Showing results 25 - 36 of 329 for the tag: Looting.

September 19, 2013

The questions that the curators didn’t like to be asked

Posted at 1:20 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

Ask A Curator has been running on twitter for a number of years now, based on the simple enough premise, that for one day each year, you can ask curators of the museums who are signed up to it, pretty much anything you want.

Of course, not every question gets answered – for many of the more well known institutions, there will be too many and other questions may be completely inappropriate etc. Also, many of the staff answering tweets also have other work to do during their day as well.

This year, there was a definite trend (at least among the people that I was following), to ask questions about cultural property. However, as the day went on, it became few of these questions were actually getting answered.

Eventually, after being bombarded by questions about the Parthenon Sculptures, the British Museum bluntly stated:

For all questions related to the Parthenon sculptures please see this page stating the Museum’s position ow.ly/oYNy2 #AskACurator

The page that it directed you to though, answered very few of the actual questions that they were being asked. People were asking about all sorts of aspects, such as whether the museum planned to organise educational exhibitional exhibitions relating to the sculptures, to whether they would consider displaying a copy rather than the original (as is the case with the Rosetta Stone. However, everyone received the same response.

Now, I’m not asking for miracles, but it would be nice to understand whether the museums at least partially acknowledged people’s concerns, rather than just directing them to a statement written years ago, that takes no account of public opinion, or the nature of the actual question being asked.

This approach was not just taken by the British Museum. Many others seemed to ignore any queries about disputed artefacts in their collections, even when the question itself should not have been that controversial.

Dr Donna Yates made a far more impressive attempt to quiz the curators of museums around the world, but was met with a similar lack of responses.

You can also see my attempts to get an answer on the Marbles (Storify won;t show half my tweets for some reason today, so you don’t get to see the ones to other museums about other artefacts.

September 18, 2013

Disputed Vrishanana Yogini returned to India by widow of collector Robert Schrimpf

Posted at 1:17 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

The Vrishanana Yogini which vanished from a village temple in India and was smuggled out of the country, to be sold to an art collector in Paris. The statue was eventually traced down by the Indian embassy & the widow of the collector who had purchased it. She agreed to return it & it was flown back to India last month. Tomorrow, it will go on display at the National Museum in New Delhi.

The part of the story that is somewhat unclear to me is why it took five years between her handing the statue to the embassy and it being returned to India.

From:
India Today

Once stolen from a UP temple, 10th-century Yogini idol returns to India
Sourabh Gupta New Delhi, September 17, 2013 | UPDATED 22:23 IST

The image of this powerful Yogini was carved on stone nearly 1,000 years ago and idol of the buffalo-headed female deity was installed in a village temple in UP’s Bundelkhand region.

Then one day, the sculpture, weighing over 400 kg, vanished- stolen and smuggled and sold to an art collector in Paris.
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September 10, 2013

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

Posted at 1:43 pm in Similar cases

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

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

From:
Art Newspaper

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

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

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

Kingsbury was arrested after misrepresented items were identified in Christie’s London antiquities sale of 2 May. Marcel Marée, a curator at the British Museum, saw the published catalogue a week earlier and spotted that a relief fragment of a Nubian prisoner appeared to come from the Amenhotep III temple in Thebes, across the Nile from Luxor. He contacted Hourig Sourouzian, the site’s conservation director, who confirmed that the relief was missing. It was excavated a decade ago and had been kept in storage.
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June 18, 2013

Feds sieze over $100 million in smuggled art from Subhash Kapoor

Posted at 2:07 pm in Similar cases

Federal agents in the USA have siezed artefacts valued at over £100 million over the last two years, from dealer Subhash Kapoor. Kapoor is currently awaiting trial in India & has been described as one of the world’s most prolific antiquity smugglers.

From:
Los Angeles Times

Feds pursue Manhattan art dealer suspected of smuggling
Agents seize art from a Madison Avenue gallery owner, saying evidence could unravel the biggest antiquities smuggling network identified since the 1990s.
By Jason Felch, Los Angeles Times
June 11, 2013, 5:30 a.m.

Federal agents have seized an estimated $100 million in art over the last two years from a prominent Manhattan antiquities dealer they describe as one of the most prolific antiquities smugglers in the world.

