November 26, 2008

Museums end up paying the price for looted antiquities

Posted at 1:54 pm in Similar cases

For many years, Museums sat comfortably in the knowledge that despite turning a blind eye to the looted antiquities in their collections, the law was on their side & successful prosecutions were rare, even in relatively clear cut cases. In the past three or four years though, a constantly evolving situation has begun to shift far more rapidly.

So far, Italy has taken the lead role in spearheading the wave of restitutions, but other countries are carefully watching & learning.

From:
Cleveland.com

Analysis: Museums often pay the price for looted antiquities
by Steven Litt/Plain Dealer Art Critic
Sunday November 23, 2008, 6:30 AM

On Sept. 13, 1995, Swiss and Italian police raided a suite of offices in a warehouse on the southwest side of Geneva rented by Italian antiquities dealer Giacomo de Medici.

Behind the gray metal door of Room 23, on Corridor 17, they found shelves packed with looted vases, statues, bronzes, frescoes, mosaics and jewelry.

Some were wrapped in newspapers; others were packed in fruit boxes or left leaning against walls. Many objects were still covered with dirt, having come fresh from the earth.

Most important, as recounted in the 2006 book “The Medici Conspiracy” by Peter Watson and Cecilia Todeschini, police discovered thousands of letters, photographs and other documents.

The paper trail linked the activities of Italian tomb robbers, or tombaroli, to networks of art dealers who sold the artworks eventually to some of the greatest museums in the world, including the Cleveland Museum of Art.

On Wednesday, the Cleveland museum agreed to return 13 ancient artworks to Italy, based in part on evidence gleaned from the 1995 raid, according to Maurizio Fiorilli, the Italian state lawyer who negotiated the deal.

The agreement marked the conclusion of an 18-month negotiation and followed similar accords with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and the Princeton University Art Museum.

All have returned dozens of objects to Italy.

The agreements are part of a fundamental change sweeping the art world. In response to reports of a global epidemic of looting in the Mediterranean, China and Southeast Asia, museums are facing increased scrutiny about how and from whom they acquire antiquities.

It’s a field fraught with uncertainty. Before acquiring an object, museums typically contact international police agencies to check whether the work may have been stolen.

The catch is that if an object was looted, there will be no record of its existence. Many museums, including Cleveland’s, have collected and shown ancient works whose exact origins remain unknown.

To experts such as Ricardo Elia, a Boston University archaeology professor and a close observer of the antiquities trade, such lack of documentation is proof that an object was looted. He estimated that as much as 90 percent of the antiquities purchased in recent decades by American museums are the product of looting.

But Timothy Rub, director of the Cleveland Museum of Art, said that lack of exculpatory evidence about an artwork’s origins doesn’t prove a wrongdoing was committed — or that the work should be relinquished on demand.

“If I’ve inherited as director custody of an object that doesn’t have a provenance before a certain date and somebody says, ‘It’s ours, give it back,’ that’s a pretty tough thing,” he said. “I’ve got to ask you to make a case.”

The difficulty of arguing such cases makes it unlikely that the recent wave of repatriations to Italy will lead to a vast purge of artworks from American museums.

Instead, if the negotiations show anything, it’s that museums, including Cleveland’s, are willing to part with antiquities only when foreign governments provide persuasive evidence connecting the works to recent criminal wrongdoing.

That’s a difficult threshold to reach, and it’s rare. The art bust in Switzerland, for example, documented the precise trail taken by specific objects from the looters who dug them up to the middlemen who cleaned and restored them, provided them with phony ownership histories and put them on the market.

“You may not see another case this dramatic for 20 or 30 years,” Elia said. “They found bags of Polaroid photographs and information from Hecht’s diaries.”

Robert Hecht is an art dealer associated with Medici, who is on trial in Rome on charges related to smuggling.

In the absence of such evidence, museums are likely to stand firm.

“The world is filled with people who want to cast a taint over objects in order to try to get them back,” said Michael Horvitz, co-chairman of the Cleveland museum’s Board of Trustees. “We don’t want to get ourselves in a situation where every time somebody says, ‘This object was sold to you by a dealer we don’t like,’ we just cave in.”

