January 25, 2003

CONTENTS:




- British Library refuses to return artefact
- CIDOC'2003 St.-Petersburg Announcement
- In war scenario, antiquities seen in the line of fire
- Painting gets 9/11 defacing
- Fire Guts Ancient Chinese Palace
- U.S. trying to return ancient artifacts to Guatemala
- Revealed: perilous sting to recover The Scream
- Man arrested in vandalism of statues
- Thieves nab 16 works from Haifa gallery
- Medallists back return of marbles to Parthenon
- Elgin Marbles Debate Could Heat Up
- The Art Newspaper: this week's top stories


British Library refuses to return artefact

A set of ancient religious manuscripts at the centre of a centuries- old row are unlikely ever to be returned to the church from which they were allegedly stolen, their owners said yesterday. Campaigners in the North East have long sought the return of the 7th-century Lindisfarne Gospels, which were spirited away from Durham Cathedral in the 16th century. Since then the intricately illustrated books have been housed in the British Library in London, hundreds of miles away from Holy Island monastery where they were produced. But yesterday the Library insisted that while recognising their importance to the region, the Gospels would remain in the capital where they could be seen by visitors from around the world. Curator Michelle Brown said: "The Lindisfarne Gospels are on a par with Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona Lisa in their importance to the world's heritage. "It's even more fragile than that famous painting and requires highly sensitive handling and security." A spokeswoman later added that because of the fragility and age of the artefacts it was unlikely they would be ever moved from London again. The last time the manuscripts were seen in their native region was at an exhibition at the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle in 2000, visited by more than 200,000 people. The Labour MP for Houghton and Washington East, Fraser Kemp, and the Right Reverend Michael Turnbull, the Bishop of Durham, have in recent years led the fight for the Gospels' return.
http://www.yorkshiretoday.co.uk/


From: "CIDOC'2003 St.-Petersburg RUSSIA" info@cidoc2003.adit.ru

Subject: CIDOC'2003 St.-Petersburg Announcement

Date sent: Mon, 20 Jan 2003 13:57:38 +0300
WELCOME TO CIDOC IN ST.-PETERSBURG
1-5 September 2003
St.-Petersburg, Russia
http://cidoc2003.adit.ru/english/default.asp
"World Cultural Heritage: Uniting by Understanding"

Topic of the Conference: "The Electronic Potential of a Museum:
Incentives and Limitations, Achievements and Problems" The objective of the conference is to review the results of the application of information technologies in museums:

˛ Analysis of the main achievements in the field of storage, restoration, conservation and educational work.

˛ Discussion of pressing technical, technological, psychological and social problems and restrictions.

˛ Outline of prospective areas of development and the further penetration of information technologies into the traditional museum environment.

˛ Incentives for innovations

The Secretariat of the CIDOC Conference and ADIT announces the First Call for Papers for CIDOC™2003 to be held in St.-Petersburg, 1- 5 September 2003. This year's conference theme will be multifaceted, highlighting most pressing aspects of virtual heritage informatics. Throughout CIDOC™2003 there are many different opportunities to share experience, meet your colleagues and learn from your peers. Social events and cultural program will provide you a chance to meet with other delegates in an informal environment in the Hermitage Museum, the Russian Museum, and brilliant suburb museums of North capital of Russia.
The conference will coincide with the year of celebrating of tercentenary of Saint-Petersburg. We assume, that the conference will be the leader both by quantity of the participants, level of expertise and proficiency of experts, who will take part in its various programs.
More information on conference can be found here: http://cidoc2003.adit.ru/english/default.asp

SCHEDULE
Paper Proposal Deadline 1 April 2003
Acceptance Notification 1 June 2003
Manuscript Submission 10 July 2003
CIDOC Conference 1-5 September 2003

INFORMATION
For more information, please email the conference Secretariat:
info@cidoc2003.adit.ru

PLEASE FORWARD THIS EMAIL TO INTERESTED ASSOCIATES

Looking forward to seeing you in St.-Petersburg!
Vladimir Gusev, General Director of State Russian Museum
Adrian Finney, CIDOC Chair
Alexander Dremailov, President of ADIT



