"A MUST READ Letter"
A MUST READ New Letter
Web site: amarnamansoor.com / E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
April 17, 2000
Mr. Edward H. Able, Jr.
Dear Mr. Able:
The object of this Open Letter which will, in the not too distant future, be added to my personal Web site, amarnamansoor.com, is REDRESS in a matter where justice has been denied for over fifty years to the Mansoor family, as well as to the Mansoor Amarna Collection. The irony in this infamous matter is that the initiators of that injustice are two American Museums, supposedly educational institutions: The Boston Museum of Fine Arts (BMFA), and the Brookiyn Museum of Art (BMA).
Since I do not want to repeat myself too often from what I've written before concerning the controversy over the Mansoor Amarna Collection, I ask that you kindly refer to my Web site to know the truth about the Collection as well as the controversy over it. You should also check amarna.com, and should you only skim both sites, you'll be "intrigued" and, indeed, appalled by the various episodes, the "exhibits," and the overwhelming scientific, artistic, and stylistic evidence attesting its authenticity.
Sir, I am not requesting from you, as President of the AAM, to be an arbiter in this most deplorable situation, but if at all possible, you should inform all members of the Association that the unethical and contemptible actions of the two named museums can only go on degrading and destroying the credibility of American Museums in the eyes of the world. And if the BMFA and the BMA do not right the wrong they have caused in the "Mansoor affair," it is then incumbent upon your members to expel them from the AAM. I don't believe that you'd like to keep them in your Association if they do not display integrity and intellectual honesty in this matter, as I think they'll bring shame and dishonor to it.
Mr. Able, the AAM claims that "museums exist to serve the public and they will continue to provide these services to the utmost of their ability and resources." Can you please tell me, after you go through the two Web sites, in which way during the last fifty years, which American museums and, in particular, the BMFA and the BMA, have served the Mansoors and/or the public to the utmost of their ability and resources in the matter of the Mansoor Amarna Collection? Do museums serve us by keeping silent when we write or appeal to them concerning an error they made? Do, by any chance, museums make errors?
Mr. Able, do you, or does any member of your esteemed Association, agree with the eloquent and arrogant fifty-year-old silence extended to the Mansoors by the BMFA, after this museum sold them a sham report? Does anyone agree that a museum could charge the public for any merchandise or service it provided, and does not consider later any complaint concerning the transaction? Does anyone agree with the insidious tactics used by the BMA to influence and mislead the public in a scientific matter? I'm afraid we're dealing here with one of three points:
1) The two concerned museums made an honest mistake in declaring the Mansoor Amarna Collection to be "of fairly modern origin."
A) The "expert" of the BMFA at the time, a Mr. William J. Young, was totally unqualified to examine ancient Egyptian limestone artifacts since he could not even recoguize the limestone to be natural.
B) Egyptologist John D. Cooney, a curator of ancient art at the BMA, was, to my knowledge, a specialist in ancient Egyptian glass and definitely a "non-Amarna expert." Dr. Cooney seemed to me to have been mesmerized by Mr. Young, the Boston "expert," and by his "shabby and negative 'scientific' report." And if today many people around the world have a negative opinion of the Mansoor Amarna Collection, it is thanks to the BMFA and the BMA, and to their two "experts." Clearly, no one can contest the fact that the two museums as well as their two "experts" have shamefully misled the public, and recklessly besmirched the Collection, and you'll agree to it when you read my writing in the Internet.
2) After making an honest mistake, the concerned two museums decided, or conspired, to keep silent and keep the matter hidden from the public so as not to lose face--due to their sham statements. Their perfidious, infamous, and scandalous fifty-year silence is enough proof to me that they are wrong or guilty as, were they right, they would have answered our appeals a long, long time ago by giving us the necessary evidence proving they were right.
3) The concerned two museums, or some of their authorities, were corrupt at the time. Through the years, some people thought so. And neither you, as President of the AAM, nor the members of the Association will like this:
Through the years, when I relate the facts concerning the Collection, some people would tell me something like, "American museums are mafia!" Or that "this is a museum mafia! What a calamity!" Mafia in our American museums? Most unfortunately, people tend to generalize. Also, once in a while, we read in newspapers that there's corruption in a certain museum. What a shame and disgrace for American museums! Concerning the controversy over the Mansoor Amarna Collection, I strongly believe that, in the past, there was corruption in certain American museums, and I am so sorry to tell you that if the concerned museums, i.e., the BMFA and the BMA, do not right the wrong they have caused in this most deplorable and infamous matter, then, to my mind, there would definitely be corruption at this time in some of our American museums.
