Showing results 1 - 12 of 1,605 for the category: Similar cases.

October 6, 2016

RIP Professor Norman Palmer

Posted at 8:18 am in Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

A great mind, as a barrister he defended numerous cultural property cases

I was very sad to hear yesterday of the death of Professor Norman Palmer.

I have met him numerous times, both at conferences and other events relating to cultural property restitution, as well as sitting on the opposite side of the table from him, as part of the group interviewing a team about their suitability for representing Greece in the case to reunify the Parthenon Sculptures.

Readers of this site may be most familiar with him as part of the team with Geoffrey Robertson and Amal Clooney that met with the Greek Government in 2014. Palmer was also well known within the sphere of cultural property restitution for chairing the Human Remains Working Group, whose work eventually led to the change in UK law allowing the repatriation of human remains to indigenous peoples in Australia and elsewhere.

He advised governments and international bodies on the drafting of new cultural property laws and was instrumental in the resolution of various cultural property disputes. He was also a great supporter of mediation and other out of court settlement methods for cultural property disputes.

Immensely knowledgeable, Norman’s academic credentials added gravitas to any team he was a part of. He will be sadly missed.

Professor Norman Palmer QC

Professor Norman Palmer QC

Institute of Art and Law

In Memoriam – Norman Palmer QC CBE
Posted on: October 5, 2016 by Alexander Herman

We are sad to announce that the Institute of Art & Law’s Academic Principal, Norman Palmer QC (Hon) CBE, has passed away. Norman was the guiding light of this organisation ever since its beginnings over twenty years ago. Along with his wife, Ruth Redmond-Cooper, he made the IAL what it is today. He provided countless hours of instruction to hundreds of students and will no doubt be sorely missed by all. His wisdom and intellectual curiosity led to the publication of foundational tomes, including Palmer on Bailment, Art Loans and Museums and the Holocaust, as well as dozens of articles in the area of art and cultural property law.

And some more details about him and his career.
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September 2, 2016

Export bans – is Britain a cultural one way street?

Posted at 1:13 pm in Similar cases

Why do we feel other countries should share their culture, but then place bans on the export of our own

Institutions like the British Museum, along with much of the British Press, regularly denounce as cultural nationalism, claims by countries such as Greece and Egypt that looted artefacts should be returned. These countries are castigated for not sharing and they should be proud of the fact that other countries want their heritage, rather than seeing it as something that they want to retain.

When there is a chance of important British works ending up in foreign collections however, we regularly place export bans on them. While we encourage others to share, we are unwilling to do so ourselves. The situation is even more perverse than it first appears though -while the British items up for export are invariably up for sale in a public auction at the request of the current owner, many of the items that others ask to be returned were seized in times of war, or looted and then smuggled into the country without any permission being given.

Every few years a major export ban crops up in the news. Often, it is not even for a work that was originally British (such as the Picasso in the examples below), but something that we happened to acquire and would like to hang on to. We see something’s existence in Britain as making it a part of our culture, but we decry others for far lesser requests.

Queen Victoria's coronet, currently subject to an export ban

Queen Victoria’s coronet, currently subject to an export ban

BBC News

Export ban placed on Queen Victoria’s wedding coronet
28 August 2016

A temporary export ban has been placed on a sapphire and diamond coronet that belonged to Queen Victoria, preventing it from being sold abroad.

The coronet, designed by Prince Albert for their wedding in 1840, is at risk of being exported unless a UK buyer matches the £5m asking price.
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August 16, 2016

India’s mixed approach to their disputed artefacts abroad

Posted at 1:13 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

Although many would like them returned, others take a certain pride in the way they have been preserved overseas and feel that they are perhaps better looked after there

This article sums up something that I have noticed hinted at in various previous articles and more specifically in comments on twitter.

Within Britain’s largest museums, there are huge collections of artefacts that were acquired from India in a range of circumstances, some more questionable than others. Many in India justifiably want some of these artefacts returned. Many more however, see the well preserved state of the artefacts in the UK as a contrast to the lacklustre state of many museums in their own country. Still more do not trust the motives of politicians, who they feel want items returned only for nationalist reasons.

I think a lot of the ambivalence to restitution of Indian artefacts perhaps stems from the distrust many have of the government there – endemic corruption potentially puts the items at greater risk if they are returned home. In a perfect world though, when these issues are solved, I would hope that more in India would want to also reclaim their heritage.