Art has been subject to plunder for centuries. Napoleon scoured Italy during a late-18th century invasion, bringing home a hoard of masterpieces that still adorn the Louvre.

Lord Elgin of England shipped home the celebrated marble carvings from the Acropolis in Athens between 1801 and 1805 with permission from the Ottoman court. Hitler and his lieutenants raped museums and private collections across Italy, France and the Netherlands.

But while art museums on both sides of the Atlantic have honored claims brought by former owners of artworks looted or confiscated by the Nazis, they have resisted attempts to right the wrongs of prior centuries by emptying their galleries.

Greece, for example, has demanded that the British Museum give back the Elgin marbles. Greece even went so far as to build a new museum at the base of the Acropolis to display the sculptures, as a way to pressure the British. Thus far, it hasn’t worked.

Many experts on both sides of the argument over antiquities agree that current moral and ethical standards shouldn’t be applied retroactively to treasures removed from archaeological sites by explorers or colonial powers in prior centuries.

“It’s not the intention to go back through all of history to get the stuff that Columbus maybe put on a ship and took back to [Queen] Isabella,” Horvitz said.

The most widely accepted dividing line between contemporary and past moral standards is the 1970 UNESCO Convention, aimed at halting the illegal trade in antiquities. UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Rub, the Cleveland museum’s director, recently helped toughen the guidelines used by leading American art museums when considering the purchase of an antiquity, using the 1970 convention as a key reference point.

Antiquities expert Elia said the document is an improvement, but he’d like to see even tougher standards.

The debate won’t end soon. But if Italy’s agreement with the Cleveland museum sets a precedent, it is that any future discussions about repatriating artworks will focus on works positively associated with illegal activity and acquired by the museum after 1970.

By all accounts, the agreement between the Cleveland museum and Italy is a friendly one, and the deal certainly looks good from a local perspective.

In exchange for the “transfer” of the 13 antiquities, Italy has agreed to lend Cleveland on a long-term basis 13 works of equal quality. The museum also agreed to return a 14th object, a late-Gothic processional cross stolen from a church near Siena.

Rub declined to say how much the museum paid for the purchased items it’s returning but said it would be highly difficult to seek monetary restitution from dealers.

Still, though, the Cleveland museum will have those Italian loan objects in place of the ones it’s transferring. And Italy also has promised to cooperate on at least one major exhibition of objects lent from state collections.

It’s also important that the agreement states that the Cleveland museum acted in good faith when it acquired the antiquities and the cross. Italy isn’t going to bring charges against current or former curators in Cleveland, as it has against Marion True, the former Getty curator now on trial with Hecht in Rome.

A sticking point remains: Italy and the Cleveland museum will form a joint scholarly commission to continue research on the controversial Apollo Sauroktonos bronze acquired by the museum in 2004, along with a smaller bronze winged victory chariot ornament bought in 1984.

If the Italians come up with scientific or other evidence of wrongdoing associated with those two pieces, negotiations could resume, said Fiorilli, the Italian state lawyer.

From Elia’s perspective, the agreement between the Cleveland museum and Italy shows how the Italians are using sticks and carrots gently to get what they want.

“They’re making these agreements in a very deliberate way,” he said. “They’re trying to get museums to change their policies by being generous.”

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2 Comments »

  1. Regine Elkan said,

    11.26.08 at 6:50 pm

    Dear Elginism.com,

    My name is Régine Elkan, and I am a claimant against a Paris Museum regarding a large collection looted during World War II. for your information, please find below a response filed with the Editor of the Cleveland Newspaper called the Plain Dealer regarding the article “Museums often pay the price for looted antiquities”, by Steven Litt, which was published on Sunday November 23, 2008.

    If you have any question, please do not hesitate to contact me at the address above or by email at regine_elkan@yahoo.fr. I thank you in advance for your support.