In war scenario, antiquities seen in the line of fire

By Elizabeth Neuffer, Globe Staff, 1/24/2003

NINEVEH, Iraq - All that remains of the great palace of Sennacherib, who ruled this mighty Assyrian city when it was at civilization's center 2,700 years ago, are fragments of marble reliefs lining empty rooms dug from a hillside here.
The palace's treasures, its colossal winged bulls and lion-sphinxes, vanished long ago, to museums in Paris and London in the mid-19th century. Heavy bombing during the 1991 Gulf War cracked some of what remained. Looters, driven by crippling UN sanctions, plundered much of the rest.
Now, if another war occurs, archeologists here and abroad ponder Nineveh's fate - given that the seventh century BC palace is adjacent to a radar tower guarded by the Iraqi military and likely to draw US fire.
Nineveh is just one of thousands of historical sites, excavated and unexcavated, that have archeologists deeply worried. ''All of Iraq is an archeological site,'' said McGuire Gibson, a professor of Mesopotamian archeology at the University of Chicago. There are more than 10,000 known archeological sites scattered across Iraq, a land whose ancient civilization gave birth to writing, codes of law, poetry, epic literature, and organized religion. A Pentagon official confirmed a week ago that a group of archeologists had made a direct plea to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to consider protecting antiquities in Iraq. The official said Rumsfeld had invited the archeologists to supply any information about sensitive sites to military planners.
Ashton Hawkins, president of the American Council for Cultural Policy, and Maxwell Anderson, president of the American Association of Art Museum Directors, had appealed to the US military in a column in the Washington Post in November for such consideration. ''Our military and civilian leaderships should be aware of the location of Iraq's most significant cultural and religious sites and monuments,'' Hawkins and Anderson wrote, urging the Pentagon to create a communications channel between war planners and US scholars ''willing and able to assist in designating sites and locations of special cultural and religious importance.'' But archeologists admit the task is daunting. Some estimate Iraq has some half a million to a million sites, many unexcavated or unmarked.
Prehistoric cultures flourished here, 120,000 years ago. Recorded history began in the ancient city-state of Sumer. The kingdoms of the Amorites and the Assyrians, the Persians, Umayyads and the Abbasids, the Mongols, and the Ottomans then all washed across Iraq, each leaving the ruins of their empire behind. ''Everything we know about this foundation of who we are comes from archeological research'' in Iraq, said John Russell, an archeologist at the Massachusetts College of Art. If the 1991 war is any guide, protecting this country's archeological treasures will not prove easy. Far more severe than bomb damage was post-war looting, which flooded the international art market with priceless pieces of mankind's past. ''Private collectors refer to this as the `Golden Age' of collecting,'' said Russell, who has excavated at Nineveh. ''Judging from what you see [at auctions], dozens of sites were looted, and some of them by bulldozer.'' Archeological and other cultural sites are protected in wartime against damage and theft under international humanitarian law. The 1954 Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property, updated in 1977, safeguards everything from architectural monuments to books, making their destruction in battle - or their deliberate use as part of the war effort - a war crime. But in reality, the prosecution of such cases is rare, although some German officials were charged with cultural crimes in the Nuremberg trials after World War II. During the Gulf War, US officials accused the Iraqis of deliberately moving military equipment, such as airplanes, close to archeological sites, in an effort to make them difficult to hit - an allegation Iraqi officials reject.
But American and Iraqi archeologists concur there was no need for the Iraqi military to move anything at all, given the proximity of history's ruins to military encampments in Iraq. ''There are military sites just everywhere in Iraq, just as there are archeological sites,'' Russell said. In Baghdad, Muayad Said, who was Iraq's director general of antiquities during the Gulf War, angrily ticks off damage to archeological sites he blames on the US-led campaign - an assessment echoed by some American archeologists. American bombing raids, he said, left 400 holes in one side of the ancient ziggurat of Ur, circa 2142 BC, in southern Iraq, as well as large bomb craters nearby. At the nearby unexcavated site of Tell al-Lahm, US troops dug trenches in what they thought were hills but were actually mounds containing ruins. Even sites not targeted suffer. Cracks have appeared in the largest single-span brick arch in the world at Ctesiphon, about 18 miles south of Baghdad. ''These sites are hit indirectly by the bombs, because of vibrations from the bombs nearby,'' said Said, who now works at the Ministry of Culture. North of Baghdad in the northern no-fly zone, US bombing also took its toll, Iraqi archeologists say. One example is the former Assyrian city of Nimrud, whose sculptures and reliefs fill museums elsewhere around the world. One of the reliefs that remains - a massive, 15- foot-high sculpture featuring a man's head, a bull's body, falcon's wings, and lion's paws - was damaged, officials say, in the 1991 bombing of a technical university just down the road. Assessing such allegations is difficult, American archeologists say. While some archeologists have defied UN sanctions and traveled to Iraq and recorded damage, there has been no formal assessment. After the war, archeologists appealed to the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization to come to Iraq and study questions of war-time damage and post-war looting. But the UN Security Council sanctions committee stood in their way. ''There is serious damage to standing sites, but whether it is from neglect, the UN sanctions, or bomb damage is hard to prove,'' Russell said.
If archeologists are worried about the damage a US-led war might pose to archeological sites, they are even more worried about the looting that might occur once the war is over. In the chaos that accompanied uprisings in Iraq's north and south after the Gulf War, for example, eight regional museums were ransacked, Iraqi and American archeologists say. Their collections included priceless antiquities transferred from the Iraqi National Museum in Baghdad, which had come under heavy bombing as US warplanes targeted a telecommunications facility across the street. Some 4,000 museum artifacts were lost to private collectors and museums abroad. Just a handful of them have been returned. One, a tablet with cuneiform, the handwriting of the Sumerians, made its way to the British Museum, Iraqi officials say. ''I'm frightened of the war,'' Dr. Nawala Al-Mutawalli, director of the Iraqi National Museum, said from her dark office in the Baghdad gallery. ''But I'm really frightened about the looting and the damage that might occur.'' The museum was closed for eight years before reopening in 2000. With war preparations quickening, a handful of experts is planning to evacuate collections, barricade doors, and tape windows. Former antiquities director Said has another suggestion: sleep at the Iraqi Museum and the archeological sites. During the 1991 war, he spent every night at the museum. Thanassis Cambanis of the Globe Staff contributed to this report from Washington.
This story ran on page A1 of the Boston Globe on 1/24/2003.


