Showing results 25 - 36 of 487 for the tag: Restitution.

April 29, 2014

The shame associated with the Sevso Hoard

Posted at 1:06 pm in Similar cases

Part of the disputed Sevso Hoard was recently returned to Hungary (purchased off an unidentified seller in London).

Colin Renfrew looks at some of the history of the treasure, and the losses both to archaeology & to peoples reputations over what has happened with it in the years since its discovery.

Sevso treasure in 1990

Sevso treasure in 1990

From:
Art Newspaper

Shame still hangs over the Sevso hoard
The recent return of seven of the 14 pieces of Roman silver to Hungary from the UK is a positive development in the find’s sad history
By Colin Renfrew. Comment, Issue 257, May 2014
Published online: 29 April 2014

It is a relief that the sorry story of the misappropriation of the great treasure of late Roman silverware known as the Sevso hoard now seems to be reaching an acceptable conclusion. A tangled tale of greed and irresponsibility by “collectors” in high places who might have known better, seeking a quick and easy profit and showing little respect for the world’s archaeological heritage, it ends where it presumably began, in Hungary.
Read the rest of this entry »

Swiss Committee for the Return of Parthenon Marbles organises talk in Zurich

Posted at 12:49 pm in Elgin Marbles, International Association

A followup to the earlier post about Dusan Sidjanski’s talk on the Parthenon Marbles.

Dusan Sidjanski of the Swiss Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures

Dusan Sidjanski of the Swiss Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures

From:
Greek Reporter

Swiss Committee on the Return of the Parthenon Marbles
Apr 19, 2014

The president of the Swiss Committee for the Return of the Parthenon Marbles, Professor Dusan Sidjanski, during the event titled “Europe and the Parthenon Marbles: a common cause,” stressed the need for return of the marbles to Greece.

In his speech, Dr. Sidjianski referred to the Swiss Committee’s concern for the legal claim of the return of the Parthenon Marbles, stressing that this is considered a European issue which needs to be resolved through dialogue between the European institutions as well as through informing the public and especially Britain.
Read the rest of this entry »

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.
Read the rest of this entry »

April 25, 2014

Greece’s economy might be rebounding, but the Parthenon Marbles have yet to return

Posted at 12:52 pm in Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

A common excuse given by supporters of retaining the Parthenon Sculptures in the UK, is that the time is not right for them to return. The New Acropolis Museum opened during the middle of one of the worst financial crises to affect the world in recent years & for some, their words carried some weight. Surely now though, when Greece is re-issuing government bonds & the remnants of the years of riots are being repaired, this is the ideal time to rebuild Greece’s culture, by righting a historic wrong?

Acropolis Museum in Athens

Acropolis Museum in Athens

From:
Bloomberg News

Athens Lacking Only Elgin as Windows Erase Crisis: Cities
By Marcus Bensasson and Nikos Chrysoloras Apr 24, 2014 5:27 AM GMT

The marble paving stones have been relaid in Athens’s Syntagma Square, the site of pitched battles between police and protesters during the worst of Greece’s economic crisis.

Yannis Stournaras has replaced his sixth-floor window overlooking the square. It was pierced by an errant bullet during one of the riots in 2010.
Read the rest of this entry »

April 17, 2014

Evangelos Venizelos speaks out on Parthenon Marbles issue

Posted at 12:51 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

PASOK leader & Greek Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos is no stranger to dealing with the Parthenon Sculptures issue. He has been quiet about it in public though, since he lost his position as Culture Minister after Nea Demokratia took power in the 2004 general election.

Today though, he had the opportunity to speak to the European Parliament plenary in Strasbourg, about the return of looted cultural artefacts, where he mentioned both the case of the Parthenon Marbles, as well as the various more recent cases that have arisen in Cyprus since the 1974 Turkish occupation.

PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos

PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos

From:
Famagusta Gazette

Greek FM refers to destruction of Cyprus’ cultural heritage in occupied north
Thursday, 17 April, 2014

Greek Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos, speaking before the European Parliament plenary in Strasbourg on the return of cultural objects unlawfully removed from the territory of a member state, referred to the need to return the Parthenon marbles to Greece and the damage that Cyprus` cultural treasures have suffered since the 1974 Turkish invasion.