    Sincerely yours,

    Régine ELKAN

    ———————————————————————
    Plan d’Orgon, November 23, 2008

    To the attention of Mr. Litt

    RE : PROPOSAL FOR A BILL ON DUE DILIGENCE OBLIGATIONS OF MUSEUMS

    My name is Régine Elkan, and I am a claimant against a Paris Museum regarding a large collection looted during World War II. In 2002, I initiated a restitution action with the « Commission d’Indemnisation des Victimes de Spoliations » (« CIVS »), involving the Fine French Furniture collection also called the « Bouvier » collection, along with the a suit with the Paris Administrative Court against the Office of the French Prime Minister in 2006.

    The suit in Administrative Court was filed because the CIVS refused to apply the investigation rules which are imposed by statute, it does not respect the principle of confrontation of evidence by both parties, and it attempt to manufacture false evidence.

    Following the publication of your piece “Museums often pay the price for looted antiquities”, I thought you may be interested in the attached proposal I recently submitted to the Judiciary Committees of the French Assembly and of the French Senate requesting a bill incorporating and making mandatory the ICOM Code of Ethics.

    Your article points out that Museums often are ignorant or uncertain purchasers of looted art considering the difficulties of provenance research work. Unfortunately, the Carnavalet case is not a case of willful ignorance, but rather of plain refusal to consider the obligations of provenance research, epecially as the Museum conceded it was aware of the provenance problems. This is the outrageous behavior that Museums pay the price for, and will continue to pay the price for as long as they continue on this path.

    For your information, I notified The Museum and trade community involved in decorative arts in writing in 2003 with the claim information I possessed at the time. Out of 34 museums, 4 auction houses and 10 trade groups, I received the following responses:

    - one institution recognized a suspicious provenance,
    - 31 institutions did not bother to respond at all,
    - 7 institutions affirmatively denied they had any provenance problems with the requested items,
    - 9 institutions responded they were not sure.

    If two thirds of the sollicited institutions did not respond, I can hardly agree that Museums are justified in asserting alleged difficulties of provenance research.

    If you have any question, please do not hesitate to contact me at the address above or by email at regine_elkan@yahoo.fr. I thank you in advance for your help.

    Sincerely yours,

    Régine ELKAN

  2. Regine Elkan said,

    11.26.08 at 6:53 pm

    Dear Elginism.com, below is the text of a letter to the French Parliament which explains why the Article from Steven Litt is inaccurate.

    Thank you for your support,

    Sincerely,

    Regine Elkan
    ———————————————

    Régine Elkan
    31 Impasse des Coquelicots
    13750 Plan d’Orgon
    (04) 90-73-25-13

    Plan d’Orgon, October 25, 2008

    Jean-Luc Warsmann
    Chairman, Judiciary Committee
    French National Assembly
    126 rue de l’Université
    75355 Paris 07 SP
    By E-Mail : jlwarsmann@assemblee-nationale.fr, jean-luc.warsmann@wanadoo.fr

    Jean-Jacques Hyest
    Chairman, Judiciary and Constitutional Committee
    French Senate
    15, rue de Vaugirard
    75291 PARIS Cedex 06
    By E-Mail: jj.hyest@senat.fr

    RE : PROPOSAL FOR A BILL ON DUE DILIGENCE OBLIGATIONS OF MUSEUMS

    Sirs,

    I am the daughter of Rosalie Elkan (born April 04, 1909, deceased January 01, 1998) and Robert Elkan (born November 1902, deceased March 20, 1968). My parents, along with other family members were victims of significant economic and financial spoliations during the Vichy Regime.

    In May 2002, I initiated a restitution action with the « Commission d’Indemnisation des Victimes de Spoliations » (« CIVS »). Specifically, this action involved the so-called « Bouvier » collection, which was bequeathed to the Carnavalet Museum in Paris, France in 1965-1968. The executor in charge of this bequest was Jean Bourdel, a former President of the Paris Chamber of « Notaires ».

    Following the restitution action with the CIVS, I initiated a suit with the Paris Administrative Court against the Office of the French Prime Minister on February 10, 2006, since the CIVS reports into the Office of the French Prime Minister.

    My claim with the CIVS, along with my complaint with the Paris Administrative Tribunal, covers the Fraenkel estate, which was aryanized during the Vichy Regime. This estate included substantial financial assets, and most notably a very significant collection of XVIIIth Century French Fine Furniture (more than 200 artworks). This collection is now being held by the City of Paris and is one of the largest collections of the Carnavalet Museum.

