Showing results 1 - 12 of 13 for the tag: Art Newspaper.

April 29, 2014

The shame associated with the Sevso Hoard

Posted at 1:06 pm in Similar cases

Part of the disputed Sevso Hoard was recently returned to Hungary (purchased off an unidentified seller in London).

Colin Renfrew looks at some of the history of the treasure, and the losses both to archaeology & to peoples reputations over what has happened with it in the years since its discovery.

Sevso treasure in 1990

Sevso treasure in 1990

From:
Art Newspaper

Shame still hangs over the Sevso hoard
The recent return of seven of the 14 pieces of Roman silver to Hungary from the UK is a positive development in the find’s sad history
By Colin Renfrew. Comment, Issue 257, May 2014
Published online: 29 April 2014

It is a relief that the sorry story of the misappropriation of the great treasure of late Roman silverware known as the Sevso hoard now seems to be reaching an acceptable conclusion. A tangled tale of greed and irresponsibility by “collectors” in high places who might have known better, seeking a quick and easy profit and showing little respect for the world’s archaeological heritage, it ends where it presumably began, in Hungary.
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October 22, 2013

Feldmann case redux? New settlement reached between nazi loot heirs & British Museum

Posted at 6:02 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

Back in the relatively early days of this blog, there was a lot of press coverage about the case of the painting belonging to Arthur Feldmann. Dr Feldmann was a Czech Jew whose paintings were seized by the Nazis. Eventually, some of his paintings ended up in the British Museum. The British Museum claimed that they wanted to return them, but couldn’t.

As a result of this, they brought a legal case, seeing if it was possible to over-ride the British Museum act. A lot of papers made out that the story that the case was about the Elgin Marbles, although this was more media spin than anything else. If you are not familiar with the case, I wrote a fairly lengthy analysis of it here. Some of the legal details from the case, which were not published until later are here.

Following the trustees of the British Museum losing the case (I’m not sure that anyone ever expected anything different), there were demands for changes in the law to handle such situations, although in reality, discussions relating to this aspect of Nazi loot restitution had already been going on for some time before that. These discussions were eventually incorporated into the law (after fairly long delays), in the form of the Holocaust (Stolen Art) Restitution bill.

In the end, because the British Museum was not allowed to return the paintings, the heirs settled instead for financial compensation (something that was outside the scope of the British Museum Act).

That should have been the end of things, but it appears that it wasn’t. The paintings that were the subject of the earlier case were not the only ones in the museum, that the Feldmann Heirs claimed were rightfully theirs. Although the original case was dealt with by the Spoliation Advisory Panel. This most recent case was not though & was instead dealt with through direct negotiation with the museum (the reasons behind this are not given in the articles that I have read).

Young Couple in a Landscape, 1535-45, in the style of Georg Pencz

What is interesting, is that as I described above, the law now allows the British Museum to return Nazi loot. The Feldmann heirs were still happy to accept an ex-gratia payment though, in lieu of the actual artwork being returned. Once again, the reasons for this are unclear, but the fact remains, that even when the law allows is, not every restitution case is settled by the actual artefacts being returned.

In some cases, the rightful owners only want it acknowledged that they are the owners. In many instances, people accept that the museums are better placed to look after expensive works of art – often you do not want something like this in your home, due to issues with controlled humidity & temperature, security, insurance costs etc.

From:
Haaretz

British Museum compensates collector’s heirs for art looted by Nazis
Family of Arthur Feldmann proved Gestapo had seized work of art in Czechoslovakia in 1939.
By Eitan Buganim
Oct. 17, 2013 | 2:15 AM

The British Museum agreed to compensate descendants of a Jewish art collector who owned a medieval German drawing in the style of Georg Pencz, which the Gestapo looted from his home with the rest of the family’s art collection in March 1939. The museum accepted a spoliation claim by collector Arthur Feldmann’s grandson, Uri Peled. It made an ex gratia payment that allows the museum to keep the drawing, “Young Couple in a Landscape,” painted around 1535-45.