Painting gets 9/11 defacing

By KERRY BURKE and ALICE McQUILLAN DAILY NEWS WRITERS
A vandal took aim at the famous painting "Washington Crossing the Delaware" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, cops said. A former museum guard - authorities said he is emotionally disturbed - glued a picture of the twin towers to the bottom of the famous Revolutionary War scene last weekend, police said. But museum officials quickly made the work shipshape again and said there was no permanent damage. The 1851 painting by German-born artist Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze shows George Washington standing as he's rowed across the Delaware River with James Monroe, who holds an American flag. "It's an act of some sacrilege for someone who used to work at an art museum," said museum spokesman Harold Holzer. The painting was defaced about 8 p.m. Saturday in the American Wing of the cavernous Fifth Ave. building, cops said. Suspect Robert Gray, 41, formerly with the agency that provides security to the Metropolitan and the Cloisters, escaped that night but was arrested yesterday afternoon by Police Officer James Moran after he returned to the museum, officials said. Gray, of Seaman Ave. in Inwood, told police he was fixated on the painting's American flag, which to him symbolized Satan. Gray had a rambling letter he wanted delivered to the United Nations in which he called himself a "light blob induced artist." "He feels, in essence, that terrorists are controlling him through encrypted messages," a law enforcement source said. "He did say he used Elmer's glue because it's water-soluble and he didn't want to ruin the painting."
Gray was charged with criminal mischief.
http://www.nydailynews.com/



