Showing results 1 - 12 of 74 for the tag: Legal action.

October 17, 2014

Kathy Lette’s views on the Parthenon Marbles

Posted at 7:31 am in Elgin Marbles

No one can have missed the wave of media attention over the last few days over a team of lawyers visiting Athens for consultations over the viability of legal action for the return of the Parthenon Marbles. You probably would have missed the story though, had it not been for one of the members on the team – the newly married Amal Clooney, formerly Alamuddin.

A lot of misinformation has permeated the press, relating to this story, as they are more drawn to the aspects of celebrity involvement than anything else.

First of all, Amal is not there merely because of her husband’s fame. I know for a fact that she has been researching the possibility of a case involving the Parthenon Sculptures, since at least 2011.

Secondly, she is not going to save Greece’s antiquities, as many sources claimed. I am sure she would be the first to agree with me on this one. She is there as by far the most junior member of a team of three very highly regarded lawyers. The other two, Geoffrey Robertson & Professor Norman Palmer already have significant experience in the field of cultural property restitution, such as bringing about changes in English law, to allow the return of all Aboriginal human remains held in Britain’s museums. She is no doubt a key member of the team, but anyone who suggests that she is the one leading the fight has clearly not researched things very well.

However, the draw of celebrities (& she seems to be treated as one because of her husband) in the media is immense. The amount of publicity it has given the issue can only help, particularly as the campaign for return is seen as having the young attractive intelligent one that the media loves on their side. Like Melina Mercouri before her, she gives a vibrancy to the campaign that lifts it above one of arguing academics & makes it something that is lapped up by the category of newspapers who would never normally show the slightest interest in such a story.

I was struck though, by the slightly peculiar lines of questioning by some of the press though – I noticed in more than one article that Amal was asked about what her husband thought about her work on the Marbles. Whether this is out of the fact that he is a celebrity, or that she is female, or that the journalists are trying to create a story when there is none, is unclear. But the fact remains, that neither of the other two lawyers were ever asked this question.

So, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, I decided to ask the famous author Kathy Lette (who is also the wife of Geoffrey Robertson), for her views on the Marbles, just so that if the media wants to ask her husband, the answer is already out there.

So – here it is. An exclusive story first published here – Kathy Lette’s views on the Parthenon Marbles restitution:

Kathy Lette

Kathy Lette

From:
Facebook

My view on the Elgin Marbles is how amusing it is to see the press pack losing their marbles over Amal.

Amal’s interest in the Acropolis has given the men of the world a real edifice complex!

So there you have it – we are still none the wiser what her real thoughts on the subject are – so I can’t add her to my list of supporters just yet…

October 9, 2014

Top lawyers to advise Greece on Parthenon Marbles

Posted at 12:54 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Geoffrey Robertson (who has previously dealt with high profile cases such as fighting extradition of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange), along with Amal Alamuddin (who may be better known to many as the new Mrs George Clooney) are amongst lawyers, who have been asked to meet with the Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to discuss the issue of the Parthenon sculptures.

It is not yet known what form these discussions might take, or what approach they might be inviting the Greek government to take.

Amal’s involvement with the Parthenon Marbles follows the statements made by her now husband, George Clooney at the premiere of the film Monuments Men earlier this year.

Amal Alamuddin & Geoffrey Robertson

Amal Alamuddin & Geoffrey Robertson

From:
Sydney Morning Herald

Amal Alamuddin and Geoffrey Robertson team up to win back Elgin Marbles for Greece
Nick Miller, Europe Correspondent
October 9, 2014 – 11:13AM

London: The new “Mrs Clooney” has her first post-wedding job – and it’s a doozy.

In tandem with fellow human rights barrister Geoffrey Robertson, Amal Alamuddin is taking sides in one of the most controversial cultural arguments of recent history: she will try to win the return of the Elgin Marbles to Greece.
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August 28, 2014

Ancient coins returned to Greece after New York investigation

Posted at 12:59 pm in Similar cases

As part of a plea bargain, during an investigation into black market trading of rare coins, the collector Arnold-Peter Weiss has agreed to return some of the disputed coins to GReece.

Ancient Greek coins returned after investigations into illicit trading

Ancient Greek coins returned after investigations into illicit trading

From:
Reuters

Ancient coins returned to Greece as part of New York plea deal
05/08/14 12:14 CET

A collection of ancient silver pieces forfeited during an undercover investigation into black-market coin trading in New York City was handed over to the Greek government at a ceremony on Monday, city officials said.

The repatriation of the five coins dating back to 515 BC resulted from a plea agreement by a Rhode Island orthopedic surgeon and longtime coin collector who was convicted of attempted criminal possession of rare stolen coins in 2012.
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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 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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March 22, 2014

Lessons learned from Agudas Chasidei Chabad v. Russian Federation, et al.

Posted at 7:10 pm in Similar cases

I have mentioned previously about the dispute between the Chabad Jews & Russia, over the requests for the return of two disputed collections of books & manuscripts.

A few days ago, I came across this interesting review of the current state of the case (which still remains a long way from being resolved. Now, although I don’t believe the courts of the District of Columbia were being particularly sensible in some of their judgements on the case, there are many things that can be learned from it.

