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Stendahl Art Galleries Records: Guillermo Echániz Correspondence

Letter 6: July 31, 1941

Getty Research Institute (2017.M.38) Box 11, Folder 9


July 31,1941

Dear Bill:

I expect{ed} to have all of the money for you, that is $3500.00, to settle our account. Unfortunately my man[1] went into the hospital today and I was unable to get but $1000. He won’t be out for three weeks but I hope to get the balance out of him before that time. Anyway, I am enclosing a check for the $1000. before the ink is dry and will send you the rest the minute it comes in.

Your photos just came in and I have not had time to {but} glance over them as I want to get this off to you on the first plane.

I have started to put the other fresco[2] together but I have a suspicion that the Belgian Ambassador[3] got part of mine and I got part of his. If you could get his name and address, I would write to him and find out how he came out. This is important as it has been costing me

$10.00 a day for labor on the damn thing and we don’t seem to get any place.

Was No.2 the dog you wrote me about some time ago?

Anyway, I hope this $1000. will bridge the gap and that you keep the good things without showing them. You know you are a lot like I am, when you get a good think you want everybody to see it, but I think it is best to keep them under cover and not let anyone know your business.

Send the other photos of the Campeche things[4] as soon as possible and tell me all you can about them.

With kindest regards to you all.




PS - you can send stuff up that I have photos for but I can allow only $1000. for group. Keep two of the notes[5] when I pay up in full. Ship to Joe.[6]


1. This is possibly Karl Nierendorf (1889–1947), who was a leading modern art dealer based during this era in New York City (see his Biographical Notes).

2. The “frescoes” discussed in this selection of letters include at least two from the Tetitla compound and one from the Atetelco compound, all likely looted from Teotihuacan c. 1939–1942. The two from Tetitla are now in the collections of Dumbarton Oaks (PC.B.062, the so-called “Net-Jaguar Mural”) and the Denver Art Museum (1965.202). Earl Stendahl sold the Net-Jaguar Mural to Robert Woods Bliss in 1941 (Inventory Number 579 found in Inventory Book). His son, Alfred (“Al”) Stendahl, sold the other to the Denver Art Museum in 1965 (Inventory Number 1538 found in Stock Book and Inventory Book). The Atetelco Mural is now in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art (1950-134-404). Earl Stendahl sold it to the Arensbergs in 1950 (this may be Inventory Number 1539 found in Stock Book and Inventory Book; see: Hoobler, “Smoothing the Path for Rough Stones,” in Hollywood Arensberg, 385, n. 264). At least one other mural, now at the Musées royaux d'art et d'histoire/Koninklijke Musea voor Kunst en Geschiedenis in Brussels (A.AM.48.16.623), was also extracted during this same period, though it did not pass through Stendahl’s hands (see the letters dated November 13, 1940 and August 4, 1941 included in this Research Guide). Additionally, there is at least one other “frescoe” listed in the Stendahl Galleries stock books (Inventory Number 580 found in Stock Book and Inventory Book), and yet more are referred to in other letters from Echániz, suggesting that some mural fragments extracted during this period are either no longer extant; remain unidentified in private collections; or lack definitive links to the looting that took place c. 1939–1942.

3. Robert van de Kerchove d’Hallebast (1890–1974) was a Belgian aristocrat and career diplomat who served as Belgian Minister to Mexico, 1937–1940 (see his Biographical Notes).

4. A number of letters from the summer of 1941 discuss the procurement of materials from the state of Campeche, including the letter dated August 4, 1941 in this Research Guide. Already in the 19th century, Campeche, and particularly the island of Jaina, was a dynamic space for exploration, excavation, and related museological and commercial activities: the beginnings of the international market in pre-Hispanic art. See, for instance: Lynneth S. Lowe and Adam T. Sellen, “Una pasión por la antigüedad: la colección arqueológica de don Florentino Gimeno en Campeche durante el siglo XIX,” Estudios de cultura maya 36 (2010): 145–72; Benjamin Moore Norman, Rambles in Yucatan; or, Notes of Travel through the Peninsula (New York: J. & H.G. Langley, 1843); and Adam T. Sellen, “Los padres Camacho y su museo: dos puntos de luz en el Campeche del siglo XIX,” Península 5, vol. 1 (2010): 53–73.

5. The references to a “note” or “notes” in this and other letters concern promissory notes that served as paper documents of monetary loans with set deadlines for repayment. Many copies of these promissory notes are preserved in the Stendahl Art Galleries Records.

6. “Joe” here is Joe Ramírez, an individual about which little is currently known. It seems that both Joe Ramirez, Sr. and Joe Ramirez, Jr. handled shipments arriving from Mexico to the United States, primarily via Ciudad Juárez/El Paso. (See also the letter dated August 13, [1941?] included in this Research Guide.)