$48m art theft may have been inside job
From: AFP January 01, 2010 2:21AM
A PAINTING by 19th century artist Edgar Degas worth 30 million euros ($48.15 million) was stolen overnight from a French museum.
The colourful image of singers performing on a theatre stage was missing when staff opened up the Cantini Museum in the southern port city of Marseille, prosecutor Jacques Dallest said.
Loaned by the Orsay museum in Paris for an exhibition featuring some 20 works by Degas, it measures 32 X 27cm and could have been smuggled out after being unscrewed from the wall.
“As far as I know there was no break-in,” he said, adding that suspicions were focussing on an intruder, a visitor to the exhibition or an inside job.
Museum officials confirmed the theft but refused to identify the work, known either as “the chorus” or “the players”.
“Its value is incalculable,” one member of staff said, while city councillor Maurice Di Nocera, responsible for organising major events in Marseille, called the theft “a disaster for the museum”.

$48m art theft may have been inside jobFrom: AFP January 01, 2010 2:21AMA PAINTING by 19th century artist Edgar Degas worth 30 million euros ($48.15 million) was stolen overnight from a French museum.The colourful image of singers performing on a theatre stage was missing when staff opened up the Cantini Museum in the southern port city of Marseille, prosecutor Jacques Dallest said.Loaned by the Orsay museum in Paris for an exhibition featuring some 20 works by Degas, it measures 32 X 27cm and could have been smuggled out after being unscrewed from the wall.”As far as I know there was no break-in,” he said, adding that suspicions were focussing on an intruder, a visitor to the exhibition or an inside job.Museum officials confirmed the theft but refused to identify the work, known either as “the chorus” or “the players”.”Its value is incalculable,” one member of staff said, while city councillor Maurice Di Nocera, responsible for organising major events in Marseille, called the theft “a disaster for the museum”.

December 31st, 2009

Posted In: Mailing list reports

Tags:

A Closer Look at China’s Intentions: Reacting to the New York Times
On December 17th, the New York Times published an article regarding China’s ongoing international mission to survey and examine Chinese antiquities taken from Beijing’s Old Summer Palace (or Yuanmingyuan 圓明園) that are currently house in museums and private collections in Britain, the United States, and France.
Since the publication of this article, there has been a slew of reaction from all corners of the blogosphere, mostly expressing outrage against the inflammatory and one-sided arguments of the article’s author, Andrew Jacobs. For instance, cultural heritage blogger Lee Rosenbaum conveys shock at Jacobs’ dismissive tone against the Chinese and their legitimate endeavor, and that such a disparaging article could be “presented on Page One as a news report rather than a commentary.” Another piece by SAFE, posted below, delved into the suspect relationship between Jacob’s and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, suggesting that biased reporting on the part of the New York Times was due to their intimacy with the museum.
In lieu of this current controversy, I feel that it is worthwhile to bring to the forefront of the discussion the facts of China’s recent efforts.
First of all, it should be acknowledged that the sacking of Yuanmingyuan is a point of considerable humiliation to many Chinese, and as such, a great deal of national pride is involved in reclaiming artifacts like the bronze zodiac heads. That being said however, expressing consternation about the artifacts that were taken during the sacking of Yuanmingyuan is completely within China’s right, as Italy and Greece have previously demonstrated. Thus, China’s interest in reclaiming these artifacts should not be disparaged as merely a publicity stunt. That the Chinese see these objects as a part of China’s rightful patrimony is not something the international community should vilify.
Secondly, the problem with the Yuanmingyuan bronzes, however, is that they were removed before any of the current laws protecting archaeological patrimony were enacted, making its situation different from that of, say, the Euphronios krater, which was shown to have been taken out of Italy in the mid-1900s, and more like that of the Elgin Marbles. As such, China does not have a legal right to demand these items back. Thus, their only recourse so far has been to purchase these antiquities back whenever they surface on the antiquities market, which is exactly what they have been doing. Take for example, the purchase of the bronze horse head in 2007 from Sotheby’s by Hong Kong billionaire Stanley Ho for a total of $8.9 million; and more recently, the Christie’s Paris auction of the rat and rabbit heads that were a previously in the possession of designer Yves Saint Laurent. Considering how sensitive a topic the sacking of Yuanmingyuan is to many Chinese, it seems only natural that being forced to purchase them back at exorbitant amounts of money chafe’s at Chinese national pride.
Chinese nationalism, however, is not the central issue. Instead what we should focus on is that these high-profile, “hot” items are being auctioned on the antiquities market despite the fact that it is well-known where they came from and under what circumstances. Furthermore, although they remain out of the reach of some of the major pieces of international cultural heritage legislation (for instance China’s current MOU, which stipulates that items must be older than 250 years of age to qualify for repatriation), it is still not taboo to sell them. Consider this, what would have happened if a piece of the Parthenon were to suddenly surface on the market? How often does that happen anymore? The infamy surrounding the Yuanmingyuan bronze heads over the last several years should be enough to deter western markets from touching them, and yet, there is very little negative sentiment directed towards the selling of such obviously looted Chinese antiquities on the international art market. If a similar situation were to have occurred involving Roman, Greek, or Mayan antiquities, there is no doubt that the media would have reacted much differently; no one would be impugning Italian, Greek, or Central American national pride.
What these events have shown, when we cut away all of the political posturing, is that there is a serious imbalance between the protection of cultural heritage from different source countries. On one hand, Italy, Greece, and several nations in Central America have caused enough political and legal upheaval against market nations like the US that it is now extremely taboo to sell high-profile antiquities from those countries. No such taboo yet exists for antiquities from China, India, and many Southeast Asian nations. This is what needs to change, and this is what people should be aware of.
http://safecorner.savingantiquities.org/2009/12/closer-look-at-chinas…
Response by Dr. Kwame Opoku:
You are right in saying that China’s efforts to reclaim looted
artefacts should not be disparaged but the vilification of theses
efforts are not by the international community but by certain Western
States and writers. They do not constitute the “international
community” as they often pretend to be when it involves denying the
rights of non-Western States. They are just defending their own
interests.
As for the idea that China’s claims are for objects removed before any
of the present laws protecting cultural property were made and
therefore “China does not have a legal right to demand these items
back”, I beg to differ. The impression that before the recent
conventions there were no laws to protect cultural property or
property in general cannot go unchallenged.
With all due respect, the fact that the 1970 convention does not apply
retroactively does not mean that the convention approves of all
acquisitions made before 1970. Before the convention, there were rules
of law in every legal system which prohibited illegal handling of the
property of others.
Westerners should ask themselves serious questions about the
impressions they create with the present and coming generations of non-
Westerners when they support theories and ideas that result finally in
the status quo, namely, keeping looted or illegitimately acquired
objects in their present locations. The Benin Bronzes, the Chinese
artefacts, the Rosetta Stone, the bust of Nefertiti, the Ethiopian
crosses and crowns are permanent reminders of the defeat and
humiliation of millions of non-Westerners. Those interested in smooth
international cultural relations should try to avoid repeating
arguments which pretend to be legal but in the end are devoid of all
morality.
Kwame Opoku

December 31st, 2009

Posted In: Dr. Kwame Opoku writings about looted cultural objects, Mailing list reports

Tags:

By: Michael Scott Moore
The theft in Poland of a Holocaust relic — the Arbeit Macht Frei sign at Auschwitz — had historians and memorialists around the world this month in an uncomfortable posture of outrage. Some of them seemed as upset as jewellers over the theft of the Hope Diamond, which revived a delicate question. How much of the Holocaust needs to be preserved?
The Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp is now a memorial museum, and its managers handled the theft of the sign just as any curator would treeat the loss of some vital collection piece. It’s an odd reaction, because it risks turning Nazi memorabilia into something sacred. Decay is natural, and one day, maybe centuries from now, the entire Auschwitz camp will return to the Polish forest. Isn’t the proper response, “Good riddance”?
Not just yet. Rabbi Marvin Hier from the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles rightly scolded Polish authorities for not preventing the theft. He called the sign “the defining symbol of the Holocaust, because everyone knew that this was not a place where work makes you free, but it was the place where millions of men, women, and children were brought for one purpose only — to be murdered.”
The museum installed a replica sign within hours, and the original will return to its original spot once the police glean evidence and museum preservationists repair it (the thieves hacked it into three pieces).
But suppose the sign had vanished for good? Even a cheap knockoff requires workmanship, attention to detail, a whole team of enlightened modern people dedicating their talents to aping some aspect of Nazi camp design. The result would be an item that could fuel — far more than the original — wild arguments of denialists who say the Holocaust was an elaborate hoax.
Is it worth it? Why not just let Hitler’s archipelago of camps disappear?
“The only people with a full and undeniable right to decide the future of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial are the hundreds of thousands murdered in this concentration camp,” Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, an Auschwitz survivor and now chairman of the International Auschwitz Council, has written. “The moment when there will be no more eyewitnesses left is inexorably approaching. What remains is the belief that when the people are gone, ‘the stones will cry out.'”
Of course, even the stones aren’t eternal. Timothy Ryback wrote an article for The New Yorker in 1993 about efforts by the Auschwitz museum to keep quantities of human hair discovered at the camp by the Red Army in 1945 from deteriorating. Whole bales of hair — tons of it — had been shaved from prisoners by Nazi guards and sold to “German felt and textile manufacturers,” writes Ryback, “who used the versatile fibre in the production of thread, rope, cloth, carpets, mattress stuffing, lining stiffeners for uniforms, socks for submarine crews, and felt insulators for the boots of railroad workers.”
Some people felt hair was too personal to show. Others had religious objections. The museum staff thought it was a powerful reminder of Nazi atrocities. But by 1993 the hair was deteriorating. It attracted insects and dust, so it had to be shaken out and treated with naphthalene, the chemical in mothballs. “After the hair was dusted,” writes Ryback, “pans of liquid naphthalene were placed beneath the screens. The vapor impregnated the hair and provided protection against future infestation. Each time the hair was treated, however, it seemed to become more brittle.”
The hair is still on display. But it can’t last forever, and some historians think the Holocaust is so well documented in other respects that the hair should be allowed to crumble.
Education is arguably more important than perfect preservation. The irony of Holocaust denial is that it flourishes in Eastern Europe, where the Nazis built most of their camps. The Jewish element of the Holocaust was downplayed in Soviet histories because it served no propaganda purpose in Moscow. The war is commemorated by Russia as an occasion of heroic Russian sacrifice, not deliberate genocide of European Jews. One reason we remember the Holocaust so well on the other side of the Iron Curtain is that the camps’ great memorialists — Elie Wiesel, Primo Levi, Imre Kertész — have lived and published in the West.
But the counter-argument is powerful, too. The hair, the grim preserved camps, and the now hacked-up Auschwitz sign all have an immediacy that even an excellent book will lack.
“To destroy [the hair] would be to remove the strongest evidence of what happened to us,” an Auschwitz survivor named Ernest Michel told Ryback in 1993. “On the transport that I came on, all the women and children were taken from the train and immediately gassed. The hair, along with the combs and suitcases and shoes, is all that remains of them. No matter how painful it may be to look at, it is all part of the story that I believe has to be told.”

