June 1 - 11, 2003
- Hawaii: Artifacts Suspended in Cultural Tension
- UK and Australia: Aborigines clash with scientists over bones
- Afghanistan bids to buy back its looted heritage
- Argentina: More on Auguste Rodin Sculpture theft
- Archaeological treasures locked away
- Korea: Suspect in Museum Heist Returns Treasures
- Yale Law School rare book explosion damage
- Kenyan artefacts abroad to be returned, says Balala
- USA: Rikers' Dali Painting Still Missing
- The Art Newspaper; this week's top stories
- Ancient Assyrian Treasures Believed Found in Baghdad
- Looting and Conquest
- comment on: Looting and Conquest
- NY Museum Displays Ancient Mesopotamian Art
- Iraq 'virtual heritage' archive planned
- Egypt wants Berlin museum to return bust of Queen Nefertiti 'unethically' fused to bronze statue of nude woman
- Students suspected in Piccolo Spoleto art theft
- Former library worker jailed in connection with Yale bombing
- Drive to recover Iraq treasures
- Lost from the Baghdad museum: truth
- Only 33 Iraqi artifacts missing
- Iraq Museum to Reopen Displaying Lost Treasure
- Musical Instrument Info (Jonathan sazonoff)
- Looters dig into Afghanistan's ancient heritage
- UK: Raiders take two minutes to steal Rothschild gold worth millions
- U.S. to Keep Hitler's Art
- The Art Newspaper: this week's top stories
- Iraqi Museum Looting Was Fan Dance In Sand Pants (Rush Limbaugh)
Artifacts Suspended in Cultural Tension Native Hawaiians Vie With Museum
"All we can give them is our word," says Edward Halealoha Ayau, a Hawaiian native group official who says the items are back in the burial site. "The only title [the museum has] is that of a thief." (Carl Vitiayau -- Honolulu Advertiser Via AP)
By Rita Beamish Special to The Washington Post Sunday, June 1, 2003; Page A03
HONOLULU -- The grave robbery occurred nearly a century ago, a brazen incursion into a burial cave of ancestral Hawaiians. But its legacy of intrigue and deceit still haunts Hawaii today, and has ignited a renewed struggle over the fate of the stolen artifacts.
The artifacts, considered sacred by some Hawaiians, were taken from the cave by an antiquities buff in 1905. Among them were bowls studded with human teeth, deity carvings, cloth scraps and a priceless statuette of a woman with human hair. The 83 items spent nearly a century in Honolulu's prestigious Bishop Museum until three years ago, when they were spirited away for reburial. Today, the museum and several Hawaiian native groups are vying for control of the cache in a controversy that also spotlights a debate over how to treat archaeological items that have spiritual significance, as well as cultural, historical and educational importance. The question is whether the relics should remain in the remote cave, reunited with the presumed remains of Hawaiian chiefs on the Big Island of Hawaii; or be turned over to the museum and, from there, ultimately to 13 Hawaiian groups, possibly to be displayed for the benefit of modern generations as a link with Hawaii's heritage; or meet another disposition.
The most immediate issue is whether the Bishop Museum can get them back to resolve those questions, in consultation with 13 groups that now stake a legal claim to the artifacts. The group that reburied them, one of the 13, insists it will not give them up. The museum says it erred in releasing them. "We made a mistake," said museum president Bill Brown, referring to the museum's secret "loan" of the cave objects to Hui Malama I Na Kupuna O Hawaii Nei, or Group Caring for the Ancestors of Hawaii. Brown, a former top Interior Department official, arrived the year after the February 2000 loan. He said the museum had violated its own procedures and guidelines of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. By the time Brown arrived, the museum, battered by criticism, had tried to recall the objects without success. Eventually, in August 2001, it relinquished ownership to 13 groups recognized as claimants, Hui Malama among them. By then, however, Hui Malama said it had sealed the objects back in the cave for good. One claimant, the Royal Hawaiian Academy of Traditional Arts, took its objections to a National Park Service advisory board set up under the graves protection act, a 1990 law that aims to repatriate burial items to native claimants. The panel agreed on May 10 that the museum had erred and should reclaim the cache and work out repatriation to the 13 claimants. "I didn't want the museum to sit back and wipe their hands of this thing and let the natives fight it out. If the museum hadn't made the loan, none of this would have happened," said La'akea Suganuma, academy president. The claimants had never agreed on what to do with the objects.
But Hui Malama considers the repatriation complete, and a fulfillment of the ancestors' wishes "to restore the sanctity of the graves," said program manager Edward Halealoha Ayau. He said he never intended to honor the one-year loan agreement he signed with the museum. "The loan is moot. The legal principle in property law is finality," he said. "They were looted from this burial site," he said, referring to the 1905 discovery by David Forbes and two associates, who helped themselves to the cave's contents. Over time, the men and their heirs sold some of the items to the museum and donated others. "Did Bishop Museum acquire lawful title? The only title they have is that of a thief," Ayau said. Brown disagreed. "It's fatuous to say the Bishop Museum never had legal ownership, while I acknowledge that the practice that brought the items to the museum in the beginning was not a good one." Before the museum's recognition of claimants under the repatriation law, Brown said, "The objects had been in the Bishop Museum for 100 years without anybody claiming ownership, and indeed there's no one who has a legitimate claim of ownership other than the Bishop Museum by virtue of its century of ownership." Brown hopes to renew repatriation discussions with the claimants, although unless they reach consensus, the museum conceivably could keep the cache. "One group trampled on the rights of all the others," Brown said. "What I want is a process where the people who play by the rules don't lose."
Some claimants and museum officials have concerns about verifying the items actually are in the cave.
"All we can give them is our word," Ayau said.
Elizabeth Tatar, the museum official who approved the loan, said she had accepted Ayau's word three years ago when he told her that other claimants agreed he should take the artifacts. She learned otherwise after signing off on the loan. "It was so complex. I was trying to do the best I could," Tatar said. Tatar said she felt pressured, even intimidated, into releasing the artifacts. The whole topic seemed charged. Museum employees were blaming their illnesses on the ancestors' unhappiness. One impassioned meeting saw a Hui Malama leader with heart disease collapse following his speech, and die within hours. And Tatar herself was still smarting from an incident a few years earlier when a reburial advocate impulsively used Tatar's head to demonstrate how scientists handled ancient skulls. The nature of the artifacts themselves is controversial. Many say their placement in the cave indicated they were personal possessions of the deceased, intended as permanent burial items. Others believe they were secreted in the cave against missionary-inspired destruction of Hawaiian culture in 1819.
One elder speculated the artifacts could have been used in sorcery after they were stolen, and were tainted and should not be returned. Still others suggest the ancestral spirits permitted their theft to perpetuate Hawaiian culture. "At that time the language was disappearing, the culture was disappearing, many of the artifacts had been destroyed. The ancestors decided the only way that descendants are going to know anything about who their people were is to reveal these things for future descendants," said Suganuma. A key player in what to do with the artifacts is the Department of Hawaiian Homelands, which owns the cave site and maintains that the relics belong there. The department is reviewing the May 10 advisory opinion, but if the museum seeks entry to the cave, "we would deny them access at this point," said director Micah Kane. "The caves have been disturbed enough." "While we don't agree with the process in which the funerary items were returned, we do agree with the end result," he said. But the department also wants to verify the artifacts are there and will consult with Hui Malama on that, he said. Kane said the case itself is promoting cultural education and will offer a precedent as his department builds on its vast lands. "This is the first of many of these types of situations we are going to be confronted with," he said. "We're going to need to get ourselves positioned. There are cultural sites throughout our lands."
Aborigines clash with scientists over bones
Vital evidence 'will be lost for ever' if ancestral remains are returned
Sunday June 1, 2003
A furious row has broken out between British scientists and Australian Aboriginal rights activists over human remains being used as research specimens.
The Aborigines want the remains returned to Australia, but scientists fear that some of their most valued research tools will be buried or burnt and lost to science forever. The row will come to a head this summer when the British Government is likely to ease the 'repatriation' of hundreds of samples from some of Britain's most respected museums and universities back to Australia.
Several of Britain's top scientists studying human evolution say the loss to their work will be incalculable. 'This would be very damaging. We would see whole areas closed off to research if we lost key specimens,' said Professor Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum. The museum has some 20,000 human remains, ranging from whole bodies to teeth and hair samples. Half is British in origin but the rest comes from abroad, including many from Australia. British law protects the museum from having to return its specimens, but that is likely to change when a government panel returns a report on the issue in the next two months. Aboriginal human rights activists say that using Aboriginal remains for study - no matter how old they are - is insulting. 'It is very offensive. We Aborigines were not put on this earth for British scientists to do research on,' said Rodney Dillon, a commissioner on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, which advises the Australian Government on Aboriginal affairs.
Stringer and other scientists say their collections should be seen as academic tools - like Egyptian mummies - and not as the ancestors of living people. They fear that, as in the case of the valuable 10,000-year-old Cohuna skull which was returned to Aboriginal control, the remains will be reburied and destroyed. In North America hundreds of bones and skulls have been taken out of museums and universities and returned to the control of Native American tribes. Many have been destroyed in reburial ceremonies, removing them for ever from scientific record and leaving only plastic replicas to be studied. They include many full skeletons, some of them of vital scientific importance, including that of 'Pelican Rapids Woman', destroyed by the Sioux in 1999, and 'Buhl Woman', destroyed by the Shoshone in 1991. Stringer's fears of similar losses in Britain are shared by scientists at the world famous Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies in Cambridge, which has a collection of 18,000 human remains. It is believed that several hundred of the specimens, nearly all from Australia, could become the subject of repatriation efforts if the law changes. Scientists say it is vital to keep the bones for further study because new techniques of analysis are continually developing and new information can still be gleaned from old specimens, no matter how many times they have been studied. 'The problem with repatriation demands is that they are often unconditional. Once you let the specimens go back, you have no control of what happens to them,' said Dr Robert Foley, director of the Leverhulme.