The drawing had been acquired by the museum in good faith from Mrs. Rosi Schilling, in 1993. Peled, who lives in Tel Aviv, proved after extensive research that the drawing had originally belonged to his grandfather and was seized from him in Brno, Czechoslovakia, in 1939. Neither of the Feldmanns survived the war.
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September 10, 2013

Provenance, forged antiquities, auction houses & the Art Loss Register

Posted at 1:43 pm in Similar cases

This story highlights a number of issues with the global trade in antiquities.

Firstly, there is the fact, that the international art market is a murky world full of forgeries, items lacking provenance & other artefacts that aren’t quite what they first appear to be. Next, is the issue of checking the status of the artefacts against a single register, that is not in any way authoritative. It is a voluntary register, and as such is far from comprehensive. My final issue though is that the auction house acts as though this is pretty much acceptable. They were selling forged artefacts & really only made the most cursory of checks to see whether they were authentic or not. Its almost as though they are worried about asking too many questions, as they’ll uncover stuff they didn’t want to know and then no longer be able to sell it.

From:
Art Newspaper

Guilty plea over antiquities
Suspect admits falsifying provenance of Egyptian items offered for auction in London

By Martin Bailey and Melanie Gerlis. News, Issue 249, September 2013
Published online: 05 September 2013

Neil Kingsbury, of Northwood, London, has pleaded guilty to charges relating to the provenance of Egyptian antiquities that were consigned to Bonhams and Christie’s.

Kingsbury was arrested after misrepresented items were identified in Christie’s London antiquities sale of 2 May. Marcel Marée, a curator at the British Museum, saw the published catalogue a week earlier and spotted that a relief fragment of a Nubian prisoner appeared to come from the Amenhotep III temple in Thebes, across the Nile from Luxor. He contacted Hourig Sourouzian, the site’s conservation director, who confirmed that the relief was missing. It was excavated a decade ago and had been kept in storage.
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August 16, 2012

ICOM “Red List” of Egyptian antiquities at risk of looting

Posted at 12:55 pm in Similar cases

The International Council of Museums has published a list of categories of items from Egypt that they believe should not be acquired by dealers, collectors or museums, unless there is a clear provenance to the artefact. (The link is from a few months ago, because I had not come across it earlier – but it is still relevant)

From:
The Art Newspaper

Icom publishes “red list” of Egyptian antiquities at risk
Objects include statues, vessels, coins, textiles and manuscripts that the council warns should not be acquired without documented provenance
By Martin Bailey. Web only
Published online: 21 February 2012

The International Council of Museums (Icom) published an “emergency red list” of Egyptian cultural objects at risk of being illegally traded earlier this month. It presents categories of objects (rather than individual looted pieces) that should not be acquired by dealers, collectors or museums without documented provenance.

The list, which is being circulated internationally, includes statues, vessels, funerary objects, architectural elements, coins, textiles and manuscripts. It is also designed to help police and custom officials identify the types of objects that are susceptible to illicit trafficking.
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August 6, 2012

Michael Brand thinks Marion True was a scapegoat for a wider problem

Posted at 12:57 pm in Similar cases

Former Getty Director, Michael Brand, reveals why he left the institution along with some of the issues in dealing with the return of looted artefacts during his tenure. He also re-iterated what others have mentioned before – that Marion True was used more as a scapegoat, than being the true root of the disputed antiquities issue.

From:
Art Newspaper

Ex-director of Getty Museum reveals why he was ousted
Michael Brand takes pride in working with Italy and Greece to overcome impasse over controversial artefacts
By Elizabeth Fortescue. Web only
Published online: 19 July 2012

The former director of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Michael Brand, has revealed more about the reasons for his abrupt departure from the Los Angeles institution in January 2010, telling The Art Newspaper that his position there had become “untenable”.