Fire Guts Ancient Chinese Palace

Tuesday January 21, 2003 7:30 AM

BEIJING (AP) - A centuries-old mountaintop palace in central China caught fire and was ``burned into ashes,'' a government preservation agency said Tuesday, eight years after the area was added to a U.N. list of cultural heritage sites. The Yuzhengong Palace on the lush hillside of Wudangshan Mountain in Hubei province, a typical example of imperial architecture during the late Yuan (1271-1368) and early Ming (1368-1644) dynasties, caught fire at 7 p.m. Sunday, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. By the time the fire was extinguished 2 hours later, the UNESCO World Heritage Site structure was burned to the ground and ``nearby cultural relics were damaged,'' Xinhua said. ``It was burned into ashes,'' an official at Wudangshan's Historical Relics Bureau told The Associated Press. He would give only his surname, Wang, and had no monetary estimate of the damage. He said the fire was still being investigated. No one was injured, Xinhua said. The fire burned longer because the palace was high in the mountains and firefighters couldn't reach it quickly, Wang said. The 600-year-old Yuzhengong Palace covered an area of more than 540,000 square feet. It was unclear exactly how many of its structures were damaged by the fire. The United Nations' cultural agency said the palace complex, a group of secular and religious buildings, is primarily Taoist structures from the Yuan and Ming eras but contains architecture from as early as the seventh century. ``It represents the highest standards of Chinese art and architecture over a period of nearly 1,000 years,'' says a statement on the UNESCO Web site.
UNESCO's World Heritage List is designed to identify cultural and natural properties that are ``considered to be of outstanding universal value'' and help nations preserve such sites.
---
On the Net:
UNESCO Wudangshan site, http://whc.unesco.org/sites/705.htm


U.S. trying to return ancient artifacts to Guatemala

By Associated Press, 1/23/2003 05:17

MIAMI (AP) The U.S. government wants to return several Mayan artifacts that survived the destruction of the World Trade Center back to where they came from: Guatemala. But the two people who brought them to the United States nearly five years ago are fighting to keep them. The 26 pre-Columbian stone and ceramic artifacts, which were made between 500 and 1200 A.D., come from the Peten Lowlands and southern coast of Guatemala, according to an art historian working with the U.S. government. They were brought inside suitcases from Guatemala to Miami by Patrick McSween and Judith Ganeles in January 1998. They described the artifacts on customs forms as ''30 artifacts and two books packed into 10 boxes.'' But U.S. Customs agents promptly seized the artifacts after determining McSween and Ganeles did not have official permission to take them out of Guatemala, said Assistant U.S. Attorney William Healy. The Guatemalan government must give special authorization to anyone exporting pre-Columbian artifacts. ''The artifacts are the patrimony of Guatemala,'' Healy said. The collection of pottery and figurines, valued at $165,000, was then taken to a vault in the basement of Customs' headquarters inside 6 World Trade Center. The pieces survived the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, and were found months afterward by crews sifting through the rubble. They are now in a Miami warehouse.
Healy declined to say why the artifacts remained stored in New York for so long. The Justice Department took the first steps toward legally taking ownership of the artifacts this week, with the intent of returning them to Guatemala, but McSween and Ganeles have hired attorneys to fight to keep the pieces in the United States. ''The mission is to keep the artifacts here,'' said New York attorney Carl Soller. ''I don't believe there is any real way that a conclusion can be reached that these items were produced in the cultural entity that is now Guatemala. They could have been produced outside.'' Prosecutors would not say whether they'll charge McSween and Ganeles. Florida International University associate professor of art history Carol Damian said the artifacts belong in Guatemala and should be returned. ''They are grave vessels offerings to the dead. Essentially, all of this is grave-robbing,'' she said.
http://www.boston.com/



Revealed: perilous sting to recover The Scream

Vanessa Thorpe, arts and media correspondent
Sunday January 19, 2003
The Observer