    As of today, these procedures have unearthed the following facts:

    - The heirs of Adolphe Fraenkel were not aware of the existence or extent of the Fraenkel estate or of its looting until 1993 ; since 1993, the heirs of Adolphe Fraenkel have been diligent in preserving their rights by performing research of the artworks, by attempting to resolve the dispute directly with the Carnavalet Museum and the City of Paris, and by following the procedures established by the CIVS ;
    - Certain documents from the city of Paris establish that the Carnavalet Museum violated the statutes in effect in 1965 during the bequest procedure of the Bouvier collection ;
    - The executor of the Bouvier bequest, Jean Bourdel, who managed the bequest legal process in favor of the Carnavalet Museum in 1965, and who also was the Notaire who had control of the Fraenkel estate, was the President of the Paris Chamber of « Notaires » from 1943 to 1944. As such, Jean Bourdel played a central role in the aryanisation and looting of real estate assets held by Jewish families in Paris during this period. On this point, the National Archives (AJ38 archives of the Commissariat for Jewish Matters of the Vichy Regime) irrefutably support this fact, which contradicts the assessment of the Matteoli Commission Report issued in 1999.

    When the CIVS was founded by then Prime Minister Lionel Jospin on September 10, 1999, I wanted to follow the « rules of the game » which the French Government had announced, by submitting my claims to a so-called independent arbitral process managed by a quasi-governmental commission, rather than resolving my claims with either French or foreign courts.

    Following a six year process with CIVS, my experience has been extremely disappointing. As my suit against the French Prime Minister points out, the claims procedures and associated proceedings were marred by significant arbitrary abuses and the complete absence of due process:

    - The CIVS consistently refused to proceed with appropriate and necessary research and investigation with the Bourdel Notarial Office, whereas this Office has all the appropriate records and information necessary to properly assess the Fraenkel estate. As a matter of fact, a simple investigation with the Bourdel Notarial office would have allowed the CIVS to avoid issuing absurd and contradictory interpretations of the outcome of the Fraenkel estate in its June 25, 2004 opinion. These erroneous conclusions were literally made up with the Government representative to the CIVS, who never verified his assertions with the Bourdel Notarial Office or never provided and evidence or foundations to support them. The Government representative orally presented these conclusions without a written transcript during a CIVS hearing, while I was never allowed to challenge these assertions either orally or in writing throughout the proceedings.
    - The CIVS proceedings were marred by significant due process abuses when it investigated and reviewed the claims : most notably, the CIVS refused to admit a legal certificate of attestation, which established that I was a beneficiary of the Fraenkel collection. Most notably, the CIVS pressured Government officials in attempting to fraudulently create a new attestation contradicting the document I presented to the Commission.
    - The CIVS refused to investigate or perform any provenance research with either the city of Paris or with the Genealogy Research firm Coutot-Roehig regarding the bequest of the Bouvier collection to the City of Paris. Following a request by me to the CADA (“Commission d’Accès aux Documents Administratifs”), I obtained on my own from the city of Paris certain limited records which showed the bequest of the Bouvier collection to the City of Paris violated the statutes involving bequest to public institutions in effect at the time.
    - Following repeated requests, the CIVS refused to perform any provenance research or to provide me with any of the files containing the authentication of expert opinion regarding all artworks including the Bouvier collection, most specifically the authentication performed by Etienne Ader in 1965. During a hearing on June 25, 2004, the Carnavalet Museum Director, Jean-Marc Léri, conceded that he was intimately familiar with the details of both the Bouvier collection AND the Fraenkel collection. This statement, which was not recorded in any transcript by the CIVS, is a vivid confirmation that the City of Paris has in its possession of all of the records necessary for an appropriate provenance research and which it did not communicate. The Carnavalet Museum Director also conceded that these records did lead to an identification of a Fraenkel provenance for the Bouvier collection. This admission shows that the City of Paris and the Carnavalet Museum have in their possession all of the appropriate information to perform a complete and appropriate provenance research in order to trace back the Fraenkel collection. However, the Carnavalet Museum and the CIVS, which had the statutory obligation to perform the necessary research with the City of Paris, have both violated the ICOM (“International Council of Museums”) Code of Ethics, the UNIDROIT Convention and the Washington Principles (December 03, 1998), which require a Museum to investigate and perform a “due diligence” research regarding the provenance of an artwork.

