Showing results 1 - 12 of 656 for the tag: Cultural Property.

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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April 10, 2014

If you only read one article on restitution of cultural property, make sure its not this one

Posted at 5:21 pm in Similar cases

There are so many flaws in this article, that its hard to know where to start.

The basic premise of it seems to be that the return of artefacts is a bad thing, even when they were clearly acquired illegally in fairly recent times. The reasoning is that the author claims that as a result of laws forbidding looting, fewer new archaeological discoveries have been made. This is backed up with some rather iffy statistics.

The comments at the end of the article go some way towards highlighting some of the problems in the article:

  1. The statistical analysis methods used are completely flawed.
  2. The author supports their argument with the post hoc ergo propter hoc, and false analogy logical falacies.
  3. The reported results do not appear to correlate with the findings of others.
  4. The author equates UNESCO world heritage sites with Archaeological sites, with no clear logic to why these two should correlate.

The global average temperature v decline in pirates graph makes a lot more sense than some of the analysis presented here.

The fact is, that the subject is a serious issue, and the article just seems to completely miss the point, with the aim of drawing some rather odd conclusions. If you thought James Cuno’s views were a bit out of sync with reality, then you probably won’t make much sense of this article either.

As Jason Felch (a former LA times journalist who documented the events leading up to the return of the Aphrodite statue from the Getty) noted on Twitter “News Side & Editorial opinions are separate at newspapers. This didn’t deserve to appear in either”.

Aphrodite statue returned to the Getty by Italy

Aphrodite statue returned to the Getty by Italy

From:
Los Angeles Times

Op-Ed
The archaeology paradox: more laws, less treasure
Tight restrictions on export and ownership of artifacts is leaving the world a poorer place.
By Adam Wallwork
April 7, 2014

The Getty Center in Los Angeles, the Metropolitan Museum in New York and Sotheby’s auction house — these are just some of the major institutions that have been forced to repatriate artworks in recent years. Italy, Egypt, Greece, Turkey and Cambodia have all successfully used their cultural property laws to secure the return of important antiquities from collectors and museums.

Treasures from King Tutankhamen’s tomb that had been in the Met’s collection for almost a century went back to Egypt. In 2006, the Met agreed to return the Euphronios krater, a masterpiece Greek urn that had been a museum draw since 1972. In 2007, the Getty agreed to return 40 objects to Italy, including a marble Aphrodite, in the midst of looting scandals. And in December, Sotheby’s and a private owner agreed to return an ancient Khmer statue of a warrior, pulled from auction two years before, to Cambodia.
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How Monica Hanna used Twitter to fight art looters

Posted at 4:55 pm in Similar cases

Archaeologist Monica Hanna recently received a Beacon Award from Saving Antiquities for Everybody for her work in highlighting the looting of antiquities in Egypt. This article looks at how she used twitter to help to publicise the looting to the outside world.

Monica Hanna

Monica Hanna

From:
New York Times

Taking on Art Looters on Twitter
By TOM MASHBERGAPRIL 9, 2014

Monica Hanna stood inside the Malawi National Museum in Minya, Egypt, last August, armed only with a cellphone and her Twitter account, as looters ran rampant. Nearly all the objects she had loved since childhood — mummies and amulets, scarabs and carved ibises — were gone. In their place lay shattered glass, shards of pottery, splintered wood and the charred remains of a royal sarcophagus.

The thieves had stolen all but a few dozen of the museum’s 1,100 artifacts, leaving behind some statues and painted coffins that were too heavy to cart off. Dr. Hanna, a 30-year-old archaeologist, sent out a tweet pleading for help. Soon, she, some colleagues and local police officers were hauling the surviving relics to a truck as men fired automatic weapons nearby.
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NIU Art Museum exhibition – Looting, Hoarding & Collecting

Posted at 12:57 pm in Events, Similar cases

This story interests me, a it shows the growing level of support for re-thinking ownership of disputed cultural property. Gradually, it is becoming harder & harder for museums to just completely ignore the subject & pretend it doesn’t exist.

Miniconjou chief Spotted Elk lies dead after the Wounded Knee Massacre

Miniconjou chief Spotted Elk lies dead after the Wounded Knee Massacre

From:
Rock River Times

NIU exhibit addresses looting, repatriation as they relate to museum collections
April 2, 2014
Online Staff Report

DEKALB, Ill. — The Northern Illinois University (NIU) Art Museum will present Looting, Hoarding, Collecting …, an exhibition curated by students in the Museum Exhibitions and Interpretation class as a part of the Museum Studies Graduate Certificate Program at NIU. This exhibition will be on view in the North and Hall Case Galleries of the NIU Art Museum from April 3 through May 23; a public reception will be from 4:30 to 7 p.m., April 3.