The Awkward Case for Preserving Holocaust Relics
By: Michael Scott Moore
The theft in Poland of a Holocaust relic — the Arbeit Macht Frei sign at Auschwitz — had historians and memorialists around the world this month in an uncomfortable posture of outrage. Some of them seemed as upset as jewellers over the theft of the Hope Diamond, which revived a delicate question. How much of the Holocaust needs to be preserved?
The Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp is now a memorial museum, and its managers handled the theft of the sign just as any curator would treeat the loss of some vital collection piece. It’s an odd reaction, because it risks turning Nazi memorabilia into something sacred. Decay is natural, and one day, maybe centuries from now, the entire Auschwitz camp will return to the Polish forest. Isn’t the proper response, “Good riddance”?
Not just yet. Rabbi Marvin Hier from the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles rightly scolded Polish authorities for not preventing the theft. He called the sign “the defining symbol of the Holocaust, because everyone knew that this was not a place where work makes you free, but it was the place where millions of men, women, and children were brought for one purpose only — to be murdered.”
The museum installed a replica sign within hours, and the original will return to its original spot once the police glean evidence and museum preservationists repair it (the thieves hacked it into three pieces).
But suppose the sign had vanished for good? Even a cheap knockoff requires workmanship, attention to detail, a whole team of enlightened modern people dedicating their talents to aping some aspect of Nazi camp design. The result would be an item that could fuel — far more than the original — wild arguments of denialists who say the Holocaust was an elaborate hoax.
Is it worth it? Why not just let Hitler’s archipelago of camps disappear?
“The only people with a full and undeniable right to decide the future of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial are the hundreds of thousands murdered in this concentration camp,” Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, an Auschwitz survivor and now chairman of the International Auschwitz Council, has written. “The moment when there will be no more eyewitnesses left is inexorably approaching. What remains is the belief that when the people are gone, ‘the stones will cry out.'”
Of course, even the stones aren’t eternal. Timothy Ryback wrote an article for The New Yorker in 1993 about efforts by the Auschwitz museum to keep quantities of human hair discovered at the camp by the Red Army in 1945 from deteriorating. Whole bales of hair — tons of it — had been shaved from prisoners by Nazi guards and sold to “German felt and textile manufacturers,” writes Ryback, “who used the versatile fibre in the production of thread, rope, cloth, carpets, mattress stuffing, lining stiffeners for uniforms, socks for submarine crews, and felt insulators for the boots of railroad workers.”
Some people felt hair was too personal to show. Others had religious objections. The museum staff thought it was a powerful reminder of Nazi atrocities. But by 1993 the hair was deteriorating. It attracted insects and dust, so it had to be shaken out and treated with naphthalene, the chemical in mothballs. “After the hair was dusted,” writes Ryback, “pans of liquid naphthalene were placed beneath the screens. The vapor impregnated the hair and provided protection against future infestation. Each time the hair was treated, however, it seemed to become more brittle.”
The hair is still on display. But it can’t last forever, and some historians think the Holocaust is so well documented in other respects that the hair should be allowed to crumble.
Education is arguably more important than perfect preservation. The irony of Holocaust denial is that it flourishes in Eastern Europe, where the Nazis built most of their camps. The Jewish element of the Holocaust was downplayed in Soviet histories because it served no propaganda purpose in Moscow. The war is commemorated by Russia as an occasion of heroic Russian sacrifice, not deliberate genocide of European Jews. One reason we remember the Holocaust so well on the other side of the Iron Curtain is that the camps’ great memorialists — Elie Wiesel, Primo Levi, Imre Kertész — have lived and published in the West.
But the counter-argument is powerful, too. The hair, the grim preserved camps, and the now hacked-up Auschwitz sign all have an immediacy that even an excellent book will lack.
“To destroy [the hair] would be to remove the strongest evidence of what happened to us,” an Auschwitz survivor named Ernest Michel told Ryback in 1993. “On the transport that I came on, all the women and children were taken from the train and immediately gassed. The hair, along with the combs and suitcases and shoes, is all that remains of them. No matter how painful it may be to look at, it is all part of the story that I believe has to be told.”
http://miller-mccune.com/

December 30th, 2009

Posted In: Mailing list reports

Tags:

Poland will formally seek Sweden’s help in investigating the theft of the “Arbeit Macht Frei” (“Work Sets You Free”) sign from the Auschwitz memorial, confirming that Polish authorities suspect a Swedish link in the crime.
Published: 7:00AM GMT 30 Dec 2009
Boguslawa Marcinkowska, a spokeswoman for Krakow prosecutors, said her office would send a formal request for help to the Swedish Justice Ministry in Stockholm.
Polish media have been reporting that the theft was commissioned by a collector living in Sweden, but investigators have not confirmed that.
Auschwitz: The 16-foot sign was stolen from the Auschwitz memorial museum site in the southern Polish town of Oswiecim. Photo: AFP
Related Articles
Thieves re-enact Auschwitz theft (/news/worldnews/europe/italy/6866358/Thieves-re-enact-Auschwitz-theft.html) Auschwitz sign stolen for ‘mad collector’ (/news/worldnews/europe/poland/6859774/Police-Auschwitz-sign-
stolen-for-mad-collector.html)
Criminal gang arrested for stealing Auschwitz sign (/news/worldnews/europe/poland/6856183/Criminal-gang- arrested-for-stealing-Auschwitz-sign.html)
Auschwitz sign found, five arrests (/news/worldnews/europe/poland/6854075/Auschwitz-sign-found-in-three- pieces.html)
Gordon Brown pledges funds for Holocaust memorial during tour of Auschwitz
(/news/newstopics/politics/gordon-brown/5237879/Gordon-Brown-pledges-funds-for-Holocaust-memorial-during-tour- of -Auschwitz.html)
Auschwitz museum ‘needs £113m’ for repair work (/news/worldnews/europe/poland/4347667/Auschwitz- museum-needs-113m-for-repair-work.html)
Earlier this week allegations concerning who ordered the theft, and why, surfaced in Swedish newspaper reports after the former leader of a Swedish Nazi group claimed that it had been stolen to order for a collector in England, France or the United States.
“We had a person who was ready to pay millions for the sign,” the unnamed source told Aftonbladet, Sweden’sbiggest-selling daily newspaper.
The Nazi source said that the money would pay for an attack on the home of Fredrik Reinfeldt, the Swedish Prime Minister who has held the rotating presidency of the European Union for the last six months, and on the Swedish Foreign Ministry, the paper reported.
The sign was stolen earlier this month and found two days later cut into three pieces. Police have arrested five men whom they described as common criminals and not neo-Nazis who likely stole the sign on a commission from abroad.
The theft occurred one day after Germany announced that it would contribute $87 million to the new Auschwitz- Birkenau Foundation, which earlier this year launched a campaign to raise $172 million to preserve the remains of the death camp as a memorial and museum.
There are about 450 buildings and remains of buildings at the site, including the ruins of gas chambers, as well as 80,000 pairs of shoes of victims and 3,800 suitcases, according to a report by the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle.
Some 1.1 million people, including about 1 million Jews, were murdered at Auschwitz.

