The Donor

Michael Vlastos was born in Athens in 1874 but spent most part of his life abroad, as a successful businessman based in Marseilles, France. He was a well-to-do bourgeois, of wide education and great love for antiquities. His familiarity with archaeology, despite the fact he was self-taught, helped him to classify in skilled and knowledgeable fashion the contents of his collection and also to publish a part of it. He acquired the core of his collection in Marseilles, his place of residence, by buying at auctions and from private collectors ancient coins and vases deriving both from Italy, and from Taranto, Italy in particular, and Greece. ī

In 1933, when he settled in Athens, he left his numismatic collection in the care of his son Pandelis, who was living in Marseilles. After the death of Michael Vlastos, this unique collection was sold off in 1947 and because it was auctioned it ended up divided among many private collections and museums.

Michael Vlastos brought with him the rest of antiquities, Greek and Tarantine, and continued to buy new ones, keeping a book recording his purchases. When he died in 1936, the antiquities amounted to 760. In an another autograph notebook, which is practically a preliminary draft for the publication of his collection, he comments on each item and adds bibliography, provenance, purchase date and antiques dealer, together with photographs and water paintings of the finds inquestion of remarkable realism and high artistic quality.

Michael Vlastos was among the founders of the Society of Friends of the National Archaeological Museum, which followed the model employed in famous European museums, especially the Louvre. He was elected as its first President, a position he held from its foundation in 1934 until his death in 1936.

From the Michael Vlastos archive, it is clear that his collection was stored in the basement of his house in Athens during the Second World War. When the house was requisitioned by the German occupation authorities, the collection was handed to the International Red Cross for safekeeping. After the death of Vlastos' daughter, Penelope-Julia Serpieri, her husband Ioannis Serpieris, the legal heir to the collection, and their children (Patricia-Laura wife of Papadimitriou, Sabina I. Serpieri and Ferdinand I. Serpieri) saw to it that the collection be donated to the National Archaeological Museum according to the wishes of Michael Vlastos. In April 1988, both the collection and the archive of Michael Vlastos were given to the National Archaeological Museum.

¬ibliography: Ń. Gadolou-G.  avvadias, The Collection Vlastos-Serpieri (in press).