Some Australian academics have dismissed the British complaints. They say that many of the bones in question were collected in the nineteenth century and are not ancient at all; they are of little scientific value, while clearly being ancestors of people currently living. 'I think the case for repatriation of these remains is very strong,' said Professor Paul Turnbull of the history department at James Cook University. Turnbull said the opposition to repatriation was harming scientific research by convincing Aboriginal groups not to allow any access to fresh discoveries of ancient remains on their land. 'Opposition to repatriation has so distressed Aboriginal communities that they have refused to allow remains to be subjected to further examination,' he said. Aboriginal activists say returning the remains is vital to restoring dignity to a people pushed to the edge of extinction and who continue to be marginalised in modern Australia. Dillon said he had recently witnessed the return and reburial of remains by the Ngarrindjeri tribe from samples held by the Royal College of Surgeons, which voluntarily decided to send back some of its collection. 'They were just so pleased. The spirit of those people was not meant to end up in a cardboard box in some museum. It was meant to look out over the earth.'
Afghanistan bids to buy back its looted heritage
AFTER years of looting and destruction, Afghanistan’s national treasures are being reassembled.
The Kabul government, with help from foreign countries, is offering to buy antiquities from the public with no questions asked. Last Thursday, dozens of Afghanis flocked to the national archive after a radio appeal for works of literature and old books. Much of Afghanistan’s cultural heritage was destroyed by the Taliban who regarded depictions of the human body and living creatures as defiling Islam. Many pieces of priceless ivories, sculptures and gold coins were also sold to unscrupulous foreign dealers. However, with cash from the national treasury and a German grant, the national archive has put out an appeal for books. With the average salary of a civil servant only £20 a month and beggars thronging the streets the appeal was highly popular and plans to buy other art works are expected in the coming months.
One elderly seller, Mohammad Ayaz, accepted 1,000 afghanis (£13) for a handwritten Koran that he said had been in his family for generations, while Abdul Ghafar agreed to 12,000 afghanis (£150) for his family Koran. "If I kept the holy book, it would only get damaged," said Ghafar. "Besides, I need the money." The head of the archive, Abdul Rasul Mahjor, said: "Most of our purchases are from private collections but it’s possible some were stolen. It’s impossible to know in Afghanistan these days. A lot of good material is being sold abroad and we want to preserve our heritage for the nation." At the national gallery, which is being restored with help from the Greek government, staff are planning to open the first post-Taliban exhibition in the next few months. The gallery was closed for all but the last two years of Taliban rule. Meanwhile, Kabul museum’s directors have been criss-crossing the country in search of artifacts and antiquities in the 18 months since the overthrow of the Taliban. The museum itself, a battle-scared shell of a building on the outskirts of the city, is being restored with money from the British government going towards the refurbishment of two rooms.
Afghan embassy in the US
More on Auguste Rodin Sculpture theft in Argentina
BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA.- The work "The Hand of God" by Auguste Rodin disappeared from the exhibition hall at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, informed the police. Security guards kept the museum closed for several hours to register around a hundred visitors hoping to find the sculpture, but they had to be freed by night because nothing was found. The stolen work measures 15 cm high and is valued at $10,000 dollars. The work had been recently moved near the museum bathrooms and near the exit. According to the museum’s guards, the sculpture was in danger of being stolen because it had no security measures to protect it. The police have estimated the time of the theft at around 5.50 pm. Two Toulousse Lautrec paintings were stolen from the same museum two years ago.
In February 25, 1997, ’The Hands of Rodin’ Exhibited at Philadelphia Museum of Art. This is Part of the press release of the exhibit:
"The Hands of Rodin: A Tribute to B. Gerald Cantor, an exhibition of some 60 works in bronze and plaster (several of which are unique casts), ill be on view at the Philadelphia Museum of Art from March 27 through June 22, 1997. The exhibition is comprised of important loans from the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation and Collection, The Brooklyn Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Maryhill Museum of Art, Washington, D.C., and the Stanford University Libraries. The Hands of Rodin is a nationally touring exhibition that has been organized by the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation. The Museum will, during the same dates, present the exhibition Rodin and Michelangelo: A Study in Artistic Inspiration, an exploration of the impact the great Italian Renaissance sculptor had on Rodin, who has, in turn, long been regarded as one of the greatest sculptors of modern times.
"I have always had an intense passion for the _expression of the human hands," Rodin explained. "There are times when they succumb to destiny. There are times when they seize the void and, moulding it as a snowball is moulded, hurl it in the face of Fate." The hands sculpted by Rodin are masterpieces of gesture (the intimacy they express in The Kiss, 1886, or the supplication of Saint John the Baptist Preaching, 1878); form (the dramatic, gnarled claw of Large Clenched Right Hand, c. 1885); and, when assembled in combination with other figures, as symbols (The Hand of God, 1898, literally moulding Adam and Eve). Auguste Rodin was born to a family of modest means in Paris on November 12, 1840. He attended the École Impériale de Dessin and studied drawing at the Gobelins tapestry manufactory, and at age 17 garnered prizes for drawing and modeling. Although he was declined for admission to the prestigious École des Beaux-Arts, Rodin gained further training while creating ornamental sculpture for Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse, a master of decorative arts. In 1876, Rodin traveled to Italy to study the sculptures of Michelangelo, an experience that proved to be of great importance in his development."
Archaeological treasures locked away
Abu Dhabi | By Barbara Bibbo' | 30/05/2003
Some precious archeological treasures of Iraq were reportedly locked away securely by the Iraqi regime in a vault of the Central Bank in Baghdad before the war started, according to former Italian ambassador to the UAE, Pietro Cordone.
Cordone, an Arabic-speaker and well-known expert in Middle East affairs, was recently appointed by the coalition forces to restore the Iraqi Ministry of Culture, the museums and archeological sites looted in the last period. The former ambassador is the only foreigner in the Cabinet of 14 American officials who are part of the civil administration running Iraq's reconstruction. Speaking to Gulf News, Cordone said his work has already started with the objective of restoring the infrastructure of the ministry and bringing museums and archeological sites back to their original status. At the head of a team of 10 military and civil experts in archaeology, museology and culture, Cordone said that despite the great damage caused by the looting, the situation is far less serious than initially thought. "The situation is not so dramatic as it seemed in the beginning. In the first moments, it had been assumed that the number of archaeological objects looted from museums and sites was 170,000. But at the end of an accurate investigation by the American military authority, the number is between 3,000 and 3,500. Among these, the pieces of great value are about 30," said Cordone.
Cordone, who was appointed two weeks ago to substitute an American official who resigned, said that many archaeological pieces looted were retrieved by the American army; others have been tracked by the army at the Iraqi-Jordanian border and others still have been returned voluntarily by the looters. In addition, he noted that some treasures of inestimable value were reportedly locked in the vault of Baghdad's Central Bank, before the war started. "There was tremendous concern for one of the priceless treasures of Iraq, the treasure of Timrud, the second most important in the world after the tomb of Tutankhamen in Egypt. The treasure consists of a royal tomb containing 600 pieces of refined jewellery which date back to 3,000B.C. The treasure has been hidden before the beginning of the war in the vault of the Central Bank of Baghdad. "In the coming days, the vault will be opened and we hope to find the treasure untouched." The former ambassador said his priority is to restore the management of the Iraqi Ministry of Culture in order to reopen all the administrations in charge of the different cultural areas.
"Within two weeks I hope to recreate the management of the ministry. The first step will be that of inviting the previous general directors of the different administrations to return to their tasks. Otherwise, we will detect new competent figures. In addition we have to find the new premises for the ministry since all offices have been looted and destroyed," he said. Cordone said his task will be facilitated by the fact that coalition forces have restarted paying salaries to governmental officials, which had been suspended since last April. He said this will encourage governmental employees to return to their jobs. In the meantime, another priority is that of running an additional accurate evaluation and inventory of all the items currently held at museums and archaeological sites throughout the country. Cordone said that in all museums, former directors and employees in cooperation with the American army are in the process of evaluating the damage. For this purpose, the official is travelling Iraq to assess the needs of all museums and archaeological sites, in order to provide them with the necessary equipment, guarantee their security and restart excavations. Cordone has already visited the southern region of the country and visited museums and archaeological sites there.
As far as security of the sites and museums is concerned, Cordone said important steps forward have been made to guarantee their protection. "Many archeological sites throughout the country have been looted, while in some areas we found that illegal excavations had been started. "Nevertheless, the army has appointed forces to protect, round the clock, all the main museums and sites, such as Abraham's ancestral home in Ur, south of Iraq. In addition, in the remote areas, on-the-spot investigations are conducted constantly by using helicopters." According to Cordone, Iraqis experienced deep dismay at the looting of their archaeological heritage. He said the population is extremely upset with what happened. "People have been living the looting as a disaster. Many attribute the cause to the general amnesty of the prisoners ordered by Saddam Hussain in his last reelection. On that occasion, criminals of all kind have been liberated and it is likely these people instigated the looting."
Cordone said his team is working in cooperation with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation and he has personally accompanied the team of experts on their last visit. He said other tasks of his mission are to restart the activities in the plastic arts, cinema and music.
