Showing results 13 - 24 of 468 for the tag: Restitution.

April 7, 2014

Is it time for Africa’s stolen artefacts to return home?

Posted at 1:01 pm in Similar cases

Although some of the reviews of it haven’t been that great, the film Monuments Men has done an amazing job of raising awareness for the issue of disputed artefacts.

In this article, Chika Ezeanya looks at the many African Artefacts that have ended up in the museums & institutions of the West.

A series of African sculptures in the Yale collection

A series of African sculptures in the Yale collection

From:
Think Africa Press

It’s Time for Africa’s Stolen Artefacts to Come Home
Africa’s history has for too long laid scattered across Western museums and private collections, out of the reach of their true owners’ hearts, minds and memories.
Article | 4 April 2014 – 11:33am | By Chika Ezeanya

In a recently-released film, The Monuments Men, in which a group of Second World War soldiers embark upon a mission to save pieces of art before they are destroyed by the Nazis, Lieutenant Frank Stokes, played by George Clooney, notes: “You can wipe out an entire generation, you can burn their homes to the ground and somehow they will still find their way back. But if you destroy their history, if you destroy their achievements, then it is as if they never existed.”

While in London to publicise the film, this basic premise was given contemporary significance as the all-star cast touched a sensitive nerve by suggesting it was time for Britain to return the so-called Elgin Marbles to Greece. Some British commentators hit out at the actors’ suggestions of repatriating the huge marble sculptures and pieces of architecture ‘acquired’ by Lord Elgin from Athens in the 19th century, while the Greek government expressed their “heartfelt thanks” for the show of solidarity.
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April 1, 2014

How can Western Museum (re-)present their colonial past

Posted at 12:54 pm in Similar cases

Many of the European countries have had long & complex colonial pasts. Within their history, there are no doubt many episodes that people today wish could be forgotten. Within the museums of the West, there is also the fact to consider that many of the artefacts in their collections are there as a result of colonisation. During the end of the era of colonialism, there was a physical colonisation, where most countries withdrew their presence within former colonies & gradually granted them independence. There has never been the same impetus however behind a cultural decolonisation – handing back of the cultural artefacts that were acquired in circumstances of dubious legality.

Is the time right now for a re-think of this? To re-assemble our museums as spaces that tell a story fit for the 21st century, giving us a fuller awareness of how the artefacts came to be assembled there & who else claims ownership on them?

The sculpture of the ‘leopard man’ at the Museum of Central Africa

The sculpture of the ‘leopard man’ at the Museum of Central Africa

From:
Irish Times

The plunder years: culture and the colony
Suzanne Lynch
Last Updated: Monday, March 24, 2014, 16:59

Last month, George Clooney was drawn into a cultural debate that has long been a sensitive issue for Britain. Asked during a press conference in London’s National Gallery if the Elgin Marbles should continue to be housed in the British Museum or in Athens, the actor said the sculptures should be returned to the Parthenon from where they were taken by Lord Elgin in the 19th century.

Clooney was in town to promote The Monuments Men , a film that explores the ethical questions around cultural ownership as it tells the story of soldiers tasked with retrieving stolen art from Nazi Germany during the second World War.
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March 31, 2014

Half of looted Sevso Silver returns to Hungary

Posted at 5:50 pm in Similar cases

It appears that China isn’t the only country that has decided that buying disputed artefacts back is sometimes the simplest way to re-acquire them following looting.

In this instance, it is the Sevso Silver, fourteen items which Hungary claims were looted, but were sold to private buyers during the 1980s. The treasure constitutes fourteen items in total. This purchase re-acquires seven of them for €15 million, from undisclosed sellers.

My earlier reservations still stand, as do those presented previously by Kwame Opoku.

Sevso treasure in 1990

Sevso treasure in 1990

From:
Guardian

Sevso treasure items repatriated by Hungarian government after UK sale
The Roman silver, discovered in Hungary in the 1970s, was bought from an ‘unidentified London seller’ for €15m
Dalya Alberge
Thursday 27 March 2014 17.51 GMT

The Hungarian government has repatriated seven of the 14 pieces from the Sevso treasure, a spectacular hoard of 4th-century Roman silver whose ownership had long been contested by several countries.

The Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán, announced this week that the pieces have been repatriated to Budapest in return for €15m, reportedly paid to unidentified sellers in London. The pieces include the so-called “Hunting Plate” and the “Dionysiac Ewer”.
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March 24, 2014

Is buying back disputed artefacts really a solution?

Posted at 6:31 pm in Similar cases

Prompted by the recent articles on China’s attempts to buy back disputed treasures, Kwame Opoku looks at whether or not this approach could ever work for other countries, and the various issues that it raises.

Bronzes looted from the Summer Palace during the Opium Wars

Bronzes looted from the Summer Palace during the Opium Wars

From:
Eurasia Review

China’s Purchase Of Chinese Looted Artifacts: An Example For Other States? – OpEd
March 24, 2014
By Kwame Opoku

‘One day two bandits entered the Summer Palace. One plundered, the other burned. Victory can be a thieving woman, or so it seems. The devastation of the Summer Palace was accomplished by the two victors acting jointly. Mixed up in all this is the name of Elgin, which inevitably calls to mind the Parthenon. What was done to the Parthenon was done to the Summer Palace, more thoroughly and better, so that nothing of it should be left. All the treasures of all our cathedrals put together could not equal this formidable and splendid museum of the Orient. It contained not only masterpieces of art, but masses of jewellery. What a great exploit, what a windfall! One of the two victors filled his pockets; when the other saw this he filled his coffers. And back they came to Europe, arm in arm, laughing away. Such is the story of the two bandits. Before history, one of the two bandits will be called France; the other will be called England’. — Victor Hugo. (1)

These sculptures of a rat head and a rabbit head were among the objects looted in 1860 when French and British soldiers under the command of Lord Elgin sacked the imperial palace in Beijing. The eighth Lord Elgin was the son of the seventh Lord Elgin, who removed the Parthenon Marbles from Athens. These two sculptures have now been returned to China. (2)
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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 27, 2014

The Parthenon Marbles & the National Gallery director

Posted at 2:06 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

I don’t quite know what to make of this article. On the one hand he’s saying that the Parthenon Marbles could return to Greece, which is great. On the other hand though, he is saying that they must not become pawns of political exploitation & that the issue over where they belong must not become an obsession. Its hard to see how these can be separated out though – its almost saying that they would only be returned if Greece wasn’t really interested in them.

He then talks about how they would not be displayed on the monument – but this is not something that anyone has sensibly proposed for a long time now. The New Acropolis Museum was designed & constructed especially for this purpose & the way in which it relates to the original building has already been discussed many times on this site.

National Gallery director Nicholas Penny

National Gallery director Nicholas Penny

From:
Greek Reporter

Great Britain Challenges Greece on Elgin Marbles
by Iro-Anna Mamakouka – Feb 24, 2014

The director of London’s National Gallery, Nicholas Penny, is challenging Greece once more on the issue of the Parthenon’s Marbles, suggesting that Greece and Britain share them.

According to him, the British Museum has recognized to some extent, the profound importance that the Marbles have for Greece and that lending the Marbles to the Greek state is under discussion as long as they do not become pawns of political exploitation.
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February 25, 2014

When will UK respond to Parthenon Marbles mediation request

Posted at 2:13 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Greece’s requests for mediation through UNESCO over the return of the Parthenon Marbles were made in early October 2013, but so far there has been no response from the British Museum or British Government.

Now, the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures has written to the Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary & Culture Secretary, along with the Trustees of the British Museum, imploring them to take this request seriously.

UNESCO logo

UNESCO logo

From:
International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures

Dear Prime Minster

Last week the Guardian published the results of a poll that showed 88% of respondents believe Britain should return the Parthenon Sculptures to Greece. The poll is consistent with all the other surveys in recent years that demonstrate overwhelming British public support on this issue.