    Therefore, I have concluded that the CIVS process is a failure, since the CIVS does not apply the investigation rules which are imposed by statute, it does not respect the principle of confrontation of evidence by both parties, and it attempts to manufacture false evidence.

    To remedy this unacceptable situation, and following the publication on October 18 by the Telegraph of an article titled “National galleries to hand back Nazi art”, which indicates that the British Parliament is considering a bill which would require all British state museums to unconditionally return to claimants or their heirs all artworks which were looted during World War II, I am submitting the following request to you:

    I am requesting that the Judiciary Committees of the French Assembly and of the French Senate submit a bill amending the law covering the “MUSÉES DE FRANCE” (LAW n° 2002-5 du 4 janvier 2002) and the “DÉCRET DU 17 DÉCEMBRE 1928 RELATIF AU REGIME DES MUSEES DEPARTEMENTAUX ET MUNICIPAUX”.

    The bill will incorporate and make mandatory certain language from the ICOM Code of Ethics. The proposed language would mandate (See Exhibit 1):

    - That state and municipal museums must adopt and publish a collections policy addressing the acquisition of artworks;
    - That state and municipal museums must perform a full title search prior to the acquisition through a systematic provenance research, while forbidding the completion of the acquisition unless the museum is fully confident that this research clears proper title; this certification should not be outsourced to a “Notaire” under the pretext of a search for potential heirs, since only museum professionals will be qualified to perform such a provenance research according to the appropriate ethical and regulatory standards. If anything, the case of the Carnavalet Museum demonstrates that State and Municipal museums cannot afford to rely on « Notaires », since this case shows that they no longer have credibility in this area;
    - That state and municipal museums must perform a full provenance research to determine the effective ownership title on existing collections, and make the results of the provenance research public.

    In my February 10 2006 complaint filed with the Administrative Tribunal against the French Government regarding the recommendations of the CIVS, I did not ask the court for the return of the Bouvier collection, but rather, I was limiting my complaint to requiring the French Government and the CIVS to comply with existing statutes and to provide me with the provenance information regarding the Bouvier collection and all information and records held by the Government or by CIVS regarding all the assets held by my family which were looted during the Vichy Regime.

    In addition, you will notice that, unlike the approach being discussed in Great-Britain, I am not proposing a blanket mandate for museums to return the artworks to claimants. The reasons are as follows:

    - French museums may be negatively affected by a blanket mandate to return looted artworks, while the critical issue in Nazi-looted art claims usually is the disclosure of the provenance, which is why I limit my request to the requirement of provenance research and disclosure;
    - It is important to preserve flexibility, in order to either find solutions involving loans, financial compensations, shared title, or other formulas, which fit each situation.

    In addition, you will notice that I am not proposing that State or municipal museums automatically waive the statute of limitations defense, which was the rationale behind a bill submitted in the French parliament in 2000 (bill number 2282), since this proposal assumed that the waiver would be valid for a period of 5 years, after which any claim would be foreclosed.

    Therefore, I believe my proposal, which represents a very narrow change to existing laws:

    - Will enable increased transparency regarding the national patrimony maintained by state and municipal museums;
    - Will mandate the provenance research obligation, which ICOM members have already accepted to comply with by applying to and becoming member of ICOM, such as the Carnavalet Museum did;
    - Does not represent an undue constraint or a significant costs on museum operating budgets, since the museum community has already signaled to the public and to the government their willingness to submit themselves to the systematic practice of provenance research;
    - Will ensure that disastrous and unacceptable situations, such as the one the Carnavalet Museum is now facing, will not occur again.

    If you have any question, please do not hesitate to contact me at the address above or by email at regine_elkan@yahoo.fr. I thank you in advance for your help.