Suspect in Museum Heist Returns Treasures by Lim Do-hyuk (email@example.com)
The four official cultural treasures stolen from Gongju National Museum two weeks ago are all back in the museum, as police recovered three pieces Friday.
Police from Gongju in South Chungcheong province said one of the suspects, who is still on the loose, called at midnight Thursday and directed them to the three pieces, which he had hidden behind an emergency phone booth near the Honam Expressway.
They found the treasures inside a paper bag, wrapped with towels, vinyl and foil.
The police have arrested five other suspects in the case.
Yale Law School rare book damage
On May 21, 2003 at approximately 4:38 p.m. there was an explosion in room 120 of the Yale Law School Building. The effects of the blast caused the partition wall between room 120 and the Alumni Reading Room to collapse. The Yale Law Library was affected by the blast in that the Alumni Reading Room is open to and overlooks the wooden stairway that connects L2 and L1.
The L2 floor of the Yale Law Library contains Technical Services, Rare Books offices and their Reading Room, Computer Services, the computer pod and the computer classroom, and our microform reading room. The L1 floor of the Yale Law Library contains the Foreign and International Reading Room, F&I staff offices, and access to the majority of our collections which are located on the Upper East Side and the Lower East Side of L1.
>From May 21 through May 29, these areas were closed to library staff as they continued to be a part of the crime investigation. During this time the FBI allowed limited access via escort. The Technical Services staff returned to work on Friday, May 30, almost nine days after the blast.
Photos of the damage from the Yale Law School bomb blast, including a few of the law library's rare book collection and of books being packed for freezing, can be viewed at...
Kenyan artefacts abroad to be returned, says Balala By Zablon Odhiambo
The Government will ensure all Kenyan artefacts preserved outside the country are returned to the local archives to enhance the local culture.
Gender, Sports, Culture and Social Services Minister, Najib Balala reiterated his ministry’s commitment to preserve the diverse cultures in the country and ensure Kenya is identified with its wealth in cultures. The minister at the same time asked the former colonial Government to own up and return whatever belongs to Kenya. “Let all the ivory stolen during the colonial era be returned, we can build a big museum and preserve everything here,” Balala said. The minister was addressing stakeholders of a cultural policy at a Nairobi hotel where he asked the participants to formulate a policy that would safeguard local cultural institutions.
He narrated how embarrassed he felt when he visited a sports museum abroad and found a sports kit used by Kenyan athletics icon, Kipchoge arap Keino, when he broke the world record more than two decades ago.
Rikers' Dali Painting Still Missing By Dan Janison
June 2, 2003, 6:23 PM EDT
Three months after a Salvador Dali sketch vanished from Rikers Island, the crime remains unsolved -- but officials insist the probe is active.
"We have been, and continue to, work with prosecutors" on the case, was all city Investigation Department spokeswoman Emily Gest would say Monday. But sources said the case was expected to go before a grand jury this week -- a hint that charges are expected to be filed in the case. The sketch, which hung for years in the entranceway of what is now the Eric M. Taylor Center on Rikers Island, remains unaccounted for. Valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars, "Crucifixion," dedicated to Rikers inmates, was found March 1 to have been replaced with a crude fake. Jail supervisors and officers working have been under suspicion since then. Probers were reviewing a fire drill that was conducted the night the Dali disappeared. Sources said a Bronx grand jury was expected to hear evidence this week, centering on a jail supervisor. The district attorney's office would not comment.
Several weeks after news of the theft, Benny Nuzzo, an assistant deputy warden, was suspended for 30 days "due to information turned up in the investigation," the department said. Two officers who were on duty that night have been taking sick time since mid-March. Another assistant deputy warden, Michell Hochhauser, has been transferred to another facility, insiders said.
CONFERENCE ON CONSERVATION OF CULTURAL HERITAGE SITES
³THE CERTAINTY OF UNCERTAINTY: PRESERVING ART AND CULTURE IN THE 21ST CENTURY²
Participants include: architect Daniel Libeskind, terrorism expert Brian Michael Jenkins, New York State Office of Public Security's Siobhan O'Neil, Iraqi art and archaeology scholar McGuire Gibson, international law specialist Patty Gerstenblith, MoMA director Glenn Lowry, and contemporary artist and Index magazine editor Peter Halley. Thursday, June 5 through Saturday, June 7, 2003 at the NYU campus in New York.
As an EXCLUSIVE OFFER to readers of The Art Newspaper, the first 10 subscribers who register for this conference will get a special discounted price of $200 [25% off]. To take advantage of this offer, you MUST register by phone at (212) 998-7267 and mention this offer seen in ³The Art Newspaper² e-newsletter. We CANNOT offer this discount through online registration.
For the full program and more information, please contact (212) 998- 7130 or visit www.scps.nyu.edu/uncertainty
This week's top stories:
WILL UNESCO BECOME AN EXTENSION OF US FOREIGN POLICY?
President George W. Bush surprised the world when he announced that the US would rejoin Unesco, the cultural branch of the United Nations. http://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/article.asp?idart=11114
CINCINNATI GETS LANDMARK MUSEUM - ARCHITECT ZAHA HADID INTERVIEWED
Designed by Zaha Hadid, and opening on 7 June, is the new building housing the Contemporary Art Center (CAC), Cincinnati , an institution with no permanent collection that puts on temporary exhibitions of contemporary art. http://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/article.asp?idart=11113
SEAGRAM PHOTOGRAPHS: LIQUID ASSETS SOLD
Low estimates, fresh material, relaxed cataloguing, and no reserves spelled success with a capital “S” for Phillips de Pury & Luxembourg’s sale of the Seagram photograph collection on 25 and 26 April. http://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/article.asp?idart=11112
HOW TO PUT THE SHINE BACK ON 70S PLASTIC
One of French artist César’s “Expansions”, the plastic sculptures he made in the 1970s that resemble oozing pools of soft foam, has recently been restored, raising questions as to how experimental plastic sculptures of this type can be conserved http://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/article.asp?idart=11111
SIR PAUL GETTY’S LIBRARY TO LIVE ON
Sir Paul Getty’s library at Wormsley is expected to pass to a charitable foundation, rather than remain in private ownership http://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/article.asp?idart=11110
Anna Somers Cocks, Editor
The Art Newspaper
70 South Lambeth Road London SW8 1RL UK
tel +44(0)207 735 3331 fax +44(0)207 735 3332
Ancient Assyrian Treasures Believed Found in Baghdad
National Geographic Ultimate Explorer
June 2, 2003
Gold jewelry and other precious items recovered from royal tombs excavated at the ancient Assyrian capital of Nimrud are believed to have been found where they were stashed for safety—in a vault below the Central Bank in Baghdad—before the onset of the Gulf War in 1990.
The 2,800-year-old treasures—which were characterized by one British archaeologist authority as the most significant discovery since Tutankhamun's treasures in 1923—are thought to be in three cases that had been sealed and secured in the underground vault. They were not found until last week because the basement of the bank was flooded, possibly deliberately by bank officials as a way to protect them from looters. Emergency draining of the vault levels to gain access to Iraq's currency reserves, needed to pay salaries throughout the country, led to confirmation that the cases containing the Nimrud treasures were still intact. "We have assistance from our friends [at] National Geographic who brought [a] pumping system and hired people to [do] this job for us free of charge," said Ahmed Muhammad, deputy governor of Iraq's Central Bank. "We thank them very much for this favor," he told the National Geographic Ultimate Explorer team which helped the bank drain the water from the basement. The Ultimate Explorer team was in Baghdad to make news documentaries. The story of the Central Bank vault and recovery of the artifacts will be aired on Ultimate Explorer on MSNBC on July 6. The show will be presented by Lisa Ling, who was in Baghdad for part of the recovery effort.
"The bank was flooded right up to the ground level," said Gayle Young, director of story development, Ultimate Explorer. "It took three pumps and three weeks to get all the water out. At first the water kept flooding into the bank as fast as we pumped it out, but then it was discovered there was a valve that was open. Once we were able to shut that off we could drain all the water and the bank officials gained access to the vaults," Young said. Young said the three boxes that contained the treasures were found in the seventh vault that was inspected, exactly where it was believed they would be. An archaeologist who placed the seals on the boxes confirmed that they had not been broken. "We expect that they will be opened tomorrow in the presence of experts and witnesses," Young said.
Muhammed said that he asked that at least two employees of the Central Bank observe the opening of the boxes, and the verification and listing of their contents. "The pieces belong to Iraq and not only to Iraqi Museum, and we at the Central Bank of Iraq feel we have a share in these boxes because we kept them for 14 years since 1990," he said. Draining the water from the vaults became a priority, not only to determine if the treasures had escaped the looting that had taken place on the bank's upper floors during the recent war in Iraq, but because the authorities urgently needed to recover the country's cash reserves. "We had a crisis situation where we needed to get access to the dinars in the vaults of the Central Bank to pay salaries, and thanks to National Geographic we've been able to open the vaults, to pump out the water, and pay the salaries," said Jacob Nell, advisor to Iraq's Ministry of Finance. Cash was recovered, wet but intact. The "water was impregnated with soot and not as we feared with sewage, so it's just like they've been through the washing machine and the money is clean," Nel told the Ultimate Explorer team. "Thanks to National Geographic we were able to pump the water out of the vaults, which means that we could get access to the dinars that were stored there, which was essential for us to be able to pay April salaries throughout the country. "
Confirmation that the treasures of Nimrud are in safe custody will be a relief to the archaeological and art communities. There have been widespread fears that they were looted along with thousands of artifacts stripped from the Iraq Museum and archaeological sites in the chaos of the war in Iraq and its aftermath.
