Showing results 1 - 12 of 664 for the tag: Cultural Property.

July 29, 2014

Are the British Museum planning on moving the Elgin Marbles

Posted at 1:07 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Various news articles give the impression that the British Museum will be moving some parts of the Parthenon Sculptures for an exhibition on ancient Greece taking place next year.

While the sculptures will not be leaving the museum at all during this process, it raises a couple of interesting points.

Firstly, the British Museum regularly makes the point that the sculptures can be seen free of charge in London – highlighting the fact that an admission fee is charged by the Acropolis Museum. However, large temporary exhibitions at the British Museum are never free – so you will no longer be able to see all the sculptures there for free while the exhibition is on.

Secondly, it has often been suggested in the past, that the sculptures are too valuable & fragile to be moved – that any handling might damage them. The fact that the British Museum is happy to move them around within the building shows that to move them to a more distant location would clearly be possible.

One assumes that Greece will probably be lending some sculptures to this exhibition. They should think long and hard so though, as to how they can also use their acto of generousity to highlight the British Msueum’s duplicity in this issue.

Parthenon Marbles in British Museum

Parthenon Marbles in British Museum

From:
Daily Telegraph

Elgin Marbles moved for first time in over half a century
British Museum to move the Elgin Marbles for the first time since their installation in 1962 as plans announced for blockbuster exhibition on ancient Greece
By Anita Singh, Arts and Entertainment Editor
3:53PM BST 02 Jul 2014

The Elgin Marbles are to leave their current home at the British Museum. Unfortunately for those who believe the treasures should be returned to Greece, they are not going very far.

The marbles are being relocated from one part of the museum to another – the first time they have been moved in over half a century.
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July 22, 2014

Preview screening of Promakhos – a film about the Parthenon Marbles

Posted at 5:19 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

I was fortunate enough to be invited last week to a preview screening (essentially where they drum up intereste from possible distributors etc) for the film Promakhos, which I have already written about previously here.

The event was well attended, with Stephen Fry giving his thoughts on it afterwards and leadng a question & answer session with the two directors.

Marbles Reunited has already done a very good writeup of the event – so I won’t try & repeat their work, but will just give a summary of my own thoughts on the film.

Styled as a legal thriller, it follows the story of one person’s fight to use the courts to secure the return of the Elgin Marbles to Greece. There are many dramatic scenes in it, and perhaps the most memorable part is where Paul Debevec’s superlative three-dimensional model of the Parthenon is broght to life in the room, as the people wander around it, stepping into a rebuilt past through the use of virtual reality glasses.

As you can imagine, things do not always proceed smoothly – yet the film’s protagonist manages to maintain his vision & despite the ups & downs remains focussed on the goal of securing the return of the sculptures.

The cinematography is magnificent, and for anyone who has ever spent time in Athens, prefectly manages to capture the spirat of the city, through othersise unremarkable details, in a way that perhaps holds far more of its modern day charm than many films, that only see things through the eyes of a tourist. There are various allusions throught the film to ancient Greece & aspects of mythology, helping to further anchor the present day story into the ethos of ancient Athens & to show the importance of the Parthenon Sculptures to Greeks.

The film is set against the backdrop of the financial crisis & the unrest that followed in Athens – and as such is very much of its time. However, that it just because it takes place now – the story that it is telling could largely be transplanted to any other time in the campaign for the return of the sculptures & would continue to make sense. It is not something that the British Museum can just ignore with the hope that it goes away.

There are a few amusing moments too – particularly, when during the cases, others highlight their own countries requests for the return of arterfacts from the British Museum.

The film is not on display publicly anywhere yet – in the meantime though, you can watch the trailer, to give you a flavour of what it is about.

Stephen Fry with one of the directors at the preview screening of Promakhos

Stephen Fry with one of the directors at the preview screening of Promakhos

April 30, 2014

Australia’s NGA relinquishes Dancing Shiva ownership claims

Posted at 1:05 pm in Similar cases

The Australian National Gallery in Canberra has now accepted claims from India, that one of the items in their collection is a looted temple idol from the province of Tamil Nadu.

A legal notice was submitted by India on March 26th & the gallery chose not to contest it, meaning that it is automatically handed over by the Gallery to the Australian government. Hopefully this will be the start of a hasty return of it to India.

This is a marked change since last year, where the gallery publicly refuted all claims that the Dancing Shiva idol might be looted.

The idol is central to investigations into rogue dealer Subhash Kapoor, who is awaiting trial in India & subject to investigations within the USA.

Dancing Shiva idol at the National Gallery of Australia

Dancing Shiva idol at the National Gallery of Australia

From:
The Hindu

Canberra gallery gives up claim on stolen idol
NIRUPAMA SUBRAMANIAN
Updated: April 30, 2014 01:20 IST

The National Gallery of Australia has surrendered to the Indian claim that a Chola-era Nataraja that it acquired for (A) $5.6 million had indeed been stolen from a village temple in Tamil Nadu, paving the way for an early return of the idol to India.