This exhibition explores historic and current issues of looting and repatriation as they relate to museum collections. These issues have just begun to be examined in depth, and continue to challenge museum curators as they attempt to sort through the murky provenance of looted artifacts to determine whether objects should be returned to their original owners.
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April 7, 2014

Is it time for Africa’s stolen artefacts to return home?

Posted at 1:01 pm in Similar cases

Although some of the reviews of it haven’t been that great, the film Monuments Men has done an amazing job of raising awareness for the issue of disputed artefacts.

In this article, Chika Ezeanya looks at the many African Artefacts that have ended up in the museums & institutions of the West.

A series of African sculptures in the Yale collection

A series of African sculptures in the Yale collection

From:
Think Africa Press

It’s Time for Africa’s Stolen Artefacts to Come Home
Africa’s history has for too long laid scattered across Western museums and private collections, out of the reach of their true owners’ hearts, minds and memories.
Article | 4 April 2014 – 11:33am | By Chika Ezeanya

In a recently-released film, The Monuments Men, in which a group of Second World War soldiers embark upon a mission to save pieces of art before they are destroyed by the Nazis, Lieutenant Frank Stokes, played by George Clooney, notes: “You can wipe out an entire generation, you can burn their homes to the ground and somehow they will still find their way back. But if you destroy their history, if you destroy their achievements, then it is as if they never existed.”

While in London to publicise the film, this basic premise was given contemporary significance as the all-star cast touched a sensitive nerve by suggesting it was time for Britain to return the so-called Elgin Marbles to Greece. Some British commentators hit out at the actors’ suggestions of repatriating the huge marble sculptures and pieces of architecture ‘acquired’ by Lord Elgin from Athens in the 19th century, while the Greek government expressed their “heartfelt thanks” for the show of solidarity.
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Stealing culture was around well before the Monuments Men

Posted at 12:52 pm in Similar cases

The film Monuments Men has drawn attention to one small episode in the dishonourable history of looting artefacts. the reality is of course, that it is something that has gone on for thousands of years & still continues today, albeit more covertly than at some points in the past.

Its great that a film highlights a topic like this, but we shouldn’t see it as an isolated incident – a one off aberration that relates to a different time & place.

Scene from the film Monuments Men

Scene from the film Monuments Men

From:
Statesman (Texas)

Posted: 12:00 a.m. Saturday, April 5, 2014
‘Monuments Men’ highlights WWII looting, but stealing culture has been around for ages
By Melissa K. Byrnes

Special to the American-Statesman

George Clooney’s latest movie, “The Monuments Men,” takes viewers on a beautifully filmed journey through Europe in the last years of the Second World War. The plot follows a group of western Allied soldiers charged with saving the masterworks of European civilization from the retreating Nazis — and the advancing Soviets. Where, though, did this fascination with cultural heritage begin?

Cultural artifacts have long been seized as prizes for military victory. This tradition can be traced back to the myth of the Golden Fleece, stolen by Jason and his Argonauts. The celebratory stone tablet of Naram-Sim was seized by the Elamites around 1250 B.C., later claimed by 19th-century French excavators and now sits in the Louvre. Homer recounts the Greek sacking of Troy, while the Bible tells of Nebuchadnezzar raiding the Temple of Solomon.
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April 1, 2014

How can Western Museum (re-)present their colonial past

Posted at 12:54 pm in Similar cases

Many of the European countries have had long & complex colonial pasts. Within their history, there are no doubt many episodes that people today wish could be forgotten. Within the museums of the West, there is also the fact to consider that many of the artefacts in their collections are there as a result of colonisation. During the end of the era of colonialism, there was a physical colonisation, where most countries withdrew their presence within former colonies & gradually granted them independence. There has never been the same impetus however behind a cultural decolonisation – handing back of the cultural artefacts that were acquired in circumstances of dubious legality.

Is the time right now for a re-think of this? To re-assemble our museums as spaces that tell a story fit for the 21st century, giving us a fuller awareness of how the artefacts came to be assembled there & who else claims ownership on them?

The sculpture of the ‘leopard man’ at the Museum of Central Africa

The sculpture of the ‘leopard man’ at the Museum of Central Africa

From:
Irish Times

The plunder years: culture and the colony
Suzanne Lynch
Last Updated: Monday, March 24, 2014, 16:59

Last month, George Clooney was drawn into a cultural debate that has long been a sensitive issue for Britain. Asked during a press conference in London’s National Gallery if the Elgin Marbles should continue to be housed in the British Museum or in Athens, the actor said the sculptures should be returned to the Parthenon from where they were taken by Lord Elgin in the 19th century.