Poland to ask Sweden for help over theft of Auschwitz signPoland will formally seek Sweden’s help in investigating the theft of the “Arbeit Macht Frei” (“Work Sets You Free”) sign from the Auschwitz memorial, confirming that Polish authorities suspect a Swedish link in the crime.Published: 7:00AM GMT 30 Dec 2009Boguslawa Marcinkowska, a spokeswoman for Krakow prosecutors, said her office would send a formal request for help to the Swedish Justice Ministry in Stockholm.Polish media have been reporting that the theft was commissioned by a collector living in Sweden, but investigators have not confirmed that.Auschwitz: The 16-foot sign was stolen from the Auschwitz memorial museum site in the southern Polish town of Oswiecim. Photo: AFP
Related ArticlesThieves re-enact Auschwitz theft (/news/worldnews/europe/italy/6866358/Thieves-re-enact-Auschwitz-theft.html) Auschwitz sign stolen for ‘mad collector’ (/news/worldnews/europe/poland/6859774/Police-Auschwitz-sign-stolen-for-mad-collector.html)Criminal gang arrested for stealing Auschwitz sign (/news/worldnews/europe/poland/6856183/Criminal-gang- arrested-for-stealing-Auschwitz-sign.html)Auschwitz sign found, five arrests (/news/worldnews/europe/poland/6854075/Auschwitz-sign-found-in-three- pieces.html)Gordon Brown pledges funds for Holocaust memorial during tour of Auschwitz(/news/newstopics/politics/gordon-brown/5237879/Gordon-Brown-pledges-funds-for-Holocaust-memorial-during-tour- of -Auschwitz.html)Auschwitz museum ‘needs £113m’ for repair work (/news/worldnews/europe/poland/4347667/Auschwitz- museum-needs-113m-for-repair-work.html)
Earlier this week allegations concerning who ordered the theft, and why, surfaced in Swedish newspaper reports after the former leader of a Swedish Nazi group claimed that it had been stolen to order for a collector in England, France or the United States.”We had a person who was ready to pay millions for the sign,” the unnamed source told Aftonbladet, Sweden’sbiggest-selling daily newspaper.The Nazi source said that the money would pay for an attack on the home of Fredrik Reinfeldt, the Swedish Prime Minister who has held the rotating presidency of the European Union for the last six months, and on the Swedish Foreign Ministry, the paper reported.The sign was stolen earlier this month and found two days later cut into three pieces. Police have arrested five men whom they described as common criminals and not neo-Nazis who likely stole the sign on a commission from abroad.The theft occurred one day after Germany announced that it would contribute $87 million to the new Auschwitz- Birkenau Foundation, which earlier this year launched a campaign to raise $172 million to preserve the remains of the death camp as a memorial and museum.There are about 450 buildings and remains of buildings at the site, including the ruins of gas chambers, as well as 80,000 pairs of shoes of victims and 3,800 suitcases, according to a report by the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle.Some 1.1 million people, including about 1 million Jews, were murdered at Auschwitz.

December 30th, 2009

Posted In: Mailing list reports

Tags:

Preserving the cultural heritage of Ghana [Do we have an ‘Acquisition’s of (Heritage) Arts team in Ghana?]….
Feast your eyes on the following art treasures –they hail from Ghana. Wouldn’t it be amazing to own a piece of Ghanaian history –or better still, wouldn’t it be great if these treasures were back in Ghana -where they belong? Can someone tell me if we have an ‘Arts Acquisition’ team in Ghana right now? Do we have a team of people ethically and legally buying back or protecting our [national] treasures – so we can preserve the cultural heritage [ancient art and artifacts] of [this] our great nation? I might need to contact the Director of Ghana National Museum & Monuments……
I stumbled across the following text –as I was searching for a [possible] Ghanaian Antiquities Arts Acquisition’s team via google… Enjoy it, its an eye opener…..
Title: Ghana’s Vanishing Past: Development, Antiquities, and the Destruction of the Archaeological Record By: Benjamin W. Kankpeyeng and Christopher R. DeCorse
Ghana’s past is being destroyed at a rapid rate. Although the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board has in some instances successfully intervened to stop the illicit trading of antiquities, the destruction of archaeological sites as a consequence of development over the past two decades has been staggering and the pace is accelerating. The potential of the legislation that established the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board and empowered it to manage and preserve the country’s archaeological past has not been realized. The lack of political action, limited relevant public education, insufficient funding, and the poverty of the majority of the Ghanaian populace have allowed for the widespread destruction of both sites and historic buildings. Conspicuously, both the absence of integrated development planning by the Ghanaian government and the inability of development partners (both foreign and domestic) to recognize the potential value of cultural resources have contributed significantly to the continued loss of the archaeological record. While the antiquities trade is a continuing threat to Ghana’s cultural resources, it is, in fact, tourism and economic development that pose the major menace to the country’s archaeological past. This article reviews the history of cultural resource management in Ghana, including both traditional attitudes toward preservation and current legislation. Case studies are used to illustrate the problems faced. [Credit: http://www.springerlink.com]
Contact: crdecors@maxwell.syr.edu
“Many museum directors, art dealers and auction houses in the West seem to have nothing but contempt and disdain for rules and regulations, especially international rules, intended to control illicit traffic in artefacts which they perceive as attempts to limit their right to acquire artefacts by any means. No wonder that in the last few years that many have been involved in scandals and criminal cases which do not reflect on their standing. Still there are museum directors and others who have more sympathy for looters than for legislators who seek to control the illicit market.
All who have studied the problem of looting of African artefacts have concluded that unless the West limits its demand for African artefacts, there is no way this traffic can be controlled. They add however that there is a lot that the African States themselves could also do if they are seriously concerned by the systematic depletion of their cultural heritage.
The looting of African cultural artefacts for the West which reached its levels of climax in the invasion of Magdala, Ethiopia (1868), Kumasi, Ghana (1874), and Benin, Nigeria (1879) still continues in our time, albeit with different methods and persons but with devastating effects on the cultural heritage of the African countries.”Dr Kwame Opoku [Credit:http://www.modernghana.com]
** What are we going to do about this folks? I know many of you will state the obvious -lack of funding etc -but could it be that we [or the powers that be] haven’t fully comprehended the true value of these treasures? Surly it is common knowledge -that a nation without a past, history or Art is a nation without a future?
http://ghanarising.blogspot.com/2009/12/preserving-cultural-heritage-of-ghana.html

Preserving the cultural heritage of Ghana [Do we have an ‘Acquisition’s of (Heritage) Arts team in Ghana?]….
Feast your eyes on the following art treasures –they hail from Ghana. Wouldn’t it be amazing to own a piece of Ghanaian history –or better still, wouldn’t it be great if these treasures were back in Ghana -where they belong? Can someone tell me if we have an ‘Arts Acquisition’ team in Ghana right now? Do we have a team of people ethically and legally buying back or protecting our [national] treasures – so we can preserve the cultural heritage [ancient art and artifacts] of [this] our great nation? I might need to contact the Director of Ghana National Museum & Monuments……
I stumbled across the following text –as I was searching for a [possible] Ghanaian Antiquities Arts Acquisition’s team via google… Enjoy it, its an eye opener…..
Title: Ghana’s Vanishing Past: Development, Antiquities, and the Destruction of the Archaeological Record By: Benjamin W. Kankpeyeng and Christopher R. DeCorse Ghana’s past is being destroyed at a rapid rate. Although the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board has in some instances successfully intervened to stop the illicit trading of antiquities, the destruction of archaeological sites as a consequence of development over the past two decades has been staggering and the pace is accelerating. The potential of the legislation that established the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board and empowered it to manage and preserve the country’s archaeological past has not been realized. The lack of political action, limited relevant public education, insufficient funding, and the poverty of the majority of the Ghanaian populace have allowed for the widespread destruction of both sites and historic buildings. Conspicuously, both the absence of integrated development planning by the Ghanaian government and the inability of development partners (both foreign and domestic) to recognize the potential value of cultural resources have contributed significantly to the continued loss of the archaeological record. While the antiquities trade is a continuing threat to Ghana’s cultural resources, it is, in fact, tourism and economic development that pose the major menace to the country’s archaeological past. This article reviews the history of cultural resource management in Ghana, including both traditional attitudes toward preservation and current legislation. Case studies are used to illustrate the problems faced. [Credit: http://www.springerlink.com]Contact: crdecors@maxwell.syr.edu
“Many museum directors, art dealers and auction houses in the West seem to have nothing but contempt and disdain for rules and regulations, especially international rules, intended to control illicit traffic in artefacts which they perceive as attempts to limit their right to acquire artefacts by any means. No wonder that in the last few years that many have been involved in scandals and criminal cases which do not reflect on their standing. Still there are museum directors and others who have more sympathy for looters than for legislators who seek to control the illicit market.All who have studied the problem of looting of African artefacts have concluded that unless the West limits its demand for African artefacts, there is no way this traffic can be controlled. They add however that there is a lot that the African States themselves could also do if they are seriously concerned by the systematic depletion of their cultural heritage.The looting of African cultural artefacts for the West which reached its levels of climax in the invasion of Magdala, Ethiopia (1868), Kumasi, Ghana (1874), and Benin, Nigeria (1879) still continues in our time, albeit with different methods and persons but with devastating effects on the cultural heritage of the African countries.”Dr Kwame Opoku [Credit:http://www.modernghana.com]
** What are we going to do about this folks? I know many of you will state the obvious -lack of funding etc -but could it be that we [or the powers that be] haven’t fully comprehended the true value of these treasures? Surly it is common knowledge -that a nation without a past, history or Art is a nation without a future?
http://ghanarising.blogspot.com/2009/12/preserving-cultural-heritage-of-ghana.html

December 30th, 2009

Posted In: African Affairs, Mailing list reports

Tags:

Arrest over theft of £50,000 work on camellias from RHS library
Chris Smyth
A former accountant suspected of stealing a rare 13-volume work on camellias from the Royal Horticultural Society library has been arrested.
William Jacques, 40, a Cambridge graduate, is alleged to have stolen the books, worth about £50,000, from the RHS Lindley Library in London.
He was arrested in Selby, North Yorkshire, on Christmas Day after a tip-off and has been charged with the theft of Nouvelle Iconographies des Camellias by Ambroise Verschaffelt. The work contains an array of detailed colour plates of the flowers and is regarded as one of the rarest and greatest works on camellias.
Verschaffelt came from a Belgian family of nurserymen who specialised in camellias and published his magnum opus on the plants over 12 years in the mid-19th century.
It is alleged that Mr Jacques signed into the library in Vincent Square under the name of Mr Santoro and hid the 13 volumes under his jacket.
None of the stolen books have been traced, antique booksellers have been urged to contact police if the works are offered for sale.
The Lindley Library is one of the world’s leading horticultural collections, containing books, journals, pictures and art on practical gardening, garden history, plants and garden design dating back to 1514.
Mr Jacques grew up on a farm near Selby before taking an economics degree from Jesus College, Cambridge. He later became a chartered accountant.
He will appear at City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.