Mr. Able, what have the Mansoors been asking for in the last fifty years from the concerned museums? Truly, we have not been asking for the moon or anything similar. We have been asking and appealing for a review, or a re-examination, or a reassessment of their erroneous statements. Was this asking too much? Where is the sense of fair play from the side of American museums? Was it too hard for the two museums to check out the statements of their two "experts"? Was it too hard for them to rectify whatever error they made?
Sir, I want you to know that my way of approaching you is not possibly, or definitely a polite or an ethical one, but my previous appeals to the museums were neither considered nor even answered. There is bitterness as well as revolt and devastation in my mind and conscience. I cannot keep silent on a matter where scientific illiteracy has, for the last fifty years, prevailed in some of our educational institutions. And this matter becomes personal as it has truly affected my life as well as that of the other members of the Mansoor family. It has impoverished some to the extent that they cannot retire comfortably. These "some" or "younger" Mansoors are indeed honest and have worked hard all their lives. But they spent a great deal of their time and earnings to vindicate the Collection. They went out of their way--even abroad--to get a few of the many scientific reports obtained to vitiate the sham "technical" report sold to us by the BMFA. They neglected their families, wrote profusely and met people to get outside help, and it was to no avail. This is why I am exposing this matter widely to the public around the world, so no one else goes through the same ordeal the Mansoors have been going through in the last fifty years. Do you want the addresses or telephone numbers of the churches my younger brothers are members of?
I am so very sorry that this letter may be too long, but it does concern American museums and their future. So, please, bear with me as I am beside myself.
At this time, I want to be a little personal. I want you to know that I have secured a moderate retirement for my old days, and I have to confess that it is thanks to some American museums. Some fifteen years before I retired in 1988, I was mostly in retail business selling jewelry, gifts, and some antiques, and I was devoting perhaps a quarter of my activities to wholesale. Some of my wholesale accounts were museum gift stores, and as I had most satisfactory business relations with these stores, I concentrated all my time, energy and activities to wholesaling to museum stores. I then joined their most respected Museum Store Association and became an MSA Associate member. Needless to say, I was most respected by all members of the association, whether buyers or store managers, and even by my colleagues. Should you refer to the Fall 1988 issue of the MSA magazine and open up to page 37, you'll read the following concerning their Nashville Recap of their Annual Convention: "The convention ended with a Gala 'Country Jamboree.' Delegates danced and socialized the night away. Retiring Associate Edmond Mansoor, owner of Mansoor Imports, was recognized for his years of involvement with the MSA" (emphasis added).
As I wrote earlier, I secured my retirement thanks to the business I had with the museum stores. One museum store gave me a tremendous business through the years, and, as a sign of gratitude, I took two of their officials, the Marketing Director and the Direct Mail Manager, on a buying trip to Hong Kong and China. I introduced them to my main suppliers, and made sure they received the same export prices I was getting. When you read my Web site amarnamansoor.com, you'll read on page 2 of my story, The Truth Is On The March..., a Sworn Statement that all I will be writing about this matter is true: I never made one dollar from either the sellers or the buyers, and this could be verified with the concerned museum, or the two lovely persons I took along in that buying trip.
The marketing director of that museum wrote to me recently (we've been keeping in touch since my retirement, i.e. for twelve years), that their direct mail business reached $18 million last year, and that I was somewhat instrumental to their success. I still have letters from some MSA members that I cherish since we became friends. After that 1988 Orient trip, I received a letter from the direct mail manager in which she wrote:
What a wonderful trip we had! There doesn't seem to be any way I can appropriately thank you for all your help; you've opened doors for (name of Museum) that will help us for many years to come. It is difficult to explain to everyone at ... how much we learned...
"Most of all, Robert, I want to thank you for adding so much to our trip personally; it was such a pleasure traveling together and getting to know you. I want to wish you the very best in your work on the [Mansoor] collection; I am sure you will succeed in your efforts to authenticate it."