Clooney was in town to promote The Monuments Men , a film that explores the ethical questions around cultural ownership as it tells the story of soldiers tasked with retrieving stolen art from Nazi Germany during the second World War.
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British Government agrees to UNESCO mediation for Parthenon Marbles

Posted at 12:01 am in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Last year, the Greek government made the announcement that they had approached UNESCO, about inviting the UK to enter into mediation over the issue of the Parthenon Sculptures. The Intergovernmental Committee for Promoting the Return of Cultural Property to its Country of Origin or its Restitution in Case of Illicit Appropriation sets out a series of rules, that such mediation should follow, although the case of the Marbles would be the first time it had actually been implemented.

Many naysayers suggested that despite this new initiative by Greece, the British Government & British Museum would not consider entering into such a procedure, as there was nothing in the rules to compel them to do so and no time limit for them to reply to the request.

There was also the issue, that in all previous requests, the British Government pointed out that such requests were a matter to be dealt with by the trustees of the British Museum, whilst the trustees would point out that they would not be legally allowed to de-accession the sculptures, under the terms of the British Museum Act 1963.

Now, in what many involved with the case have suggested is an unexpected move, the British Government have responded to Greece’s minister of culture, indicating that they are happy to enter into mediation immediately. Under the UNESCO rules, the mandated timescale for the process to be completed in is one year, meaning that the issue of the Marbles could be resolved by 1st April next year, if not before.

The issues of the Marbles being a matter for the British Museum to determine were also noted by the government in their initial response, where they explained that whilst this has been the case in the past, it is really more of a political shorthand for noting that they are uninterested in resolving the issue, noting that as the museum is largely funded by the government, they do in fact have the ability to exert a large level of control over it & would do their utmost to ensure that the Museum was fully represented during the negotiations and to enforce whatever actions were agreed to at the end of the process.

Parthenon Marbles in British Museum

Parthenon Marbles in British Museum

From:
Department for Culture, Media & Sport

Notice of intention to enter into mediation with an aim to swiftly resolve the Parthenon Marbles issue
April 01, 2014

The British Government would like to notify Greece that we have accepted their invitation to enter into mediation via UNESCO, over the issue of the Parthenon Marbles.

Previously issues have been raised over whether we had jurisdiction over the British Museum, and there are still many question marks over this. However, in the interests of progressing the resolution of this long standing embarrassment to the British people, we are jointly going to co-operate with the trustees.

We acknowledge that the issue of the Parthenon Sculptures are a unique case, and, as such we are happy to do whatever it might take to resolve the issue.

Further updates will be posted on our website in due course.

Pillory Dour
On behalf of the International Cultural Property Unit, Department of Culture, Media & Sport

From:
British Museum

British Museum agrees to Greek Mediation proposal
April 01, 2014

Following a request from the Department of Culture Media & Sport, the British Museum has agreed to work in partnership with the government to satisfy Greece’s requests for mediation over the Parthenon Marbles issue.

This is not a decision that we were able to take lightly, but we realise it was a move that we had to make. We have gradually come to understand that issues such as this are not going to go away, and accept that we need to make more effort to try & resolve them, in the interests of maintaining the current levels of co-operation with countries such as Greece.

Various surveys have shown that our continuing retention of the sculptures is out of sync with public opinion. For a long time, the trustees hoped that this was a one off blip in the statistics, but we are now resigned to the fact that our continued retention of the sculptures is hurting our public image as world class museum.

We with Greece the best of luck with the mediation, and over the next year, will be able to tell you more, as the process unfolds.

Henna Biltong
Head of Press, British Museum

March 31, 2014

Half of looted Sevso Silver returns to Hungary

Posted at 5:50 pm in Similar cases

It appears that China isn’t the only country that has decided that buying disputed artefacts back is sometimes the simplest way to re-acquire them following looting.

In this instance, it is the Sevso Silver, fourteen items which Hungary claims were looted, but were sold to private buyers during the 1980s. The treasure constitutes fourteen items in total. This purchase re-acquires seven of them for €15 million, from undisclosed sellers.

My earlier reservations still stand, as do those presented previously by Kwame Opoku.

Sevso treasure in 1990

Sevso treasure in 1990

From:
Guardian

Sevso treasure items repatriated by Hungarian government after UK sale
The Roman silver, discovered in Hungary in the 1970s, was bought from an ‘unidentified London seller’ for €15m
Dalya Alberge
Thursday 27 March 2014 17.51 GMT

The Hungarian government has repatriated seven of the 14 pieces from the Sevso treasure, a spectacular hoard of 4th-century Roman silver whose ownership had long been contested by several countries.

The Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán, announced this week that the pieces have been repatriated to Budapest in return for €15m, reportedly paid to unidentified sellers in London. The pieces include the so-called “Hunting Plate” and the “Dionysiac Ewer”.
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