Showing results 1 - 12 of 45 for the tag: New York Times.

April 28, 2014

The next chapter – repatriated works after they return home

Posted at 12:57 pm in Similar cases

There have been various high profile cultural property repatriation cases in recent years that have been resolved by the return of the artefacts in question. In many cases though, once the initial publicity dies down, it drops below the radar, as it is no longer a news item.

This article takes a look at some of the recent cases & what has happened to the artefacts since their return.

The Euphronios Krater, displayed in Rome

The Euphronios Krater, displayed in Rome

From:
New York Times

Vision of Home
Repatriated Works Back in Their Countries of Origin
By RACHEL DONADIOAPRIL 17, 2014

AIDONE, Sicily — The ruins of the ancient Greek city of Morgantina sit high on a hill in eastern Sicily. There are cherry trees, wildflowers and total stillness, save for the sound of bird song. The area has long been sacred to Persephone; legend has it that Hades pulled that goddess into the underworld by a nearby lake.

It was here at Morgantina, just outside the modern town of Aidone, that in the late 1970s or early 1980s, a breathtaking statue of a goddess, draped in a windswept robe and standing over seven feet tall, is believed to have been found. First thought to be Aphrodite and now widely considered to be Persephone, the statue, which dates to about 425 B.C., has become one of the most contested artworks in the world.
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April 16, 2014

Is removing an act of vandalism vandalism? – AKA the Banksy Paradox

Posted at 1:06 pm in Similar cases

Had I just seen the first story, there would have been a different take on this, but juxtaposed with another story that also appeared today, it raises far more questions.

The first case is not the first time that Bristolian street artist Banksy has become the topic of this website. In the previous instance, the controversy involved the owner of a wall removing the artwork that had appeared on it one night. The local residents complained, even drawing parallels to the Parthenon Marbles. While the case raised other issues though, the person who did the removing had a legal entitlement to do so, as it was their own wall.

This case however is a clear cut instance of Elginism. The person who removed it is claiming that they had a right to do so because it was in a public place, but now they are claiming it as their own & planning on selling it to raise money. I’m not sure in what way this can not be construed as theft. If don’t own something & you take it, the law is fairly clear cut that this constitutes theft.

However, the second article raises the question of what is vandalism. Since a few years before the start of the financial crisis, the levels of graffiti on walls in Athens has massively increased. Walls that were once pristine & respected have become noticeboards of conflicting political ideologies & poorly thought out solutions to the problem. Many of these are vandalism plain & simple, but they have none the less been documented by people, as one of the most indelible records of the change in the city as the crisis took hold. Now, the social messages in some of the better executed pieces are being analysed further – the works have in effect crossed the same boundary that Banksy did, where vandalism becomes art.

Now – it is worth pointing out that this is a very fuzzy boundary. For some people, it is clearly art, while others continue to maintain the view that the perpetrators should be prosecuted. It is intriguing though how this boundary shifts – Other than his fame / notoriety as an individual, what defines the artistic merit in Banksy’s work that makes people angry when it is destroyed, versus the works of a barely known Greek protester that are routinely scrubbed from walls by municipal workers?

"Access Control," a mural by the Greek street artist iNO on Pireos Street in Athens

“Access Control,” a mural by the Greek street artist iNO on Pireos Street in Athens

From:
Independent

New Banksy art ‘Mobile Lovers’ removed with crowbar, hoarded in youth club
Christopher Hooton
Wednesday 16 April 2014

Banksy’s latest official artwork, being dubbed ‘Mobile Lovers’, has been prized off a Bristol wall by an opportunistic local with a crowbar.

Broad Plain Boys Club manager Dennis Stinchcombe removed the image of a man and a woman distracted by their smartphones from Clement Street, believed to be on plywood, and hopes to sell it for hundreds of thousands of pounds.
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April 10, 2014

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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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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March 1, 2013

The Poundland Banksy is not the Parthenon Sculptures – but there are similarities

Posted at 9:03 am in Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

Locals comment, that having the Poundland Banksy increased tourist visiting their area – which in turn would have increased money coming to the area.

“It had been ripped out with no explanation, along with quite a substantial chunk of the wall,” could just as easily have been a statement from a Greek referring to the desecrated acropolis post Elgin.

It is interesting, that even for an item only removed a few days ago, there is difficulty tracking down what actually happened & who sold it to whom & whether they were allowed to or not. Hardly surprising then, that many cultural heritage disputes dating back hundreds of years are marred by contradictory facts.

There are of course, also many differences between the cases. This is something that is true of nearly all cultural property cases – a subtlety that wasn’t picked up by David Cameron in his comparisons between the Koh-i-noor & the Parthenon Marbles last week.