Detail from the Amravati Stupa in the British Museum

Detail from the Amravati Stupa in the British Museum

Indian Express

British museums shine thanks to all the loot from India
Adrija Roychowdhury
Published on:August 15, 2016 12:41 pm

In Britain, a museum visitor from India is suddenly made aware of how his or her past has brutally been ripped away and appended to British history, now on display for tourists from around the world to gloat over.

I first stepped onto the streets of London in the summer of 2015 as part of research work for my Masters thesis. An apt way to describe the city would be to call it a snippet of a dream carefully plucked out from a history book. For someone who was enthralled by the magnificence of British history, London was everything I had read and heard about all my life.
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August 1, 2016

Brexit may give new hope for Nigerian artefacts in British Museum

Posted at 1:07 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

Could Britain leaving the EU lead to the return of disputed Nigerian treasures

Taking a cue from the Parthenon Sculptures (Return to Greece) Bill, and the legal claim inadmissibility, questions are being asked about whether Brexit could be a route to the repatriation of other disputed artefacts in the British Museum. Nigeria has various claims relating to the seizure of artefacts from the ancient kingdom of Benin during punitive raids by the British in 1897.

Benin Bronzes in the British Museum

Benin Bronzes in the British Museum

The Guardian (Nigeria)

Brexit: How hope may rise for Nigeria’s looted artefacts
By Tajudeen Sowole
31 July 2016

If the two centuries of ownership crisis between United Kingdom and Greece, over controversial Parthenon Marbles, is resolved as a result of Brexit, hopes may appear on the horizon for return of artefacts of Nigerian origin incarcerated in the British Museum, London. Currently, what has been described as “a cross party group” of British MPs has reopened bid to return the Parthenon marbles to Greece as part of effort to keep healthy relationship with Athens after Brexit.

Also known as the Elgin Marbles, the objects, which include parts of sculptures and frieze from 2,500 years old of remnant ancient master pieces became subject of ownership tussle after the British government acquired them 200 years ago. The sculptures were originally removed from Parthenon, an ancient edifice in Athens by the seventh Earl of Elgin, Thomas Bruce, who was suspected to have ‘stolen’ the pieces from Greece during Ottoman Empire rule. But the then British Parliament disagreed that the marble pieces were illegitimately acquired.
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May 20, 2016

Palmyra triumphal arch replica erected in London’s Trafalgar square

Posted at 8:00 am in Similar cases

A scale model of the monument destroyed by ISIS has been recreated using 3D printing

Oxford’s Institute of Digital Archaeology has constructed a replica of the triumphal arch at Palmyra. The arch was destroyed deliberately by ISIS forces. The replica was constructed in Italy using Egyptian Marble using 3D printing and photos of the original.

Replica of Palmyra's triumphal arch being installed in Trafalgar Square

Replica of Palmyra’s triumphal arch being installed in Trafalgar Square


Palmyra’s ancient Triumphal Arch resurrected in London’s Trafalgar Square
By Sophie Eastaugh, for CNN
Updated 1504 GMT (2304 HKT) April 19, 2016

London (CNN)A replica of a 2,000-year-old Syrian monument demolished by ISIS militants has been built and unveiled in London’s Trafalgar Square.

The scale model of Palmyra’s Triumphal Arch, which was destroyed in an act captured on an ISIS video, has been reconstructed using 3-D printing technology and photographs of the original. The new structure was built in Italy using Egyptian marble before being shipped to London.
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USA returns stolen artefacts to Russia

Posted at 7:48 am in Similar cases

28 official documents stolen in the 1990s were handed over at a ceremony in Moscow

Twenty eight documents, including Imperial Decrees dating back to the eighteenth century were stolen from three federal Russian archives during the 1990s. Since 2006, they have appeared at auctions in the US and been seized under the instructions of the US department of Homeland Security, although Russia had not at that point realised they were missing.

They have now been handed back to Russia in a ceremony at the house of the US Ambassador in Moscow.

Ceremony at home of US Ambassador to Russia, for handover of recovered looted documents

Ceremony at home of US Ambassador to Russia, for handover of recovered looted documents

Russia Today

Historic homecoming: US returns stolen artifacts to Russia
Published time: 3 Mar, 2016 20:10

American authorities returned 28 crucial historical documents dating back to the 18th-20th centuries to the Russian government on Thursday in an official ceremony held at the residence of the US Ambassador in Moscow.