Arrest over theft of £50,000 work on camellias from RHS libraryChris SmythA former accountant suspected of stealing a rare 13-volume work on camellias from the Royal Horticultural Society library has been arrested.
William Jacques, 40, a Cambridge graduate, is alleged to have stolen the books, worth about £50,000, from the RHS Lindley Library in London.
He was arrested in Selby, North Yorkshire, on Christmas Day after a tip-off and has been charged with the theft of Nouvelle Iconographies des Camellias by Ambroise Verschaffelt. The work contains an array of detailed colour plates of the flowers and is regarded as one of the rarest and greatest works on camellias.
Verschaffelt came from a Belgian family of nurserymen who specialised in camellias and published his magnum opus on the plants over 12 years in the mid-19th century.
It is alleged that Mr Jacques signed into the library in Vincent Square under the name of Mr Santoro and hid the 13 volumes under his jacket.
None of the stolen books have been traced, antique booksellers have been urged to contact police if the works are offered for sale.
The Lindley Library is one of the world’s leading horticultural collections, containing books, journals, pictures and art on practical gardening, garden history, plants and garden design dating back to 1514.
Mr Jacques grew up on a farm near Selby before taking an economics degree from Jesus College, Cambridge. He later became a chartered accountant.
He will appear at City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.

December 30th, 2009

Posted In: library theft, Mailing list reports

Tags:

Lawyer Drops Art Heist Victims As Clients
Memo Accuses Sheriff’s Department Of Cronyism
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — The lawyer for two men who allege they are victims of one of the country’s largest art heists dropped both clients, citing a conflict of interest.
Vicki St. John said she dropped Dr. Ralph Kennaugh and A. Benjamin Amadio as clients since she can be considered a witness because her name appeared on a memo written by Amadio that makes claims and charges against the Monterey County District Attorney and Monterey County Sheriff’s Department.
“I want it to be known that I had no part in this train wreck,” St. John said.
Amadio and his business partner Kennaugh said somebody broke into their Pebble Beach rental home on Sept. 25 and stole millions of dollars worth of art.
The heist allegedly included works of art by Jackson Pollock, Vincent Van Gogh and Rembrandt.
In an e-mail to Action News, Sage Ratcliff said she sent the 34-page memo to the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office without the knowledge of her attorney or Benjamin Amadio.
Ratcliff said in an e-mail to Action News that she had “no intention of causing anyone harm by sending out the memo.” Ratcliff’s attorney also dropped her as a client on Tuesday.
In the memo, Amadio said the lack of a thorough investigation by the department in the art heist stems from Amadio’s relationship with Ratcliff, who has been charged with check fraud. He also alleges Ratcliff’s stepfather has ties to the CIA and that her father is a deputy with the sheriff’s department.
“He’s not someone who even works here,” Cmdr. Mike Richards said. “Amadio seems to focus on a woman who we have no idea who she is. I understand she was arrested by our office but it has no bearing on our investigation.”
St. John, whose letterhead is used on the document, said she must step down as Kennaugh and Amadio’s lawyer because she is referenced as a potential witness in the memo.
In the letter, Amadio also alleges cronyism in the sheriff’s department as the reason his artwork is still missing, and that he was threatened at gunpoint by men with CIA ties, or ties to the sheriff’s department.
Amadio said he reported the incident to the Seaside Police Department, which did not take him seriously. Amadio also alleges District Attorney Gary Thelander was involved in the plot.
“I think this is the worst thing he could have done for himself,” St. John said about Amadio. “He really muddied the waters for himself, Ralph and any other person involved.”
Because of the lack of an insurance policy and proof of ownership of the paintings — proof Amadio said was stolen with the paintings — the sheriff’s department held a news conference in October where Richards said his department had not ruled out Amadio and Kennaugh, a former Harvard professor, as suspects.
“We still have two open cases. The initial investigation into the burglary in Pebble Beach, which basically got nowhere because of the lack of cooperation on the part of the victims, and also (we) have the related investigation into possible fraud involved in part of the victims. So, they are suspects in that investigation,” Richards said. “I have no idea what he’s trying to accomplish with that letter.”
St. John, who is also Amadio’s law student supervisor, said she has some advice for him.
“Absolutely the best thing he could do is just be quiet and let the dust settle,” St. John said. “I don’t think he’ll do it, (but) I wish him luck.”
Despite the best wishes, St. John has reported Amadio to the state bar for what she sees as violations to the rules regarding students.

Lawyer Drops Art Heist Victims As Clients
Memo Accuses Sheriff’s Department Of Cronyism

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — The lawyer for two men who allege they are victims of one of the country’s largest art heists dropped both clients, citing a conflict of interest.
Vicki St. John said she dropped Dr. Ralph Kennaugh and A. Benjamin Amadio as clients since she can be considered a witness because her name appeared on a memo written by Amadio that makes claims and charges against the Monterey County District Attorney and Monterey County Sheriff’s Department.
“I want it to be known that I had no part in this train wreck,” St. John said.

Amadio and his business partner Kennaugh said somebody broke into their Pebble Beach rental home on Sept. 25 and stole millions of dollars worth of art.
The heist allegedly included works of art by Jackson Pollock, Vincent Van Gogh and Rembrandt.
In an e-mail to Action News, Sage Ratcliff said she sent the 34-page memo to the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office without the knowledge of her attorney or Benjamin Amadio.
Ratcliff said in an e-mail to Action News that she had “no intention of causing anyone harm by sending out the memo.” Ratcliff’s attorney also dropped her as a client on Tuesday.
In the memo, Amadio said the lack of a thorough investigation by the department in the art heist stems from Amadio’s relationship with Ratcliff, who has been charged with check fraud. He also alleges Ratcliff’s stepfather has ties to the CIA and that her father is a deputy with the sheriff’s department.
“He’s not someone who even works here,” Cmdr. Mike Richards said. “Amadio seems to focus on a woman who we have no idea who she is. I understand she was arrested by our office but it has no bearing on our investigation.”
St. John, whose letterhead is used on the document, said she must step down as Kennaugh and Amadio’s lawyer because she is referenced as a potential witness in the memo.
In the letter, Amadio also alleges cronyism in the sheriff’s department as the reason his artwork is still missing, and that he was threatened at gunpoint by men with CIA ties, or ties to the sheriff’s department.
Amadio said he reported the incident to the Seaside Police Department, which did not take him seriously. Amadio also alleges District Attorney Gary Thelander was involved in the plot.
“I think this is the worst thing he could have done for himself,” St. John said about Amadio. “He really muddied the waters for himself, Ralph and any other person involved.”
Because of the lack of an insurance policy and proof of ownership of the paintings — proof Amadio said was stolen with the paintings — the sheriff’s department held a news conference in October where Richards said his department had not ruled out Amadio and Kennaugh, a former Harvard professor, as suspects.
“We still have two open cases. The initial investigation into the burglary in Pebble Beach, which basically got nowhere because of the lack of cooperation on the part of the victims, and also (we) have the related investigation into possible fraud involved in part of the victims. So, they are suspects in that investigation,” Richards said. “I have no idea what he’s trying to accomplish with that letter.”
St. John, who is also Amadio’s law student supervisor, said she has some advice for him.
“Absolutely the best thing he could do is just be quiet and let the dust settle,” St. John said. “I don’t think he’ll do it, (but) I wish him luck.”
Despite the best wishes, St. John has reported Amadio to the state bar for what she sees as violations to the rules regarding students.

December 30th, 2009

Posted In: Mailing list reports

Tags:

Memo Released By Pebble Beach Art Heist Victim
Document Written To DA’s Office
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — An owner targeted in a big Pebble Beach art heist sent out a document making some fascinating claims and charges.
Art collector Benjamin Amadio wrote a lengthy memo to the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office that requests the DA to provide a complete list of evidence of what he said happened during and leading up to the investigation of the theft.
Amadio and his business partner, Dr. Ralph Kennaugh, said somebody broke into their Pebble Beach rental home on Sept. 25 and stole millions of dollars worth of art.
The 30-page memo, which often meanders and is filled with grammatical errors, refers to the Monterey County Sheriff’s Department as “bad actors.”
In it, Amadio said the lack of a thorough investigation by the department of the heist stems from Amadio’s relationship with a woman named Sage Ratclift. He alleges Ratclift’s stepfather has ties to the CIA and that her father is a deputy with the Sheriff’s Department.
“He’s not someone who even works here,” Cmdr. Mike Richards said. “Amadio seems to focus on a woman who we have no idea who she is. I understand she was arrested by our office but it has no bearing on our investigation.”
But in the memo, Amadio insists the cronyism in the Sheriff’s Department is the reason his artwork is still missing. He said he was threatened at gunpoint by men with CIA ties, or ties to the Sheriff’s Department.
Document: Art Heist Victims Memorandum To DA’s Office
Amadio said he reported the incident to the Seaside Police Department, which did not take him seriously. Amadio also alleges District Attorney Gary Thelander was involved in the plot.
Because of the lack of an insurance policy and proof of ownership of the paintings — proof Amadio said was stolen with the paintings — the Sheriff’s Department held a news conference in October where Richards said his department had not ruled out Amadio and Kennaugh, a former Harvard professor, as suspects.
“We still have two open cases,” Richards said. “The initial investigation into the burglary in Pebble Beach, which basically got nowhere because of the lack of cooperation on the part of the victims, and also (we) have the related investigation into possible fraud involved in part of the victims. So, they are suspects in that investigation.”
In another twist to the story, Amadio’s lawyer, Vicki St. James, whose letterhead is used on the document, issued a statement Monday that said, “I want to make clear that I did not request such a memo to be created, nor did I write, review or approve of the memo.”
Amadio said Monday that a final copy version of the document will be submitted today to the District Attorney’s Office. He said the copy sent out on Monday was released early by mistake by his friend Sage.
“I have no idea what he’s trying to accomplish with that letter,” Richards said.