Needless to say, sooner or later, God willing, I shall "succeed" in my "efforts to authenticate it." Of this, I am convinced as "the Truth is on the march and nothing will stop her..."
If I have quoted part of the above letter, it is to show you that I think and speak of the Collection to most people I make friends with. And they all know that some museums have hurt us, and are trying to vandalize or destroy our property. Should I ever write again about this Mansoor "affair," I will include some of the letters denoting my character and integrity. I will also mention another trip to the Orient in which I took along two other museum buyers, a younger brother of mine, my wife of 46 years, and two cousins from Canada. Even though I had retired when I took that trip, I still did not make not one single dollar from it. And I am under oath.
Sir, if I've told you some of my personal life, it is to let you know that I really do not need any more money for my retirement. I am happy with whatever I have and live comfortably with it. I am definitely not fighting now for money, although it would help a couple of my brothers. But I am mostly fighting for the principles. To be sure, I am not fighting Egyptologists and museologists. I am only fighting those among them who are prejudiced, weak, malicious, wicked, and/or intellectually dishonest. Also those who are cowards enough not to admit an error (only great institutions or great people would).
At this time, I'd like to quote some lines that my younger brother, Edgard, sent me recently. They greatly concern museology since they refer to an outstanding confession and action taken by a truly great museum of the world: The British Museum. It seems to me that this highly respected museum is giving an opinion or perhaps an advice to other museums.. so the public knows the truth. Anyway, Edgard wrote the following:
"Early in 1990, the British Museum (BM) put up an almost unbelievable Exhibit of forgeries it had acquired over the years, to prove to the world that no human being is infallible, and that this also includes museums experts. The Exhibit, 'Fake? The Art of Deception,' as written by Mr.
Robert Hughes in an excellent article in TIME magazine of May 7, 1990, consisted of 'a sprawling array of more than 600 objects.' Mr. Hughes further wrote: 'We are all emotionally involved with fakes; nobody wishes to be associated with them,' the museum's director, Sir David Wilson sagaciously remarks in the catalog. 'Fortunately, most of the worst errors are our own, the result of nearly 2-1/2 centuries of collecting.'
"Among the forgeries shown in the TIME magazine article, there's a picture of a statuette of Queen Tetisheri acquired in 1890 by a giant British Egyptologist, Sir E. Wallis Budge. Since then, a good number of highly respected Egyptologists (see KMT, Vol.2, No.4, Winter 1991-1992) have mentioned it in their writings -- accepting it as ancient. Some of them have examined it in the flesh, while the others have only seen its photographs--all taking its authenticity for granted since it was on display in the British Museum. Furthermore, hundreds of other Egyptologists from around the world have viewed or admired the statuette as an ancient artifact, and none ever suspected or doubted its authenticity otherwise they would have exposed it as a fake.
"In the course of the last 100 years, only one Egyptologist, Dr. W. V. Davies, Keeper of Egyptian Antiquities at the BM, had the common sense to closely examine and study the sculpture artistically, stylistically and scientifically. And you can guess his conclusion since it was included in the BM Exhibit of fakes. Needless to add that Dr. Davies had the courage to publish his excellent study and examination in the BM Occasional Paper No.36 in 1984. (For his complete article about the Tetisheri, see KMT article, pp.54-62)."
And Edgard ends his writing by saying:
"We, the Mansoors, salute Sir David Wilson, Dr. Davies, and all scholars of the British Museum for their courage in putting up the exhibit of fakes, and, in order to expose the truth, they admitted that their 'worst errors were their 'own. '"
I have inserted Edgard's lines because, as written earlier, they "greatly concern museology." Other lines by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D., Professor of Divinity at UC Santa Barbara, should or rather must be read by museologists, Egyptologists, and art lovers. For this please go to: www.mythinglinks.org~egy~amarna.com. Pages 4 and 5 of this Web site concern the Mansoor Amarna Collection as well as the book by my niece, Christine Mansoor , The Scandal of the Century. Writing about Christine's Web site, www.scandalofthecentury.com, Dr Jenks said:
"This site will intrigue you, regardless of your views...
