Warning: Use of undefined constant add_shortcode - assumed 'add_shortcode' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /home/mat8iou/public_html/elginism/wp-content/plugins/stray-quotes/stray_quotes.php on line 615
Greece Archives • Elginism

Showing results 1 - 12 of 686 for the tag: Greece.

June 24, 2019

Greek bid to reject Sotheby’s lawsuit over bronze horse rejected

Posted at 12:42 pm in Greece Archaeology, Similar cases

An interesting, legal appeal involving disputed Greek artefacts has been taking place in the courts of New York state.

8th century BC bronze horse Sculpture owned by the descendants of art collectors Howard and Saretta Barnet

8th century BC bronze horse Sculpture owned by the descendants of art collectors Howard and Saretta Barnet

First of all, it is worth looking at the image of the bronze horse sculpture (that is the subject of the case).

It dates from the 8th century BC, but with it’s abstracted elegant form would not look out of place in a contemporary art exhibition.

This is a case where one could easily argue that the art has a value of it’s own purely on an aesthetic basis, separate from what any provenance might prove or dis-prove about it’s origins.

But this gets onto the basis of the story – there is very little provenance.

Our first record of the existence of the sculpture is in the catalogue of the May 6, 1967 Münzen und Medaillen auction in Switzerland.
Before that point we know nothing.

The current owners are the descendants of art collectors Howard and Saretta Barnet. They acquired the piece in 1973 from art dealer Robin Symes who “very probably” acquired it from the 1967 auction.

In the 1970s, Robin Symes was seen as a respected antiquities dealer – however, he has since been unmasked as a key player in an international criminal network that traded in looted archaeological treasures. Now, to the best of my knowledge there is no evidence that he was involved in any wrongdoing in this particular case – however, there is no evidence to the contrary either, other than the 1967 catalogue which gives a start to the item’s provenance.

On May 14th 2018, Sothebys in New York was due to host “The Shape of Beauty: Sculpture from the Collection of Howard and Saretta Barnet” auction, which included this item as one of the lots. Meanwhile, Christos Tsirogiannis, an antiquities expert who scours auction catalogues noted this proposed sale and, sent a letter to a criminal intelligence officer at Interpol’s works of art unit stating that:

“Please find attached the three images of a bronze Greek figure of a horse, of the Corinthian type, from the confiscated Symes-Michaelides archive. The same figure is to be auctioned as lot 4 in New York, by Sotheby’s at their 15/4/2018 auction.” After citing the provenance given in Sotheby’s catalogue, he writes “Please notify the American judicial authorities in New York, as well as the Italian and Greek police authorities as it is of paramount importance to examine ‘Münzen and Medaillen AG’ in Basel in order to be discovered the identity of the consignor of this bronze horse back in 1967, a valuable information which will eventually lead to the country where the object was discovered.”

Subsequently, the day before the auction was due to take place, Greece’s Ministry of Culture sent the auction house a letter saying the the bronze horse sculpture was the property of Greece and therefore should be returned to Greece immediately. Sotheby’s withdrew this lot and proceeded with the rest of the auction.

As you may have guessed though, this is far from the end of the story. On June 5th 2018, A lawsuit was filed jointly by the Barnet heirs and Sotheby’s in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York. The lawsuit asserted that Greece had interfered in the sale “without lawful justification.”

They sought a Declaratory Judgement that the bronze horse sculpture was “acquired lawfully and in good faith by the late Howard Barnet 45 years ago and has been part of their collection ever since.” They also sought a further ruling the Greece has no ownership rights and that they are permitted to continue with the sale of the work.

The basis of the lawsuit is the assertion by Sotheby’s that there is no factual basis to assert that the Bronze horse belongs to Greece. Once could easily counter this though with the fact that there is also no clear evidence that the sculpture was excavated and removed from Greece legally.

There is a good writeup of the case up to this stage here.

Now, as you might imagine, there are many interested parties keen to block cases such as this, which could potentially disrupt sales of any artefacts where the provenance is unclear. A letter to the Antiquities Trade Gazette by Joanna van der Lande, chairman of the Antiquities Dealers Association, stated that: “long-term damage is being inflicted on both the trade and museums” by the growing number of legal cases surrounding antiquities with long North American provenances.

Moving forward to today, last Friday (21st June), U.S. District Judge Katherine Polk Failla rejected Greece’s claim to dismiss the lawsuit. Greece made the claim under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, a 1976 US law that establishes the limitations as to whether a foreign sovereign nation (or its agencies) may be sued in U.S. courts.

The reason for the dismissal is under the section of the act that exempts commercial activity, which provides three bases under which a plaintiff can sue a foreign state.