The audacious theft of one of modern art's most powerful images, Edvard Munch's painting The Scream, astonished the world nine years ago. In just one minute thieves had lifted the Norwegian masterpiece from the wall of a gallery in Oslo and disappeared. But the full story of the hazardous three-month recovery operation mounted by police is equally astonishing and is only now coming to light. While it is known that the £50 million painting was eventually returned to the National Gallery in May 1994, following a trap set by Scotland Yard, it has emerged that the British strategy for finding The Scream stretched the limits of international law and involved meticulous research, false identities and high risks for two unarmed officers. Twice, the operation was put in peril by the unlucky intervention of other police forces. Twice, the swift action of the undercover officers averted disaster. On Thursday Charles Hill, a key former member of Scotland Yard's now disbanded art and antiques squad, will reveal details of a case he regards as one of the triumphs of his long career. Posing as Chris Roberts, an American art expert and representative of the J. Paul Getty Museum in California, he was able to establish contact with the criminals involved in the theft by offering £500,000 for the safe hand-over of Munch's work. 'What I remember about the Scream operation was how successful it was,' he told The Observer this weekend. 'I have had one or two moments of delight in my career and one of them was picking up The Scream and realising it was the real thing.'
The painting was stolen early on 11 February 1994, the morning of the opening of the Lillehammer Winter Olympics, when the eyes of the world were focused on another part of Norway. Two men climbed in through a high window of the Oslo gallery, setting off an alarm that was ignored by a security guard. The loss of the painting was regarded as a national disgrace and the Norwegian sense of shame was amplified by the fact that the thieves left a handwritten postcard reading, 'Thanks for the poor security'. For Charles Hill at Scotland Yard, this was a sign that an obsessive art thief was at work. 'An art thief catches the disease, you see,' said Hill, who has agreed to appear in a BBC documentary about the theft. 'There is a madness that afflicts these people. They are not necessarily art lovers, but they view the works as trophies.' The Norwegian investigation was led by Chief Inspector Leif Lier and early suspicions were directed at Norway's anti-abortion campaigners, who had threatened to pull a publicity stunt during the Olympics. Another key suspect was Paul Enger, an art thief and former professional footballer with the Norwegian club Valerenga. The strange announcement he placed in the columns of the Norwegian newspaper, Dagbladet, on the birth of his son seemed to support this theory: Oscar Christoffer arrived 'med et Skrik!' [with a Scream!]. But Enger denied involvement, in spite of videotapes that confirmed his recent visits to the gallery. Lier contacted Scotland Yard, where Detective Chief Inspector John Butler, the head of the art squad, assigned Hill and another officer, to be known as 'Sid Walker', to the case. Hill took on the identity of Roberts, a fast-talking art expert, while Walker was to be his surly minder. Once in Oslo, Hill contacted the art dealer and auctioneer Einar-Tore Ulving, who had offered to act as a go-between with the criminals. To prove his underworld connections were genuine, a fragment of The Scream's gilt frame was left at a country bus stop. Hill arranged a meeting with Ulving and his associate, a man called Jan Olsen, in Oslo's Plaza Hotel. The offer of money from the fabulously wealthy Getty Museum had circulated the criminal community, just as Scotland Yard had hoped. Butler, Hill and 'Walker' were now sure the real perpetrators of the art theft of the century, a small band of egotists led by Enger, had taken the bait. At breakfast in the Plaza, Hill was horrified to discover the hotel was full of police officers, two of whom he knew. It was the annual convention of the Swedish Narcotics Officers Association. 'It was terrible luck. I sent a message to the officers and they were told not to acknowledge me,' remembers Hill.
Olsen told Hill he wanted £300,000 plus £15,000 expenses, or the painting would be destroyed and, on 7 May, Hill was driven to the fjord-side village of Aasgaardstrand, where The Scream was brought up from the cellar of a chalet. Finally holding the painting, Hill checked for tell-tale candle wax drips by the date in the corner, 1893. Walker was waiting in Oslo with another gang member, Bjorn Grytdal, when the second disaster occurred. Norwegian police blundered into the room carrying the bag of cash. 'It was well- intentioned, but clumsy,' said Hill. After a fight, Grytdal, was arrested, followed by Ulving, Olsen, the ex-footballer Enger and a fourth defendant, William Aasheim. Under Norwegian law, the convictions of three of the four gang members were invalid because of the false identities adopted by the British officers. For Hill, however, the safe return of a masterpiece remains to this day the most important thing.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/



Man arrested in vandalism of statues

Monday, January 20, 2003
Associated Press
NEWARK - A man was arrested Sunday in connection with a vandalism spree involving religious and historical statues in the city. Jamil Gadsen, 20, of Newark is accused of damaging religious statues at 32 Ludlow St. on Dec. 24, according to police Detective Todd McClendon. Authorities also removed several items from Gadsen's home. Police would not elaborate on what was found, citing the ongoing investigation. Police began investigating the vandalism in December, when a 2-ton limestone eagle in front of the Martin Luther King Jr. federal courthouse complex was decapitated and the head stolen. Since then, about two dozen statues at Roman Catholic churches and a city park have been vandalized. Most recently, the head was cut off a downtown sculpture of an American eagle at PSE&G Plaza on Thursday.
Each incident was being investigated as a bias crime, McClendon said.
http://www.northjersey.com/