The NGA, Australia’s foremost art institution located in the national capital of Canberra, had 30 days to claim its ownership of the imposing bronze Nataraja after receiving a notice from the Australian Attorney General’s Department under the Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Act 1986. That deadline expired on April 26.
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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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Swiss Committee for the Return of Parthenon Marbles organises talk in Zurich

Posted at 12:49 pm in Elgin Marbles, International Association

A followup to the earlier post about Dusan Sidjanski’s talk on the Parthenon Marbles.

Dusan Sidjanski of the Swiss Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures

Dusan Sidjanski of the Swiss Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures

From:
Greek Reporter

Swiss Committee on the Return of the Parthenon Marbles
Apr 19, 2014

The president of the Swiss Committee for the Return of the Parthenon Marbles, Professor Dusan Sidjanski, during the event titled “Europe and the Parthenon Marbles: a common cause,” stressed the need for return of the marbles to Greece.

In his speech, Dr. Sidjianski referred to the Swiss Committee’s concern for the legal claim of the return of the Parthenon Marbles, stressing that this is considered a European issue which needs to be resolved through dialogue between the European institutions as well as through informing the public and especially Britain.
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April 28, 2014

The next chapter – repatriated works after they return home

Posted at 12:57 pm in Similar cases

There have been various high profile cultural property repatriation cases in recent years that have been resolved by the return of the artefacts in question. In many cases though, once the initial publicity dies down, it drops below the radar, as it is no longer a news item.

This article takes a look at some of the recent cases & what has happened to the artefacts since their return.

The Euphronios Krater, displayed in Rome

The Euphronios Krater, displayed in Rome

From:
New York Times

Vision of Home
Repatriated Works Back in Their Countries of Origin
By RACHEL DONADIOAPRIL 17, 2014

AIDONE, Sicily — The ruins of the ancient Greek city of Morgantina sit high on a hill in eastern Sicily. There are cherry trees, wildflowers and total stillness, save for the sound of bird song. The area has long been sacred to Persephone; legend has it that Hades pulled that goddess into the underworld by a nearby lake.

It was here at Morgantina, just outside the modern town of Aidone, that in the late 1970s or early 1980s, a breathtaking statue of a goddess, draped in a windswept robe and standing over seven feet tall, is believed to have been found. First thought to be Aphrodite and now widely considered to be Persephone, the statue, which dates to about 425 B.C., has become one of the most contested artworks in the world.
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April 25, 2014

Auction houses turn a blind eye to looted artefacts

Posted at 2:22 pm in Similar cases

Just when I was thinking that the claims of due dilligence by auction houses were too good to be true – it turned out that they were.

Prasat Thom temple in Cambodia

Prasat Thom temple in Cambodia

From:
Gulf Times

Return to sender: Not easy at all
24 April 2014
By Kate Bartlett

Cambodia filed a suit against Sotheby’s, claiming the auction house had agreed to sell a warrior statue known as the Duryodhana while knowing it had been looted from its pedestal during the 1970s. By Kate Bartlett

Cambodia, which was heavily looted of many of its cultural riches during the Khmer Rouge years and the turbulent civil war that followed, is making concerted efforts to get its priceless antiquities back.
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Greece’s economy might be rebounding, but the Parthenon Marbles have yet to return

Posted at 12:52 pm in Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

A common excuse given by supporters of retaining the Parthenon Sculptures in the UK, is that the time is not right for them to return. The New Acropolis Museum opened during the middle of one of the worst financial crises to affect the world in recent years & for some, their words carried some weight. Surely now though, when Greece is re-issuing government bonds & the remnants of the years of riots are being repaired, this is the ideal time to rebuild Greece’s culture, by righting a historic wrong?

Acropolis Museum in Athens

Acropolis Museum in Athens

From:
Bloomberg News

Athens Lacking Only Elgin as Windows Erase Crisis: Cities
By Marcus Bensasson and Nikos Chrysoloras Apr 24, 2014 5:27 AM GMT

The marble paving stones have been relaid in Athens’s Syntagma Square, the site of pitched battles between police and protesters during the worst of Greece’s economic crisis.

Yannis Stournaras has replaced his sixth-floor window overlooking the square. It was pierced by an errant bullet during one of the riots in 2010.
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April 17, 2014

Evangelos Venizelos speaks out on Parthenon Marbles issue

Posted at 12:51 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

PASOK leader & Greek Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos is no stranger to dealing with the Parthenon Sculptures issue. He has been quiet about it in public though, since he lost his position as Culture Minister after Nea Demokratia took power in the 2004 general election.

Today though, he had the opportunity to speak to the European Parliament plenary in Strasbourg, about the return of looted cultural artefacts, where he mentioned both the case of the Parthenon Marbles, as well as the various more recent cases that have arisen in Cyprus since the 1974 Turkish occupation.

PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos

PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos

From:
Famagusta Gazette

Greek FM refers to destruction of Cyprus’ cultural heritage in occupied north
Thursday, 17 April, 2014

Greek Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos, speaking before the European Parliament plenary in Strasbourg on the return of cultural objects unlawfully removed from the territory of a member state, referred to the need to return the Parthenon marbles to Greece and the damage that Cyprus` cultural treasures have suffered since the 1974 Turkish invasion.

He said that the new directive regarding the return of cultural objects is clearly improved compared to the one that existed since 1993 and it will be an important instrument in handling illegal trafficking of cultural artifacts, which is one of the widely used forms of organised crime.
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April 16, 2014

Brit fined for attempting to auction looted Egyptian artefacts

Posted at 8:09 am in Similar cases

This case intrigues me for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, the level of the fine is tiny – considering the crime involved & the value of the artefacts, it counts somewhat lower than a slap on the wrist in the overall scheme of things.

Secondly, the auction house (In this case Christies, although in my past experience, none of the big auction houses have a particularly good reputation when it comes to looted artefacts) takes the moral high ground, making a point about how their due diligence is responsible for bringing about this case. Now, unless I’m misunderstanding the article completely (or the article is incorrect), the sequence of events is rather different to this.

Firstly, Christies lists the looted artefacts. Then, the true origin of the artefacts is spotted by Marcel Marée, a curator at the British Museum, who goes on to alert Christies of this. Finally, Christies contacts the Metropolitan Police’s Arts and Antiques Unit. I see nothing here that really makes me confident in Christies due diligence – the only reason the items didn’t end up at auction was because they happened to be spotted by someone who was entirely independent of the Auction House, who then took their own effort to alert them.

The fact also needs to be noted that the items were smuggled from Egypt in a suitcase on a flight – more needs to be done by countries to protect the egress of looted artefacts through their borders, helping to stop the trade by making it much more difficult for international buyers.

Lot 61 An Egyptian painted limestone relief fragment 1550.1069 B.C

Lot 61 An Egyptian painted limestone relief fragment 1550.1069 B.C

From:
Ahram Online

Briton fined £500 by UK court for attempted sale of smuggled Egypt antiquities
Amer Sultan in London
Tuesday 15 Apr 2014

A UK court has fined a British citizen £500 after he admitted having attempted to sell a number of ill-gotten Egyptian antiquities.

Neil Kingsbury, who had previously worked on BBC documentary series about the discovery of the Rosetta Stone and other early archaeological adventures, was arrested after six items were identified in Christie’s London antiquities sale last year.
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April 15, 2014

When will UK ratify 1954 Hague Convention on stolen art?

Posted at 1:06 pm in Similar cases

After many years of delay, the UK announced in 2005 that they were going to ratify the 1954 Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. Since then though, as I noted a few weeks ago, no action has actually been taken.

Time is running out now for the government to ratify it during their current term, although there are no clear reasons for not doing so. As this article notes, the film Monuments Men has helped to draw attention to this topic, so now is the ideal time for them to take a clear step towards helping to prevent the looting of artefacts.

Scene from the film Monuments Men

Scene from the film Monuments Men

From:
Guardian

Stolen art cannot be brushed over, so sign the UK up to the Hague convention
There is no excuse for Sajid Javid not to ratify the rules that ultimately protect people’s cultural heritage
Helen Goodman
Tuesday 15 April 2014 08.00 BST

No films about art stolen in wartime appear for years and then two come along at once: Wes Anderson’s funny Grand Budapest Hotel, with a plot that revolves around the disappearance of a “priceless” painting called Boy with Apple, or the more serious and realistic The Monuments Men.

The latter is George Clooney’s latest directorial venture and concerns an allied forces group of museum curators and art historians in the second world war who attempt to stop the Nazis destroying the cultural treasures of occupied countries.
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April 11, 2014

Early Day Motion on UNESCO Mediation for Parthenon Sculptures

Posted at 12:54 pm in Elgin Marbles

I only just noticed this, even though it happened some time ago. Labour MP Alan Meale has tabled an Early Day Motion, to highlight the UK Government’s current inaction over Greece’s proposals for mediation over the Parthenon Marbles under the auspices of UNESCO.

Previous posts on EDMs explain the purpose of Early Day Motions.

From:
Parliamentary Information Management Web Site

Early day motion 861
PARTHENON MARBLES (UNESCO MEDIATION PROCESS)
09.12.2013
Meale, Alan

That this House recalls that Greece has continuously, since it gained full independence in 1832, requested the return of the sculptures removed from the Parthenon by Lord Elgin and held in the British Museum since 1816; is aware that this dispute has been on the agenda of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Promotion of the Return of Cultural Property since 1987; notes that the Director General of UNESCO has recently written to the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and the Director of the British Museum to advise them of Greece’s request for the dispute to be settled by mediation; and calls on the Government and the British Museum to co-operate fully and positively in the mediation process.

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