Showing results 1 - 12 of 20 for the tag: Switzerland.

January 28, 2016

Is not knowing an artefact was Nazi loot an excuse to retain it?

Posted at 2:47 pm in Similar cases

The Musée des beaux-arts in La Chaux-de-Fonds in Switzerland has been in the news recently, for their refusal to return a Constable painting looted by the Nazis to the heirs of the rightful owner.

The excuse given by the museum is that they did not know that they purchased the item in good faith. Further to this, they also argue that as a neutral power in the Second World War, their history is unencumbered by the holocaust.

Neither of these reasons holds much credibility for me though. If the legitimacy of a purchase is merely down to good faith, then surely this leads us down a route where nobody asks awkward questions when making a purchase. Even if the due diligence process was thorough, this should not be an acceptable excuse. although perhaps there is an argument that some compromise could be made – either between the museum and the rightful owners, or potentially the governments of countries that expect their institutions to be able to do the right thing. There is no precedent for the second argument – that Switzerland had no involvement in the situation that led to the looting. Britain was actively fighting against the Nazis during the Second World War, arguably giving it a stronger claim to this than Switzerland, but various institutions have already made restitutions in similar cases and the right to do this is enshrined in law by the Holocaust (Stolen Art) Restitution Act.

Despite all the above though, what this article skips over, is that the Holocaust is not a special case in this regard. Museums should make far wider examinations of provenance and their justifications for ownership. The Benin Bronzes and the Parthenon Sculptures in the British Museum are just some of the many other cases currently outside of the legal frameworks that allow for the return of Nazi loot, meaning that the institutions that hold them feel little need to argue a case, as they know that there is no legal way for the items to be deaccessioned from their collections at present.

John Constable’s Dedham From Langham, 1813

John Constable’s Dedham From Langham, 1813

From:
Guardian

Why a Swiss gallery should return its looted Nazi art out of simple decency
Jonathan Jones
Wednesday 27 January 2016

Memory has many colours. A work of art that survives the centuries is an embodiment of history, marked invisibly by all the hands that have held it. Who owned it? Where did it hang? These are not just arcane questions for scholars but the network of human experience that haunts works of art in museums and makes them richly alive.

The hunt for works of art looted by the Nazis matters. Researchers who discover the true owners of a painting stolen in wartime Europe and later acquired innocently or knowingly by a museum or gallery are piecing together shadowy stories of oppression, injustice, murder and destruction. Why did the Nazis loot art from Jewish owners? It was not only greedbut an ideological belief that Jews contributed nothing to European civilisation and did not deserve to share in it.
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January 27, 2016

Switzerland returns looted Etruscan treasure to Italy

Posted at 2:02 pm in Similar cases

Its great to see that Switzerland is finally doing something to clear up the murky world of artefacts smuggled via the Free Port in Geneva.

An Etruscan sarcophagus is among stolen ancient artworks that Switzerland has returned to Italy

An Etruscan sarcophagus is among stolen ancient artworks that Switzerland has returned to Italy

From:
The Local (Switzerland)

Switzerland returns looted Etruscan treasures to Italy
Published: 14 Jan 2016 16:18 GMT+01:00

Switzerland has returned to Italy 45 boxes of ancient Etruscan art stolen during illegal excavations and stashed away for more than 15 years, including two rare sarcophaguses, authorities said on Thursday.

“The antiques were given back to Italian authorities today,” a statement from Geneva’s public prosecutor’s office said.
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March 15, 2015

Geneva Summer Schools – International Cultural Heritage Law

Posted at 9:33 pm in Events, Similar cases

The Université de Genève is organising a summer school on International Cultural Heritage Law, from June 22nd – July 3rd.

Check the Geneva Summer Schools website for full details of the course programme.