The widespread support for the return of the Marbles is not limited to the British public. There are now volunteer organisations in 16 countries that have been formed to support the claim for the sculptures to be returned; in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Cyprus, Finland, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the USA. (partheononinternational.org)

As you would be aware, last year the Director General of UNESCO, Irini Bokova, wrote to your Government requesting that Britain agree to participate in a UNESCO process of mediation to settle the dispute over the Parthenon Sculptures.

There are strong moral arguments for Britain to accept the UNESCO mediation initiative that would allow the issue of the Parthenon Sculptures to be resolved in a spirit of cooperation, good will and friendship, with both sides being able to respect each other’s sensitivities.

We are also confident that in a mediation process there would be the opportunity for the British Museum to explore mutually beneficial arrangements with Greece involving the return of the Marbles that would leave the British Museum in a stronger position than at present.

Accordingly, I would urge you to support the British participation in the proposed UNESCO mediation process.

I will next be in London in March and would very much like the opportunity of meeting with you to discuss the matter.

Yours sincerely

David Hill
Chairman

February 20, 2014

China’s buy back of looted artefacts continues

Posted at 1:51 pm in Similar cases

While many countries have been arguing for years about disputed artefacts abroad (with little success), China has for some time now taken an additional parallel approach to this. Buying back objects, when the come up for auction is of course something that you can only do if you have the cash reserves to carry out the plan – and the existing owner is planning on selling. The fact that there are so many Chinese artefacts abroad, means that there will always be one that is owned by someone who is planning on selling it (normally at auction).

The whole practise of buying back these works is looked down on by many as it goes a step towards legitimising the original acquisitions. It is something that only a few countries can afford to do – and indeed, in the case of China, it has mainly been undertaken by individuals doing it with the intention of bringing the works back, rather than a concerted effort by the state.

Bronzes looted from the Summer Palace during the Opium Wars

Bronzes looted from the Summer Palace during the Opium Wars

From:
South China Morning Post

Recovery of China’s lost marbles stirs debate
Recovery of relics is increasingly a marker of Beijing’s changing geopolitical clout
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 February, 2014, 6:39pm

China has long sought to recover treasures it says were looted by foreigners, but a tycoon’s US$1.6 million deal for the return of seven white marble columns from Norway is raising unusual debate on the issue.

Critics have openly challenged the motives of real estate developer Huang Nubo, whose donation to the KODE Art Museums of Bergen paved the way for the return of the Old Summer Palace relics, and some argued they should not be “bought back”.
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February 11, 2014

Bill Murray & Matt Damon also support Marbles return

Posted at 10:57 pm in Elgin Marbles

George Clooney has today re-stated his comments made a few days ago about the return of the Parthenon Marbles. This is in part prompted by the response by John Whittingdale of the DCMS Select Committee, who implied that being from the US, rather than the UK, Clooney probably did not know what he was talking about & did not fully understand the issue.

Today, Clooney’s support was also echoed by two of the other stars of the film – Bill Murray & Matt Damon, who came out in support of the issue at today’s press conference, where Clooney remarked that the subject was something that needed an open discussion.

An open discussion (or indeed any form of discussion) is something that campaigners have encouraged the British Museum to take part in for years. At present, it continues to issue press releases, or ignore the issue & hope it will disappear, while what is needed is a proper attempt by all parties to tackle the issue – something that the currently proposed UNESCO mediation process is intended to achieve.

In an issue, where in the past many museum professionals have spoken out in support of return, only to later backtrack, it is great that Clooney has taken the time to read up some more about the issue & to double check that his understanding of the facts was correct, before then re-stating that he still believes exactly what he said previously.

Finally, there is a peculiar response from the shadow culture minister, Helen Goodman, at the end of the Article, where she says: “How would George Clooney feel if he could only act in American films shown in the US?” If anybody can explain to me what on earth she is on about here, I’d love to have this point clarified.

Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman and George Clooney

Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman and George Clooney

From:
Guardian

George Clooney, Bill Murray and Matt Damon back return of Elgin marbles
Hollywood actors say Greek sculptures have had a “very nice stay” in Britain but should be returned
Mark Brown and Helena Smith in Athens
The Guardian, Tuesday 11 February 2014 20.44 GMT

They came to promote a film showing how millions of artworks were rescued and returned to their rightful owners after plunder by the Nazis. But George Clooney, Bill Murray and Matt Damon left implying that Britain, too, needed to have a long, hard, look at itself.

The Hollywood actors had become embroiled in one of the fiercest of all heritage controversies: should the Elgin marbles, removed from the Parthenon 200 years ago, be housed in London or in Athens?
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January 20, 2014

IARPS support for the UNESCO mediation process to resolve the Marbles deadlock

Posted at 11:13 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, International Association

The International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures has expressed to David Cameron, the need for Britain to support the request from UNESCO for mediation on the Parthenon Sculptures issue.

From:
IARPS

A letter from the IARPS to the British Prime Minister

The Rt Hon David Cameron MP
10 Downing Street
London
SW1A 2AA

Dear Prime Minister

I am writing to draw your attention to the world wide support for the Parthenon Sculptures held in the British Museum to be returned to Greece.
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December 6, 2013

USA returns Mayan frieze to Guatemala, so why shouldn’t Britain return Parthenon Frieze to Greece?

Posted at 9:17 am in Similar cases

The Guatemalan authorities announced that an agreement had been reached with the USA for the return of a carved stone Mayan frieze. This return adds to over 10,500 disputed artefacts already returned to Guatemala from around the world in recent years.

Whilst I always assert that every cultural property dispute is different & should be dealt with on its own terms, it is still easy for anyone to see the parallels between one carved stone frieze & the Frieze from the Parthenon (part of which is currently in the British Museum.

Limestone Mayan Frieze

Mayan frieze returned to Guatemala by USA

From:
iEfimerida (google translated)

The impressive frieze of Maya returned to Guatemala
03/12/2013 14:06

The Guatemalan government officially announced the return of the U.S. giant Mayan frieze dating from the classical period, between 250 and 900 BC. The restoration and maintenance procedures were completed and returned the frieze in the country.

This is a work of art from limestone, which is a height of about 50 cm and was located in the northern province of Peten, a region considered the birthplace of the ancient Mayan civilization.

The last 10 years, Guatemala has recovered more than 10,500 antiquities that were in other countries, such as USA, Germany, Britain and France, after the La Corona and other archaeological sites in the Petén looted in the 19th century.

November 4, 2013

Cycling from the British Museum to the Acropolis in support of the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles

Posted at 7:54 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Italian Luca Lo Sicco plans to cycle from the British Museum in London to the steps of the Acropolis, to raise awareness for the plight of the Parthenon Sculptures.

He is not the first person to travel this route however, as Marbles Reunited & BCRPM member Dr Chris Stockdale completed a similar expedition in 2005.

Luca Lo Sicco

Luca Lo Sicco

From:
Kathimerini (English Edition)

Monday November 4, 2013
Cycling the continent for a monumental cause
By Alexander Clapp

Greece’s bid to reclaim the Parthenon Marbles is about to be taken for a ride. To raise awareness for the repatriation of Greece’s most prized historical relics, Dr Luca Lo Sicco plans to bike next July from the steps of the British Museum in London to the entrance of the Acropolis Museum in Athens. “I strongly feel that there is a moral duty to return to the Marbles to Athens,” writes Sicco, who is currently a professor of fashion at the University of Southampton. “The recent way that certain countries – England, Germany – have been attacking Greece and its crisis is deeply unfair. The European Union is a family. We should be supportive of each other’s difficulties – difficulties that, in this instance, were caused by bankers and corrupt politicians.”

Lord Elgin infamously swiped the Parthenon friezes in the years 1801-12. His original intention was to take plaster casts of the temple’s pediments. Under the auspices of the Ottoman Empire, which then ruled Greece, Elgin proceeded to saw off the temple’s sculptures and transport them back to England. The legality of his actions was dubious even in the 19th century. Until his death in 1841, Elgin insisted that his efforts were necessary for preserving what remained of the Parthenon’s statuary. In his own words:
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