Memo Released By Pebble Beach Art Heist Victim
Document Written To DA’s Office

POSTED: 8:37 am PST December 29, 2009UPDATED: 10:38 am PST December 29, 2009
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — An owner targeted in a big Pebble Beach art heist sent out a document making some fascinating claims and charges.

Art collector Benjamin Amadio wrote a lengthy memo to the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office that requests the DA to provide a complete list of evidence of what he said happened during and leading up to the investigation of the theft.
Amadio and his business partner, Dr. Ralph Kennaugh, said somebody broke into their Pebble Beach rental home on Sept. 25 and stole millions of dollars worth of art.
The 30-page memo, which often meanders and is filled with grammatical errors, refers to the Monterey County Sheriff’s Department as “bad actors.”
In it, Amadio said the lack of a thorough investigation by the department of the heist stems from Amadio’s relationship with a woman named Sage Ratclift. He alleges Ratclift’s stepfather has ties to the CIA and that her father is a deputy with the Sheriff’s Department.
“He’s not someone who even works here,” Cmdr. Mike Richards said. “Amadio seems to focus on a woman who we have no idea who she is. I understand she was arrested by our office but it has no bearing on our investigation.”
But in the memo, Amadio insists the cronyism in the Sheriff’s Department is the reason his artwork is still missing. He said he was threatened at gunpoint by men with CIA ties, or ties to the Sheriff’s Department.
Document: Art Heist Victims Memorandum To DA’s Office
Amadio said he reported the incident to the Seaside Police Department, which did not take him seriously. Amadio also alleges District Attorney Gary Thelander was involved in the plot.
Because of the lack of an insurance policy and proof of ownership of the paintings — proof Amadio said was stolen with the paintings — the Sheriff’s Department held a news conference in October where Richards said his department had not ruled out Amadio and Kennaugh, a former Harvard professor, as suspects.
“We still have two open cases,” Richards said. “The initial investigation into the burglary in Pebble Beach, which basically got nowhere because of the lack of cooperation on the part of the victims, and also (we) have the related investigation into possible fraud involved in part of the victims. So, they are suspects in that investigation.”
In another twist to the story, Amadio’s lawyer, Vicki St. James, whose letterhead is used on the document, issued a statement Monday that said, “I want to make clear that I did not request such a memo to be created, nor did I write, review or approve of the memo.”
Amadio said Monday that a final copy version of the document will be submitted today to the District Attorney’s Office. He said the copy sent out on Monday was released early by mistake by his friend Sage.
“I have no idea what he’s trying to accomplish with that letter,” Richards said.

December 29th, 2009

Posted In: Mailing list reports

Tags:

EDINBURGH.- The National Gallery of Scotland announced that the painting, “The Madonna of the Yarnwinder” by Leonardo da Vinci went on display in the Gallery. In 2003 it was stolen from Drumlanrig Castle, the Dumfriesshire home of the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry. The painting was recovered in 2007. “The Madonna of the Yarnwinder” is the only painting by Leonardo da Vinci in Scotland and is on loan to the Gallery from the Duke and the Trustees of the Buccleuch Heritage Trust.
In this pioneering and influential composition, an unusually large Christ Child is shown perched on a rocky outcrop beside his mother. He gazes intently at the cross-shaped form of a wooden yarnwinder, precociously aware of his future Crucifixion. The Virgin’s tender, sorrowful expression and hesitant gesture reinforce the poignancy of the action.
This little panel is probably identical with one described in a letter dated 14 April 1501 from Fra Pietro da Novellara, head of the Carmelite order in Florence, to Isabella d’Este, Marchioness of Mantua and avid patron and collector of art. The letter clarifies that Leonardo was painting it for Florimond Robertet, a trusted minister and diplomat of the King of France, who had close ties to Italy. Leonardo had a notoriously poor record for bringing his works to completion, and it is unclear whether the painting was ever actually delivered to Robertet.
There has been much debate regarding the extent of Leonardo’s direct involvement in the painting, but it seems likely that the overall design, and the execution of the figures and the foreground rocks, are entirely his. The background landscape, on the other hand, is not characteristic of Leonardo, and was probably added or completed by another artist, possibly quite a bit later. Technical examination has revealed landscape features and figures in the background that are no longer visible on the surface. That some of these reappear in early copies and variants of the composition supports the idea that the background may have been left unfinished by Leonardo and completed only later.
The painting was the focus of an exhibition, “Leonardo da Vinci: The Mystery of the Madonna of the Yarnwinder”, organized here at the National Gallery of Scotland in 1992.

Stolen Painting by Leonardo Goes Back on View at the National Galleries in Scotland

Gallery assistant Clare McCormack poses for photographers next to “The Madonna of the Yarnwinder” by Leonardo da Vinci during a photocall at the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh, Scotland. REUTERS/David Moir:http://www.artdaily.org/index.asp?int_sec=11&int_new=35184
EDINBURGH.- The National Gallery of Scotland announced that the painting, “The Madonna of the Yarnwinder” by Leonardo da Vinci went on display in the Gallery. In 2003 it was stolen from Drumlanrig Castle, the Dumfriesshire home of the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry. The painting was recovered in 2007. “The Madonna of the Yarnwinder” is the only painting by Leonardo da Vinci in Scotland and is on loan to the Gallery from the Duke and the Trustees of the Buccleuch Heritage Trust.
In this pioneering and influential composition, an unusually large Christ Child is shown perched on a rocky outcrop beside his mother. He gazes intently at the cross-shaped form of a wooden yarnwinder, precociously aware of his future Crucifixion. The Virgin’s tender, sorrowful expression and hesitant gesture reinforce the poignancy of the action.
This little panel is probably identical with one described in a letter dated 14 April 1501 from Fra Pietro da Novellara, head of the Carmelite order in Florence, to Isabella d’Este, Marchioness of Mantua and avid patron and collector of art. The letter clarifies that Leonardo was painting it for Florimond Robertet, a trusted minister and diplomat of the King of France, who had close ties to Italy. Leonardo had a notoriously poor record for bringing his works to completion, and it is unclear whether the painting was ever actually delivered to Robertet.
There has been much debate regarding the extent of Leonardo’s direct involvement in the painting, but it seems likely that the overall design, and the execution of the figures and the foreground rocks, are entirely his. The background landscape, on the other hand, is not characteristic of Leonardo, and was probably added or completed by another artist, possibly quite a bit later. Technical examination has revealed landscape features and figures in the background that are no longer visible on the surface. That some of these reappear in early copies and variants of the composition supports the idea that the background may have been left unfinished by Leonardo and completed only later.
The painting was the focus of an exhibition, “Leonardo da Vinci: The Mystery of the Madonna of the Yarnwinder”, organized here at the National Gallery of Scotland in 1992.

December 29th, 2009

Posted In: Mailing list reports

Tags:

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

December 29th, 2009

Posted In: Mailing list reports

Tags:

April 2009 sloot de Erfgoedinspectie een uiterst knullig ‘ onderzoek’  af dat ingesteld werd naar aanleiding van een door mij bij die Erfgoedinspectie ingediende melding. Aanleiding voor mijn melding was een gesprek dat ik voerde met XX – verzamelaar, oprichter van het Y Museum te Z en voorzitter van het bestuur – waarbij X mij vertelde dat hij van een Duitse handelaar twee XX objecten kocht en dat die handelaar hem adviseerde die xx niet in zijn museum ten toon te stellen omdat X dan problemen zou krijgen met de XXX autoriteiten. Een duidelijker indicatie, nota bene gegeven door X zelf, van dubieuze aankoopactiviteiten kon er niet zijn. In hetzelfde gesprek deelde X bij herhaling mede dat “wanneer een handelaar zegt dat het okay is, dan ben ik gedekt”. Blijkbaar voelde X zich ook gedekt wanneer een handelaar duidelijk aangaf dat het niet okay zit. Overigens: X’s eigen zoon is handelaar in xx en waar blijf je als vader wanneer je je eigen zoon niet kunt vertrouwen..

Met mijn melding deed de Erfgoedinspectie aanvankelijk helemaal niets. Pas na mijn aandringen stuurde erfgoedinspecteur M. van H. een briefje naar het museum. Verder liet ze het erbij. Anderhalf jaar nadat de lamlendige Erfgoedinspectie mijn melding niet serieus nam trad ik met de feiten naar buiten. Toen pas ontwaakte de Erfgoedinspectie gedeeltelijk uit de verlengde winterslaap, nam contact op met het  Museum in Z en kondigde aan samen met de politie de collectie te zullen controleren. Welke collectie? De collectie van het museum. Een absurde actie omdat ik in mijn melding overduidelijk aan gaf dat die xx objecten NIET in de museumcollectie zouden zijn vanwege het advies dat de Duitse handelaar aan X gaf. Bovendien gaf de inspectie X anderhalf jaar de tijd die iconen elders onder te brengen of misschien wel helemaal van de hand te doen.

Voor alle duidelijkheid: mijn eerste gesprek met X waarin hij zat op te scheppen over zijn twijfelachtige aankoopbeleid voerde ik niet alleen. Er was nog iemand anders bij. De Erfgoedinspectie heeft van het herhaalde aanbod van die persoon mijn lezing over het gesprek te bevestigen geen gebruik gemaakt en gaf daarmee X volop de kans te beweren dat Cremers het gesprek niet goed weer gaf.