Brand blames many of the Getty’s internal troubles on its management structure. The director of the Art Gallery NSW in Sydney since June, Brand recalls his role as the Getty Museum’s director as a “lonely” one. “It became very clear that the museum director was in a position where he couldn’t actually make decisions or plan,” Brand says.
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April 18, 2012

The issues with free museum entry in the UK

Posted at 7:48 am in British Museum

As mentioned before, the British Museum enjoys pointing out that only in London can the Elgin Marbles be seen free of charge. This fact does of course rely on the huge subsidies by the British government, something that is getting more & more problematic in the face of other cutbacks in public spending.

From:
The Art Newspaper

Ten years of free entry, but can it last?
Why the political gain in the United Kingdom outweighs the economic cost
By Javier Pes. Museums, Issue 232, February 2012
Published online: 01 February 2012

Maintaining free entry to the UK’s national museums, as the secretary of state for culture Jeremy Hunt blogged in December on the tenth anniversary of its introduction, doesn’t come cheap: it costs around £44m a year to maintain free admission to national museums that previously charged, or around £354m in total since 1999. And yet he is happy to support it.

Why is the government backing a scheme launched in 2001 by the Labour government it routinely criticises for free-spending? The coalition is committed to reducing the country’s budget deficit, which peaked at more than 10% of gross domestic product before it came to power in 2010. Yet universal free entry, which Scotland and Wales also introduced in 2001, seems sacrosanct even though cutting the deficit is one of the coalition government’s mantras.
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January 10, 2012

What are museums for

Posted at 9:09 am in Similar cases

Three new books present contrasting views on the purpose of museums today. The reality is that this is the kind of argument with no right or wrong answer, but all of the different voices merit consideration.

From:
The Art Newspaper

What are museums for?
Three highly contrasting views reflecting current debates and controversies in policy and practice
By Maurice Davies | From issue 224, May 2011
Published online 24 May 11 (Books)

People hold strong opinions about museums. Some assert that their ­primary function should be scholarship, others insist that it’s more important to communicate with a wide audience. In pursuing either of these goals, should museums focus on exploring objects or investigating their contexts—are they about looking at things or telling stories? Adding to the debate, there’s lingering anxiety about relativism; some commentators (and probably many visitors) think museums should strive to be objective, others relish a variety of views.

It has become a cliché to say that museums are today’s churches—special places for contemplation, separate from day-to-day concerns; conversely, there’s an argument that museums should aim to be commonplace, part of normal life. It is intriguing that museums were once talked of as places that reinforced cultural hegemonies, but now they are more often seen as democratising access to art, and even as politically correct when they attempt to include groups formerly omitted from history. While some believe museums have changed far too much, others think they haven’t been transformed enough. The books reviewed here reveal differing views about the role of museums.
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November 17, 2011

Cleaning controversy surrounds Nigerian Ife artefacts

Posted at 2:01 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

Cleaning controversies regarding poor attempts to restore artefacts are not new – the Parthenon Marbles attracted similar attention based on problems caused by the treatment of the sculptures in the 1930s.

from:
The Art Newspaper

European treatment harms African works?
Questions are being raised about a protective coating applied to Ife sculptures
By Martin Bailey | From issue 223, April 2010

LONDON. African art specialists are questioning the recent conservation of Ife sculptures in Madrid in preparation for an international touring exhibition. They are concerned that Spanish conservators applied an inappropriate coating intended to protect the sculptures during the tour and after they are returned to Nigeria, and might even have removed ancient surface patina.

John Picton, a professor at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies and former deputy director of the National Museum in Lagos, says that the ancient brass heads have developed “a shiny surface”. Other specialists have also expressed concerns about the treatment by conservators at the Instituto del Patrimonio Cultural de España (Spanish Cultural Heritage Institute).
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December 31, 2010

Benevento Missal finaly returns home to Italy because of Nazi loot restitution laws

Posted at 12:07 pm in Similar cases

More coverage of the return of a manuscript from the British Library to Benevento in Italy. The return was made possible by new laws allowing the return of items looted during the Nazi era.