From:
New York Times

Borough Searches for Missing Boy, Last Seen on Wall
The work, called “Slave Labour,” has become a point of pride in Haringey, the site of some of the nastiest rampages in the 2011 London riots.
By SARAH LYALL
Published: February 28, 2013

“It had been ripped out with no explanation, along with quite a substantial chunk of the wall,” said Alan Strickland, a member of the local council, describing the bizarre scene that greeted passers-by the other weekend. “All that was left was this hole.”

The work — called “Slave Labour” and depicting a downtrodden, barefoot boy making Union Jacks on a sewing machine — had become a point of pride in Haringey, the site of some of the nastiest rampages in the 2011 London riots. Stenciled onto the wall of the everything-costs-a-pound Poundland store on Whymark Avenue, it drew visitors from across London and abroad; so many people asked for directions that the local subway station erected a special “This way to our Banksy” sign.
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February 13, 2013

Disputes over the return of antiquities

Posted at 9:17 am in Similar cases

Hugh Eakin’s post in the New York Times about museums handing back artefacts to thheir original owners prompted interesting & well reasoned responses from both Paul Barford & David Gill’s blogs.

Now, the newspaper has printed a selection of reader’s letters replying to the article.

From:
New York Times

The Dispute Over Returning Antiquities
Published: February 3, 2013

To the Editor:

“The Great Giveback,” by Hugh Eakin (Sunday Review, Jan. 27), made several important points that have been missing in the discussion about “repatriation” of museum-acquired artifacts.

But it did not mention that the repatriation issue applies to the United States as well. Until the creation of the Archaeological Conservancy in 1980, neither our state nor federal governments made much of an attempt to defend important sites all over this country from looters, who not only destroyed both the sites and thousands of artifacts as they bulldozed their way through Indian burial mounds, but also “illegally” sold off the remains to foreign buyers.
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January 28, 2013

The return of cultural treasures – and it wasn’t the Parthenon Marbles that opened the floodgates

Posted at 2:03 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

Regular readers of this blog will no doubt have noticed the increase in returns of disputed artefacts in recent years. American Museums have led the way here, but many others are now being drawn into this new way of operating – to return the artefacts without things progressing as far as legal action, on the basis that doing so will aid other co-operative projects with the countries involved.

For many years, people clamoured that the return of the Parthenon Marbles would open the floodgates for the emptying of museums. Now, it appears that the floodgates have already partially opened & the Parthenon Marbles had nothing to do with it.

So – now that that argument seems no longer valid, surely it is time for the British Museum to reconsider the reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures in Athens? Unlike many of the countries that have threatened legal action, or to withdraw co-operation, by blocking exhibit loans etc, Greece has always maintained good relations with museums in Britain – but it appears that taking the nice approach counts for nothing in this instance – the carrot is not enough & there needs to be the threat of some type of stick before large institutions are willing to come to the negotiating table.

From:
New York Times

The Great Giveback
By HUGH EAKIN
Published: January 26, 2013

THE news has become astonishingly routine: a major American museum announces it is relinquishing extraordinary antiquities because a foreign government claims they were looted and has threatened legal action or other sanctions if it doesn’t get them back.

In the past two months, the Dallas Museum of Art has transferred ownership of seven ancient artworks, including a pair of Etruscan bronze shields, to Italy and Turkey; the Toledo Museum of Art has handed over to Italy a rare water vessel that had been on display since 1982; and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles has announced it will be transferring to Sicily a terra-cotta head believed to depict the Greek god Hades, which it purchased from a New York dealer in 1985 for more than $500,000. Other museums across the country — including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Cleveland Museum of Art — have also given up prized antiquities.
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November 29, 2012

“Universal Objects” such as Cyrus Cylinder more easily lent to US museums than Iranian ones

Posted at 8:55 am in British Museum, Similar cases

While its great to enable as many people as possible to see iconic ancient artefacts, I have a couple of issues with this. First of all, it seems that a loan to not one, but five different museums can take place with relatively little fuss – yet when it was loaned to Iran (the original owners of the artefact), it was a long drawn out process over a number of years involving threats of legal action and to withdraw other cooperation before finally they were able to receive it.

At the end, Neil MacGregor talks about Universal Objects – clearly, this is the next step on from the Universal Museum, which he is is so fond of. Clearly now, we can have objects, that by association of name, if nothing else, can only be displayed in Universal Museums and are no longer valid for consideration for return to their original owners. As with the Universal Museum concept though, the real issue though, as I have mentioned before, is that the museums claiming to fill this role are entirely self appointed to it. No international committee chose them for this, no others were involved in assigning them to this undertaking.