De Erfgoedinspecteurs reizen de wereld af om congressen bij te wonen over de problematiek van de illegale handel maar zijn te inert om zeer ernstige feiten in de eigen tuin daadkrachtig aan te pakken. Blijkbaar leveren die teambuilding uitstapjes naar de Efteling op kosten van de belastingbetaler geen enkele professionele kwaliteit op.

December 24th, 2009

Posted In: Uncategorized

Saudi heritage needs better care: Prince Sultan Bin Salman
By Wafa Badawood
“In my view, we are still lagging behind in caring for our national antiquities and historical heritage.”
This was the frank assessment by Prince Sultan Bin Salman Bin Abdul Aziz, Chairman of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA), on the state of this part of the country’s historical legacy. He was speaking at a gathering held last Monday by Abdul Maqsood Khoja.
However, the Prince also expressed optimism on the way forward in protecting the country’s historical sites and preserving its ancient artifacts. Developments underway in the Kingdom will soon ensure that this country ranks among the best in the world in this area, he said.
He remarked that the Kingdom was invited regularly to participate at international events aimed at the development of humanity. For this reason, the country needed to be an example to the world, to provide everyone with a “special impression of our great national heritage.” He lamented that a “big portion” of this national heritage has been lost “due to negligence” and the effect of time.
“We must give this aspect special importance because we must show the whole world that the Kingdom has a deep-rooted history.”
In this regard, Prince Sultan announced the launch of the first Saudi exhibition on antiquities at the Louvre Museum in Paris in July next summer and the architectural heritage conference next April.
Protection and awareness
Prince Sultan also said the SCTA had also referred a recommendation for the maintenance and repair of rest-houses on the Kingdom’s roads and highways to the Shoura Council.
He said repairs and renovations will also be completed on mosques with historical value. Work is also underway to launch the Holy Qur’an House (Dar Al-Qur’an Al-Kareem) in Madina and the reconstruction of Khuzam Museum in Jeddah, adding that for the first time in the history of the Kingdom, municipalities have allocated a budget for the protection of the Kingdom’s heritage.
He also announced the establishment of a new company for the development of heritage hotels. “We have made big strides in this direction.
We have a new program under the name ‘Tamkeen’ which involves the protection of antiquities, creating and developing awareness, and training people in this area. We also emphasize family tourism.” He said the most important people being targeted for tourism are Saudis. This is because there is huge economic potential from domestic tourism.
Locals can also get involved in the industry. “There are loans from the credit fund for Saudi nationals, to renovate their heritage villages into tourist areas,” he remarked, adding that this was especially important in rural areas because of the decline in the agricultural sector.
There would also be financial support for museums, through banks and some social bodies. A training program exists for the management of museums and heritage sites; and for developing the handicrafts program, known in “Arabic as Bare.”
Security of antiquities
Prince Sultan also drew attention to the cooperation between the SCTA and the Ministry of Interior on “tourism security.” This refers to the plan to return stolen antiquities to the Kingdom, with the help of the International Criminal Police Organization, better known as Interpol. He said the SCTA has already been able to retrieve 10,000 artefacts.
Indicating that the heritage of the country belonged to all its citizens and should be openly displayed for everyone to appreciate, he said: “We want to remove antiquities from the [dark hole] it is in. We want national antiquities to be easily recognized, openly [displayed] and organized. It [should be the] property of all citizens and not of any particular person.”
He added that citizens should also be educated about the cultural history of their country. “The Saudi national knows less about the antiquities in his country than foreigners. We have been getting our brethren from other countries to work with us. It is strange that they know more about this country than its citizens. These people praise our customs and traditions and are impressed by the Saudi national [heritage] after living for some time among us. For this reason, we must work to reinstate the importance and respect for our national heritage. It must not be viewed merely as a good idea,” he remarked. “History will not forgive us if we leave these artifacts to be stolen. We have left our antiquities exposed to weather and erosion and we have found artifacts in museums [all over the place].”
Prince Sultan also recalled his visit to an archeological site on the occasion, before he was placed in charge of antiquities. “I was brought to tears by the poor condition they were in. I cannot help becoming emotional when I see [other] countries with limited resources making big strides in protecting its antiquities. Therefore, we have started the National Plan for the Protection of Antiquities. The state has and will continue to support it.”
Eight museums
Prince Sultan said the future looked bright, particularly now that a plan is in place to build and develop museums. “This year we will construct eight museums, but in a completely different way. The SCTA has signed an agreement with the Ministry of Education to ensure a comprehensive development of the whole concept of antiquities and museums. The program has so far covered 3,000 students, and work is ongoing to educate other students,” he said. – Okaz/SG

Saudi heritage needs better care: Prince Sultan Bin SalmanBy Wafa Badawood
“In my view, we are still lagging behind in caring for our national antiquities and historical heritage.”This was the frank assessment by Prince Sultan Bin Salman Bin Abdul Aziz, Chairman of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA), on the state of this part of the country’s historical legacy. He was speaking at a gathering held last Monday by Abdul Maqsood Khoja.However, the Prince also expressed optimism on the way forward in protecting the country’s historical sites and preserving its ancient artifacts. Developments underway in the Kingdom will soon ensure that this country ranks among the best in the world in this area, he said.He remarked that the Kingdom was invited regularly to participate at international events aimed at the development of humanity. For this reason, the country needed to be an example to the world, to provide everyone with a “special impression of our great national heritage.” He lamented that a “big portion” of this national heritage has been lost “due to negligence” and the effect of time.“We must give this aspect special importance because we must show the whole world that the Kingdom has a deep-rooted history.”In this regard, Prince Sultan announced the launch of the first Saudi exhibition on antiquities at the Louvre Museum in Paris in July next summer and the architectural heritage conference next April.
Protection and awarenessPrince Sultan also said the SCTA had also referred a recommendation for the maintenance and repair of rest-houses on the Kingdom’s roads and highways to the Shoura Council.He said repairs and renovations will also be completed on mosques with historical value. Work is also underway to launch the Holy Qur’an House (Dar Al-Qur’an Al-Kareem) in Madina and the reconstruction of Khuzam Museum in Jeddah, adding that for the first time in the history of the Kingdom, municipalities have allocated a budget for the protection of the Kingdom’s heritage.He also announced the establishment of a new company for the development of heritage hotels. “We have made big strides in this direction. We have a new program under the name ‘Tamkeen’ which involves the protection of antiquities, creating and developing awareness, and training people in this area. We also emphasize family tourism.” He said the most important people being targeted for tourism are Saudis. This is because there is huge economic potential from domestic tourism. Locals can also get involved in the industry. “There are loans from the credit fund for Saudi nationals, to renovate their heritage villages into tourist areas,” he remarked, adding that this was especially important in rural areas because of the decline in the agricultural sector.There would also be financial support for museums, through banks and some social bodies. A training program exists for the management of museums and heritage sites; and for developing the handicrafts program, known in “Arabic as Bare.”
Security of antiquitiesPrince Sultan also drew attention to the cooperation between the SCTA and the Ministry of Interior on “tourism security.” This refers to the plan to return stolen antiquities to the Kingdom, with the help of the International Criminal Police Organization, better known as Interpol. He said the SCTA has already been able to retrieve 10,000 artefacts.Indicating that the heritage of the country belonged to all its citizens and should be openly displayed for everyone to appreciate, he said: “We want to remove antiquities from the [dark hole] it is in. We want national antiquities to be easily recognized, openly [displayed] and organized. It [should be the] property of all citizens and not of any particular person.”He added that citizens should also be educated about the cultural history of their country. “The Saudi national knows less about the antiquities in his country than foreigners. We have been getting our brethren from other countries to work with us. It is strange that they know more about this country than its citizens. These people praise our customs and traditions and are impressed by the Saudi national [heritage] after living for some time among us. For this reason, we must work to reinstate the importance and respect for our national heritage. It must not be viewed merely as a good idea,” he remarked. “History will not forgive us if we leave these artifacts to be stolen. We have left our antiquities exposed to weather and erosion and we have found artifacts in museums [all over the place].”Prince Sultan also recalled his visit to an archeological site on the occasion, before he was placed in charge of antiquities. “I was brought to tears by the poor condition they were in. I cannot help becoming emotional when I see [other] countries with limited resources making big strides in protecting its antiquities. Therefore, we have started the National Plan for the Protection of Antiquities. The state has and will continue to support it.”
Eight museumsPrince Sultan said the future looked bright, particularly now that a plan is in place to build and develop museums. “This year we will construct eight museums, but in a completely different way. The SCTA has signed an agreement with the Ministry of Education to ensure a comprehensive development of the whole concept of antiquities and museums. The program has so far covered 3,000 students, and work is ongoing to educate other students,” he said. – Okaz/SG

December 24th, 2009

Posted In: Mailing list reports

Tags:

France’s return of Egyptian artefacts reawakes repatriation debate
FRANCE’S surprise hand-over of four fragments of an ancient tomb mural to Egyptian antiquities authorities recently makes art authorities around the world pop questions about Nigeria’s steep in the nitty-gritty of art politics.

Probes about what the Nigerian government in the campaign to retreive its thousands of antiques scattered across the western art collections and museums filled internet art discourse platforms.

Penultimate Friday, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France pledged his country will return four priceless tomb murals that are originally from Egypt to the north African country. He further told the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak that he will return a fifth piece this week.

French culture ministry made the disclosure that Sarkozy will deliver the fifth fragment to Mubarak during a lunch at the presidential palace in Paris on Monday (yesterday).

According to the Associated Press report in France claimed that the fragments were acquired in good faith by the Louvre between 2000 and 2003, but their provenance was called into doubt in 2008 after the discovery of the tomb from which they were believed to have been taken.