    Sincerely yours,

    __________________________________
    Régine ELKAN

    cc: Bertrand Delanoë, Maire de Paris
    Mairie de Paris
    Place de l’Hôtel de Ville
    75004 PARIS

    Anna B. Rubin, Director
    Holocaust Claims Processing Office
    New York State Banking Department
    One State Street
    New York, NY 10004-1417 U.S.A.

    UNESCO
    Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura
    c/o Spokeswoman
    Mireille Jardin
    Par E-Mail: m.jardin@unesco.org
    By Fax: (01) 45 68 55 66
    UNESCO
    Mme Françoise Rivière
    Sous-Directrice générale pour la culture
    7, place de Fontenoy
    75352 PARIS 07 SP
    By Fax: (01) 45-67-16-90
    By E-Mail : f.riviere@unesco.org

    Ori Soltes
    Chairman
    Center for Holocaust Art Research
    1785 Massachussets Avenue NW, Suite 100
    Washington, DC 20036, U.S.A.

    Ady Steg
    Président, Alliance Israélite Universelle
    45 rue La Bruyère
    75428 Paris Cedex 09
    By Fax : (33) 01 48 74 51 33
    By E-Mail : info@aiu.org

    David Kessler
    France Culture
    116 avenue du Président Kennedy 75016 PARIS
    By email : David.Kessler@radiofrance.com

    Jean-Pierre Bady, conseiller-maître honoraire à la Cour des comptes,
    c/o Ministère de la Culture
    Comité d’histoire du ministère de la culture et des institutions culturelles
    3, place de Valois – 75001 Paris
    By Fax : 01 40 15 79 52
    By email : comitehistoire@culture.gouv.fr

    Marie-Christine Labourdette
    Direction des Musées de France
    6, rue des Pyramides
    75041 Paris Cedex 01
    By Fax: (33) 1 40 15 34 10
    By e-mail: Marie-Christine.labourdette@culture.gouv.fr

    Théo Klein
    Président du Musée d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaïsme
    Hôtel de Saint-Aignan
    71, rue du Temple
    75003 Paris
    By Fax: (33) 1 42 72 97 47
    By e-mail: secretariat-general@mahj.org

    Maxime Gremetz
    Député
    Assemblée nationale
    126 rue de l’Université
    75355 Paris 07 SP
    By E-Mail : mgremetz@assemblee-nationale.fr, contact@maxime-gremetz.fr

    Noël Mamère
    Député
    Assemblée nationale
    126 rue de l’Université
    75355 Paris 07 SP
    By E-Mail : nmamere@assemblee-nationale.fr

    Pierre Méhaignerie
    Député
    Président de la commission des affaires culturelles, familiales et sociales
    Assemblée nationale
    126 rue de l’Université
    75355 Paris 07 SP
    By E-Mail : pmehaignerie@assemblee-nationale.fr, pmehaign@club-internet.fr

    Jacques Legendre
    Sénateur
    Président de la commission des affaires culturelles du Sénat
    Casier de la poste
    15, rue de Vaugirard
    75291 – Paris Cedex 06
    By E-Mail : jacques.legendre@wanadoo.fr

    Office of Andrew Dismore, MP
    79 the Burroughs
    London
    NW4 4AX
    By E-Mail: “DISMORE, Andrew” DismoreA@parliament.uk

    Sandro Bondi
    Italian Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities
    Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali
    Via del Collegio Romano, 27
    00186 Roma
    By Email: renzo.desimone@beniculturali.it, webmaster@beniculturali.it

    Michael Liapis
    Greek Ministry of Culture, Directorate of Letters
    1 Rethymnou & Herakleiou Str.
    10682 Athens
    By Fax: (+30) 10 8201 702
    By E-Mail : protocol@dgr.culture.gr

    Ertuğrul Günay
    Minister of Culture and Tourism
    By Fax: (+90.312) 312 43 59
    Atatürk Bulvarı No:29
    06050 Opera
    Ankara – Turkey
    By E-Mail : info@kulturturizm.gov.tr