Among them are imperial decrees signed by several Russian emperors, Joseph Stalin’s mandates and several works of art. The documents include 10 authentic imperial decrees concerning the royal household and gratuities, signed by Russian emperors from Peter the Great to Pavel the First, an original decree to the People’s Commissar of Defense of the USSR signed by Joseph Stalin (dating March 14, 1944) and 17 drawings made by architect Yakov Chernikhov, a prominent representative of Soviet constructivism, that date back to the first half of the 20th century.
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April 12, 2016

Should Palmyra be fixed or left?

Posted at 1:02 pm in Similar cases

Since the destruction of various Syrian sites by ISIS, a number of different projects have been launched that aim to either virtually, or physically rebuild and revert the sites to their pre-ISIS form.

Here, Jonathan Jones argues against such actions. Similar discussions have taken place ever since Greek Independence on the form that any restoration of the Acropolis might take. What new buildings could be removed and what should stay, where does a restoration turn into a reconstruction etc.

The destroyed Temple of Bel in Palmyra

The destroyed Temple of Bel in Palmyra


Palmyra must not be fixed. History would never forgive us
Jonathan Jones
Monday 11 April 2016 14.06 BST

Palmyra must not “rise again”, as Syria’s director of antiquities has promised. It must not be turned into a fake replica of its former glory. Instead, what remains of this ancient city after its destruction by Isis – and that is mercifully more than many people feared – should be tactfully, sensitively and honestly preserved.

The honesty has to begin with Palmyra’s newfound fame. Before Isis seized this extraordinary Syrian site last year, Palmyra was a name known best to archaeologists, historians and classicists. In a monstrous and horrific way, by blowing up some of its most beautiful monuments and carrying out inhuman atrocities amid its splendours, the terrorist army has made Palmyra known.
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February 5, 2016

Do museums keep too many items in storage

Posted at 2:18 pm in Similar cases

A common claim made by museums is that restitution of artefacts would lead to gaps in their collection. They like to leave the impression that is the Parthenon Marbles went back to Greece, then the Duveen gallery would end up just lying empty, with nothing of interest to fill it.

As I have noted before though, the reality could not be further from the truth. The British Museum only has 1% of its items on display at any one time.

This article looks at various other examples, such as the fact that 108 Picasso paintings are not on permanent display in any museum, compared to 139 that are. This means that 44% of his works held by museums can not be viewed by casual visitors unless they are part of a special temporary exhibition.

Museums are not private collections – they get various tax benefits & government grants because of this fact. Surely their purpose is to display items for the benefit of the public – not to put it in storage?

It is worth looking at the original article, for the extensive graphs that it has to back up its case.

Alte Mühle, (1916) Egon Schiele. None of his works are on public display in museums

Alte Mühle, (1916) Egon Schiele. None of his works are on public display in museums


Museums are keeping a ton of the world’s most famous art locked away in storage
Christopher Groskopf
January 20, 2016

Most of Georgia O’Keeffe’s work is in storage.

Nearly half of Pablo Picasso’s oil paintings are put away.

Not a single Egon Schiele drawing is on display.

Since the advent of public galleries in the 17th century, museums have amassed huge collections of art for society’s benefit. But just a tiny fraction of that art is actually open for people to view and enjoy—including, it turns out, many works that are considered masterpieces. The dynamic raises questions about who actually benefits when museums collect so much of the world’s best art.
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February 1, 2016

Satellite images show ISIS destroyed Iraq’s oldest monastery

Posted at 2:01 pm in Similar cases

Iraq’s oldest Christian Monastery has been destroyed by ISIS, according to analysis of recent satellite photos of the area.

St Elijah’s monastery in Mosul had been used as a place of worship for 1,400 years.

US Soldiers celebrate Easter Mass at St Elijah’s monastery in 2010

US Soldiers celebrate Easter Mass at St Elijah’s monastery in 2010


Isis has destroyed Iraq’s oldest Christian monastery, satellite images confirm
Associated Press
Wednesday 20 January 2016 12.16 GMT

New satellite photos confirm what church leaders and Middle East preservationists had feared: the oldest Christian monastery in Iraq has been reduced to rubble, yet another victim of Islamic State’s relentless destruction of heritage sites it considers heretical.

St Elijah’s monastery stood as a place of worship for 1,400 years, including most recently for US troops. In earlier millennia, generations of monks tucked candles in the niches, prayed in the chapel and worshipped at the altar. The Greek letters chi and rho, representing the first two letters of Christ’s name, were carved near the entrance.
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January 28, 2016

Is not knowing an artefact was Nazi loot an excuse to retain it?