  • When the plaintiff’s claim is based upon a commercial activity carried on in the United States by the foreign state.
  • When the plaintiff’s claim is based upon an act by the foreign state which is performed in the United States in connection with commercial activity outside the United States.
  • When the plaintiff’s claim is based upon an act by the foreign state which is performed outside the United States in connection with commercial activity outside the United States and which causes a direct effect in the United States

Greece argued that such a broad interpretation of this exclusion “would have a chilling effect on the ability of foreign sovereigns to protect their cultural heritage.”

The US courts argued that the Greek Government engaged in commercial activity by sending the letter to Sotheby’s to halt the sale. They also noted that “some U.S. courts have said acts taken to advance a sovereign country’s cultural mission could be deemed commercial in nature.”

You can read the coverage of this stage of the cases here. Full details of the case are available here.

Whether Greece will appeal against this decision or not is ass yet unclear.

The case highlights some of the issues of handling looted cultural property cases under the current legal frameworks – the onus is generally on the claimant to prove that the items were looted, rather than the current owners to prove that their provenance is sufficient. When many of the illegal excavations took place some years ago and were unrecorded, this is often very tricky to do. From what I have read on the case so far, it is unclear whether any further details of the 1967 sale (particularly the vendor and purchaser) have been revealed in the course of the last year.

While the Foreign Sovereignty Immunity Act has many flaws, we should also not see it as being against restitution cases as such. Only a few days earlier, the court of appeals for the District of Columbia dismissed a petition to re-hear a landmark ruling from that the heirs of the art dealers who sold the Guelph Treasure under duress during the Nazi era may pursue their claims in U.S. federal court. The meaning of this is that German state museum must face claims based on allegations of Nazi-looted art in their collections – the result of five years of denying the Guelph Treasure claimants any meaningful attention. How easy it is for a US court to enforce such a case in Germany is a separate question of course. There is a lot that could be learned from saga of Agudas Chasidei Chabad v. Russian Federation, et al. a few years ago, where state courts participating in international affairs almost led to a major diplomatic incident between the USA and Russia.

September 3, 2018

Greece’s new Culture Minister

Posted at 1:03 pm in Elgin Marbles

Welcome to Myrsini Zorba

Greece has a new culture minister. Former MEP Myrsini Zorba replaces Lydia Koniordou in the role.

Hopefully in the coming months we will here more frmo here about how she plans to tackle the issue of the Parthenon Marbles.

Greek Culture Minister Myrsini Zorba

Greek Culture Minister Myrsini Zorba

From:
Guardian

Greek PM seeks to claim centre ground with cabinet shake-up
Helena Smith in Athens
Wed 29 Aug 2018 08.24 BST

Alexis Tsipras brings in younger ministers to refresh government in run-up to crucial elections

The Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, has attempted to revive his flagging government with an array of younger cabinet figures in preparation for a general election he has described as “the mother of all battles”.
Read the rest of this entry »

January 11, 2018

Talk in Brussels on Giovanni Battista Lusieri, Elgin’s agent in Athens

Posted at 2:09 pm in Elgin Marbles, Events, Greece Archaeology

The inaugural lecture organised the Belgian Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures

Tatiana Poulou of the Greek Ministry of Culture is giving a lecture in Brussels on Sunday, January 21, 2018 at 14:30. The talk is on Giovanni Battista Lusieri who was Lord Elgin’s agent in Athens. Although Lusieri was charged with documenting Elgin’s actions, most of his works from that period were destroyed in a ship wreck off the coast of Crete (not the Mentor – Elgin’s ship, but the Cambria, some years later).

I’ve heard Tatiana speak previously in Athens and would recommend this talk to anyone interested in the Parthenon Marbles or Greek History from this period.

For further information view the Invitation to talk in Brussels.

From:
Belgian Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures

The Belgian Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures cordially invites you to its inaugural lecture
on Sunday, January 21, 2018, at 2.30 p.m. Cinquantenaire Museum, Parc du Cinquantenaire 10, 1000 – Brussels

Tatiana POULOU
Archaeologist, Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports – Ephorate of Antiquities of Athens
Giovanni Battista Lusieri, Lord Elgin’s Unknown Agent His excavations in Athens and involvement in the removal of the Parthenon Marbles
(Lecture in English)
Welcome by François Roelants du Vivier, Senator Emeritus – President of the BCRPS
Visit our Facebook Page: @parthenonsculpturesreunitedbelgium

A View of the Bay of Naples, Looking Southwest from the Pizzofalcone Toward Capo di Posilippo

A View of the Bay of Naples, Looking Southwest from the Pizzofalcone Toward Capo di Posilippo

February 19, 2017

TourismA 2017 in Florence

Posted at 12:07 am in Events

Parthenon Marbles round table discussion to form part of cultural tourism conference

The TourismA 2017 conference is taking place in Florence at present. As part of Sunday morning’s programme, there is a round table discussion on the Parthenon Sculptures, the campaigns for their return, how individuals can get involved and the practicalities of resolving the issue.

