Showing results 1 - 12 of 63 for the tag: USA.

December 5, 2014

Christies halts sale of disputed Sardinian bronze age pagan icon

Posted at 10:50 am in Similar cases

Following growing levels of protest, Christies has put on hold the sale of a 4,500 year old Bronze Age statuette, thought to be worth over $1 million.

Sardinian politician Mauro Pili has led the campaign, asking the Auction House to provide more details of who the vendor is, and requesting that the seller proves that they are the legitimate owner of the artefact.

Disputed "mother goddess" icon from Sardinia

Disputed “mother goddess” icon from Sardinia

From:
Independent

Mother Goddess auction: Christie’s halts sale of ‘stolen’ $1m Bronze Age pagan icon after Sardinia campaigns for its return
Michael Day
Rome – Tuesday 02 December 2014

A campaign in Sardinia to reclaim a 4,500-year-old pagan idol from a US auction house is gathering pace ahead of its scheduled sale next week, as Italy steps up the fight against the theft of its precious cultural patrimony.

Christie’s in New York had listed the marble religious artefact Dea Madre, or Mother Goddess, dating from about 2500BC, for sale on 11 December. Auctioneers hoped to sell the Bronze Age statuette for as much as $1.2m (£770,000). But campaigners claimed an initial victory today after hearing that the sale had been put on hold.
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November 16, 2014

The Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act

Posted at 10:08 pm in Similar cases

A new bill in the House of Representatives in the USA aims to limit ISIS funding, by prohibiting the import of Syrian antiquities.

Various studies have indicated that the trade in looted artefacts has played a key role in ISIS’s funding in recent months.

If the bill is passed, its remit is wider than the current ISIS situation in Syria & Northern Iraq, allowing it to apply to other areas of instability around the world, where looting is taking place.

The ruins of Apamea in Syria in 2004, before the current conflict

The ruins of Apamea in Syria in 2004, before the current conflict

From:
US Committee of the Blue Shield

Breaking news: bill in House to protect cultural property
The Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act

Legislation to protect cultural property worldwide and curb ISIL funding by prohibiting import of Syrian antiquities was introduced into the House by Representatives Eliot L. Engel (D-NY) and Chris Smith (R-NJ).

For Immediate Release

November 14, 2014

Contacts:
Tim Mulvey (Engel) 202-226-9103
Jeff Sagnip (Smith) 202-225-3765
Engel, Smith offer bill to preserve cultural preservation preservation, curb ISIL funding

WASHINGTON, DC—Representative Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), the leading Democrat on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ), chair of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations today announced that they have introduced legislation to improve American efforts to preserve cultural property around the world and cut off one source of funding to ISIL. The Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act (H.R. 5703) would take steps to coordinate efforts across government to preserve cultural artifacts where they may be threatened by conflict, instability, or natural disaster.
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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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November 17, 2013

Colloquy in Sydney on the return of the Parthenon Marbles

Posted at 1:52 am in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Events

I meant to post about this ages ago – but the arrival of our first child has rather disrupted my daily routine.

Anyway – in Sydney at the moment (their final day is about to start around now), is a round table event to discuss the Parthenon Marbles issue, organised by three different pro-restitution organisations from the USA, Australia & UK.

Further details of the programme for the event can be found here.

From:
Archaeologia

International Colloquy about the Parthenon marbles opens on Friday
Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Only few days are left before the opening of the International Colloquy: “Parthenon. An Icon of Global Citizenship”. The event will be opened on Friday the 15th of November 2013 by the Premier of NSW, The Hon Barry O’Farrell MP. The opening function will take place inside the Nicholson Museum at the University of Sydney.

“Colloquy” is the latin word for “speaking together” and the organisers of this event are trying to extend this conversation out of the limiting boundaries of a lecture hall. Using popular Social Media platforms like Facebook and Twitter they will try to include a larger number of participants on the four key workshop topics: Education, Litigation, Activism and Economy. Participants will be able to follow the online conversation and discuss/comment in real time.
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November 4, 2013

Dallas Museum of Art returns disputed artefacts to Italy in exchange for loan of other items

Posted at 7:43 pm in Similar cases

Back in 2002, Greek Culture Minister, Evangelos Venizelos made a proposal for how the return of the Parthenon Sculptures could be facilitated.

There were a number of aspects to Venizelos’s proposal, one of them being that Greece would offer various other artefacts to the British Museum on loan, in exchange for the return of the Marbles. This would give the museum new artefacts to display, drawing in more visitors, while Greece would get the Parthenon Sculptures back. A win-win situation.

A number of exchanges similar to what was proposed have now taken place in the years since then, Mainly between institutions in the US & Italy.

Past exchanges with Italy involved the threat of legal action, but this one took place entirely voluntarily.

