Head of Alexander


Object or Group Name

Head of Alexander

Case Summary

The Head of Alexander was discovered during Italian excavations at the Basilica Emilia in the Roman Forum after 1909. It was reported as stolen from the Museo Forense in 1958 after it was identified as missing during an inventory conducted by the Department for the Archaeological Heritage, Rome.

In 1974, it reappeared in New York City, consigned to Sotheby Parke Bernet and sold to Alterrtum Ltd. for USD $650. No records for this sale or the export of the object from Italy have been identified.

In 2011, the sculpture was consigned by Dr. Martin C.J. Miller to Sotheby's New York for the December 8 sale "Egyptian, Classical, and Western Asiatic Antiquities" with a new provenance. Miller claimed to have inherited it in 1988 from Chicago-based Professor Nikolaeos Oikonomides, who was said to have purchased it in Cairo between 1984 and 1986 believing that it originated from Türkiye. Saad Abdulla Shartub Al-Dehaimi of Doha later bought the object for USD $75,000, and in May 2017 it showed up in the United Kingdom with the Sheikh Saoud bin Mohammed Ali Al Thani Foundation. That Foundation subsequently consigned it to Classical Galleries Limited in the United Kingdom on May 24, 2017.

Dealer Alan Safani of Safani Gallery Inc. purchased it from Classical Galleries Limited for USD $152,625 on June 20, 2017, having obtained an Art Loss Register certificate stating that the object had not been registered as stolen. Safani, after failing to sell it at The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) in New York in the fall 2017, advertised that it would be offered at TEFAF Maastricht in March 2018. However, a staff member of the Archaeological Site of the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill recognized it as the missing head of Alexander and notified the Carabinieri.

On February 22, 2018, the Manhattan District Attorney's office seized the object from the Safani gallery on grounds that it had been stolen and illegally exported. Safani Gallery contested the seizure and filed a lawsuit, but the case was dismissed, and the bust was returned to Italy.

Number of Objects


Object Type




Auction House

Sotheby Parke Bernet
Classical Galleries Limited, United Kingdom

Private Collector

Hagop Kervorkian
Sheikh Saoud bin Mohammed Ali Al Thani Foundation
Alterrtum Ltd.

Receiving Country



In Pursuit of Alexander the Great: Establishing Ownership of Ancient Art

Sotheby's. Egyptian, Classical, And Western Asiatic Antiquities. Property From a Chicago Private Collection. A Fragmentary Roman Marble Head of a Young God or Ruler, circa 1st Century A.D.

A Dealer’s Attempt to Sue the Nation of Italy Over Its Claim on an Ancient Marble Head Has Been Quashed by a U.S. Judge

Revisiting the case of the marble head of Alexander the Great as Helios, the Sun God


MOLA Contributor(s)

Jason Felch

Peer Reviewed By



“Head of Alexander,” Museum of Looted Antiquities, accessed July 13, 2024, https://mola.omeka.net/items/show/2233.