"The early chapters were utterly engrossing. I was convinced by the details, descriptions, and reactions of Egyptologists and artists who originally saw the private collection in Egypt and who were profoundly moved by this art. I was dismayed by the shabby and negatiye 'scientific' report issued by a non-Egyptologist at the Boston Museum [BMFA] in April 1949 and accepted by a non-Amarna expert at the Brooklyn Museum [BMA]. I was angered when these two institutions combined to 'jinx' negotiations between the Mansoors and other major interested museums. Against a tide of mounting scientific and artistic evidence in favor of the authenticity of the collection, the soured 'good old boys' network held firm and few Egyptologists were willing to contradict their colleagues in public.
"I finally resorted to skimming until I got to the final chapters. I wanted to read that some major museum (hopefully one within driving distance of where I live!) had at last cracked through the decades of stony, official prejudice and purchased what remains of this collection. I wanted a 'happy ending.' There isn't one--not yet
"21 February 1999: the site has now been nicely revised by George Mansoor and has a much cleaner, brighter look. The overly dark photos I saw last spring have vanished and the 'Exhibit ' section now consists of 9 pieces, each one splendid. The website also includes data on recent problems with the Vatican [Museum]--as well as a long series (shot from every possible angle) of gorgeously photographed images of the Mansoors pink limestone head of Nefertiti (formerly at the Vatican). Be patient --there are many of them and they load slowly -- but this Nefertiti head is breathtaking -- don't miss these beautiful photos!
"8 July 1999: many months ago the Mansoor family graciously invited me to view their private collection. I was finally able to do this yesterday with two of my colleagues. We were blown away by the utterly compelling beauty. We delicately touched the long, carefully sculpted fingers and toes of the little princesses, traced their gently curving arms, marveled at Nefertiti's enigmatic 'Mona Lisa' smile captured in an extraordinary work of genius, brushed across Akhenaton's almond-eyes and lips, and felt a strange sense of loss when it was time to leave. We knew in our bones that what we'd been privileged to see and touch could only have been created by the finest of Akhenaton's artists. /Note: the Nefertiti sculpture mentioned above is Ref. No.14 on the Mansoor's webpage, under 'Exhibit,' but you'll need to click on the enlargement to get a sense of the wonder of this piece./"
Mr. Able, if Dr. Jenks "was angered when the two institutions [the BMFA and the BMA] combined to 'jinx' negotiations between the Mansoors and other major interested museums," what do you, as an honest person, think the Mansoors --owners of the Collection -- felt? And when Dr. Cooney had "been approached by many collectors and museums at various times concerning these [Amarna] sculptures" and "has always had to give an unfavorable opinion," do you think the Mansoors exalted with joy? And also when, to discourage a persistent prospective buyer interested in the Mansoor Amarnas, he further told him to communicate with the Parke-Bernet Galleries in New York City to determine their experiences with portions of this collection," particularly that not one single sculpture from the Mansoor Amarna Collection was ever included in any auction sale at the Parke-Bernet Galleries?
After you read "The Truth...," you'll know that the prospective buyer, Dr. Fred Stross, purchased indeed through the years three objects from the Mansoor Amarna Collection -- one of them is a relief in pink limestone depicting Two Amarna Princesses. This relief, and I wrote it before, is truly one of the most beautiful reliefs ever created during Pharaonic Egypt as, "the delicacy and finesse whereby it was 'wrought' is incredible" (Dr. Alfred Frankenstein, Lecturer at Stanford University, and Art Critic of the San Francisco Chronicle, 1975).
Sir, I should also tell you that the Mansoors protested strongly to the BMA the letters written by Dr. Cooney on BMA stationery, but got no result. And when Dr. Cooney's successor, Dr. Bernard V. Bothmer,wrote an inappropriate letter (Exhibit #3 in "The Truth..." )in which he shows disrespect to the Mansoors, and claims that "a prominent chemist friend" of his went over the [scientific Report] booklet written by Messrs. Stross and Eisenlord "with the proverbial fine tooth comb and felt that scientifically it is of no value whatsoever," what do you think the Mansoors felt when they knew only too well that what Dr. Bothmer wrote was very wrong? It goes without saying that when we wrote to the BMA requesting the name of that "prominent chemist," the only answer we received is their obdurate silence!