Help Maintain Connections to the Past
The devastating loss of Iraq's historic treasures isn't an isolated event. Around the world artifacts and monuments are threatened by war, the elements, and lack of resources to preserve them. The threat extends to the world's spiritual and intellectual legacy. Of the 6,000 languages known today, fully half are no longer taught to children, and each day ancient practices, skills, and wisdom fade from the landscape of human imagination. As part of a growing commitment to maintain all links to our shared cultural past, the National Geographic Society has created the World Cultures Fund, which supports the work of archaeologists, cultural anthropologists, artists, and other professionals wherever the history of civilizations is at risk. One of the Fund's flagship projects is the Iraq expedition led by Henry Wright. In addition to antiquities conservation, the World Cultures Fund will support a wide array of initiatives including expeditions led by Explorer-in-Residence Wade Davis to reveal and share the stories of people around the globe. Other projects will include conservation of records of the past and celebration of enduring cultures through film, world music, and other mediums. You can support these vital efforts by making a gift online at www.nationalgeographic.com/help. Gifts can also be mailed directly to: World Cultures Fund, National Geographic Society Development Office, 1145 17th Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20036.
Looting and Conquest by ZAINAB BAHRANI
The looting of Baghdad's museums has generally been represented as an accident of ignorance or poor planning. Not enough attention has been paid to the fact that for several months before the start of the Iraq war, scholars of the ancient history of Iraq repeatedly spoke to various arms of the US government about this risk. Individual archeologists as well as representatives of the Archaeological Institute of America met with members of the State Department, the Defense Department and the Pentagon. We provided comprehensive lists of archeological sites and museums throughout Iraq, including their map coordinates. We put up a website providing this same information. All of us said the top priority was the immediate placement of security guards at all museums and archeological sites. US government officials claimed that they were gravely concerned about the protection of cultural heritage, yet they chose not to follow our advice.
The Iraq Museum in Baghdad was one of the three or four most important archeological museums in the world, a treasure house of objects included in every standard art history text book, housing the earliest narrative reliefs and the oldest written works in world history. As has now been well documented, by April 12 the entire museum had been looted. The looters used professional glass-cutting tools, cranes and trucks over a period of forty-eight hours, as a US tank stood idly outside. At one point a few soldiers strolled into the museum, watched for a while and then left.
The looting of this unparalleled museum was not an isolated incident or a casualty of the chaos of war. Before this raid, a group of looters emptied museums in Basra and Mosul while coalition troops looked on. Even after the museum lootings had sparked an international outcry, Iraq's libraries and galleries were allowed to be plundered and burnt.
US troops not only neglected to protect historical sites and cultural property; they abused such sites themselves. US forces bombed Baghdad's thirteenth-century University building, one of the oldest universities in the world. US troops transformed the ancient site of Ur into a military base, even digging trenches into the ground. US tanks rolled through the ancient streets of Babylon, an act that had no military value but to declare conquest.
The destruction of cultural heritage during war can fall into the category of collateral damage, but looting that takes place under the supervision of an occupying force is another matter. The 1954 Hague Convention establishes that it is the responsibility of the occupying power to protect the cultural patrimony of the occupied land. While the United States never ratified that convention, the Defense Department promised to abide by the Hague Convention in several responses to the scholarly community. A March 18 letter to this effect to the Society for American Archaeology is posted at www.saa.org. In any case, the United States is a signatory to the Geneva Convention, which makes clear that the protection of museums, as of hospitals, is the responsibility of the occupying force. The United States clearly violated this convention. While the Oil Ministry was, and remains, well guarded, at the time of an emergency meeting about the looting, on April 17 at UNESCO in Paris, no military guard had yet been posted at the museum. The museum's director of research, Donny George, who had been asked to attend the UNESCO meeting, declined the invitation, explaining that he had to stay in Baghdad to guard what was left of the collections.
Blame must be placed with the Bush Administration for a catastrophic destruction of culture unparalleled in modern history. Thousands of cuneiform tablets and ancient Christian, Muslim and Jewish manuscripts are gone. Most of the country's works of art have disappeared. Much of the nation's cultural heritage has been lost. Donald Rumsfeld's response to this devastation? "Freedom's untidy. And free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes."
And who stands to benefit from this plunder? The illicit trade in antiquities, which funnels works from countries such as Egypt, Greece and Italy to collectors based in New York, London and Geneva. Collector William Pearlstein, of the American Council for Cultural Policy (ACCP), an organization that met with the White House and the Pentagon right before the war and right after the looting, is appealing for the cultural theft to continue by other means, calling Iraq's antiquities-preservation laws "retentionist," and saying he "hoped that Iraq would grant more excavation permits and consider export permits for redundant objects." Everyone from professional organizations to religious fanatics is now laying claim to Iraq's past, some pretending to speak for the Iraq Museum or the Department of Antiquities. This opportunism opens the door to more cultural and historical plunder, a base scramble much like the parceling off of sites and antiquities that occurred in the nineteenth century.
At this point, the US authority in Iraq has yet to allow an international team of experts to assess damage to archeological sites, monuments and museums. By the time help can go in, some structures--such as the 2,000-year-old Great Arch of Ctesiphon, which has suffered for years due to the banning of monument-preservation materials under the embargo--may very well collapse. Perhaps private interests such as the ACCP will be allowed in first. All of these decisions have been designated a US project. US archeologists, art historians and historians must take a stance against this. They must insist on the international cooperation of world academics, with involvement based on expertise. Decisions about excavation permits and the organization of cultural property should not depend upon the whims of the occupying force. Ultimately, such decisions must be left to the Iraqi Department of Antiquities and Heritage, as only Iraqis can have the right to decide how to proceed.
Even in antiquity, and by the Babylonians and Assyrians themselves, the destruction of cultural property was understood as an act of psychological warfare. Historical annals from ancient Mesopotamia describe how the identity and power of a people is directly linked to its cultural monuments. Recent empires--the Habsburgs, the British and the French--all appropriated the cultural heritage of colonized lands, but at least they safeguarded it in museums and promoted its study. The destruction that the US military has allowed to occur in Iraq has no parallel.
New York, NY
Zainab Bahrani's May 14 article "Looting and Conquest" seriously misrepresents the American Council for Cultural Policy (ACCP), its position regarding Iraq's cultural heritage and my statements regarding the same. In particular, your statement that I am "appealing for the cultural theft to continue by other means" is both insulting and ignorant.
To correct the record, the ACCP is a charitable organization founded in 2001 to help educate the American public about issues of concern to US collectors, including the importation of cultural property; problems arising when artwork looted by the Nazis is introduced into the legitimate art market; and the chilling effect on loans to museums created by legal action against US museums with respect to artwork borrowed from abroad.
The ACCP is composed primarily of collectors, curators, museum directors and others in the US art community, including a few legal experts. It does not include antiquities dealers. Contrary to what has been written elsewhere, no individual involved with the council collects or deals in "stolen" antiquities or "Nazi loot."
The ACCP was not formed to influence US policy regarding Iraqi antiquities. It was not, as has been written elsewhere, "formed in some haste precisely because of the forthcoming war in Iraq," with the "spoils of war on their mind," nor has it met the President of the United States. It has never lobbied the US government to revise any legislation.
In October 2002, in the absence of any expressed interest of the US scholarly, archeological or other communities, the ACCP took the initiative in urging the secretaries of State and Defense to protect Iraqi cultural property in the event of war. An op-ed article expressing these concerns was signed by the president of the ACCP and the president of the Association of Art Museums (Ashton Hawkins and Maxwell Anderson, "Preserving Iraq's Past," Washington Post, November 29, 2003).
As a result, in January 2003, the presidents of the ACCP, the Association of Art Museum Directors, the World Monuments Fund and the American Association for Research in Baghdad met officials at the Defense and State departments.
The purpose of the meeting with the Defense Department was to update its database in order to avoid damaging Iraqi archeological sites and monuments. At the meeting with the State Department, the delegation expressed the need to strengthen the administration of Iraqi archeological sites after any war to prevent the kind of looting that occurred after the first Gulf War. These were the only meetings held by members of the ACCP with any representatives of the US government. At no point during these meetings, or after, has the ACCP discussed the question of reforming Iraqi law. The president of the ACCP stated in Science magazine that Iraq's current cultural patrimony laws were appropriate and should remain in effect. The ACCP has not otherwise taken a position on the laws of Iraq or any other nation.
In particular, the ACCP has never discussed with or proposed to anyone in the US government either the "controlled deaccession" of excess museum inventory or the "partages" of excavated finds among Iraqi and US museums. Whatever the merits of those ideas, they are simply not on the table.
In Science magazine, I characterized Iraqi cultural property laws as "retentionist," a term commonly used by US legal scholars of all viewpoints--and the archeological community--to describe a cultural policy of nationalization and embargo. Iraq's national patrimony law dates to the 1930s. This is in contrast to the laws of a number of other nations, like England, Japan, Italy, South Korea, China, Lebanon and Israel, that permit the certification and legal export of cultural objects under controlled circumstances.
I also expressed my hope that Iraq would, in the future, grant more excavation permits to archeologists, consider export permits for redundant objects that had been lawfully excavated and certified for export, and that Iraqi conservation efforts should be supported. I made these statements in my private capacity as a lawyer experienced in cultural property matters and not on behalf of the council. These statements were distorted by an irresponsible and sensationalist press into the exact opposite of what they say and mean.