France said in October that it would return the five fragments held by the Louvre museum as a way of showing the country’s determination to fight the illegal traffic in cultural objects.

Under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) convention of 1970, countries agreed measures to prevent the illegal export of national treasures. Based on this article of the UNESCO convention countries of the west and central Africa such as Nigeria, as well as Ethiopia, Algeria and other black nations who were heavy victims of the looting of artifacts by western countries have been engaged in a quest for a return of their treasures in European collections.

A tandem growth of black consciousness and awareness of the essence of visual art pieces in the African religious practice among Black Americans between 1950s and 1970s spurred a momentuum of global campaigns that helped the African countries’ courses.

As the art historian and curator, Edmund B. Gaither, of the National Center for Afro-American art noted the African-Americans campaign helped sensitise the global community on the role of African arts in Africa’s belief system and mobilsed a wider audience. Hence public and private collections in Europe and America began to hide or work on the provenances of their collections as the struggle for equal rights hiegthened. Gaither noted that the range of published artworks highlighted how the

the teft or forced-take of the artefacts as in the 1897 British attack of Oba Ovurawon palace in Benin City dislocated the natives “spiritually and psychologically.” Similarly the trauma of slavery and colonialism and various problems associated with collecting African artifacts” in foreign collections that are not their original homes.

African-American interest focused initially on Egyp-art at this time. Missing indications of provenance was the core issue and later attention shifted to other countries’ art such as Nigeria’s and other productions from West and Central Africa.

In 1976 when a British museum demanded to be paid for the use of the Benin ivory carving which was used for the Second World Festival of Black and African Arts and Civilization (FESTAC) which she hosted in Lagos and Kaduna in 1977, the campaigners for justice to owners of African artefacts were riled up. This led Nigeria deeper into the call for the return of its art treasures in the the west. Diplomatic negotiations, through such platforms as UNESCO meetings and bilateral talks among culture ministries were upbeat until the regime of Ms. Boma Bromillow-Jack as culture minister.

Instigated by the Bromillow-Jack era zeal then, In January, 2002 the National Assembly communicated Nigeria’s demands for the return of its treasures in Britain. Through the House of Representatives the Nigerian parliament called for the return of Nigerian works of art in the British Museum. The legislators called on the then president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, to request the repatriation of the artifacts, taken away during British colonial rule in the 19th Century.

Explaining the quest, the late Dr. Omotoso Eluyemi, who was then the director-general of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) told the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC): “If you go to the British Museum, half the things there are from Africa.”

The motion, sponsored by 57 legislators, was passed unanimously. It urged the government to safeguard Nigerian museums from being “burgled” by hired agents.

In 2001 Time magazine reported Eluyemi as saying: “These objects of art are the relics of our history – why must we lose them to Europe?

“If you go to the British Museum, half the things there are from Africa. It should be called the Museum of Africa.”

Thereafter, less and less was heard from Nigeria’s Ministry of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation on the fate but for last month’s hint by the Special Adviser to Gov. Adams Oshiomhole of Edo states on Culture and Tourism, Mr. Omo-Ojo Orobosa, a lawyer, that the state is planning to file a suit in international court for the enforcement of return of artifacts stolen from Benin.

Even when, in June, this year a row over the provenance of some Nigerian artefacts exhibited in Geneva mounted within art circle and sympathetic connoisseurs around the world asked what the country wants so as to spur their action, nothing was heard from the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation or the country’s UNESCO office.

At the height of the row in Geneva, outspoken Black American art historian, activist and art blog publisher, Dr. Kwame Opoku wrote this in disgust: “I am writing in connection with the continued looting of Nigerian and African artefacts for the West which is exemplified by the current exhibition at the Barbier-Mueller Museum in Geneva.

“As you may be aware, a group of Swiss scholars and other scholars have protested at this exhibition. They have identified objects from the exhibition which are said to have been looted from Nigeria, Ghana, Mali and Burkina Faso. These objects are on the ICOM Red List and should not have been exported.

“The question now is how Nigeria is going to react. There is great support for Nigeria in this matter. I have suggested in an article possible lines of action. The least that will be expected of an owner whose stolen property has been identified at a specific location and under the control of a known person is a statement of claim demanding the return of the property and an end to the illegal possession.

“So far, I have not heard of any action by the Nigerian authorities. This is an occasion Nigeria and the other African countries cannot afford to miss to restate their policies regarding the looting and stealing of our cultural heritage.

“I am writing you in the hope that you will do whatever you can to encourage and support those responsible for protecting our African heritage to act. In this matter, silence is no option. We cannot remain silence in the face of the depletion of our resources. These artefacts are not only spiritual and cultural icons but have also enormous financial worth. We owe it to future generation to do whatever we can against the continuing robbery of our resources.”

But the feared silence greated the development.
This current move by Sarkozy like the action the British Museum (under Robert Anderson) in 2001 refused renewed calls for the Elgin Marbles from the Parthenon to be returned to Greece brings the issue of the return of the artefact to the frontrow but there are fears of how the culture ministry will respond.

Experts worry that the issue of return of artefacts to their origins, which is cardinal in the activities of UNESCO have been so muddled up by the diplomatic clout of the acused rich western countries that owners of the works are friegthened away of their rights. The appointment of non-artists or people with scant knowledge of the issues in question at the helm of culture ministries as well as the deception that there is more to gain in other forms of tourism which the west project combine to lure most African countries away from the hitherto strong campaign.

Commenting in the UNESCO website, Heritage Key survery in November art critic Jon Himoff noted that “repatriation issues are to resolve.The big Museums have the greatest advantage when it comes to the artefacts that the UNESCO heritage sites and others want back – the big Museums have possession. Further, the Museums typically reside in the countries that made the laws governing repatriation. But as cultural tourism continues to be a growing and massive business, the UNESCO sites are making their own big Museums and are able to hire their own lawyers to defend their interests. The complex battle for who controls artefacts is really heating-up now. Perhaps the issue of who owns antiquity is possibly less urgent than who controls it.”

Reacting Dr Opoku moaned: It may be interesting to know the public opinion on this matter but since most of the people in Africa cannot read nor write, I wonder whether this survey can be used to deny to those,for example in Benin,whose cultural artefacts have been looted by the British? Besides , are we really going to make the restitution of objects that have been clearly looted or acquired under dubious circumstances dependent of the opinion of those primarily responsible for this situation? Are morality,fairness and justice,United Nations and UNESCO resolution no longer relevant to such issues?

It is only on the assumption that these factors are no longer relevant to looted artefacts or artefacts acquired under dubious circumstance that the Western States , such as Germany,Great Britain can afford to be seen disputing with Egypt and Nigeria. Take Egyptian artefacts for example,how many Egyptian objects are in the West – Germany, Great Britain, Spain, Belgium, Netherlands and France? How many European aretfacts are in Egypt and the rest of Africa? Surely a sense of proportion is missing here. How can Germany even discuss with Egypt whether Nefertiti should be returned or not?. The Berlin Egyptian Museum alone has some 100 000 Egyptian aretfacts,including objects weighing over five tons. How much more do the Germans need? A look at the British Museum or Louvre will demonstrate what I am tring to say.

“James Simon who finaced the expedition to Amarna as a result of which the bust of Nefertiti was discovered and sneaked to Germany under unclear circumstance, was in favour of returning the bust to Egypt in exchange for other artefacts. Adolf Hitler, was against such aproposal which had been agreed by all German specialists consulted. So whose will now prevails, that of Simon or that of Adolf Hitler?

“It is noticeable that when it comes to discussing cultural artefacts taken by Westerners from other countries,Westerners immediately shut out all priciples of fairness, equity and solidarity. Even if Egypt did not have a right to development. Interestingly, as the culture authorities keep glued tongues on it, their counterparts in the acused west are talking and taking the issues further beyond reach.

For example while Prof. Dimitrios Pandermalis the president of the new Acropolis Museum, in Greece hints that artefacts like the Elgin Marbles belong to the world the British museum claims objects like vthe Benin Bronze or the Ethiopian columns are global heritage that should not necessarily require a return to any original base.

Source: Chuka Nnabuife – compassnews.net
Story from Modern Ghana News:
http://www.modernghana.com/news/255974/1/frances-return-of-egyptian-artefacts-reawakes-repa.html

December 24th, 2009

Posted In: African Affairs

Zoran Stoyanovich says that he was the owner of two violin bows – one by Nicolaus Kittel valued at $155,000 and one by Francois Xavier Tourte valued at $135,000 – that were insured under a policy with AXA Art Insurance Corporation.  According to the complaint, the following occurred:

– In June 2007, Stoyanovich entered into an agreement with an agent from Bromptons Auctioneers to find a buyer for the bows.
– Bromptons transferred custody of the bows to a third party, who purported to have located a purchaser.
– The bows were transferred to the purchaser, who refuses to pay for or return them.
– In November 2009, Stoyanovich gave timely notice of the loss to AXA but AXA denied the claim.