He said that the new directive regarding the return of cultural objects is clearly improved compared to the one that existed since 1993 and it will be an important instrument in handling illegal trafficking of cultural artifacts, which is one of the widely used forms of organised crime.
Read the rest of this entry »

April 15, 2014

When will UK ratify 1954 Hague Convention on stolen art?

Posted at 1:06 pm in Similar cases

After many years of delay, the UK announced in 2005 that they were going to ratify the 1954 Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. Since then though, as I noted a few weeks ago, no action has actually been taken.

Time is running out now for the government to ratify it during their current term, although there are no clear reasons for not doing so. As this article notes, the film Monuments Men has helped to draw attention to this topic, so now is the ideal time for them to take a clear step towards helping to prevent the looting of artefacts.

Scene from the film Monuments Men

Scene from the film Monuments Men

From:
Guardian

Stolen art cannot be brushed over, so sign the UK up to the Hague convention
There is no excuse for Sajid Javid not to ratify the rules that ultimately protect people’s cultural heritage
Helen Goodman
Tuesday 15 April 2014 08.00 BST

No films about art stolen in wartime appear for years and then two come along at once: Wes Anderson’s funny Grand Budapest Hotel, with a plot that revolves around the disappearance of a “priceless” painting called Boy with Apple, or the more serious and realistic The Monuments Men.

The latter is George Clooney’s latest directorial venture and concerns an allied forces group of museum curators and art historians in the second world war who attempt to stop the Nazis destroying the cultural treasures of occupied countries.
Read the rest of this entry »

April 10, 2014

If you only read one article on restitution of cultural property, make sure its not this one

Posted at 5:21 pm in Similar cases

There are so many flaws in this article, that its hard to know where to start.

The basic premise of it seems to be that the return of artefacts is a bad thing, even when they were clearly acquired illegally in fairly recent times. The reasoning is that the author claims that as a result of laws forbidding looting, fewer new archaeological discoveries have been made. This is backed up with some rather iffy statistics.

The comments at the end of the article go some way towards highlighting some of the problems in the article:

  1. The statistical analysis methods used are completely flawed.
  2. The author supports their argument with the post hoc ergo propter hoc, and false analogy logical falacies.
  3. The reported results do not appear to correlate with the findings of others.
  4. The author equates UNESCO world heritage sites with Archaeological sites, with no clear logic to why these two should correlate.

The global average temperature v decline in pirates graph makes a lot more sense than some of the analysis presented here.

The fact is, that the subject is a serious issue, and the article just seems to completely miss the point, with the aim of drawing some rather odd conclusions. If you thought James Cuno’s views were a bit out of sync with reality, then you probably won’t make much sense of this article either.

As Jason Felch (a former LA times journalist who documented the events leading up to the return of the Aphrodite statue from the Getty) noted on Twitter “News Side & Editorial opinions are separate at newspapers. This didn’t deserve to appear in either”.

Aphrodite statue returned to the Getty by Italy

Aphrodite statue returned to the Getty by Italy

From:
Los Angeles Times

Op-Ed
The archaeology paradox: more laws, less treasure
Tight restrictions on export and ownership of artifacts is leaving the world a poorer place.
By Adam Wallwork
April 7, 2014

The Getty Center in Los Angeles, the Metropolitan Museum in New York and Sotheby’s auction house — these are just some of the major institutions that have been forced to repatriate artworks in recent years. Italy, Egypt, Greece, Turkey and Cambodia have all successfully used their cultural property laws to secure the return of important antiquities from collectors and museums.

Treasures from King Tutankhamen’s tomb that had been in the Met’s collection for almost a century went back to Egypt. In 2006, the Met agreed to return the Euphronios krater, a masterpiece Greek urn that had been a museum draw since 1972. In 2007, the Getty agreed to return 40 objects to Italy, including a marble Aphrodite, in the midst of looting scandals. And in December, Sotheby’s and a private owner agreed to return an ancient Khmer statue of a warrior, pulled from auction two years before, to Cambodia.
Read the rest of this entry »

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.
Read the rest of this entry »

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.
Read the rest of this entry »

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”.
Read the rest of this entry »

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)
Read the rest of this entry »

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]
Read the rest of this entry »