Any informed discussion of the US antiquities market must begin with the fact that the US 1983 Cultural Property Implementation Act provides for a balancing of interests among archeologists, museums, dealers and the public. That act requires that each of these constituencies be represented on our Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC). The act rejects extremist arguments in favor of either a free market or a ban on all trade. Instead, it allows the US to grant import restrictions on cultural objects depending on whether a foreign applicant satisfies specified criteria. Italy was granted broad restrictions; Canada's have expired. I have always advocated a reasoned middle ground with respect to cultural property issues, consistent with a fair reading of that act.
The United States has the most heavily regulated antiquities market in the world, a confused and confusing overlay of criminal laws, customs regulations and CPAC import restrictions. By contrast, the primary markets into which looted Iraqi materials appear to be flowing--Damascus, Amman, Teheran and the Gulf states--and the secondary markets--Paris, London, Munich--are virtually unregulated.
The notion that American dealers and collectors are conspiring to loot Iraq, and that they are lining up to charge fresh Iraqi antiquities on their credit cards, is as absurd as it is insulting. US dealers were among the first to issue strong statements denouncing the looting and pledging their efforts to bar looted Iraqi objects from the US market.
US collectors and dealers are in shock, both at the looting the ACCP worked so hard to prevent, and because they are blamed for it. The art world and the archeological community should be grateful that those in a position to help did so, and should take care to consider the nuance of complex issues of law and policy before rushing irresponsibly to judgment.
WILLIAM G. PEARLSTEIN
PS: I am a lawyer, not a collector, and my tastes run to nineteenth- century naturalism, not antiquities.
NY Museum Displays Ancient Mesopotamian Art Jenny Badner
03 Jun 2003, 20:04 UTC
Experts may never be able to determine how many antiquities were looted from Iraqi museums and cultural sites as the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended. But some important examples of ancient art and architecture from the region are currently on display in New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers has long been considered the cradle of civilization. In the third century B.C., that fertile crescent was called Mesopotamia. It was home to the first cities where art and architecture, writing and law developed. Metropolitan Museum of Art Director Philippe de Montebello says the exhibit was first conceived in 1997 for the new millennium. But he says it has taken on new and dramatic meaning since the post-war looting of antiquities in Baghdad. "From our point of view, it is beyond comprehension that an exhibition, that began as an important one for educational purposes, to educate and bring to a broad public more information illustrating this crucible of civilization in that part of the world, has suddenly become an exposition, whose poignant and tragic timeliness is simply astonishing," he said. The antiquities on view in the Art of the First Cities demonstrate the wealth and rituals in the 5,000-year-old urban centers of Ur and Uruk. The collection features about 400 rare pieces of sculpture, jewelry, cylinder vessels, weapons, seals and tablets. One of the most famous works on display is an elaborate wooden inlaid box called "Standard of Ur," on loan from the British Museum. Decorated with blue lapis lazuli, and red limestone and recovered from a royal cemetery, the box shows a detailed depiction of battle and its aftermath. The role of the king as a military leader and mediator between humans and the gods is illustrated, too. Curator Joan Aruz says the exhibit reveals an emerging combination of realism and abstraction, while exploring the impact of Mesopotamia on the surrounding region.
"I did not want to show Mesopotamian developments in a vacuum, because civilizations arise in contact with other civilizations," explained Ms. Aruz. "And, I wanted to demonstrate in this show how civilizations flourish and stimulated one another all of the way from the Mediterranean to the Indus." Many of the most important materials originated from a network of trade routes, including the gold for an elaborately designed queens' headdress of intricate flowers, leaves and hoops; the stones for colorful mosaics on decorated columns; and the precious material for sculptures of animals, humans and gods. That extensive network spanned the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean, across Central Asia and along the Gulf to the Indus, the chief river in present-day Pakistan. Planning for the exhibition was complicated by U.S. relations with Saddam Hussein's Iraq and neighboring Iran. So, curators sought loans of art from about 50 museums in about a dozen other countries. The British Museum, the Louvre in Paris and the Hermitage in St. Petersburg all loaned antiquities. The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks brought preparation to a temporary halt. But associate director Mahrukh Tarapor says an unprecedented international exchange followed.
For the first time, the New York institution collaborated with museums in Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Uzbekistan. "Exhibitions, important though they are, they are fleeting," said Mahrukh Tarapor. "They last for three months, and then it's gone. The catalogue remains as tangible evidence. But also what remains and what is terribly important, is that new relationships are established, new collaborations." Kuwait and Turkey loaned antiquities, too. And despite sharp political differences with the United States over Iraq, Syria loaned three pieces, days before the opening. One work from Syria, an exquisite lion-headed eagle pendant, sculpted out of hammered gold and decorated with precious stones, is a highlight of the exhibition. Curators and government officials from all over the world gathered at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the opening of Art of the First Cities in the weeks after the Baghdad looting. Metropolitan Director Philippe de Montebello laments that the exhibit is not the celebration of Mesopotamia originally intended. Instead, he says, it has become an homage to what remains of civilization's birth.
"Today, the statement that we are compelled to make is that, what we have on display here at this museum, at this moment, may well turn out to be the bulk of what has survived from these great civilizations," he said. "I hope fervently that these words turn out in time to sound like melodrama, rather than truth." As the art world unites to promote international efforts to recover Iraqi antiquities, Art of the First Cities serves as a timely reminder of the importance of Mesopotamia. The exhibition opens with a large photograph of an ancient vase now missing from Iraq.
Iraq 'virtual heritage' archive planned
A US university is hoping to create a virtual archive of Iraq's historical treasures. The University of California at Berkeley is trying to raise $5m (£3m) for a project which would chronicle the war- torn country's museums and archaeological digs.
The results would be put on a website which would offer photographs, text, and real-time details such as the humidity or earthquake activity at research sites. Many historical sites were looted after US-led forces gained control of Baghdad in April, and the museum plans to place sensors at key locations to alert the network to any attempted thefts. "Now the US has the upper hand in Iraq, I feel in some ways it is our obligation to help part of the restoration and reconstruction," said Ruzena Bajcsy, director of the university's Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society. "I am using Iraq as an opportunity for promoting the idea of a virtual heritage, a cultural heritage encyclopaedia." Already, the university has secured three months of funding from technology giant Hewlett-Packard to set up a website for the project.
Experts say looting is continuing at archaeological sites, weeks after Baghdad's National Museum was ransacked by thieves. In a separate move, the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute has started categorising 7,000 items from the museum, with early details being placed on a website. The institute's Iraq specialist McGuire Gibson, who has just returned from Baghdad, said officials there had identified 1,000 objects from a collection of hundreds of thousands of items. He said the number of looted items which could be identified was likely to rise to between 3,000 and 4,000. "Think about losing 3,000 to 4,000 objects in any major museum," he said.
"It is a major loss regardless."
Mr Gibson added the museum had recovered 1,200 items, but some were reproductions or other work with lesser value.
Bust of Queen Nefertiti sparks Egypt's anger Egypt wants Berlin museum to return bust of Queen Nefertiti 'unethically' fused to bronze statue of nude woman.
By Lachlan Carmichael - CAIRO
Egypt said Sunday it would ask Germany to return a 3,300-year-old limestone bust of Egypt's Pharaonic queen Nefertiti which a Berlin museum has "unethically" fused to a bronze statue of a nude woman. "We're going to ask for the restitution of this statue in light of what has happened," Culture Minister Faruq Hosni told reporters. Hosni said he had asked Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher to send a formal protest to the German government, slamming the fusion of the bust with a statue by the Egyptian Museum at Berlin-Charlottenburg as scientifically "unethical."
He added that Egypt had long put its good ties with Germany above its desire for the bust to be returned - until now. "This last misdemeanor made us think of restitution again," he said, adding that the bust was taken out of the country in the early 1900s "almost illegally." Egyptian archeologists stressed they were not offended by the statue's nakedness, but complained the bust, which was created as a complete work of art, was never supposed to be part of a full statue. They were also concerned the bust may have been damaged. The head of Egypt's top antiquities body, the Supreme Council of Antiquities, General Zahi Hawas, called the exhibit an "insult to Egypt's history" and a "defacement of Egyptian antiquities." Hawas, who has led a drive for the return of many of Egypt's ancient treasures, said: "Egypt is responsible for its antiquities abroad ... and will not sit idly by in the face of such moves."
Reflecting the anger of antiquities officials, Saturday's edition of the mass circulation government weekly Al-Akhbar Al-Yom ran a front-page color photograph of the famous bust fused to a bronze torso and legs. Its headline screamed: "Queen Nefertiti Naked in a Berlin Museum!" "In a first of its kind, the Berlin museum committed a crime against the patrimony of mankind and Egyptian civilization. It disfigured the bust of Queen Nefertiti, the most beautiful of Pharaonic Egypt's queens," the weekly said. Hosni added that Cairo would seek the help of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in recovering the bust. Egyptologist Mohamed Saleh said that German archeologist Ludwig Borchadt, who worked in Egypt in the early 1900s, took the bust back to Germany under a law that allowed him take 50 percent of what had been excavated. Saleh, appointed to head the Egyptology unit of a new Grand Museum of Egypt, said he has in the past viewed the painted limestone bust in the Egyptian Museum at Berlin-Charlottenburg, but not since the changes were made.