From:
New York Times

November 27, 2012, 7:00 pm
A British Museum Treasure Will Visit the United States
By CAROL VOGEL

The Cyrus Cylinder — one of the most famous objects in the British Museum — will travel from its home in London to five museums in the United States next year.

Often referred to as “the first bill of human rights” because its inscription encourages freedom of worship throughout the Persian Empire, it is a small clay object — not quite nine inches long — bearing an account, in Babylonian cuneiform, by Cyrus, the King of Persia of his conquest of Babylon in 539 B.C. The cylinder was found in what was once Babylon, now Iraq, in 1879 during a British Museum excavation and has been on display at the museum ever since. It is one of the most famous objects to have survived from the ancient world.
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August 15, 2012

Cleveland Museum of Art ignores its own acquisition guidelines

Posted at 1:08 pm in Similar cases

In 2008, new standards for museum acquisitions, set by the Association of Art Museum Directors, were adopted by most museums in the US. The Cleveland Museum of Art however currently appears to be ignoring both these & its own guidelines, with the purchase of two artefacts that many believe to be of dubious provenance.

From:
New York Times

Museum Defends Antiquities Collecting
By RANDY KENNEDY
Published: August 12, 2012

Over the last five years, the Cleveland Museum of Art has been at work on one of the largest building programs of any art institution in the country, a $350 million project that has been unveiled in sleek new stages and will be completed by 2013, adding 35,000 more square feet of gallery space.

But the museum has also been building in less visible ways and is set to announce on Monday the acquisition of two high-profile ancient artifacts that seem certain to draw attention not only to the institution’s expansion but also to the complicated long-running debate about antiquities collecting by museums.
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June 19, 2012

Lack of funds for policing Greek archaeological sites leads to a rise in illicit digs

Posted at 1:07 pm in Greece Archaeology, Similar cases

More coverage of the problems facing many of Greece’s archaeological sites as a result of the ongoing financial difficulties in the country.

From:
New York Times

Greek Antiquities, Long Fragile, Are Endangered by Austerity
By RANDY KENNEDY
Published: June 11, 2012

KYTHIRA, Greece — A jarring public-awareness ad that has appeared recently on Greek television news shows a little girl strolling with her mother through the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, one of the country’s cultural crown jewels. The girl skips off by herself, and as she stands alone before a 2,500-year-old marble statue, a hand suddenly sweeps in from behind, covering her mouth and yanking her away.

An instant later, she reappears, apparently unharmed but staring forlornly at an empty plinth: The kidnappers weren’t after the girl — they were after the statue.
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June 7, 2012

Court orders Flamenbaum family to return Nazi looted artefacts to museum

Posted at 1:27 pm in Similar cases

Some sources have described this situation as restitution in reverse – but it is really only reversed, in terms of the fact that the party the artefact was taken from is a museum & the party that now holds it is an individual. The ruling does nothing to reverse the logical outcome – that the party holding onto the looted artefact is instructed to hand it back to the original owner.

From:
New York Times

Nazi Victim’s Family Told to Return Artifact
By PATRICIA COHEN
Published: June 1, 2012

The decision turns on its head the familiar scenario of Holocaust victims suing to reclaim property stolen or extorted from them by the Nazis. But in this case, according to court papers, the precious 3,200-year-old Assyrian artifact had been looted, not from the survivor, but from the Vorderasiatisches Museum in Berlin, at the close of World War II.

It is not clear how the survivor, Riven Flamenbaum, came into possession of the tablet after his liberation from Auschwitz in 1945, when he was sent to a displaced persons camp in southeastern Germany.
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May 25, 2012

Dispute over Senate bill S. 2212 over looted artefacts loaned to museums

Posted at 8:07 am in Similar cases

The Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity Clarification Act has stirred up quite a bit of controversy in the USA.

Many who have examined the bill (S. 2212) say that despite exemptions in the planned law, it is only really there to protect the interests of the big museums – while reducing the chances of recovering looted artefacts by the original owners (or their descendants).

From:
New York Times

Dispute Over Bill on Borrowed Art
The heirs of Malevich sought to recover paintings, including the ones displayed above center and right.
By DOREEN CARVAJAL
Published: May 21, 2012

The lending and borrowing of famous artworks is the essence of cultural exchange between museums in the United States and abroad. So routine is the practice, and so universally valued, that the American government has traditionally protected it with a law that shields a lent work from being seized by anyone with a claim to legal ownership while the art is on display here.

In recent years, though, American museum directors have come to fear that this safeguard has eroded, and that foreign museums, dreading entanglement in costly ownership battles, are more hesitant to make loans. So they have asked Congress to increase the security for global art swaps.
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