Thieves nab 16 works from Haifa gallery

Sixteen paintings by Israeli artists, including Marcel Janco and Reuven Rubin, were stolen Sunday night from the warehouse of the David Gallery in Haifa. Superintendent Gadi Hatab of the Haifa Police's Investigations Division said the burglars knew what they were after and it appeared they had selected the artwork to order. The paintings, which aren't insured and are valued at some $100,000, are well known and will be very difficult to sell both in Israel and abroad. (David Ratner)
http://www.haaretzdaily.com/



Medallists back return of marbles to Parthenon

David Hencke
Saturday January 25, 2003
The Guardian

Ten British Olympic medal winners are backing the return of the Parthenon marbles to Greece for next year's Olympic Games, it will be announced on Monday. The move - which will be a big fillip for the campaign to base the sculptures removed by Lord Elgin in a new purpose-built museum at the Parthenon - comes after the British Museum insisted that they must remain as major attraction in Britain. Tony Blair and Tessa Jowell, the culture secretary, have been supporting the museum's case. The medal winners behind the move are the 100m gold medallist Linford Christie; triple jumper Jonathan Edwards; ice skating champions, Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean; javelin thrower Tessa Sanderson; hurdler David Hemery; sprinter Allan Wells; cyclist Jason Queally; runner Mark Richardson and sprint cyclist Chris Hoy. Sanderson said yesterday: "This is Britain's ideal opportunity to showcase its cultural commitment to the international community amidst the backdrop of the world's truly uniting sports celebration - the Olympic Games." Wells added: "The Parthenon marble stones should be reunited and reinstated with the remaining originals in the Temple on the Acropolis. "This is their rightful and original resting home, in Athens. "It is comparable with the Stone of Scone/the Stone of Destiny that had been in Westminster for 700 years and is now back in Scotland." The campaign is also being supported by Will Carling, the former England rugby captain and Julius Francis, the former Commonwealth heavyweight boxing champion. The sportsmen and women will announce their backing for the return of the antiquities at a reception in Portcullis House, Westminster, organised by Richard Allen, the Liberal Democrat MP for Sheffield, Hallam. The reception will provide an opportunity to show off the new museum to MPs and celebrity guests, including the longtime campaigners Vanessa Redgrave and Janet Suzman. The reception will include a computer simulated walk around the New Acropolis Museum and show the marbles returned to Athens.
The New Acropolis Museum has received planning permission. The excavation of the site has been finished and the plans for the exhibiting of the antiquities are going ahead. The latest survey of public opinion - a Mori poll conducted in September 2002 - showed a clear majority of people in favour of the return of the marbles.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/


