As Bloomberg Businessweek‘s Vernon Silver and the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities in Gaza observed, the Gaza “Apollo” (or, more likely but less romantically, the Gaza tray-bearer) has ‘one intact inlaid eye‘ and one missing. But one thing that I don’t believe has been discussed is when and why it lost its left eye.
As far as I know, in all of the fisherman’s infuriatingly inconsistent tellings of his tale, never has he mentioned that one of the statue’s eyes was gouged out while photographs were being taken to advertise the sale.
But it’s not a trick of the light in a poor-resolution image. In one of the photographs in the eBay advert, the statue only has one eye; in another, it has both eyes intact. The statue’s left eye was punched in or torn out between photos. So if the fisherman and/or his family did it, why did (t)he(y) do it, why did (t)he(y) do it then, and why hasn’t he explained it?
Update (16th February 2014)
Vladimir Stissi has commented,
It does seem there is a big hole on the lower photographs, but the inlaid pupil is already missing on the top one, what may have fallen out is a part of the filling originally forming the white part of the eye – glass, ivory/bone, limestone or some composite which would be rather brittle. I don’t think gouging is needed for this kind of damage.
Likewise, David Meadows had asked, ‘anyone else think that gaza apollo doesnt look ‘right‘?’ When I had asked in return whether a forger would have damaged his own work, David considered: ‘Maybe it wasn’t the forger… And maybe it wasn’t attached properly to begin with.’
If it were a forgery and its hand and face were damaged by its forger, the forger either got their work confiscated immediately through their own behaviour, or they were unable to sell it for two months then tried to auction it in English via Canada. If its hand and face weren’t damaged by the forger, it was forged, then it was confiscated by the Al Qassam Brigade that induced the fisherman to pretend to be its finder, tried to sell it and damaged it in the process, then it was confiscated by Hamas Police.
I don’t think that a forger would have had enough practice and business to produce this statue, either while behaving like (or employing people who behaved like) the fisherman and/or his family, or while lacking an outlet for their products. Still (though as far as we know the statue was laid down and was not being knocked or shaken), as it was fragile and decaying, the eye filling may may fallen out naturally. Regardless, the eye damage is yet another thing to add to the list of things that need to be explained.
Update (23rd February 2014)
Gaza antiquities director Ahmed Elburch inspected the statue in October 2013 and judged that ‘one of the eyes had been cut out‘.