Showing results 37 - 48 of 345 for the tag: Looting.

October 30, 2013

Netherlands Museums Association sees return of Nazi loot as “moral obligation”

Posted at 3:34 pm in Similar cases

Nazi loot in museums has been a hot topic in recent years for many countries. While some countries are still dragging their heels in terms of any attempts at restitution, it appears that the Netherlands has taken a far more proactive approach & is examining museum collections across the board to identify artworks, along with possible rightful owners.

1921 painting 'Odalisque' by Henri Matisse

1921 painting ‘Odalisque’ by Henri Matisse

From:
Haaretz

Dutch museums identify 139 likely Nazi looted artworks
Paintings by Matisse, Klee and Kandinsky are among works thought to have been taken from Jewish owners during Holocaust.
By The Associated Press | Oct. 29, 2013 | 6:40 PM

Dutch museums announced Tuesday they have found 139 artworks that may have been looted during the Nazi era, including paintings from masters such as Matisse, Klee and Kandinsky.

The major review of all museum collections in the country found art that had either dubious or definitely suspect origins.
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October 28, 2013

Call for an international day for cultural property reparations relating to colonisation

Posted at 12:05 am in Similar cases

Kwame Opoku has forwarded me information about proposals (supported by various organisations in a number of countries) for an International Day for Reparations Related to Colonization.

Regular readers of this website will know that many of the cases discussed here, such as the Benin Bronzes, would fall into this category.

If you would like further information about this, please contact Louis-Georges Tin, the Chairman of the CRAN (Council Representing Black Organisations in France). If you would like to get in touch, please let me know & I can provide you with further contact details.

From:
Kwame Opoku (by email)

Call for the International Day for Reparations Related to Colonization

On October 12, 1492, Christopher Columbus set foot on the so called “New World”,
ushering in a cycle of occupation, violence, genocide and slavery: this was the beginning
of colonization.

Colonization is a global phenomenon: there is hardly a country in the world that has not
been colonized, a colonizer, or both, such as the United States. Colonization is one of the
phenomena that has most disrupted humanity. It has left a deep and lasting impression on
all continents and the consequences of this are
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October 4, 2013

Meeting of the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures in Athens

Posted at 7:35 pm in Elgin Marbles, International Association

The IARPS (Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures) is meeting in Athens this Sunday, for its member committees to discuss future strategies for the return of the sculptures (I have to start packing my bags ready to fly over there once I’ve finished posting this).

With the recently announced (but planned some time ago) plans to use try & negotiate on the issue using the UNESCO mediation process, it is potentially a pivotal time for the issue, as it is the first time in many years that the Greek Government has been publicly seen to be taking a clear direction on the issue and dealing with it at an international level.

From:
Neos Kosmos

Relaunching the campaign
Parthenon Marbles high on agenda
4 Oct 2013

The Greek Government has reaffirmed its commitment to the campaign for the return of the Parthenon Marbles following the meeting between David Hill, Chairman of the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures, and the Greek Minister of Culture and Sport, Panos Panagiotopoulos, held in Athens on 23 September.

The call for return of the so-called Elgin collection of Parthenon Sculptures, currently on display in the British Museum, has been at the heart of one of the world’s most celebrated cultural property disputes. In July this year, Mr Panagiotopoulos met with the Director General of UNESCO, Ms Irina Bokova, during which he asked Ms Bokova to bring her personal and institutional influence to bear and initiate formal bilateral discussions, with UNESCO serving as intermediary, with the British Government and (hopefully) the British Museum.

For many years, the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for Promoting the Return of Cultural Property to its Countries of Origin or its Restitution in case of Illicit Appropriation has wrestled with the issue of the Parthenon Sculptures and has tried, without much success, to bring both parties to the table for meaningful negotiations.

Mr Panagiotopoulos indicated that there is a pressing need for a common and coordinated strategy between the International Association, the various overseas committees and other culture-focused international bodies to maintain a sustained campaign for the sculptures’ return. The chairman of the International Association assured Mr Panagiotopoulos that all committees will support the Greek Government on whatever path it chooses to take.

The UNESCO Committee has met regularly over the past decade and on each occasion it has issued similar recommendations, including inviting the Director General to assist in convening the necessary meetings between Greece and the United Kingdom, with the aim of reaching a mutually acceptable solution to the issue of the Parthenon Sculptures. These all too familiar recommendations have failed to produce any real or meaningful dialogue despite UNESCO’s best efforts.

And why has this occurred? For their part, the British delegation (which invariably includes representatives from the British Museum) has consistently stonewalled at these meetings, repeatedly pointing out that the decision rests with the British Museum Trustees and asserting that the marbles tell a different story in London. The British Museum has tried to recast itself as a “universal museum” – as a museum of the world – and in its public relations spin it has referred to the sculptures as “objects” which are best exhibited in different locations (most notably London), rather than being reunited and viewed within the context of the Parthenon.

It is this attitude on the part of the British Museum that the Greek Government, through its renewed request for UNESCO intervention, has to overcome.
If this initiative fails, then the Greeks will need to consider alternative strategies, including litigation.

The various international committees will meet in Athens this month to discuss the current state and future direction of the campaign. The Culture Minister has promised to address the delegates on that occasion. It is hoped that a more positive outcome is within reach.

September 24, 2013

Recovering stolen artefacts for profit – the downsides to the Art Loss Register

Posted at 1:06 pm in Similar cases

The Art Loss Register has for some time now aimed to create a listing of stolen artefacts, with the aim that they can be more easily returned to their original owners if they are found. On paper this seems like a great idea, but the reality is somewhat different.

As I mentioned in a recent post there is a problem, in that auction houses are treating it as in some way authoritive, as a way of validating artefacts as not being looted. The reality though is that it is far from a comprehensive list.

It seems though that this is the least of its problems. The New York Times published a piece on it recently & since then, various people have blogged about their own issued with it.

In particular, I suggest reading Tom Flynn’s article & Dorothy King’s article.

From:
New York Times

Tracking Stolen Art, for Profit, and Blurring a Few Lines
By KATE TAYLOR and LORNE MANLY
Published: September 20, 2013

Early in the morning of May 11, 1987, someone smashed through the glass doors of the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm, removed a Matisse from a wall and fled.

All it took was daring and a sledgehammer.

The whereabouts of the painting, “Le Jardin,” remained a mystery until the work was found last year and made a celebratory trip home in January.
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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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