From:
Geneva Summer Schools

International Cultural Heritage Law

June 22 – July 3, 2015

COURSE DESCRIPTION

The summer school aims to develop the students’ awareness and general understanding of the main substantive themes of international cultural heritage law, namely:

  • the trade in cultural objects;
  • the restitution of stolen or looted artworks;
  • the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict;
  • the protection of the built heritage from natural and human-induced disasters;
  • the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage and of the diversity of cultural expressions;
  • the relationship between cultural heritage law and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO);
  • the settlement of cultural heritage disputes.

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April 29, 2014

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.
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March 27, 2014

Talk in Zurich on the Parthenon Marbles

Posted at 1:45 pm in Elgin Marbles, Events

Professor Dusan Sidjanski of the Swiss Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures is giving a talk to the Association of Greek Academics in Switzerland. The talk is titled “Europe & the Marbles – a common cause”.

For more details, see the flyer below.

Flyer for the talk

Flyer for the talk

November 17, 2013

James Beresford on the appropriateness of EU funding of the Acropolis Museum

Posted at 11:58 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

Regular readers of this website will already be familiar with James Beresford from an earlier piece that he wrote for the Museums Association Journal about the declining visitor numbers at the New Acropolis Museum.

Here, he follows on from the Round Table event held at the European Parliament in Brussels last month. As with his previous article, he raises some interesting points, although I don’t agree with many of the conclusions that he reaches. I met him a few weeks ago & found he had an amazing knowledge of restitution issues, spreading far wider that that of the Parthenon Marbles. At the same time, he likes to provoke – to get readers agitated & to confront people’s preconceptions (which is probably what a lot of the magazine editors want too).

Both the BCRPM & the Swiss Committee for the Reunification of the Marbles have written responses to his piece, which I have included at the end, as theses go some way to answering many of the points that he raises.

From:
The Parliament

EU funding for new Acropolis museum branded ‘inappropriate’
By James Beresford – 7th November 2013

James Beresford says European funding for Athens’ new Acropolis museum runs counter to the treaty of the EU’s requirement for such support to promote ‘solidarity among the member states’.

This article is in response to Rodi Kratsa’s article of 22 October.

The roundtable discussion held in the European parliament building on October 15 debating the return of the Parthenon/Elgin marbles, should be of great interest to European parliamentarians.
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October 19, 2013

Press coverage of the Round Table on the Parthenon Marbles at the European Parliament

Posted at 10:55 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, International Association

There have been a few press articles about the Round Table event organised in Brussels last week, where various speakers explained why they supported the return of the Parthenon Sculptures.

From:
Daily Telegraph

Join in ‘mediation’ with Greece over Elgin Marbles, Unesco urges Britain
The long running dispute over the Elgin Marbles should be settled by mediation, Britain is told
By Martin Banks, Brussels
6:56PM BST 15 Oct 2013

William Hague has been urged to take part in a “mediation procedure” with Greece in a fresh diplomatic bid to resolve the long-running dispute over the Elgin Marbles.

Unesco, the United Nation’s cultural organisation, has written to the Foreign Secretary, to Maria Miller, the culture secretary, and to Neil MacGregor, the British Museum’s director, inviting them to sit down with Greek officials and seek a mutually acceptable solution to the issue of the sculptures – once part of the ancient Parthenon building in Athens.
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October 11, 2013

Round table discussion on: The reunification of the Parthenon Marbles – a European concern

Posted at 2:00 pm in Elgin Marbles, Events

The Swiss Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles are organising a round table event at the European Parliament in Brussels. The event is entitled: The reunification of the Parthenon Marbes – a European concern

The event take place on Tuesday 15th October 2013.

From:
Swiss Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles

MEP Rodi Kratsa, Vice-President of the European Parliament 2007-2012, and Professor Dusan Sidjanski, Chairman of the Swiss Committee, have the pleasure to invite you to the

Round Table

THE REUNIFICATION OF THE PARTHENON MARBLES : A EUROPEAN CONCERN

under the patronage of the Ministry of Culture of the Hellenic Republic
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January 3, 2013

Geneva – hub of the looted artefacts market

Posted at 2:03 pm in Similar cases

Many people in the past have told me that Geneva is the global hub for looted artefacts. Cases such as those involving Giacomo Medici only emphasise this fact.

