Showing results 1 - 12 of 32 for the month of June, 2012.

June 19, 2012

Two arrested in northern Greece for suspected smuggling of artefacts from illegal excavations

Posted at 1:14 pm in Greece Archaeology, Similar cases

Investigations in Greece have led to the arrests of two people (one a former policeman), for smuggling artefacts that are presumed to have come from an illegal excavation.

Illegal looting such a this will always be a problem in a country such as Greece with a very rich archaeological heritage – but efforts to police it need to be kept up during the current financial difficulties that the country faces.

Washington Post

2 arrested in Greece for alleged antiquities smuggling of ancient gold wreath, armband
By Associated Press, Published: June 8

THESSALONIKI, Greece — A retired policeman and a house painter have been arrested in northern Greece on suspicion of antiquities smuggling after an ancient gold wreath and armband were found in their car, police said Friday.

The suspects were stopped by highway police near the village of Asprovalta, some 40 kilometers (25 miles) east of Thessaloniki late Thursday. Officers, who were working on a tip that the house painter might be trafficking in antiquities, found the 4th century B.C. artifacts in a shoebox under the passenger seat.
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Lack of funds for policing Greek archaeological sites leads to a rise in illicit digs

Posted at 1:07 pm in Greece Archaeology, Similar cases

More coverage of the problems facing many of Greece’s archaeological sites as a result of the ongoing financial difficulties in the country.

New York Times

Greek Antiquities, Long Fragile, Are Endangered by Austerity
Published: June 11, 2012

KYTHIRA, Greece — A jarring public-awareness ad that has appeared recently on Greek television news shows a little girl strolling with her mother through the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, one of the country’s cultural crown jewels. The girl skips off by herself, and as she stands alone before a 2,500-year-old marble statue, a hand suddenly sweeps in from behind, covering her mouth and yanking her away.

An instant later, she reappears, apparently unharmed but staring forlornly at an empty plinth: The kidnappers weren’t after the girl — they were after the statue.
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Learning how to spot Nazi looted artefacts at the Shoah Legacy Institute

Posted at 8:16 am in Similar cases

Coverage of the Provenance Research Training Program that took place in Germany last week.

Times of Israel

Experts trained in recovering art looted during Nazi era
Millions of items stolen during WWII and Holocaust still unaccounted for; some pieces ending up in auction after elderly owners pass away
June 16, 2012, 1:56 am

BERLIN (AP) — Call them the looted treasure detectives.

Experts from museums, auction houses, government agencies and other institutions are meeting in Germany this week as part of an international effort to train art-world professionals in recovering art and cultural treasures looted during the Nazi era.
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Turkey puts pressure on foreign museums involved in artefact disputes

Posted at 8:07 am in Similar cases

Turkey is applying more pressure to the foreign museums that it claims contain looted Turkish artefacts. Various exhibition loans to these museums are now being cancelled, in an attempt to convince the institutions involved to take the issue more seriously & attempt to resolve it.

The Art Newspaper

Turkey turns up the heat on foreign museums
The list of antiquities demanded gets longer as more exhibitions are hit by the loans boycott
By Martin Bailey. Museums, Issue 236, June 2012
Published online: 13 June 2012

Turkey is set on a collision course with many of the world’s leading museums, by refusing exhibition loans because of antiquities claims. European museums that are being targeted include the Louvre, Berlin’s Pergamonmuseum, the British Museum, and the Victoria and Albert Museum. In America, claims are being lodged against New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Cleveland Museum of Art and Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, DC. Turkey’s tough new approach was first reported by The Art Newspaper (March 2012, p1, p10; April, p6).

Among the exhibitions that have been hit is a British Museum project on the Uluburun ship, the world’s oldest recovered wreck. Dating from the 14th century BC, it was discovered (with its cosmopolitan cargo) in 1982, six miles off the south-west Turkish coast. It was put on display 12 years ago at the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology. The British Museum was discussing an exhibition, along with reciprocal loans to Turkey, but this has had to be dropped because of Turkey’s claim for the Samsat stele.
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Leopold Museum settlement to allow them to keep Nazi looted Schiele painting

Posted at 8:00 am in Similar cases

Vienna’s Leopold Museum have settled with the claimants of Jenny Steiner to allow them to keep a painting by Egon Schiele. Previous court rulings had instructed the museum to return the painting, which had been looted by the Nazis. It is unclear what the cost of the settlement was for the museum.