He said that efforts have been made for decades for the bust's return, including one by a government under King Farouk which had appealed in vain to Adolf Hitler. Hitler, who had seen the artefact, "was fascinated with it and said it has to be kept in Berlin," Saleh said. He said the Berlin bust was sculpted around 1372 BC, during the 18th dynasty, and discovered in Tell al-Amarna, which is between the cities of Asyut and Minya in southern Egypt. He added it was the most famous of several Nefertiti busts,
including two in Egypt, but was not necessarily the best. Nefertiti was the wife of pharaoh Akhenaton, also known as Amenhotep IV. Akhenaton is remembered in history for having switched his kingdom to monotheism with the worship of the one sun god, Aton. He established his capital in Tell al-Amarna. No immediate comment was available from the German embassy, which was closed on Sunday.
Students suspected in Piccolo Spoleto art theft
(Charleston-AP) June 6, 2003 - Charleston police think college students may have taken about $10,000 worth of artwork from the outdoor Piccolo Spoleto art show in Marion Square.
Detective Edwin Gracely says he doesn't think thieves would have taken the art because it is difficult to carry or sell. Gracely says he thinks the art is probably hanging on someone's college dorm wall. Police have no suspects in the thefts which occurred Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. Officials say thieves stole a $6,200 painting of a Charleston street scene from the booth of artist Tate Nation.
They also took two oil paintings and two monotypes from the booth of Katherine DuTremble. DuTremble says she's never had anything stolen in 15 years of outdoor shows.
The art exhibit features 79 booths.
Former library worker jailed in connection with Yale bombing - - - - - - - - - - - - Associated Press
June 6, 2003 | HAMDEN, Conn. -- Investigators looking into last month's bomb explosion at Yale University searched the home of a former library worker who was previously convicted of stealing rare books and documents from the school, the New Haven Register reported Friday. Benjamin Johnson, 23, was jailed Wednesday after federal agents searched his parents' home in Hamden. He had pleaded guilty in 2001 to stealing and then selling over the Internet rare books and papers and cutting out manuscript signatures from Yale's Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. The library is across the street from Yale Law School, where a May 21 explosion damaged some rooms but caused no injuries. Authorities would not say what they were looking for at Johnson's house or whether they found anything linking him to the bombing. The Register, however, citing an unidentified law enforcement source, reported the search was connected to the bombing investigation. Johnson, who began serving a 15- month sentence in June 2002 for larceny convictions related to the thefts, moved to a New Haven halfway house in February. He was allowed to enter a transitional supervision program that allowed him to return home with his parents. After Wednesday's search, correction officers decided to revoke that privilege. They declined to give any reason for the revocation. Johnson's lawyer denied that his client had anything to do with the bombing.
"He does not have anything to hide and is cooperating fully with authorities," said lawyer Penn Rhodeen. Hamden Councilman Eliot Heiman said police told him the search was triggered after a parole officer found something in Johnson's backpack. The Register said notes about explosives were found in the bag. Rhodeen said that Johnson, an aspiring writer, carried a notebook in his backpack that contained "exciting passages" from novels. "Exactly what the words were in the notebook, I don't know, but it was nothing to do with Yale," Rhodeen said. He said his client had not returned to the Yale campus since his arrest.
Drive to recover Iraq treasures
Art experts from the Middle East, Europe and the United States are joining with police to work out how to recover historical treasures stolen during the war in Iraq.
The two-day meeting in Rome aims to set up a database of stolen works and create a taskforce of experts co-ordinated by the international police body, Interpol. The initial tally of items stolen from the National Museum in Baghdad has been scaled down drastically, but looting and digging is still reported to be going on at thousands of archaeological sites across Iraq A director of the Italian culture ministry, archaeologist Giuseppe Progetti, said general lawlessness meant that Iraq's treasures were still not protected and it was not yet possible to do a proper census of what was missing or damaged.
But Mr Progetti confirmed that the number of important works missing after the looting of the National Museum in Baghdad was probably no more than 40.
Hidden in vaults
Mr Progetti said that in January, before the war broke out, he saw museum staff putting artefacts in safe vaults, and US investigators have recently confirmed that some treasures were also hidden in the central bank. Mr Progetti is to go to Baghdad to supervise a new reconnaissance mission, the culture ministry said. Many Iraqis have responded to appeals by Shia imams to return art works under an unofficial amnesty. At the time of the lootings, witnesses said some of the men carrying the goods away were directed by well-dressed men who knew what they wanted to take.
But British and American officials at the meeting in Rome said there had been no signs yet of anyone trying to sell stolen items of Iraqi art and that many of them were probably still in or near Iraq. Traffickers in Iraqi archaeological items have thrived since the 1991 Gulf War. Experts says this is because of growing international demand and an economic crisis in Iraq which has encouraged ordinary people to find innovative new ways to make money.
Lost from the Baghdad museum: truth
Tuesday June 10, 2003
When, back in mid-April, the news first arrived of the looting at the Iraqi National Museum in Baghdad, words hardly failed anyone. No fewer than 170,000 items had, it was universally reported, been stolen or destroyed, representing a large proportion of Iraq's tangible culture. And it had all happened as some US troops stood by and watched, and others had guarded the oil ministry. Professors wrote articles. Professor Michalowski of Michigan argued that this was "a tragedy that has no parallel in world history; it is as if the Uffizi, the Louvre, or all the museums of Washington DC had been wiped out in one fell swoop". Professor Zinab Bahrani from Columbia University claimed that, "By April 12 the entire museum had been looted," and added, "Blame must be placed with the Bush administration for a catastrophic destruction of culture unparalleled in modern history." From Edinburgh Professor Trevor Watkins lamented that, "The loss of Iraq's cultural heritage will go down in history - like the burning of the Library at Alexandria - and Britain and the US will be to blame." Others used phrases such as cultural genocide and compared the US in particular to the Mongol invaders of 13th- century Iraq.
Back in Baghdad there was anger. On April 14, Dr Donny George, the museum's director of research, was distraught. The museum had housed the leading collection of the continuous history of mankind, "And it's gone, and it's lost. If Marines had started [protecting the museum] before, none of this would have happened. It's too late. It's no use. It's no use." A few weeks later - in London to address a meeting at the British Museum - George was interviewed for this newspaper by Neal Ascherson. George, said Ascherson, did not throw blame around, but did remark that most of the looters responsible for the damage were not educated.
On June 1, George was reported in the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag as reiterating that witnesses had seen US soldiers enter the museum on April 9, stay inside two hours and leave with some objects. When asked whether he believed that the US military and international art thieves had been acting in concert, George replied that a year earlier, at a meeting in a London restaurant, someone (unnamed) had told him that he couldn't wait till he could go inside the National Museum with US soldiers and give it a good pillage - ie, yes. So, there's the picture: 100,000-plus priceless items looted either under the very noses of the Yanks, or by the Yanks themselves. And the only problem with it is that it's nonsense. It isn't true. It's made up. It's bollocks.
Not all of it, of course. There was some looting and damage to a small number of galleries and storerooms, and that is grievous enough. But over the past six weeks it has gradually become clear that most of the objects which had been on display in the museum galleries were removed before the war. Some of the most valuable went into bank vaults, where they were discovered last week. Eight thousand more have been found in 179 boxes hidden "in a secret vault". And several of the larger and most remarked items seem to have been spirited away long before the Americans arrived in Baghdad. George is now quoted as saying that that items lost could represent "a small percentage" of the collection and blamed shoddy reporting for the exaggeration. "There was a mistake," he said. "Someone asked us what is the number of pieces in the whole collection. We said over 170,000, and they took that as the number lost. Reporters came in and saw empty shelves and reached the conclusion that all was gone. But before the war we evacuated all of the small pieces and emptied the showcases except for fragile or heavy material that was difficult to move."
This indictment of world journalism has caused some surprise to those who listened to George and others speak at the British Museum meeting. One art historian, Dr Tom Flynn, now speaks of his "great bewilderment". "Donny George himself had ample opportunity to clarify to the best of [his] knowledge the extent of the looting and the likely number of missing objects," says Flynn. "Is it not a little strange that quite so many journalists went away with the wrong impression, while Mr George made little or not attempt to clarify the context of the figure of 170,000 which he repeated with such regularity and gusto before, during, and after that meeting." To Flynn it is also odd that George didn't seem to know that pieces had been taken into hiding or evacuated. "There is a queasy subtext here if you bother to seek it out," he suggests.
On Sunday night, in a remarkable programme on BBC2, the architectural historian Dan Cruikshank both sought and found. Cruikshank had been to the museum in Baghdad, had inspected the collection, the storerooms, the outbuildings, and had interviewed people who had been present around the time of the looting, including George and some US troops. And Cruikshank was present when, for the first time, US personnel along with Iraqi museum staff broke into the storerooms. One, which had clearly been used as a sniper point by Ba'ath forces, had also been looted of its best items, although they had been stacked in a far corner. The room had been opened with a key. Another storeroom looked as though the looters had just departed with broken artefacts all over the floor. But this, Cruikshank learned, was the way it had been left by the museum staff. No wonder, he told the viewers - the staff hadn't wanted anyone inside this room. Overall, he concluded, most of the serious looting "was an inside job". Cruikshank also tackled George directly on events leading up to the looting. The Americans had said that the museum was a substantial point of Iraqi resistance, and this explained their reticence in occupying it. Not true, said George, a few militia-men had fired from the grounds and that was all. This, as Cruikshank heavily implied, was a lie. Not only were there firing positions in the grounds, but at the back of the museum there was a room that seemed to have been used as a military command post. And it was hardly credible that senior staff at the museum would not have known that. Cruikshank's closing thought was to wonder whether the museum's senior staff - all Ba'ath party appointees - could safely be left in post.
