have many other institutions”, he also added.


Lucian Simmons, The First Provenance Research
Lucian Simmons. Via ArtDependence.


He also added: “You have to vet and scrutinise a huge number of objects. He’s someone who understands the theory, but who also has a very practical attitude”. Since 1997, Simmons has spent time working on reparation and authenticity concerns at Sotheby’s. At this auction house, he started a dedicated team for these kinds of concerns.

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Verifying Authenticity for All Pieces

Sotheby’s worldwide headquarters on York Avenue, on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, via Wikimedia Commons.


At the Met, he will supervise a team of specialists whose duties will be supervised with the deputy director for collections and administration, as well as the Met’s general counsel. Simmons will collaborate with Met curators to verify authenticity research for all artefacts in the collection or in the procedure of acquisition. Also, they will determine whether the pieces are cultural property or have Nazi-era heritage.


Sotheby’s faced criticism for attempting to sell pieces with doubtful provenance, including Nazi-looted paintings. Maya Muratov, who has been working on origination studies in the Met’s Greek and Roman art departments, will play a larger role on Simmons’ team. The Met also created new provenance research positions in the Asian art department.


Bonhams, auction house, Paris.


There is also the American Wing (with a focus on Native American art), and Egyptian art department, to be filled respectively by Qamar Adamjee, Jennifer Day, and Maxence Garde. These new posts, which are part of the new provenance research team, bring the total number of people engaged to provenance research from six to 11.

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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.