Treasures from the Spina necropolis

Treasures from the Spina necropolis

From:
NBC Dallas Fort Worth

Italy Loans Dallas Museum of Art Installation After Looted Antiquities Returned
Thursday, Oct 31, 2013 | Updated 12:28 PM CDT

The Dallas Museum of Art has agreed to return six antiquities that were looted illegally from Italy. In return, Italy is loaning the DMA an art installation.

In exchange, Italy is loaning the Dallas museum treasures from the Spina necropolis (pictured, above) housed at the Ferrara archaeological museum.
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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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March 12, 2013

Returning the Parthenon Marbles for the legitimacy of the monument

Posted at 1:48 pm in Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

Keri Douglas has written a great article about Dr Gary Vikan, the outgoing director of the Walters Art Museum & why he thinks the Parthenon Marbles should be returned to Athens.

His reason is simple – that it is all about the legitimacy of the monument. The sculptures belong to the monument & should be returned.

You can read the full article here.

March 6, 2013

Dallas museum returns looted mosaic to Turkey

Posted at 6:48 pm in Similar cases

Yet again, Turkey is in the news with a resolved restitution case. This time, it involves the Dallas Museum of Art. Interestingly though, the museum was the one that contacted Turkey after discovery that the artefact might have been looted – although whether this was as a pre-emptive move, knowing that they would be contacted by Turkey about it is unclear.

From:
Culture Kiosque

DALLAS MUSEUM RETURNS LOOTED MOSAIC TO TURKEY
By Culturekiosque Staff

DALLAS, TEXAS, 3 DECEMBER 2012 — The Dallas Museum of Art today signed a memorandum of understanding with the Turkish Director General for Cultural Heritage and Museums O. Murat Süslü, marking the first initiative in the Dallas Museum of Art’s new DMX international exchange program. DMX (Dallas Museum Exchange) is designed to establish international collaborations for the loan of works of art and sharing of expertise in conservation, exhibitions, education, and new media.

The DMA contacted Turkish officials earlier this year when the Museum discovered evidence that a work in the collection — the Orpheus Mosaic — might have been stolen from an archaeological site in Turkey. With the Museum’s planning for the DMX program already underway, the DMA’s engagement with Turkey regarding the mosaic opened the lines of communication that led to Turkey becoming the Museum’s first partner in the DMX program. As part of today’s ceremony for the signing of the MOU, the DMA returned the Orpheus Mosaic to the Turkish officials. The Republic of Turkey considers the voluntary return of the mosaic a sign of good faith, and both parties will undertake to continue their collaboration with museological education, conservation, symposia, and important loan exhibitions.
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University of Pennsylvania museum returns disputed artefacts to Turkey on indefinite loan

Posted at 8:50 am in Similar cases

As part of their ongoing drive to secure the return of disputed artefacts, Turkey appears to have reached an agreement with the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, for the return of various artefacts on an indefinite loan. It is interesting, as it shows that for some museums, the idea of an indefinite loan as a solution to issues is a relatively straightforward option – yet, when the possibility has been raised with the British Museum as a means to return the Parthenon Sculptures, Greece has always been told that it is unworkable, and that any loan must have a definite (usually 3-4 month) period attached to it. This is of course, despite the fact that the British Museum itself has also entered into some fairly nebulous loan agreements in the past – and has been on the receiving end of many more (which it presumably does not complain about.

From:
Philly.com

Penn museum lends possibly plundered items to Turkey
September 07, 2012|By Tom Avril, Inquirer Staff Writer

Following a scientific analysis that suggested its collection of ancient, Trojan-style gold jewelry was looted from northwestern Turkey, the University of Pennsylvania announced this week that it had lent the 24 items to that country for an indefinite period.

In exchange, the Turkish government pledged to lend other artifacts for a one-year exhibit at Penn’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, including priceless items from Gordion, seat of power of King Midas. The country also promised support for ongoing excavations by Penn scholars within its borders.
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March 5, 2013

Two US museums wrestle with complex questions of provenance

Posted at 9:16 am in Similar cases

An interesting story about how the archaeological museum of the University of Pennsylvania led to modern treaties on acquisition of unprovenanced artefacts – and how the artefacts that started the story are now returning to their presumed original home.

From:
Newsweek

Who Owns Antiquity?
Sep 10, 2012 1:00 AM EDT
Two U.S. museums wrestle with the provenance question.

In 1966, curators at the archaeological museum of the University of Pennsylvania bought a pile of gorgeous Bronze Age jewelry from a Philadelphia dealer. They couldn’t know their purchase would change how museums work.

The 24 gold objects had come to Penn with no trace of where they’d been unearthed, or how. That left scholars there without much clue about why and when the gold had been worked, or by whom— and with the suspicion that it had been dug up by looters. Frustrated, they decided to take steps to prevent this kind of “homelessness” for other antiquities. In 1970, they issued a declaration (a Philadelphia tradition, after all) insisting that the Penn museum would no longer acquire ancient objects whose history could not be properly tracked. Later that year, a UNESCO convention on cultural property suggested the same rule for all other museums, and since then, reputable institutions have pretty much toed that line.
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March 4, 2013

Plaster replicas of Parthenon frieze used as teaching tools at Herron School of Art & Design

Posted at 9:41 am in Elgin Marbles

In the past many casts were made of the Parthenon Marbles – but a lot of them are now in a poor state, requiring restoration, after being abandoned for years. Its great, that in this case, the casts have not been abandoned, but are being used as a teaching tool.