Furious, I conclude two things from all this. The first is the credulousness of many western academics and others who cannot conceive that a plausible and intelligent fellow- professional might have been an apparatchiks of a fascist regime and a propagandist for his own past. The second is that - these days - you cannot say anything too bad about the Yanks and not be believed.
Only 33 Iraqi artifacts missing
By THE WASHINGTON POST
BAGHDAD — The world was appalled. One archaeologist described the looting of Iraq’s National Museum of Antiquities as “a rape of civilization.” Iraqi scholars standing in the sacked galleries of the exhibit halls in April wept on camera as they stood on shards of cuneiform tablets dating back thousands of years.
In the first days after Baghdad fell to U.S. forces, condemnation rained down on U.S. military commanders and officials in Washington for failing to stop the pillage of priceless art, while tanks stood guard at the Ministry of Oil. It was as if the coalition forces had won the war, but lost an important part of the peace and history.
Apparently, it was not that bad.
The museum was indeed heavily looted, but its Iraqi directors confirmed Sunday that the losses at the institute did not number 170,000 artifacts as originally reported in news accounts.
Actually, about 33 priceless vases, statues and jewels were missing.
“I said there were 170,000 pieces in the entire museum collection,” said Donny George the director general of research and study of the Iraqi State Board of Antiquities said.
Iraq Museum to Reopen Displaying Lost Treasure Sun June 08, 2003 08:29 AM ET
By Andrew Marshall
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Baghdad's famed antiquities museum, ransacked by looters as Saddam Hussein's rule crumbled, will reopen next month after many of the treasures feared lost forever were found stashed in secret vaults around the city.
Museum research director Donny George said Sunday that among the items on show would be the Treasure of Nimrud, a priceless set of gem-studded gold Assyrian jewelry that has been displayed only once, briefly, in the last 3,000 years. The treasure was recovered Thursday from flooded vaults below the gutted shell of the looted central bank. Discovered between 1988 and 1990 in ancient royal tombs below an Assyrian palace dating from the ninth century BC, it was exhibited in the Baghdad Museum before being hidden in the central bank ahead of the 1991 Gulf War.
The treasure will be on show from July 3, when the museum's large Assyrian gallery will also reopen. Besides the Nimrud artifacts, U.S. investigators also recovered thousands of items from the museum's main exhibition collection last week when employees led them to a secret vault somewhere in Baghdad. The items had been taken there for safekeeping ahead of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. "It's a secret place where we still have the whole collection of the museum that was displayed and it's safe," said George, standing among debris in the wrecked museum. Asked by Reuters where the secret vault was, he said: "If I tell you, it will not be a secret."
GREAT LOSS FOR HUMANITY
George said museum staff had also returned items they took home during the war. U.S. investigators say around 3,000 museum pieces are still missing, most of which were not of exhibition quality. The number is far lower than initially feared. The failure of U.S. forces to prevent Baghdad Museum being plundered sparked a storm of protest around the world in April. The U.S. military said its men were initially too busy fighting in the streets around the museum to halt the looting. George said 33 items from the main collection were missing, probably stolen by professional thieves. Among the lost treasures are the Vase of Warka, a Sumerian votive bowl dating from 3200 BC, and the bronze statue of Basitki from 2300 BC.
"I'm not so optimistic about them because I believe they were taken by professionals," George said. "I believe they are out of the country now." He said the loss of these artifacts was a tragedy. "The Iraq museum was maybe the only museum in the world that had a complete chain of human history starting half a million years ago to the beginning of last century. These items were very important links in that chain," he said. "You could trace the development of art, you could trace the development of philosophy in these things. Now they are missing and that is a great loss not only for the museum, but for the whole of humanity."
From: Jonathan Sazonoff firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Musical Instrument Info
A $425,000 Rogeri Violin was recently stolen in Yonkers, New York. (For details see NY News - URL listed below) This crime reminds us of the world's many unsolved musical instrument thefts. To better catalogue and publicize these missing masterpieces we've reformatted our page covering stolen musical instruments. http://www.saztv.com/page36.html
While missing fine string instruments remain the focus of this page, we've also expanded our coverage of the wider field of stolen musical instruments. Web-sites listing stolen strings, woodwinds, and brass have now been added to this page. Please note that we are not running a stolen instrument registry!
Turning from crime for a moment, here's a quick lesson about the market for modern instruments. The majority of modern instruments obviously don't equal great string instruments in price. However, modern guitars can get kind of pricey.
Here is brief review of some of the world's highest priced modern guitars. Please note that no price guides were consulted and several of these prices were presented as estimates. The URLs consulted for this list are cited below. And again to clarify these items are NOT STOLEN.
High End Guitars, NOT STOLEN just expensive:
$957,500 Tiger - custom made (Jerry Garcia)
$789,500 Wolf - custom made (Jerry Garcia)
$500,000 1957 D'Angelico New Yorker Teardrop (estimate)
$250,000 D'Aquisto Avant Garde (estimate)
$140,000 1950 Stromberg Master 400
$100,000 1850's Stauffer Martin
$49,350 1947 Herman Hauser
$35,250 1976 D'Aquisto New York Special
$3,000,000 Hofner Bass (Paul McCartney - Insurance price)
$750,000 Egmond acoustic (George Harrison)
$227,500 Gallotone Champion (John Lennon)
$78,000 1962 Rickenbacker (George Harrison)
$1,300,000 Fender Stratocaster (Jimmi Hendrix - Woodstock)
$469,500 1956 Sunburst Fender Stratocaster (Eric Clapton)
$375,000 1949 Fender Broadcaster Prototype
$198,000 1954 Fender Stratocaster (Eric Clapton)
$209,500 1945 Gibson Acoustic (Buddy Holly)
$124,500 1958 Gibson Explorer (Eric Clapton)
$100,000 Gibson L-5 Special
$1,000,000 1928 Martin 000-45 Blue Yodel (Jimmy Rodgers)
$175,000 1940 Martin D-45
$162,000 1974 Martin 000-28 (Eric Clapton)
$125,000 1930 Martin OM-45 DLX
$100,000 1934 Martin 000-45
$ 90,000 1932 Martin D-2
Hope you find this of interest.
Saz Productions, Inc.
Contributing US Ed.
Museum Security Network
URLs cited or consulted:
Rogeri Violin stolen in NY
Expensive Guitars - Valuations:
Christies - exceptional prices for musical instruments
1997 - TheMoMI.org -- The Museum of Musical Instruments
1999 - BBC News | ENTERTAINMENT | Record price for Clapton guitar
2002 - Top Ten Toys
Current - HISTORICALLY SIGNIFICANT CELEBRITY GUITARS
Looters dig into Afghanistan's ancient heritage KABUL: LOOTED antiquities are being smuggled from Afghanistan by the lorry-load, with huge quantities of objects making their way to Britain, reports Times Online .
Scotland Yard has just seized several hoards of recently illegally excavated ancient treasures worth millions of pounds. They include sculptures in stone, bronze and terracotta that may have come from temple sites, and that range in date from the third millennium BC to the 5th century AD. On a visit to London three weeks ago, a French expert was shown an important Bronze Age bowl that had come to Britain after being stolen in Kabul. A private collector had bought it in good faith. Hundreds of other ancient pieces in ivory, gold and silver have been offered at Pakistani bazaars before heading for private collections worldwide. Despite Western claims of near normality in Afghanistan, treasures are being dug up illegally from thousands of archaeological sites around the country before being smuggled across the border into Pakistan without any checks. Unesco (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) is so alarmed that it is appealing to governments to fund a "heritage army" to guard some of the sites. They argue that such an army stopped the looting in Cambodia.
Afghanistan's cultural heritage was considered one of the richest in Asia because it was the cradle of Greco-Bactrian art. It was there that the Asian art merged with Grecian art to give the Buddha a human form. Excavations had proved rich in antiquities, particularly gold. The Taleban regime took sledgehammers to antiquities and blew up the famous Bamiyan Buddhas as idolatrous. Unesco was even prompted unofficially to suggest that Westerners leaving the country should bring out whatever they could, even without export permission, as the only way to save doomed treasures. A Unesco-approved museum in Switzerland was set up as a holding centre for Afghan treasures that would be returned as soon as the country was stable.
But 18 months since the fall of the Taleban, the illicit excavations and the smuggling continue to destroy the country's archaeological heritage. Christian Manhart, of Unesco's cultural heritage division, said: "What is so difficult is that objects that come out now are from illicit excavations. No one knows where they come from. They just appear on the art market. A dealer comes along and says, 'it's from an old collection from Switzerland and has been there for 50 years'. It is very difficult to prove that the objects came recently from Afghanistan." He said that London was one of the smugglers' main outlets. "Unesco is extremely alarmed about this. It's coming out by the lorryload. Afghanistan has no customs officers, almost no controls. When I went through customs, I was told, 'either give me $1 or I search your suitcase'. That's not a big amount, so people get away with it." The seized material represents a tiny percentage of what is coming out, hidden in containers of other goods such as furniture or carpets.
Robert Knox, the British Museum's Keeper of the Department of Asia, is working closely with Unesco and Scotland Yard. He said: "It's a very serious matter. So much is coming out. It's a free-for-all. Their country is being ravaged. There's no security left. The poor Afghans are unable to protect what they have. If there were a functioning police force, there would be some protection." Shipments of material that he has been shown include "enormously high-quality" pieces that are being seen for the first time in centuries since being dug up. Mr Knox said this made their detective work all the more difficult: "You can't say, 'that's come from that shelf' (in a museum). It's just come out of a site somewhere." In the bazaar at Peshawar, experts have spotted coins depicting kings that are not even known to historians. Removed from their original site, the chances of learning more about them have been lost.