In many cases involving cultural property restitution claims, there is a split between those who feel that the case should be settled by diplomatic means, and those who believe it should be settled through legal action. The reality however isn’t so simple. In many cases, the ideal option would be to use informal negotiations to solve the issue, but what happens when this doesn’t work? If the party currently holding the disputed artefacts feels that they are in a comfortable situation & feels their ownership is secure, what reason is there for them to want to enter into some sort of negotiations where the aim of the other party is clearly to take back the artefact. One might suggest, that moral obligations or overwhelming public opinion ought to be enough of a lever, to start negotiations, but the number of well founded restitution cases that continue to be stonewalled by large institutions around the world shows that this is often not the case.

It is clear that sometimes, more is needed, at least as a catalyst to start serious negotiations. Italy was pressing for years for the return of such items as the Euphonios Krater from the Metropolitan Museum, but was only successful once the threat of legal action made the Met enter into serious negotiations. Legal actions is far from the only way of doing this however. Other countries such as Iran and Egypt have experienced success, following threats to withdraw cooperation with the countries or institutions in question.

What all this is leading to, is that whether or not we feel it is the right approach to take, legal action is sometimes going to be taken as a means to resolve restitution cases. Legal action can take many possible forms, and if you got five sets of lawyers in the room, each would have different ideas about how to approach a specific case. What this case goes to show though, is that depending on the circumstances, even if one wins the legal case, the means of enforcing such wins in international disputes are limited. In the case discussed in this article, the Chabad Jews won the case, the court has tried (albeit in a somewhat presumptuous / naive way) to enforce the ruling (and risked creating a major diplomatic incident in the process), but has so far been unsuccessful in progressing things beyond the status quo at the outset of the case. Russia still holds onto the manuscripts & still appears completely dis-inclined to consider returning them.

What is needed in such cases is an international forum of some sort (if it is legal action we are talking about, this would have to be a court, but there are other options). There are already the precedent of international courts, such as the International Criminal Court in the Hague, but the reality is that the handle only very specific cases & cultural property falls far outside their remit.

Within the Europe, there are two additional options (that have as yet been unexplored by Greece), the European Court of Human Rights & the European Court of Justice. Organisations such as UNESCO form another possible entity that could oversee the Adjudication of cultural property claims, and it is through their mandated mediation process that Greece hopes to solve the dispute over the Parthenon Sculptures. The key issue here however is that there is no obligations for countries to enter into the mediation process. At present, to the best of my knowledge, Greece has had no luck in getting Britain to actually enter into the mediation with them.

At least among advocates of the return of the Parthenon Sculptures, legal action continues to be a divisive issue, although I believe that to an extent, this is because people worry about the risks it might also carry & sometimes because they do not fully understand the nature of the tools available to them. Where cases can not be moved forward by diplomatic means though, other options are needed, and this is one of the clearest paths to take in such instances.

One of the manuscripts requested by the Chabad Jews

One of the manuscripts requested by the Chabad Jews

From:
American Society of International Law

Reviewing the Agudas Chasidei Chabad v. Russian Federation, et al. Dispute
March 19, 2014 Volume: 18 Issue: 8

Introduction
Nationalization of looted property continues to trigger international legal disputes. It has been almost nine decades since the Lubavitch Chasidim or Chabad Chasidim (Chabad), a Jewish religious entity, began the quest to reconstitute its collection of sacred books and manuscripts currently held by the Russian Federation.[1] While Chabad is now a New York incorporated entity, it has strong roots in the Russian Empire from which it emerged.[2] This litigation highlights the challenges in resolving historical disputes against a foreign sovereign in national courts.

The property contested in Agudas Chasidei Chabad v. Russian Federation, et al. consists of a library with more than 12,000 works dating back to the 1770s (Library) and an archive of over 25,000 pages of Chabad Rebbes’ documents (Archive).[3] Collectively, they are referred to as “the Collection” in court proceedings.[4] Chabad considers the Collection to be sacred and the Archives to be an “essential legacy . . . something concrete that . . . incorporates in itself both the sanctity, the very presence, the very personality of the Rebbe himself.”[5]
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February 16, 2014

Promakhos trailer – a fight for the return of the Parthenon Sculptures

Posted at 11:57 pm in Elgin Marbles

Just a few days after I last wrote about the filming of Promakhos, one of the directors got in touch with me, to let me know that the first trailer of the film had now been posted online.

The film is about a legal challenge over the Parthenon Marbles. This is an interesting dimension to the issue, as it is something that has often been raised as a possibility by campaigners & very credible cases have been put forward by a number of high profile lawyers (not least the father of the directors of this movie), but it has always been something that the Greek government has steered well clear of having any involvement with.

Having read the script a couple of years ago, I’m very eager to see the completed film once it is out later this year.

February 6, 2014

Promakhos – a movie about the Parthenon Marbles, Justice & Greece

Posted at 2:15 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

John Vorhees is an US based lawyer who I have known for a number of years now as a campaigner for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Athens.