From:
The Art Newspaper

Benevento Missal returns home
Sixty-five years after the end of the second world war, the precious manuscript is the first item of Nazi-era loot to be returned by a UK national museum
By Martin Bailey | Web only
Published online 24 Nov 10 (News)

BENEVENTO, ITALY. Laureato Maio, the 84-year-old cathedral librarian, lifted the early 12th-century missal from its box, and brought it to his lips. He closed his eyes and kissed the bound codex for a full minute, deep in thought. On 11 November, 65 years after the end of the World War II, the precious manuscript from Benevento (near Naples) became the first item of Nazi-era loot to be returned by a UK national museum, in this case the British Library.

Maio is the 49th librarian at Benevento Cathedral since records began, in the year 998. He remembers the chapter library in the late 1930s, in his early teens, and as a young seminary student he witnessed the terrible destruction wrought on his city by allied bombing in 1943. The cathedral was almost totally destroyed, but its manuscripts were saved. However, soon afterwards one of the early codices disappeared: a missal written in Benevento’s unique script soon after 1100.
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November 28, 2010

How independent is the British Museum from the British Government?

Posted at 1:19 pm in British Museum

When asked about returning the Parthenon Marbles, the British Museum likes to fall back on the arument that they couldn’t do so without a change in the law – making it a matter for the government. Yet at the same time, the government indicates that the issue is one for the trustees of the British Museum.

The government would like you to believe that the British Museum is entirely independent of government – the reality though is that the two are closely tied together – seeing the British Museum as a completely separate entity that is in complete control of all decisions is an inaccurate understanding of things. This is evidenced here, by the fact that (for whatever peculiar reasons) the British Museum can’t access large amounts of its own money because it is being with held by the government.

From:
The Art Newspaper

Treasury withholds museum donations
British Museum is denied access to £42.5m of its own cash
By Martin Bailey | From issue 218, November 2010
Published online 5 Nov 10 (News)

LONDON. UK national museums, including the British Museum and the National Gallery, have found it difficult to access over £50m donated by philanthropists, because of Treasury regulations. These are funds from donations and bequests which went into museums’ financial reserves and later fell under government control.

The scale of the potential problem is enormous, since the reserves for all national museums total £285m. The museums have not publicised the difficulty, fearing that this might rock the boat during delicate discussions with government.
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November 4, 2010

Is sharing artefacts the future for museums?

Posted at 2:03 pm in British Museum

Two different people both seem to be advocating that loans of artefacts between museum are the way of the future. in the case of the British Museum however, this is always something that is done very much on their terms – they won’t countenance any sort of longer term loaning. It buys them some sympathy, when they can tell people how much of their collection has been lent out – but in most cases these loans are made for less than a year. MacGregor seems to like the idea of sharing to nearby museums – actually allowing the original owners of the artefacts to see them again in their own country is clearly a more contentious issue however.

The second article sees lending in far more equitable terms – partly as a way of helping museums to deal with an art market inflated by wealthy private collectors.

From:
Museums Association

MacGregor – Museums can be Lending Libraries
Rebecca Atkinson
05/10/2010 international level

Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum (BM), has called for national museums to be seen as “lending libraries” from which partner museums can borrow objects to use as they wish.

Speaking at the Museums Association conference, MacGregor discussed the History of the World in 100 Objects collaboration between the BM, the BBC and regional museums.
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May 23, 2003

Legal issues surround New Acropolis Museum construction

Posted at 4:49 pm in New Acropolis Museum

The New Acropolis Museum has taken a long time to get to this stage, but many in Greece seem desperate to stop it from being built at all, despite the fact that the proper procedures have been followed & that the building has been deliberately designed to avoid disturbing the archaeological remains below.

From:
Athens News

FRIDAY , 23 MAY 2003
No. 13015
Acropolis Museum builders unfazed by imminent court ruling
JOHN HADOULIS

PROTESTERS opposed to the construction of Athens’ new Acropolis Museum in an area rife with archaeological remains have reportedly won a legal battle in their campaign to halt the project, but Greek media indicate that a final court decision on the issue could take months.

Reports on May 19 said that the Council of State sided with residents of Makriyianni – the area selected for the new museum at the foot of the Acropolis – who claim that the building’s foundations will damage a valuable housing complex dating from the Classical to the early Christian era.
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