The notion of the city as the ideal point of transfer for art deals taking place, well away from the public eye is exacerbated by the existence of free ports, which store artefacts, often purely for investment purposes – that will never see the light of day until they are maybe re-sold at some point in the future.

From:
BBC News

2 January 2013 Last updated at 00:52
Geneva’s art storage boom in uncertain times
By Imogen Foulkes BBC News, Geneva

It may contain a treasure trove of Picassos but few have ever explored the riches in the Geneva free port art storage site.

In difficult economic times, investors are turning to more unusual commodities to protect their money. Gold may be a tried and tested safe haven, but in recent years fine art has been attracting increasing amounts of cash.
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April 23, 2012

Swiss court confiscates ancient Greek coin

Posted at 5:08 pm in Greece Archaeology, Similar cases

More coverage of the court ruling concerning a Greek coin in Switzerland. Once again thoguh, this article takes the line that collectors are being unfairly subjected to laws, restricting the free sale of ancient coins.

From:
Numismaster

Swiss Court Confiscates Ancient Coin
By Richard Giedroyc, World Coin News
February 22, 2012

An Associated Press news release of Jan. 12 originating from Thessaloniki, Greece, is worthy of attention not only due to the news of the confiscation of an ancient coin but because of the noticeably nationalistic sympathies reflected in the story.

The coin, described as an octadrachm “coin struck by a little-known Thracian ruler named Mosses around 480 BC, the time of the second failed Persian invasion of Greece,” was confiscated following a ruling by a court in Switzerland. According to the AP story, the coin “was allegedly illegally excavated in northern Greece and sold at auction in Switzerland, Greek and Swiss officials say.”
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March 29, 2012

Greece wins court ruling in Switzerland over looted coin

Posted at 1:02 pm in Greece Archaeology, Similar cases

As a country rich with archaeological heritage, Greece has always faced problems stopping illegal looting of its ancient sites. The more cases that get stopped before the artefacts can be sold on though, the less incentive there is for people who think that they can excavate illegally without facing any penalties.

From:
Washington Times

Greece wins Swiss court ruling over ancient coin
By Costas Kantouris
Associated Press
Thursday, January 12, 2012

THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) — A Swiss court has ordered the confiscation of a very rare ancient silver coin that was allegedly illegally excavated in northern Greece and sold at auction in Switzerland, Greek and Swiss officials say.

The lawyer representing Greece in the case said Thursday that the ruling in October opens the way for the early 5th century B.C. coin’s return to Greece. The debt-crippled country’s rich cultural heritage has long suffered depredations from antiquities smugglers supplying a lucrative international market.
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November 16, 2010

Are some more of the artefacts looted by Giacomo Medici up for sale?

Posted at 2:42 pm in Similar cases

At first I thought I was reading an older story – but it appears that there is another auction of artefacts that are now suspected to have been through the warehouses of Giacomo Medici.

From:
The Art Newspaper

Medici “loot” for sale?
Two works coming to auction with Bonhams appear similar to those pictured in Polaroids found in the convicted dealer’s Geneva store
By Fabio Isman and Melanie Gerlis | From issue 217, October 2010
Published online 5 Oct 10 (market)

Bonhams London is to auction two antiquities that may have passed through the hands of the dealer Giacomo Medici, who has twice been found guilty of trafficking in antiquities in Italy, but is free as he mounts his third and final appeal. As we went to press, the auction house had not withdrawn the lots because the necessary information on the items had not been released, despite Bonhams’ repeated requests to the Italian authorities, they say.

Pictures in the Bonhams catalogue of the two works coming to auction on 6 October appear similar to Polaroids found in Medici’s Geneva store, which were seized in 1995 and presented as evidence during his trials, although these particular objects were never examined in court. This means that the objects have not been studied to establish their origins and whether or not they were illegally excavated or exported and may be legitimate.
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