To an extent, cases such as this point that there is more than one way to settling restitution cases – and that a case does not necessarily open the floodgates for the emptying of museums. In many cases, the original owners either don’t want, or don’t have the facilities to look after the artfacts in question, but are looking for some sort of compensation for its loss, or in some cases merely an acknowledgement that they are the legitimate owners of it.

Bloomberg News

Austria’s Leopold Museum Settles on Nazi-Looted Schiele Painting
By Zoe Schneeweiss – Jun 14, 2012 11:00 AM GMT

Vienna’s Leopold Museum agreed to settle with the remaining claimants of Jenny Steiner to keep in its collection Egon Schiele’s “Houses by the Sea,” that was stolen by the Nazis.

The 1914 painting belonged to Steiner until she fled Austria in 1938, shortly after the Nazis marched into Vienna. She escaped to Paris and later emigrated to the U.S. with her two daughters. The painting was seized and sold by the Nazis, then later auctioned. Rudolf Leopold, the founder of the Leopold Museum, acquired it in 1955.
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June 16, 2012

New Acropolis Museum to celebrate third birthday on 20th June with musical performances & late opening

Posted at 3:33 pm in Events, New Acropolis Museum

On Wednesday 20th June, the New Acropolis Musuem will celebrate the third anniversary of its opening.

As part of the celebrations, the museum will have extended opening hours & there will be a series of musical performances within the exhibition spaces.

Greek Reporter

Third Year Anniversary of the Opening of the New Acropolis Museum
By Areti Kotseli on June 15, 2012

The New Acropolis Museum in Athens celebrates its three years of existence with a series of events on its premises Wednesday, June 20th. Exhibition spaces will remain open to the public from 8.00 a.m. to midnight and general admission will be offered with a festive 3-Euro ticket.

Famous soloists and eminent musicians will be entertaining visitors in every exhibition space of the museum performing ancient music, music of the Renaissance, Baroque, Classical and Romantic eras and separate works of the 20th century.
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Change of times for Intelligence Squared Parthenon Marbles debate TV broadcast

Posted at 3:22 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Marbles Reunited

The times for the broadcast on TV of Monday’s Intelligence Squared debate over the return of the Parthenon Marbles have changed from what was originally indicated.

The new times (from BBC website) are:

Recordings of the debate will be broadcast on BBC World News at 09:10 and 21:10 on 23 June, and 02:10 and 15:10 on 24 June. All times GMT.

For those of you in the UK, note that this is GMT, not BST. Furthermore, note that BBC World News is not available to watch online in USA, UK or Japan.

So – you can’t watch it on TV in the UK, unless you have foreign satellite TV already (not Sky, as they don’t carry it). A lot of countries in Europe broadcast BBC World News however – for more details see the BBC website page for the channel. As far as I know, it will also be available on the Intelligence Squared Youtube channel after the TV broadcast date.

June 15, 2012

Think how wealthy Greece would be if all their treasures were returned

Posted at 1:21 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Greece Archaeology, Similar cases

It isn’t feasible to return all the artefacts that have left Greece throughout history & I don’t think anyone is seriously advocating this. However, one should reflect on how much of Greece’s wealth has been used to enrich the museums & collections of other countries, when in most cases Greece was given no compensation.

Kathimerini (English Edition)

Friday June 15, 2012
Greek elections

God bless and save Greece. May God bless Greece and all the Greeks as you make one of the biggest democratic decisions of your lives on June 17. The early Greeks invented Democracy more than 2 milleniums ago, so you should know ’the ropes’, so let us all hope and pray you make the right decision as you go to the polls on June 17. Be very mindful when you vote of how it will affect Greece.