Last year, he introduced me to his sons John & Coerte, explaining that they intended to make a film about the reunification of the sculptures and were looking for actors to fill the lead roles.

Filming on the project started last month in Athens, for what promises to be a very interesting film, highlighting one approach that could be taken to handle the restitution of the sculptures.

Promotional image for the Promakhos movie

Promotional image for the Promakhos movie

You can view the website for the film here. For the most up to date information, follow the facebook page that they have created for the film.

More information about the cast is available on IMDB.

View the trailer for the movie in a separate later post I made here.

October 20, 2013

A report from the Roundtable on the Parthenon Marbles held in Brussels.

Posted at 12:34 am in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, International Association, Marbles Reunited, New Acropolis Museum, Similar cases

In addition to the articles I posted earlier, Marbles Reunited has written a report on the event held in Brussels earlier this week, and Tom Flynn has also posted a transcript of his talk.

The report that follows is based on my notes taken during the event. I have not tried to capture everything, just the key points. I am hoping that my comments do not misrepresent what the speakers were saying – some it was from the live translation there, and some of it was from the responses to questions afterwards, rather than from the original speeches.

After introductions by Krister Kumlin & a brief video, Tom Flynn was the first speaker, and pointed out, that when considering the acquisition of obviously looted artefacts “Most museums now know better”. The thing is of course, how to get museums to act retrospectively – to apply the rules that they would use now to actions that they made well before their current rules and guidelines came into force.

He also added, that “Nowadays, the social network acts as a critical filter to the acquisition of disputed artefacts”. This is a good point, as museums nowadays have a far greater interaction with the public than perhaps ever before. People’s opinions mean more to them than they ever used to, and as a result, it is important to let museums know if what you think they are doing is morally unacceptable.

German MEP Jo Leinen had a simple message – drawing on the words of another German politician, he quoted Willie Brandt “we have to unite what belongs together”.

The Spanish MEP, Miguel Angel Martínez Martínez took a slightly different viewpoint from some of the other speakers, looking at this action by Britain, in the context of other actions that occur within Europe. He felt that it was particularly important that the countries of northern Europe, in some way recognise that although they might be economically the powerhouses of Europe today, they still owe so much culturally to the Mediterranean countries in the South of Europe. He stressed a message that Campaigns such as Marbles Reunited have also long emphasised, that “It is not about sending the Parthenon Marbles back to Athens, but about reuniting them”.
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March 8, 2013

Turkey using Human Rights law in its attempts to secure artefact return

Posted at 8:54 am in British Museum, Similar cases

Most would agree that in recent years, Turkey has had a rather lacklustre record when it comes to human rights (at least for some sectors of its country). The country has recently been undertaking a vigorous drive to recover looted artefacts, although this too has not been without criticism.

Now, it seems that Turkey is taking the unusual step of trying to use the European Court of Human Rights as a mechanism to attempt to secure the return of disputed artefacts in the British Museum. It remains to be seen how successful this approach is & I imagine many other countries will be watching with interest.

From:
International Business Times

Turkey’s New Spin On Human Rights: They Can Be Used To Recover Art
By Ceylan Yeginsu | January 14 2013 2:01 PM

Turkey is one of the world’s richest countries when it comes to archeology. Located at the crossroads of Europe and Asia and with a history of human habitation that dates back to the dawn of civilization, it’s especially rich in ancient Greek ruins that were created when the land that is now Turkey was known as Asia Minor, or Anatolia.

But many of those priceless relics aren’t in Turkey; they’re in Western museums. Now Turkey is trying a bold new tactic to recover them: It plans to use human rights law to get them back.
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March 6, 2013

Returning the lost Parthenon Marbles – lecture in Athens

Posted at 9:18 am in Elgin Marbles

This sounds like it was going to be an interesting lecture – unfortunately, I only discovered about it the day after it had taken place though.

Hopefully, they will put it on youtube at some point in the future.

From:
The Athens Centre

Lecture “Returning Lost Marbles’, by Ira Kaliampetsos

The Athens Centre would like to invite you to a guest lecture,
by Ira Kaliampetsos
Director of the Hellenic Society for Law and Archaeology

“Returning Lost Marbles:
Antiquities Restitution and the Law”

Tuesday, March 5, 2013, at 7:00pm

At The Athens Centre

Archimidous 48, Pangrati (Mets)

Wine and conversation follows the event. The lecture is free and open to the public. For more information, please call 210-7015242 or 210-7012268.

Ira Kaliampetsos works as a lawyer in Athens. She earned her law degree from the Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany and continued her postgraduate studies on ‘Art and Law’ at the Karl-Franzens-University in Graz, Austria. Her professional experience includes working for the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs (a position she still holds), the Delegation of the European Union to Turkey and several assignments for election observation. In 2006 she co-founded the Hellenic Society for Law and Archaeology (www.law-archaeology.gr), a non- profit organization dealing with all aspects of antiquities law – a field in which her law office specializes in. She is also a founding member of the Hellenic Wildlife Care Association, ANIMA (www.wild-anima.gr).

Event information is also available on our Facebook page.

Pictures of the event are available here.