Elgin Marbles Debate Could Heat Up

By Rossella Lorenzi,
Discovery News Jan. 22 —

One of the oldest international cultural disputes, the battle over the Elgin Marbles, might take a new turn as Italy promises to return a fragment of the 5th century B.C. Parthenon to Greece on a long-term loan. The piece, now held at the Salinas Regional Archaeological Museum in Palermo, Sicily, could be handed over by Italian President Carlo Atzelio Ciampi during a state visit to Greece in mid February, local newspapers reported. In return, Greece will loan an unspecified ancient Greek artwork to Italy. The "gesture of friendship," as Italian officials called it, is likely to strengthen Greek calls for the return of the Elgin Marbles from the British Museum in London. The fragment is part of the statue of Peitho, the daughter of Mercury and Venus, which once adorned the eastern side of the Parthenon. A 14- by-13.6- inch piece of marble, it depicts the goddess's foot and a portion of her tunic. "The frieze was regularly purchased by the museum between 1818 and 1820 from the widow of Robert Fagan, the British consul for Sicily and Malta. It has nothing to do with the Elgin Marbles," Agata Villa, director of the classic archaeology department at the museum, told Discovery News.
The fearless horsemen, sprightly youths, lounging deities, belligerent centaurs and expressive horses carved by Phidias in the 5th century B.C., called the Elgin Marbles, are scattered throughout several European museums, including the Louvre in Paris. But the bulk of the marbles are kept in London's British Museum. Greece contends that the 17 figures and 56 panels on display there were stolen in 1801 by Lord Elgin, British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire. Britain claims that Lord Elgin had permission from the ruling Turkish authorities to take them. Greece has been demanding the return of the Elgin Marbles since the Country's independence from Turkey in 1829, but it has stepped up efforts in preparation for the 2004 Olympics in Athens. A museum to house them is under construction next to the Acropolis. Italy's symbolic gesture would create a hideous precedent, reviving the battle between nations over the restitution of cultural treasures, according to Villa. She disagrees with the culture ministry about the decision of giving away, in a long-term loan or forever, the centerpiece of the museum she oversees. "We do not understand why this battle has to begin over our small, legitimately purchased fragment. We have very few ancient Greek artworks, and this initiative, begun without an international debate, will only impoverish our museum," Villa said. She prefers a very short-term loan, with a set date and a Greek artwork in return, the most acceptable solution. "The museum's direction is strongly against any assignment or unspecified long-term loan." However, Villa does not have the authority to halt the loan. Final approval to the culture minister's request must come from the autonomous Sicilian government. Her view is shared by several directors of several major museums around the world. In a public letter, they deplored the move as it could destabilize the entire museum system.
"We should acknowledge the essentially destructive nature of the repatriation of objects. ... Museums are agents in the development of culture, whose mission is to foster knowledge by a continuous process of reinterpretation. They serve not just the citizens of one nation, but the people of every nation," the statement reads. Signatures include the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Louvre in Paris, the Hermitage in St Petersburg and the Berlin Museum.
http://dsc.discovery.com/


The Art Newspaper.com
http://www.theartnewspaper.com

This week's top stories:

WHAT NEW YORKERS THINK OF “WRAP STARS” CHRISTO & JEANNE-CLAUDE’S MEGA- PROPOSAL FOR CENTRAL PARK

NEW YORK. On 22 January, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced that artists Christo & Jeanne-Claude will be permitted to install their temporary work “The Gates” in Central Park for two weeks in February 2005. http://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/article.asp?idart=10738

ISRAEL-PALESTINE CONFLICT ALSO POISONS PRESS RELATIONSHIPS

LONDON. In the February issue of the New York-based magazine, Art & Auction, its editor, Bruce Wolmer devoted his editorial to insinuating that the editor of The Art Newspaper, Anna Somers Cocks, is anti-semitic, and that the paper is campaigning to provide moral support for the Palestinian intifada. There was only one accusation in this piece that could be described as concrete—namely, that we had chosen to be cavalier with the truth about what happened in Nablus—and we responded as follows in a letter to Art & Auction, which was not acknowledged. http://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/article.asp?idart=10735

STAR-STUDDED FIRMAMENT

LONDON, NEW YORK. With a Thomas Struth exhibition opening at the Metropolitan Museum in New York in February (moving on to Chicago in June), Andreas Gursky showing at SFMOMA, Thomas Ruff on a six-nation, 10-venue tour, and a Thomas Demand show just closed in Milan, the profile of these German photographers could not be higher. http://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/article.asp?idart=10734

APPEAL BY ANTIQUITIES DEALER CONTESTED

NEW YORK. The US is contesting the appeal by a New York antiquities dealer, Frederick Schultz, of his conviction in 2002 under the US National Stolen Property Act (NSPA), which makes it a crime knowingly to import stolen goods, for receiving antiquities claimed by Egypt as state property under Egyptian law. http://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/article.asp?idart=10733

NAUGHTY NINETIES NOW RESPECTABLE

LONDON. It is now nearly a decade since Sarah Lucas was one of the budding art stars included in Charles Saatchi’s second exhibition of Young British Artists. Ten years on she has earned art world respectability and Tate have just published a book on her. http://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/article.asp?idart=10732

Anna Somers Cocks, Editor
contact@theartnewspaper.com
The Art Newspaper
70 South Lambeth Road London SW8 1RL UK
tel +44(0)207 735 3331 fax +44(0)207 735 3332
http://www.theartnewspaper.com