    ICOM Ethics Committee
    c/o Maison de l’Unesco 1, rue Miollis
    75732 Paris cedex 15
    By Fax : +33 (0) 1 43 06 78 62
    By E-Mail: ethics@icom.museum,
    Cc : “Margarida Ascenso”, secretariat@icom.museum

    Giuseppe Gargani
    Member of the European Parliament
    Chairman, Legal Affairs Committee, European Parliament
    Correspondence with Citizens, GOL03A012
    L-2929 LUXEMBOURG
    By Fax: (352) 43 00 27 072
    By E-Mail: giuseppe.gargani@europarl.europa.eu, ip-JURI@europarl.europa.eu

    Katerina Batzeli
    Member of the European Parliament
    Chairwoman, Committee on Culture and Education, European Parliament
    Correspondence with Citizens, GOL03A012
    L-2929 LUXEMBOURG
    By Fax: (352) 43 00 27 072
    By E-Mail : katerina.batzeli@europarl.europa.eu

    EXHIBIT 1 : PROPOSED LANGUAGE AMENDING LAW RELATIVE AUX “MUSEES DE FRANCE” (LAW n° 2002-5 du 4 janvier 2002) AND THE DECRET DU 17 DECEMBRE 1928 RELATIF AU REGIME DES MUSEES DEPARTEMENTAUX ET MUNICIPAUX.

    Collections Policy
    The governing body for each museum should adopt and publish a written collections policy that addresses the acquisition, care and use of collections. The policy should clarify the position of any material that will not be catalogued, conserved, or exhibited.

    Valid Title
    No object or specimen should be acquired by purchase, gift, loan, bequest, or exchange unless the acquiring museum is satisfied that a valid title is held. Evidence of lawful ownership in a country is not necessarily valid title.

    Provenance and Due Diligence
    Every effort must be made before acquisition to ensure that any object or specimen offered for purchase, gift, loan, bequest, or exchange has not been illegally obtained in or exported from, its country of origin or any intermediate country in which it might have been owned legally (including the museum’s own country). Due diligence in this regard should establish the full history of the item from discovery or production.

    Any object or specimen may only be transferred to the Museum when the Museum has proper assurances that the object or specimen:
    - Was not stolen, not lost against the will of the owner, and not illegally excavated;
    - Was not illicitly imported.

    Objects and Specimens from Unauthorized or Unscientific Fieldwork
    Museums should not acquire objects where there is reasonable cause to believe their recovery involved the unauthorized, unscientific, or intentional destruction or damage of monuments, archaeological or geological sites, or species and natural habitats. In the same way, acquisition should not occur if there has been a failure to disclose the finds to the owner or occupier of the land, or to the proper legal or governmental authorities.

    Documentation of Collections
    Museum collections should be documented according to accepted professional standards. Such documentation should include a full identification and description of each item, its associations, provenance, condition, treatment and present location. Such data should be kept in a secure environment and be supported by retrieval systems providing access to the information by the museum personnel and other legitimate users.

    Provenance Research for Existing Collections
    Museums must conduct provenance research on covered objects in their collections whose provenance is incomplete or uncertain.
    a) Museums must identify covered objects in their collections and make public currently available object and provenance information.
    b) Museums must review the covered objects in their collections to identify those whose characteristics or provenance suggest that research be conducted to determine whether they may have been unlawfully appropriated and without subsequent restitution.
    c) In undertaking provenance research, museums must search their own records thoroughly and, when necessary, contact established archives, databases, art dealers, auction houses, donors, scholars, and researchers who may be able to provide provenance information.
    d) Museums must incorporate provenance research into their standard research on collections.
    e) When seeking funds for applicable exhibition or public programs research, museums must incorporate provenance research into their proposals.
    f) Museums should document their provenance research for objects in their collections.

    Discovery of Evidence of Unlawfully Appropriated Objects
    g) If credible evidence of unlawful appropriation without subsequent restitution is discovered through research, the museum must resolve the status of the object, by making such information public and, if possible, notifying potential claimants.

    Display of Unprovenanced Material
    Museums should avoid displaying or otherwise using material of questionable origin or lacking provenance. They should be aware that such displays or usage can be seen to condone and contribute to the illicit trade in cultural property.

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