I will be attending as one of the panelists.

If you are in the area, please drop in to join the discussion.

To find out more about the event, please visit the official site for the exhibition.

TourismA exhibition, Florence

TourismA exhibition, Florence

November 22, 2016

New finds from wreck of Elgin’s ship off Kythera

Posted at 9:05 am in Elgin Marbles, Events

Lecture at Kings College London by Dimitris Kourkoumelis

Dimitris Kourkoumelis is giving a talk this evening organised by the Greek Archaeological Committee UK at Kings College London on new finds on the wreck of the Mentor off the island of Kythera. The Mentor was of course one of the ships used by Lord Elgin to transport the Parthenon Marbles back to the UK from Greece. It sank in a storm and the sculptures had to be retrieved the following year by sponge divers from Kalymnos.

Underwater excavations of The Mentor off Kythera

Underwater excavations of The Mentor off Kythera

From:
Kings College London

Greek Archaeological Committee UK Annual Lecture
Locatio Great Hall, King’s Building, Strand Campus
Category: Lecture, Other
When: 22/11/2016 (19:00-20:30)
Contact: This event is open to all and free to attend. Booking is not required.

Please direct enquiries to chs@kcl.ac.uk.
Recent research and new finds from the MENTOR shipwreck at Cythera (1802)

The recent archaeological expeditions (2009, 2011-15) conducted by the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities at the wreck of the brig Mentor, which sank in 1802 off Kythera, have been focused mainly on excavating the section of the hull that is still well preserved, as well as collecting information about the passengers, the crew and the cargo of the ship. The brig, owned by Lord Elgin, was transporting some of the antiquities and sculptures taken from the Acropolis monuments, and sank off the small port of Avlemonas in September 1802. From the 19th to the 21st century, there have been several underwater investigations on the wreck undertaken with the aim to discover the “marble” sculptures, which, according to rumour, should still remain at the site.
Read the rest of this entry »

October 6, 2016

RIP Professor Norman Palmer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Professor Norman Palmer QC

Professor Norman Palmer QC

From:
Institute of Art and Law

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

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

And some more details about him and his career.
Read the rest of this entry »

September 9, 2016

Mock Trial : Greece vs UK – The Parthenon Sculptures

Posted at 1:17 pm in Elgin Marbles, Events

A moot court is being held at Monash University in Melbourne to discuss the issue

A moot court (AKA mock trial) is being held at Monash University in Melbourne. The title is: Greece v UK: The Parthenon Marbles Case. The event is jointly organised by the Hellenic Australian Lawyers Association (HAL) and Monash Law School.

Please the link here to reserve tickets if you are planing on attending.

Greece V UK - The Parthenon Marbles Case moot court flyer

Greece V UK – The Parthenon Marbles Case moot court flyer

From:
Trybooking

HAL (VIC) – Greece v UK: Parthenon Marbles Case
19 Oct 2016

Description

Greece v UK: The Parthenon Marbles Case – moot court and panel discussion

This year marks 200 years since the British Government controversially purchased the Parthenon Marbles from Lord Elgin and displayed them in the British Museum. The longstanding legal and diplomatic dispute about who owns them – Greece or the UK – continues to this day.
Read the rest of this entry »

August 16, 2016

Parthenon restoration focus shifts to west pediment

Posted at 1:37 pm in Acropolis

A new phase in the ongoing CCAM restoration of the Acropolis site in Athens

Further coverage of the next phase of restoration work on the west pediment of the Parthenon.

The West end of the Parthenon

The West end of the Parthenon

From:
CTV News (Canada)

Parthenon to get a boost as part of Greek Acropolis restoration
AFP
Published Friday, August 5, 2016 8:09AM EDT

Restoration work on Athens’ Acropolis is set to shift to the west side of the Parthenon under a 40-year-long effort to restore the ancient archaeological monument, officials said Thursday.

“Most of the restoration work was completed in 2015, whereby we fixed the most important and urgent problems,” the head of the operation Vassiliki Eleftheriou told AFP.
Read the rest of this entry »

August 4, 2016

Restoration work to start on the Parthenon’s west pediment

Posted at 1:22 pm in Acropolis, Greece Archaeology

The long running Acropolis programme of works on the Acropolis site enters a new phase

The current restoration of the Parthenon on the Athenian Acropolis has been ongoing for many years now. This week, the go-ahead has been given by the Central Archaeological Council for works to proceed on the West Pediment.

You can read more about the proposals (in Greek) here.