Subhash Kapoor, a 64-year-old American citizen, awaits trial in India, where he is accused of being part of an antiquities smuggling ring that American and Indian investigators say spanned continents. U.S. authorities have issued their own arrest warrant for Kapoor, saying they have evidence he supplied stolen art to leading museums around the world.
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May 30, 2013

Chinese Schoolboy exposed as vandal at Egyptian temple

Posted at 1:02 pm in Similar cases

The Chinese Schoolboy who carved his name on a sculpture on the wall of an ancient temple in Egypt has had his name exposed online & is now being subjected to online harassment as a result. While graffiti on ancient sites is something to be condemned, it is hardly a new problem – even Byron (who much criticised Elgin’s removal of the Parthenon Sculptures) carved his initials on the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounio.

Having said this, Egypt’s antiquities currently face far bigger problems than initials scratched on a wall – and perhaps focusing people’s attentions on this distracts from the enormous scale of the actual issues faced at present.

From:
Independent

Chinese schoolboy, 15, exposed as Egypt’s ancient temple graffiti vandal
Internet users name and shame teenager who scratched 3,500-year-old artwork
Clifford Coonan
Beijing
Tuesday 28 May 2013

The parents of a Chinese teenager who scratched his name into a 3,500-year-old Egyptian artwork have apologised for his actions after internet users tracked down the boy to name and shame him.

The 15-year-old, from Nanjing, was identified after a photo of his graffiti – which said “Ding Jinhao was here” in Mandarin – at the Temple of Luxor was posted online on Friday.
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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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Will Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts return disputed Benin Bronzes

Posted at 8:45 am in British Museum, Similar cases

Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts recently acquired a number of disputed Benin Artefacts. These items all relate to the ransacking of Benin by the British in 1897 & the transfer of their ownership to the museum has caused much controversy.

From:
SPY Ghana

Sun, Jan 6th, 2013
Will Boston Museum Of Fine Arts Return Looted Benin Bronzes?

By Ghana News -SpyGhana.com

“The public interest must surely be in upholding the rule of law, rather than promoting an international free-for-all through the unrestricted circulation of tainted works of art. Do we really wish to educate our children to have no respect for history, legality and ethical values by providing museums with the opportunity freely to exhibit stolen property? ”

Extract from a letter by several members of the British House of Lords. (1)

Readers may recall that when the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, USA, recently acquired by donation a number of looted Benin artefacts, there was a large public outcry against this acquisition of blood antiquities by a leading and respected American museum. (2) The Nigerian Commission for Museums and Monuments demanded the immediate return of the looted objects. (3) Other writers also urged the return of these precious artefacts that the British had looted in a violent invasion of the flourishing Benin Kingdom in 1897. (4) Ligali, a Pan-Africanist activist group, wrote to the Boston museum requesting the return of the objects to their rightful owners. In his response to Ligali, the director of the Boston museum mentioned that his institution had informed the Oba of Benin of the acquisition. (5) An impression was thus created that the Benin Royal Family had acquiesced in the acquisition, and in any case, had not protested against it.
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March 7, 2013

Metal detectorists who looted ancient coins in UK given Anti Social Behavious Order

Posted at 2:08 pm in Similar cases

Metal detecting is a continual source of concern amongst archaeologists. While many famous discoveries have been made in this way, at the other end of the spectrum are reckless criminals who covertly ransack ancient sites with the sole intention of selling whatever they can find for personal gain.

From:
Daily Mail

Thieves who looted coins from ancient Roman site handed Britain’s first ASBO banning them from METAL DETECTING
Peter Cox and Darren West handed suspended sentences for theft
Caught digging up land on English Heritage site in Northamptonshire
By Hugo Gye
PUBLISHED: 15:41, 3 January 2013 | UPDATED: 07:37, 4 January 2013

Two thieves have become the first people in Britain to be handed ASBOs banning them from metal detecting.

Peter Cox and Darren West were given the unique punishment after they looted ancient coins from a Roman site belonging to English Heritage.
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Should holding onto looted artefacts give museums & countries an upper hand in negotiating?

Posted at 8:47 am in British Museum, Similar cases

I have to say that I completely disagree with the general approach that this article advocates – which could be summarised, as something like: Wealthy Museums of the West (along with the countries in which they are based) can now use their disputed artefacts as bargaining chips, to secure political / cultural changes in the countries of the original owners.

If somebody robs your house, should that then give them the upper hand in securing some form of change in your lifestyle, before agreeing to return the items that they took?

Quite what gives these museums the right to enforce change on countries in this way is unclear, other than being down to the fact that they were fortunate enough to know people dis-reputable enough to have managed to acquire the artefacts in the first place – hardly a great endorsement for their policies, or for taking the moral high ground.