I am an Australian and have loved your beautiful country since I first stepped foot on it in 1996. It had a certain magnetism that invited me back time and time again. I wanted to explore every Greek island and place and achieved seeing many, Mykonos, Tinos, Andros, Santorini, Paros, Ios, Naxos, Rodos, Crete, Patmos, Corfu, Kefalonia, Zakynthos, Ithaca, and there are still many, many more beautiful islands there to see, if only I could.
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The campaign to return the Parthenon Marbles is an appeal to Britain’s “better instincts”

Posted at 12:32 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

More coverage of the debate earlier this week about he reunification of the Parthenon Marbles. As well as the vote taken after the UK debate, one was also made at the end of the live broadcast of it at the Acropolis Museum – which predictably found an either higher level of support than in Britain.

This story has also had a lot of additional coverage, as a paragraph at the end of an AP article, that has been syndicated by many newspapers internationally.


“We Will Never Repay the Debt that We Owe Greece”: Actor Stephen Fry Calls for Parthenon Marbles to Be Sent Back
Published: June 13, 2012

The Eurozone may be in tatters, and Greece about to return to the drachma, but on Monday very different matters were at hand. A debate organized by Intelligence Squared held at London’s Cadogan Hall and screened live at the Acropolis Museum in Athens reignited the passions around the Elgin marbles. And Stephen Fry stood out as an unlikely hero of the Hellenic cause.

The Elgin marbles were stripped from the Parthenon and brought to the UK in the 19th century by Lord Elgin, the British ambassador in Constantinople when the Turks controlled Greece. The priceless sculptures have been held at the British Museum ever since, and although the British government claims that they were legally acquired, they have been a sore point in the cultural relationship between the two countries for just as long.
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More on the planned return of (some of) the Lewis Chessmen to Scotland’s Western Isles

Posted at 8:35 am in British Museum, Similar cases

Further coverage of the planned return on permanent loan of some of the Lewis Chessmen to a new purpose built exhibition space in Lews Castle.

It has been pointed out to me following my questioning of why this was happening now, that there is of course a referendum on Scotland’s independence from the UK coming up some time around the return date – which may well have had a bearing on the decision.

The British Museum has also announced a series of regional tours of other artefacts – increasing its lending programme (within the UK at least).

Museums Association Journal

Lewis Chessmen to return to Western Isles
Rebecca Atkinson, 14.06.2012
British Museum also announces series of regional loans

Six of the Lewis Chessmen are to go on permanent display at Lews Castle, Stornoway, from 2014 as part of a loan agreement between Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council) and the British Museum.

The medieval chess pieces will be displayed in a new museum funded by a £4.6m Heritage Lottery Fund grant and supported by National Museums Scotland (NMS) and the British Museum.
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June 14, 2012

Drawing comparisons – why long term loan is possible for the Lewis Chessmen, but not the Parthenon Marbles

Posted at 1:49 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

Some further coverage of the British Museum’s plans to return some of the Lewis Chessmen to the Island of Stornoway in 2014 on a long term loan.

I find this story interesting for a number of reasons, as there are certain comparisons that can be drawn with the case of the Parthenon Marbles (although there are of course many differences). Historically, when Greece has requested the return of the Elgin Marbles, the British Museum has fallen back on the anti-deaccessioning clauses in the 1963 British Museum Act, which the institution is legally obliged to abide by. Greece in response has on various occasions suggested that the reunification of the Marbles could still be possible in the form of a long term / or renewable loan, whereby the British Museum would still retain the ownership rights, but the sculptures would be in display in Athens.

It has been suggested by some at the British Museum that such an action could not constitute a loan – that a loan can only be for a short term & that anything else is ownership be another name (& therefore forbidden under the British Museum Act 1963).