The West end of the Parthenon

The West end of the Parthenon

From:
Greek Reporter

Restoration Work on Parthenon’s Western Pediment to Begin
By Kerry Kolasa-Sikiaridi –
Aug 4, 2016

The Central Archaeological Council (KAS) approved on Wednesday two projects for the restoration of the upright marble slabs and background wall of the drum which form part of Parthenon’s western pediment.

According to the researchers who presented the two studies, the work involves rescue interventions aimed at dealing with the problems found by restorers in that section of the pediment – mainly cracks formed by various causes. In the future, the studies could be used to evaluate whether it would be useful to add material in place of the two missing slabs, they said.
Read the rest of this entry »

August 2, 2016

New parliamentary bill adds weight to Parthenon Marbles restitution arguments

Posted at 1:32 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

The fact that such a bill has been proposed with cross party support means that whether or not implemented, the appetite for return exists in the UK

The below articles contain further coverage of the Parthenon Sculptures (Return to Greece) Bill currently presented to the UK parliament. Whether or not this bill actually becomes law,, it is indicative that there is cross party support for the restitution of the sculptures. As with many issues in parliament (the EU is one that has been prominent in recent months), those in different parties may support the cause for a variety of different reasons, but the fact remains that they are all supporting the same end goal.

Parthenon Marbles in British Museum

Parthenon Marbles in British Museum

From:
Hyperallergic

British MPs Propose Bill to Return the Elgin Marbles to Greece
by Allison Meier
July 11, 2016

With the 200th anniversary this week of the July 11, 1816 purchase through an Act of Parliament of the Parthenon Marbles for the British Museum, members of parliament (MPs) are introducing a bill that would repatriate the ancient artifacts. Greece has advocated for their return ever since the country’s 1832 War of Independence, but with the UK soon to negotiate its departure from the European Union following Brexit, supporters see this as an opportunity to finally send the sculptures back to their home.

The Parthenon Marbles, sometimes called the Elgin Marbles for Lord Elgin, who sold them to the British Museum, have a contentious and complicated history. The complications stem from the circumstances under which they were removed, and whether that removal under a time of Turkish occupation means they should be returned. The “Parthenon Sculptures (Return to Greece) Bill” asks for “provision for the transfer of ownership and return to Greece of the artefacts known as the Parthenon Sculptures, or Elgin Marbles, purchased by Parliament in 1816; to amend the British Museum Act 1963 accordingly; and for connected purposes.”
Read the rest of this entry »

July 27, 2016

More on the Parthenon Marbles legal case inadmissibility

Posted at 1:06 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Further coverage of the rejection by the European Court of Human Rights of the first case brought there for the return of the Parthenon Marbles

The ECtHR might have deemed one case for the return of the Parthenon Sculptures to be inadmissible, but this doesn’t mean that this is the end of legal battles to secure their return.

Read yesterday’s article for a more in depth understanding of the legal reasons and why these may just be a delay on the road to restitution, rather than a dead end.

The European Court of Human Rights Building in Strasbourg

The European Court of Human Rights Building in Strasbourg

From:
Greek Reporter

European Court of Human Rights Throws Out First Legal Bid to Return the Elgin Marbles to Greece
By Kerry Kolasa-Sikiaridi
Jul 20, 2016

It has been 200 years since Greece was robbed of its famous marble Parthenon sculptures, known around the world as the so-called “Elgin Marbles.”

Just when it seemed that these 2,500-year-old marbles might actually be returned to their home in Athens, the European Court of Human Rights has thrown out the first ever legal motion to force the UK to return the sculptures to Greece, brought about by the Athenians’ Association.
Read the rest of this entry »

More on the proposed Parthenon Sculptures (return to Greece) bill

Posted at 12:48 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Further coverage of the parliamentary bill tabled on the bicentenary of the legal handover of Elgin's sculptures to the British Museum

Further coverage of the Parthenon Sculptures (Return to Greece) bill, currently presented to the UK Parliament.

Part of the Parthenon frieze in the British Museum

Part of the Parthenon frieze in the British Museum

From:
Observer

UK Parliament Pushes Bill to Return Elgin Marbles to Greece
By Alanna Martinez
07/15/16 9:08am

For 200 years there’s been squabble over who rightfully owns the world famous Elgin Marbles: the British Museum or Greece? Now, even Brits themselves are pretty sure the answer is “not us.”

The sculptures were taken (or stolen, depending who you ask) from the Parthenon between 1801 and 1805 by Lord Elgin, British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, and in 1816 they were purchased by the British Museum following parliamentary approval. Earlier this week, a new bill proposed by members of parliament could transfer ownership of the sculptures back to Greece on the 200th anniversary of Britain’s controversial acquisition of the artifacts, reports the Independent.
Read the rest of this entry »