From:
Whistleblower

Looted art – hostage or weapon against terror?
Exclusive: Marisa Martin suggests U.S. start using its diplomacy tool
Published: 12/12/2012 at 8:58 PM

Vikings stormed Britain, while Mongols left Bagdad a culture-free zone. Warlords came, saw and trashed all the books and statues while they were at it. Even now someone is whacking away at the ankles of a limestone Buddha in India or Bangladesh.

Have times changed for the better?

Napoleon revitalized looting trends by demanding art from conquered Italians and churches. Since then, the Captains of Genocide have handled the art of their victims differently, particularly the Nazis. Probably the most prolific war thieves ever, they discarded entire races whiles secreting their art in stashes all over the globe. Art Loss Register, an international database, lists 300,000 missing and stolen artworks with approximately 85 percent occurring before 1945, not coincidentally with the demise of the Nazis.
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March 6, 2013

Turkey versus the Met – challenging the Universal Museum

Posted at 4:48 pm in Similar cases

While many disagree with the concept of the Universal Museum, without an international legal framework in place, few challenges relating to pre-1970 acquisitions by such museums have yet been successful. The odd exceptions to this involve items such as Nazi loot, which are covered by different national laws in many countries.

Now, Turkey is putting pressure on the Met – not on recently acquired artefacts, but on items which left Turkey long before the 1970 cut off date. It will be interesting to see how much success they have with this – threats to withdraw cooperation have been criticised by the museums as blackmail – but it still represents a clear obstacle to the museums that must be negotiated around.

From:
Guardian

Turkey’s restitution dispute with the Met challenges the ‘universal museum’
Turkey is flexing its cultural, as well as its economic and military muscles. But objects of art outlive the ambitions of nation states
Jason Farago
Sunday 7 October 2012 14.00 BST

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, like most institutions of its size in the US and Europe, has seen its fair share of lawsuits and controversies surrounding its collection. It returned nearly two dozen antiquities to Italy in 2006, as well as work acquired via Nazi looting.

But now the Met is facing a very different kind of restitution battle. The Turkish government is insisting it is the rightful owner of 18 objects from the collection of Norbert Schimmel, a Met trustee and one of the last century’s most astute collectors of Mediterranean antiquities.
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University of Pennsylvania museum returns disputed artefacts to Turkey on indefinite loan

Posted at 8:50 am in Similar cases

As part of their ongoing drive to secure the return of disputed artefacts, Turkey appears to have reached an agreement with the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, for the return of various artefacts on an indefinite loan. It is interesting, as it shows that for some museums, the idea of an indefinite loan as a solution to issues is a relatively straightforward option – yet, when the possibility has been raised with the British Museum as a means to return the Parthenon Sculptures, Greece has always been told that it is unworkable, and that any loan must have a definite (usually 3-4 month) period attached to it. This is of course, despite the fact that the British Museum itself has also entered into some fairly nebulous loan agreements in the past – and has been on the receiving end of many more (which it presumably does not complain about.

From:
Philly.com

Penn museum lends possibly plundered items to Turkey
September 07, 2012|By Tom Avril, Inquirer Staff Writer

Following a scientific analysis that suggested its collection of ancient, Trojan-style gold jewelry was looted from northwestern Turkey, the University of Pennsylvania announced this week that it had lent the 24 items to that country for an indefinite period.

In exchange, the Turkish government pledged to lend other artifacts for a one-year exhibit at Penn’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, including priceless items from Gordion, seat of power of King Midas. The country also promised support for ongoing excavations by Penn scholars within its borders.
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Facts regarding misappropriation of Armenian art by Azerbaijan and Turkey will be represented to ICOM

Posted at 8:39 am in Similar cases

The Armenian national committee of International Council of Museums is concerned about the misappropriation of Armenian artefacts by neighbouring countries & is making a representation to the Chairman of ICOM Hans-Martin Hinz, regarding this issue.

From:
Armenpress

Facts regarding misappropriation of Armenian art by Azerbaijan and Turkey will be represented to ICOM
10:20, 22 October, 2012

YEREVAN, OCTOBER 22, ARMENPRESS. Armenian national committee of International Council of Museums (ICOM) is very anxious about the fact of misappropriation of Armenian culture by a number of neighboring countries. In order to find solution of this problem Director of ICOM of Armenia Marine Haroyan will represent the situation to the Chairman of ICOM Hans-Martin Hinz. Marine Haroyan said in a conversation with “Armenpress” that this time the matter is about Armenian museum pieces being represented in Azerbaijani, Turkish and other museums as their own. In Marine Haroyan’s opinion the essence of the problem is the following: “They give the following interpretation to this saying that if these pieces of art had been created in their territory, hence these all belongs to them not taking into consideration the fact that these museum pieces are samples of the Armenian culture”.
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