I'd like to tell you, as well as to all readers from around the world, since this is an Open Letter, that the Mansoors are firmly determined to vindicate their Collection for the main reason that it is definitely ancient. Several eminent scientists and Egyptologists internationally known were firm in their opinion that the Mansoor Amarnas are genuine. Most viewed and examined some, or many, of the sculptures. They wrote openly about their positive opinion. As for those who gave a negative opinion, most of what they wrote makes no sense. They totally ignored scientific evidence and some preferred not to mention it. From their writing, I read untrue "facts"or wrong assumptions, or they relied on hearsay, gossip, and rumors. A few of them adhered tenaciously to the opinion of colleagues -- particularly of those in high position. And without exaggeration, I think that over 95% of those who believe that the Mansoor Collection is not genuine have not seen one single piece of it, but only photographs.
Nor have they read the scientific reports, or--if they read a few or all of them-they clearly did not understand them; otherwise, they would have abstained from giving an opinion. Sadly, some believe that their personal feeling or opinion supersedes or prevails over scientific evidence.
Now, I'd like to make myself clear on the following: No one, and I mean no one -- no matter his qualifications are -- can tell whether an artifact is ancient or not, particularly from the Amarna Period, from photographs only. This is pure common sense, and this is a fact since the Amarna Period is enigmatic. And Amarna art is different from the preceding art of ancient Egypt, or its following one, and is not well understood by too many. This we have learned from eminent Egyptologists and we've noticed it.
Since I just talked plain or rather pure common sense, I'd like to mention a couple of examples that no one can contest:
1)?No medical doctor could give a correct personal opinion on the cause of death of a man who dropped dead while eating in a restaurant. It is quite possible that the unfortunate man had heart failure, but also quite possible that he ingested a poison in his drink or food. The coroner will give the definite cause after performing an autopsy -- that requires scientific means. And scientific evidence will prevail in that case. And in a court of law.
2)?A judge who has sat on the bench for more than 25 years cannot tell if an accused is guilty or not, from only looking at the accused or a photograph of the accused. The judge has to consider any available scientific evidence before giving his judgment, and if per chance there is none, the judge will have to take into consideration any "exhibit" relating to the case, or use common sense. If nothing is conclusive, the accused will not be found guilty. Furthermore, when the accused is found guilty, the judge will grant him later an appeal. Needless to repeat again, Mr. Able, that our numerous appeals to American Egyptologists and museologists to re-examine the Mansoor Amarna sculptures were always denied. Is this fair? Is this justice? Isn't this a terrible injustice? I believe that in our courts of law, if there's only a single doubt in the mind of the judge or jurors, the accused will never be condemned. Never!
Mr. Able, there's much more to the story, and I'll write again. And I'll send you a copy of an Open Letter that I will be sending soon to Dr. Richard Fazzini, President of The American Research Center in Egypt--as Egyptology and museology are interrelated, particularly in this matter.
It is my intention to write and appeal to benefactors and donors of museums not to make any donation to any dishonest or criminal museum -- as they would be contributing to crime. Instead, they should donate to charitable organizations, or to health associations. Sir, it is my honest opinion that any educational institution that would try to destroy artifacts of cultural heritage would be a criminal institution. Museums are supposed to educate the public, and not to destroy or vandalize their property. They do not exist for their own fame and gain, although I think the BMFA and the BMA are doing just that. These two institutions should be ashamed of the harm they caused to the Mansoors as well as to the Mansoor Amarna Collection. It is my earnest hope that all people concerned must realize that this is a serious matter that demands some serious attention and consideration.
With all respect.
Edmond Robert Mansoor
P.S. Concerning a hunger strike, yes, I do have it in mind and will write about it in the near future if my letter remains fruitless. It would be to protest most what I think is infamy among certain Egyptologists as well as museologists, and in the BMFA and the BMA. Should there be a hunger strike, it would start on June 1, 2000.
cc: The Honorable Thomas M. Menino, Mayor of Boston
The Honorable Rudolph W. Guiliani, Mayor of New York
Some newspaper editors
Some VIPs around the world
Members of the Mansoor family--including Sister Elvira Mansoor