William Webber, specialist in antiquities for The Art Loss Register, which carries some of the missing Afghan treasures on its computerised database of stolen works, said that the problem was exacerbated by forgers: "There's a lot of faking as well. Local dealers are jumping on the bandwagon. It all makes its way here." Experts from all over the world are responding to the urgency of the problem by taking part in an international conference, to be staged by Unesco later this month. Specialists from Afghanistan will attend, along with the country's Culture Minister, Makhdoum Raheen. Most of the treasures are from illicit digs, but ivories, Greco-Buddhist items of the 1st and 2nd century AD and a collection of 30,000 coins were once in the Kabul Museum. Osmund Bopearachchi, a French numismatic specialist, is among scholars determined to restore some of the treasures to Afghanistan. He was shown the Bronze Age bowl three weeks ago. "It is a very important piece," he said. "In the midst of the continuing human suffering in Afghanistan, it is impossible to suppress a sense of pain, despair and above all anger at the destruction of the cultural heritage of a land that was one of the great meeting points between East and West, the literal and figurative crossroads of Central Asia."
An agreement is now being finalised between the archaeological museum at Lattes, near Montpelier, and Unesco to exhibit the bowl until it can be returned to Kabul. Asked how the illegal trade could be stopped, Mr Manhart said: "The problem is particularly difficult because there is still a long way to go before we have a stable political situation in Afghanistan. It is difficult to go to some of these sites."
He added: "Maybe the art market should be more supervised, with more means given to Scotland Yard so that more police can go to auctioneers and dealers to verify where objects have come from."
Raiders take two minutes to steal Rothschild gold worth millions By Will Bennett, Art Sales Correspondent
Antique gold boxes worth millions of pounds have been stolen from the Rothschild Collection by a masked gang that smashed its way into one of Britain's finest stately homes early yesterday.
More than 100 boxes were taken from Waddesdon Manor, the French-style chateau built by the European banking dynasty near Aylesbury, Bucks, in a meticulously planned night raid that lasted less than two minutes. The thieves' haul is part of the world's greatest collection of gold boxes, formed over more than a century by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild, his sister Alice and the present Lord Rothschild. The family trust that now runs Waddesdon was reluctant to put a value on the stolen items yesterday but one expert in the field said that they were worth several million pounds. The raid by five men wearing balaclavas and blue boiler suits took place at 2am yesterday. They smashed their way in through a window setting off alarms and headed straight for the gold boxes.
By the time security staff arrived the gang was leaving with more than 100 boxes, mainly 18th century French works of art but including some examples of English craftsmanship. "It was a well-researched job," said a police source. "They had obviously done their homework and knew what they were looking for." The gang drove off across fields and down a steep embankment in a stolen blue Toyota four-wheel drive vehicle that was later found burned out in the nearby village of Westcott. Detectives are now examining CCTV film that is believed to show the gang breaking into the house. "This is a very serious loss," said Lord Rothschild. "Waddesdon encapsulates generations of Rothschild collecting and the gold boxes at Waddesdon are among the finest in the world." It is the second time that gold boxes from Waddesdon have been stolen. In 1983 thieves took a number of pieces which, with one exception, were recovered 18 months later. Although the men who carried out yesterday's raid knew exactly what they were looking for, it is unlikely that they were stealing to order for a collector. Art theft experts say that such people do not exist. They may hope to sell them, or they may be planning to demand a ransom. The greatest fear is that they might decide to melt them down. Waddesdon was built on a hilltop overlooking the Aylesbury Vale between 1874 and 1889 by Baron Ferdinand.
A family charitable trust chaired by Lord Rothschild now manages the house for the National Trust and looks after one of Britain's greatest art collections. The house is open to the public and was visited by 225,000 people last year.
• A reward of up to £100,000 has been offered for the return of antiques worth £2 million stolen recently from Madresfield Court, near Malvern, Worcs, the house that inspired Evelyn Waugh's novel Brideshead revisited.
U.S. to Keep Hitler's Art By WILLIAM H. HONAN
A federal judge in Washington has all but brought to a close a 20- year fight over the ownership of four watercolors signed by Adolf Hitler and a huge archive of photographs, some of which were used by prosecutors at the postwar Nuremberg trials.
The ruling, a 26-page decision issued on May 30 by Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. of Federal District Court, leaves the works in the possession of the United States government. The archive holds 2.5 million images of Germany dating back to the 1860's and includes many glamorized pictures of Hitler, some showing him rehearsing his grandiloquent oratory. The photographs are in the National Archives. The watercolors are at the United States Army Center of Military History in Washington, and access to them is restricted to scholars and other experts. The ruling comes in a case that began in 1983 when Billy F. Price, a Houston collector of Nazi memorabilia, and the heirs of Heinrich Hoffmann, Hitler's friend and personal photographer, filed a lawsuit in Texas seeking to gain the paintings and photographs from the government. Mr. Price said he had signed an agreement with the heirs to acquire the work. A series of rulings and appeals followed, bolstering first one side, then the other. The plaintiffs' latest filings tried to reopen the case, but Judge Kennedy would not allow it, saying they had filed them too late. Robert I. White, the Houston lawyer who represented Mr. Price and the Hoffmann heirs, had argued that the paintings and photographs were unlawfully seized and kept by the United States Army when it entered Germany in the last days of World War II. Jeffrey Axelrad, a Justice Department lawyer, argued in court that there was ample precedent in both federal and international law to justify the seizure of propagandistic material from a defeated enemy.
Mr. White, reached by phone in Turkey, indicated that his clients' prospects were now "kind of dismal" and that a further appeal was unlikely. Mr. Axelrad, who had made the case a mission after a Texas court ruled in favor of the Hoffmann heirs and Mr. Price and demanded that the government pay them $7.8 million in damages, was jubilant. "The judge got the case exactly right," he said.
The Art Newspaper.com http://www.theartnewspaper.com
This week's top stories:
GUGGENHEIM BID TO SELECT US ARTIST FOR BIENNALE
The selection of a US representative to the Venice Biennale always fuels art world rumours. This year’s choice is the relative unknown, Fred Wilson, but the word in New York is that Thomas Krens, director of the Guggenheim, had tried to steer the choice to Matthew Barney, whose retrospective is at the Guggenheim in New York until 11 June. http://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/article.asp?idart=11134
DIRECTOR OF THE WHITNEY QUITS: “I DIDN’T WANT TO PRESIDE OVER THE MUSEUM IF IT WAS NOT GOING TO TRY SOMETHING SIGNIFICANT”
The director of the Whitney Museum of American Art, Maxwell Anderson, resigned last month, saying in a statement that, “It has become clear in recent months that the Board and I have a different sense of the Whitney’s future, in both the scale of its ambitions and the balance of its programming.” http://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/article.asp?idart=11133
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH FRANCIS BACON: “I PAINTED TO BE LOVED”
Francis Bacon died in 1992. All his life he had been fascinated by photographic images, and was himself photographed again and again, so it is not surprising or inappropriate that the last months of his life, from autumn 1991 to early 1992, were spent allowing the French photographer Francis Giacobetti, 64, to take experimental photos of him. http://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/article.asp?idart=11132
SAVE THE “BURLINGTON FIVE”
The Learned Societies with premises in Burlington House, around the courtyard of the Royal Academy, London, could be forced to pay rent for the first time, following a legal initiative by the British government. http://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/article.asp?idart=11131
The buying power of the “new Russians” was demonstrated here last month, when private Russian buyers swooped on 19th-century and early 20th-century paintings at Sotheby’s, setting four new artists’ records. The same scenario was played out in New York, where Russian furniture and art also scored high prices. http://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/article.asp?idart=11130
Anna Somers Cocks, Editor
The Art Newspaper
70 South Lambeth Road London SW8 1RL UK
tel +44(0)207 735 3331 fax +44(0)207 735 3332
Iraqi Museum Looting Was Fan Dance In Sand Pants
June 10, 2003
Let this be a lesson, folks, not only for you, but for the liberals as well. Remember when this great museum of the fabulous Iraqi culture was supposedly looted, thieves broke in there, stole everything, under the watchful eyes of the U.S. military, and the press and everybody was just going bonkers? My response was, "What great Iraqi culture? There is no Iraqi culture." Everyone said I was being insensitive.
But, I asked, what does Iraq export to the world that anybody wants? What's the Iraqi automobile, for example? Where do you go buy an Iraqi car? You don't. Anyway, there was a general panic. How could we have let this happen? Why, the annals of the first-ever recorded human civilization are gone, all because of the U.S. military invasion.
Well, guess what? It never happened! The Washington Post says that U.S. officials have estimated the actual number of exhibition-quality artifacts that are gone at 47. Donnie George, director general of research and study of the Iraqi state board of antiquities disputes the number. He said there are only 33 pieces from the main collections that are unaccounted for, not 47. Some more pieces have been returned. Museum staff members had taken some of the more valuable items home and are now returning them.
Reuters says that the museum will reopen next month. Its headline reads, "Iraq museum to reopen displaying lost treasure." There was no lost treasure! The whole story was amplified and ballooned way out of proportion by the media and the liberals. The stuff was never really stolen. Well, this leads to the weapons of mass destruction discussion Journalists love irony, and if they think they can put irony in a story, they think they've hit a home run in terms of journalism standards. They ran with the museum story, and it turned out to be bogus, and the same thing is happening now with WMD.