Two interesting bits of news today that I wanted to share before running off to a day of meetings.

Towley Venus restored after incident
The Townley Venus, a 2,000-year-old Roman statue was damaged when a waiter preparing for a corporate event at the British Museum broke the thumb off with his head. The accident occurred in December last year, according to The Art Newspaper, but has only just come to light. The waiter, who was from an external company, had bent down underneath the Townley Venus and knocked its right hand while getting up again. The thumb was knocked clean off the statue and fell to the floor intact. The statue has now been restored. The British Museum said it had taken the incident seriously. A spokesman for the museum said in a statement:

 "This was an unfortunate incident. The preservation of the collection is of fundamental importance. Our expert conservators have been able to fully restore the object and it has remained on public display. We have retrained all individuals responsible for events."

The Townley Venus is already missing its index finger, which was broken before the sculpture came to the British Museum. The sculpture, which depicts a half-naked figure of Venus, is a marble copy of the Greek original and dates from the 1st or 2nd Centuries. It was excavated in 1775 from the baths at the port of Ostia in Rome and bought by English collector Charles Townley. It was sold to the British Museum in 1805. The Greek original dates back to the 4th Century BC.

Toledo Museum sale raises $640,000 so far
About a week ago, I wrote about the Toledo Museum in Ohio, USA, who were set to auction off nearly 70 antiquities originally from Greece and other countries despite huge national and international protest. Many of the objects have not been on display for decades, or only have been periodically on display. The objects have not generally appeared in museum literature and scholars have not asked to study them. Some of the objects have been available in an online sale, the rest was sold at an auction of antiquities at Christie’s in New York City on Tuesday.

This Tuesday sale was of nearly two dozen antiquities and brought in $640,000. The 23 pieces sold Tuesday at Christie's in New York included a Cypriot limestone head of a male votary from 6th century B.C. that the Cyprus Embassy had hoped would stay with the museum. The piece fetched $55,000 - about twice what it had been valued. Cyprus' ambassador to the United States had asked on Monday that the sale be postponed. Ambassador Leonidas Pantelides said:

 "What we like about the pieces being at the museum is that they are accessible to so many people. We prefer these artifacts be in Cyprus, but if not, we would like them to be in museums when many people can see them and learn about our history."

He said his country was not insisting that the items be returned, only that the museum consider keeping the Cypriot artifacts in their collection. Egyptian officials also sought to stop the auction and have the items from Egypt returned there. Museum Director Brian Kennedy said the museum respects others' viewpoints but sometimes sells items to maintain a high-quality collection. He said the money from the sale would go toward acquisitions. The entire sale was expected to generate about $500,000.