There are certain other difficulties however in the case of the Marbles. Previously, while Minister of Culture, Antonis Samaras, has insisted that Greece would not accept a short term loan of the sculptures (three to four months is a typical inter-museum loan duration), as such a move would acknowledge & legitimise the museum’s ownership of the artefacts. On top of this, the British Museum counters that acceptance by the receiving party of the Museum’s ownership of the artefacts in question are one of their standard terms that must be agreed to before they proceed with any loans. Greece has once indicated that it would accept ownership rights by the British Museum, but the statement was later retracted as having been a mis-quotation.

Now, it seems that despite the fact that the British Museum claims that there is no such thing as a long term loan, some of the Lewis Chessmen are now going to return on one. They are for that matter, not the only artefacts that have avoided the terms of the British Museum Act by taking the route of a semi-permanent loan.

So it would appear that there is good evidence, in multiple cases, that something described as a long term loan is a possible means of returning artefacts.

Now back to the similarities between the Elgin Marbles & the Lewis Chessmen (& also the differences).

Firstly, the Lewis Chessmen (at least the ones being returned to Scotland) are currently housed in the British Museum, with others in Edinburgh.

Secondly, a new museum has been built, to display the artefacts, countering the argument that there is nowhere to house them safely if they were returned.

The differences however, are that the Scottish are (I presume) acknowledging that the British Museum owns the Lewis Chessmen & tat only a few of the chessmen are actually returning – this is a small percentage of the total – and there don’t appear to be any plans to expand this loan, whereas Greek requests have been for all of the Parthenon Marbles that are in the Museum.

The Lewis Chessmen are not such a clear cut case as that of the Parthenon Marbles – they are loose items, that were probably in the process of travelling when they ended up in Lewis – there is nothing known to connect them to the island, other than the fact that it is where they were rediscovered. Indeed, arguments have been made that they rightfully belong in Norway. The Parthenon Marbles on the other hand, are part of a larger whole – the frieze panels themselves are not only like the pages of a book split between two locations, but were designed to form part of a work of architecture (the Parthenon) which still survives. On top of this, there is no suggestion that the Chessmen ended up in the British Museum illegally, unlike the contested details of the firman used by Elgin to validate his ownership of the Parthenon Sculptures.

So – on the basis of the existing cases, what does it take to get the Parthenon Marbles back to Greece? Does it all come down to acknowledging ownership? This fact has been a stumbling block with previous attempts to negotiate with the the British Museum. Or if the ownership was acknowledged, would the British Museum then fall back on other reasons for blocking the return – with the end reason being that it just doesn’t want to return them? Perhaps we should look at it as two interwoven disputes here – one over ownership & one over the location for display / reunification of the sculptures. One possible way out, is of course to bring (& win) legal action in a British or international court, over the ownership of the Marbles.

The other point to bear in mind, is that these terms might only secure the return of a small portion of the sculptures – although the hope if that if the return of a small portion was successful & the terms of the loan agreement were met, then te return of the remainder would follow as a logical conclusion to the process.


At least six Lewis chessmen to return home after deal struck with British Musuem
Published on Wednesday 13 June 2012 22:09

SIX of the priceless world famous chessmen will feature in the permanent displays at the new Museum and Archive at Lews Castle when it opens in 2014 after a £13.5m revamp.

The chessmen will be on “permanent loan” to the new museum

Previously Western Isles MP Mr MacNeil has demanded the “repatriation” of the British Museum’s 82 priceless Viking chess pieces back to Scotland. Another 11 are in the hands of the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.
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British Museum to permanently return some of Lewis Chessmen to Stornoway in 2014

Posted at 12:58 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

After briefly returning to Scotland in 2010, some of the Lewis Chessmen are going to return on a semi permanent basis to the island where they were discovered. It is unclear how much SNP leader Alex Salmond’s demands for their return have led to this decision & moreover, whether the British Museum is getting anything in return for the deal. I am very interested to find out more details of the exact loan agreement that has been made.

BBC News

13 June 2012 Last updated at 15:20
Historic Lewis Chessmen returning to Western Isles

Six Lewis Chessmen are to be displayed long-term at a new museum on the Western Isles, where more than 90 of the historic pieces were found.

An agreement has been reached between Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council) and the British Museum.
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