From:
Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis

Plaster replicas of Parthenon frieze find second life at Herron

INDIANAPOLIS — Plaster replicas of the running frieze created to adorn the most iconic symbol of classical antiquity are once again teaching tools and objets d’art for certain students and professors at Herron School of Art and Design, part of the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus.

But this time around, second-generation casts of the frieze from Greece’s Parthenon are both a testimonial to the prominent role that Herron played in the training of past generations of professional artists, and a springboard to its multidisciplinary collaborations for future generations.
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February 28, 2013

The Court of the District of Columbia & the Chabad jews – a possible solution to the Parthenon Marbles case?

Posted at 2:29 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

Paul Barford raises an interesting question on his blog, regarding a recent case in the USA. Essentially, the gist of the post relates back to an earlier story, about the fallout from a court case in the courts of the District of Columbia.

The case was brought by Chabad Jews, who have been campaigning for the return of two collections of books & manuscripts from Russia since the 1980s. They filed a lawsuit in 2004. In July 2010, the court ordered the Russia to return the library & archives to Chabad. At this point, Russia ignored the judgement. A month ago, on 16th January 2013, the same court sanctioned the Russian Government $50,00 per day for not complying with their ruling.

Since then, Russia’s foreign ministry has taken the retaliatory move, of recommending that two government agencies sue the US Library of Congress. If this case was to proceed, it would take place in a Russian court. It is taken against the Library of Congress, because through the inter-library loans programme (of which the LOC was the conduit), in 1994, seven books were lent to the Shabad group & never returned.

Russia has also taken the move of placing an embargo on any loans to museums in the USA, due to fears that artefacts will be seized.

Now, I’m not at all sure at this stage what the outcome of all this will be – but, the fact remains, that sanctions taken in a court outside the home country still have a potential to provoke a reaction.

Previously, I have been party to suggestions that a similar move could be taken by the Greek Government against the British Museum & the District of Columbia was mentioned as one possible jurisdiction under which this might take place. Now, I’m hoping that if it did take place, it would follower a calmer course than the current case, but it is indisputable, that the threat of legal action based on this precedent would be a strong incentive to negotiate.

Part of the problem with the Parthenon Marbles case, is that there has never been enough pressure placed against the British Museum / British Government. Essentially, they don’t feel that they currently have to respond to anything. If requests for negotiations are ever issued by Greece, these are closed out fairly quickly by laying down pre-conditions that Greece will never agree to – essentially asking them to give up something before the discussions can even start. Something needs to be done to show the British Museum that Greece means business – that the issue will not just go away.

Italy did not succeed in their requests against the US, until initiating legal action – although in many cases, the (serious) threat of legal action was eough to start off proper negotiations leading to the settlement i.e. it never actually went to court.

Clearly, in the case of the Chabad Jews (of which much more could be written), negotiating was off the agenda, as the case is being pursued to the bitter end, & looks like it could develop into a full blown diplomatic incident if one side doesn’t back down. Essentially (from the perspective of an outsider) they have taken a weapon & used it unwisely – and could end up blowing off their own feet in the process.

Notwithstanding the above point though, the fact remains – the legal route offers a path to negotiation & resolution of the case that has not yet been properly explored. Greece has tried the gentle discussions route for years & made little progress – so perhaps it is now time to take a different tack?

From:
The Art Newspaper

Russian agencies move to sue US Library of Congress
Threatened lawsuits could result in sanctions against the US, in retaliation for $50,000 per day penalties against Russia
By Laura Gilbert. Web only
Published online: 12 February 2013

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has recommended that two Russian government agencies sue the US Library of Congress, the news agency Pravda reported Friday. The move, seemingly in retaliation for US court-ordered sanctions against Russia costing $50,000 per day, is the latest twist in the ongoing dispute between the Brooklyn-based Jewish group Chabad and Russia.

Chabad has been trying to obtain two collections of Jewish books and manuscripts from Russia since the 1980s and filed a lawsuit in 2004. On 16 January, a Washington, DC District Court sanctioned the Russian government $50,000 per day because Russia had not followed the court’s July 2010 order to turn over the library and archive to Chabad. Shortly after the order, Russia initiated an embargo, which is still in effect, on lending art to American museums, claiming it feared Chabad would seize its art in order to enforce the judgment. American museums responded by refusing to loan art works to Russian institutions. Chabad, for its part, says it will not claim Russian art that is immune from seizure under US law but would enforce the judgment by seizing other Russian property in the US and through monetary sanctions.
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