Posted at 2:47 pm in Similar cases

The Musée des beaux-arts in La Chaux-de-Fonds in Switzerland has been in the news recently, for their refusal to return a Constable painting looted by the Nazis to the heirs of the rightful owner.

The excuse given by the museum is that they did not know that they purchased the item in good faith. Further to this, they also argue that as a neutral power in the Second World War, their history is unencumbered by the holocaust.

Neither of these reasons holds much credibility for me though. If the legitimacy of a purchase is merely down to good faith, then surely this leads us down a route where nobody asks awkward questions when making a purchase. Even if the due diligence process was thorough, this should not be an acceptable excuse. although perhaps there is an argument that some compromise could be made – either between the museum and the rightful owners, or potentially the governments of countries that expect their institutions to be able to do the right thing. There is no precedent for the second argument – that Switzerland had no involvement in the situation that led to the looting. Britain was actively fighting against the Nazis during the Second World War, arguably giving it a stronger claim to this than Switzerland, but various institutions have already made restitutions in similar cases and the right to do this is enshrined in law by the Holocaust (Stolen Art) Restitution Act.

Despite all the above though, what this article skips over, is that the Holocaust is not a special case in this regard. Museums should make far wider examinations of provenance and their justifications for ownership. The Benin Bronzes and the Parthenon Sculptures in the British Museum are just some of the many other cases currently outside of the legal frameworks that allow for the return of Nazi loot, meaning that the institutions that hold them feel little need to argue a case, as they know that there is no legal way for the items to be deaccessioned from their collections at present.

John Constable’s Dedham From Langham, 1813

John Constable’s Dedham From Langham, 1813


Why a Swiss gallery should return its looted Nazi art out of simple decency
Jonathan Jones
Wednesday 27 January 2016

Memory has many colours. A work of art that survives the centuries is an embodiment of history, marked invisibly by all the hands that have held it. Who owned it? Where did it hang? These are not just arcane questions for scholars but the network of human experience that haunts works of art in museums and makes them richly alive.

The hunt for works of art looted by the Nazis matters. Researchers who discover the true owners of a painting stolen in wartime Europe and later acquired innocently or knowingly by a museum or gallery are piecing together shadowy stories of oppression, injustice, murder and destruction. Why did the Nazis loot art from Jewish owners? It was not only greedbut an ideological belief that Jews contributed nothing to European civilisation and did not deserve to share in it.
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January 27, 2016

Time to fight back against terrorists destroying cultural heritage

Posted at 2:12 pm in Similar cases

In the face of increased ISIS attacks against the ancient heritage of the areas that they occupy, UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova outlines the three ways that she believes the world must fight back against such acts.

  1. Fight against the illicit trafficking of cultural objects coming from Iraq and Syria
  2. Reinforce preventive actions
  3. Strengthen international cooperation
The ruins of Apamea in Syria in 2004, before the current conflict

The ruins of Apamea in Syria in 2004, before the current conflict

World Economic Forum

Terrorists are destroying our cultural heritage. It’s time to fight back
Irina Bokova, Director-General, UNESCO
Monday 18 January 2016

At this very moment, the invaluable legacy of humanity’s common heritage is under attack in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya. Heritage sites are destroyed and looted to finance terrorism, individuals are persecuted on religious and cultural grounds, cultural diversity is targeted.

The destruction of culture has become an instrument of terror, in a global strategy to undermine societies, propagate intolerance and erase memories. This cultural cleansing is a war crime that is now used as a tactic of war, to tear humanity from the history it shares.
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Switzerland returns looted Etruscan treasure to Italy

Posted at 2:02 pm in Similar cases

Its great to see that Switzerland is finally doing something to clear up the murky world of artefacts smuggled via the Free Port in Geneva.

An Etruscan sarcophagus is among stolen ancient artworks that Switzerland has returned to Italy

An Etruscan sarcophagus is among stolen ancient artworks that Switzerland has returned to Italy

The Local (Switzerland)

Switzerland returns looted Etruscan treasures to Italy
Published: 14 Jan 2016 16:18 GMT+01:00

Switzerland has returned to Italy 45 boxes of ancient Etruscan art stolen during illegal excavations and stashed away for more than 15 years, including two rare sarcophaguses, authorities said on Thursday.

“The antiques were given back to Italian authorities today,” a statement from Geneva’s public prosecutor’s office said.
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