December 24th, 2009

Posted In: Mailing list reports

Tags:

“Generally speaking, it is clear that cultural property is most important to the people who created it or for whom it was created or whose particular identity and history is bound up with it. This cannot be compared with the scholastic or even inspirational influence on those who merely acquire such objects or materials. The current arguments about the retention of major objects on the grounds of scholarship are no longer tenable. In most cases the task of learning has been satisfied, as for example with the Rosetta stone, whose hieroglyphics have already been deciphered. The Parthenon and its marbles continue their hold on the imagination but they no longer have a revelatory significance for the twentieth-century Europe. The continued scholastic value of keeping the marbles in Britain is debatable and most scholars would probably welcome their return to Greece or at least not oppose it. Scholasticism can be a high-sounding motive for a selfish and unrelated purpose.”
Jeanette Greenfield (1)
It is very strange how the minds of some Westerners seem to work when it comes to discussing repatriation of looted/stolen cultural objects or objects acquired under dubious circumstances or from a people under foreign domination. For example, we have a fairly senior member of the British cultural establishment, Roy Clare, head of Britain’s Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, writing in an article, “The Rosetta Stone can be shared where it is” as if its removal by French soldiers and the subsequent transport to London were perfectly legitimate. (2) Who gave the French the right to remove objects from Egypt?  Even the British Museum, in its publication, entitled The Rosetta Stone, by Richard Parkinson, noted the evil colonialist and imperialist aims of Napoleon’s military expedition to Egypt in 1799: “…it colonized, in the name of the Enlightenment, a country that was supposedly the origin of all wisdom. The French justified this imperial enterprise by claiming that it would rescue the ancient country from a supposed state of modern barbarism, but the Egyptian historian Abd al-Rahman al Jabari (1754-1882) saw the start of the occupation in July 1798 from a very different perspective as the beginning of a period marked by great battles…miseries multiplied without end.” (3)
Read Kwame Opoku’s full text at: http:/www.museum-security.org/rosetta.htm

RETURN OF THE ROSETTA STONE TO EGYPT: LIMITS TO THE GREED OF THE SELF-STYLED UNIVERSAL MUSEUMS.

“Generally speaking, it is clear that cultural property is most important to the people who created it or for whom it was created or whose particular identity and history is bound up with it. This cannot be compared with the scholastic or even inspirational influence on those who merely acquire such objects or materials. The current arguments about the retention of major objects on the grounds of scholarship are no longer tenable. In most cases the task of learning has been satisfied, as for example with the Rosetta stone, whose hieroglyphics have already been deciphered. The Parthenon and its marbles continue their hold on the imagination but they no longer have a revelatory significance for the twentieth-century Europe. The continued scholastic value of keeping the marbles in Britain is debatable and most scholars would probably welcome their return to Greece or at least not oppose it. Scholasticism can be a high-sounding motive for a selfish and unrelated purpose.”Jeanette Greenfield (1)
It is very strange how the minds of some Westerners seem to work when it comes to discussing repatriation of looted/stolen cultural objects or objects acquired under dubious circumstances or from a people under foreign domination. For example, we have a fairly senior member of the British cultural establishment, Roy Clare, head of Britain’s Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, writing in an article, “The Rosetta Stone can be shared where it is” as if its removal by French soldiers and the subsequent transport to London were perfectly legitimate. (2) Who gave the French the right to remove objects from Egypt?  Even the British Museum, in its publication, entitled The Rosetta Stone, by Richard Parkinson, noted the evil colonialist and imperialist aims of Napoleon’s military expedition to Egypt in 1799: “…it colonized, in the name of the Enlightenment, a country that was supposedly the origin of all wisdom. The French justified this imperial enterprise by claiming that it would rescue the ancient country from a supposed state of modern barbarism, but the Egyptian historian Abd al-Rahman al Jabari (1754-1882) saw the start of the occupation in July 1798 from a very different perspective as the beginning of a period marked by great battles…miseries multiplied without end.” (3)
Read Kwame Opoku’s full text at: http:/www.museum-security.org/rosetta.htm

December 21st, 2009

Posted In: African Affairs, Dr. Kwame Opoku writings about looted cultural objects, Mailing list reports

Tags:

21. Dezember 2009, 09:58
Fünf Verdächtige im Norden Polens festgenommen – Motiv für Diebstahl noch unklar
Warschau – Die berüchtigte Inschrift “Arbeit macht frei” vom Eingangstor des früheren NS- Konzentrationslagers Auschwitz ist wiedergefunden worden. Wie ein Sprecher der Polizei im polnischen Krakau (Krakow) in der Nacht auf Montag mitteilte, wurden fünf Männer im Alter von 20 bis 39 Jahren im Norden Polens festgenommen. Die Inschrift sei in Stücke geteilt gefunden worden.
Bei den Tätern handelt es sich nach Angaben der polnischen Polizei nicht um Neo-Nazis. Die fünf Verdächtigen hätten das eiserne Schild zweifelsfrei aus kriminellen Motiven gestohlen, erklärte der Krakauer Polizeichef Andrzej Rokita am Montag. Es sei noch unklar, ob die Männer zu der Tat angestiftet worden seien. “Wir können sagen, dass keiner der fünf einer Neo-Nazi-Gruppe angehört.”
Der aus Eisen geformte Schriftzug war am frühen Freitagmorgen von der heutigen Gedenkstätte entwendet worden. Die Polizei leitete eine Großfahndung ein. Das Auschwitz-Museum, die Polizei und anonyme Spender setzten eine Belohnung von rund 27.500 Euro für Hinweise zur Wiederbeschaffung des Schriftzuges aus. Der gestohlene Schriftzug wurde durch eine Kopie ersetzt.
Der Diebstahl hatte u.a. in Polen, Israel und Deutschland Empörung ausgelöst. Der israelische Ministerpräsident Benjamin Netanyahu forderte Polen am Sonntag auf, alles zur Ergreifung der Diebe zu tun. Die “Kriminellen” müssten gefasst werden, erklärte er in Jerusalem. (APA/AFP/Reuters/APD)

December 21st, 2009

Posted In: Mailing list reports

Tags:

21. Dezember 2009, 09:58
Fünf Verdächtige im Norden Polens festgenommen – Motiv für Diebstahl noch unklar
Warschau – Die berüchtigte Inschrift “Arbeit macht frei” vom Eingangstor des früheren NS- Konzentrationslagers Auschwitz ist wiedergefunden worden. Wie ein Sprecher der Polizei im polnischen Krakau (Krakow) in der Nacht auf Montag mitteilte, wurden fünf Männer im Alter von 20 bis 39 Jahren im Norden Polens festgenommen. Die Inschrift sei in Stücke geteilt gefunden worden.
Bei den Tätern handelt es sich nach Angaben der polnischen Polizei nicht um Neo-Nazis. Die fünf Verdächtigen hätten das eiserne Schild zweifelsfrei aus kriminellen Motiven gestohlen, erklärte der Krakauer Polizeichef Andrzej Rokita am Montag. Es sei noch unklar, ob die Männer zu der Tat angestiftet worden seien. “Wir können sagen, dass keiner der fünf einer Neo-Nazi-Gruppe angehört.”
Der aus Eisen geformte Schriftzug war am frühen Freitagmorgen von der heutigen Gedenkstätte entwendet worden. Die Polizei leitete eine Großfahndung ein. Das Auschwitz-Museum, die Polizei und anonyme Spender setzten eine Belohnung von rund 27.500 Euro für Hinweise zur Wiederbeschaffung des Schriftzuges aus. Der gestohlene Schriftzug wurde durch eine Kopie ersetzt.
Der Diebstahl hatte u.a. in Polen, Israel und Deutschland Empörung ausgelöst. Der israelische Ministerpräsident Benjamin Netanyahu forderte Polen am Sonntag auf, alles zur Ergreifung der Diebe zu tun. Die “Kriminellen” müssten gefasst werden, erklärte er in Jerusalem. (APA/AFP/Reuters/APD)

December 21st, 2009

Posted In: Mailing list reports

Tags:

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

December 19th, 2009

Posted In: Mailing list reports

Tags:

Michelangelo figure may be a fake
An investigation has been launched into whether the Italian government paid £2.9 million for a figure of Christ on the cross, falsely attributed to Michelangelo.
By Nick Squires in Rome Published: 5:19PM GMT 17 Dec 2009
The wooden carving was bought a year ago from an art dealer based in Turin, who insisted it was genuine and had been acquired from a Florentine family.
He initially asked for £13 million for the artefact but eventually agreed to accept just under £3 million.
Prosecutors in Rome who specialise in art fraud opened an investigation into the deal this week.
They will scrutinise documents from a court in Lazio, which first started investigating the mystery in the summer after suspicions were raised that the state had wasted its money on a wrongly attributed work.
Great fanfare surrounded the purchase of the wooden figure last December. It was presented to Pope Benedict XVI, exhibited at the Italian parliament and then sent on a tour of the country in an exhibition which attracted thousands of visitors.There were even plans to lend it to the National Gallery in Washington as a way of honouring President Barack Obama.
But several prominent art experts have said they believe the Christ figure was made by an artist other than Michelangelo.
Francesco Caglioti, an expert on medieval sculptures, told La Repubblica newspaper: “The quality of this work bears no resemblance to those of Michelangelo and every resemblance to the many crucifixes of this kind which were made by artisans in Florence in this period.”
Tomaso Montanari, an art history professor at Naples University, said it was “clearly not” a Michelangelo.
A German art historian, Margrit Lisner, said it was probably the work of another Renaissance sculptor, Jacopo Sansovino.
It was first attributed to Michelangelo, after years of scrutiny, by experts from the universities of Florence, Siena and Perugia in 2004.
The director of the Vatican Museums, Antonio Paolucci, said that while there was no cast-iron guarantee that Michelangelo carved the statue, the attribution to the Renaissance genius was based on “very reasonable grounds”.

December 17th, 2009

Posted In: Mailing list reports

Tags:

Fieberhafte Suche nach Mendelssohn-Büste
Nach Raub der Mendelssohn-Büste der Hochschule für Musik und Theater Leipzig: Dr. Wulff Aengevelt (Düsseldorf) lobt 1.000 Euro zur Ergreifung der Täter aus.
Mit Entsetzen reagierte Dr. Wulff Aengevelt, Mitglied und Vorsitzender des Kuratoriums des Freundeskreises der Hochschule für Musik und Theater “Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy” (HMT), auf den Raub der Mendelssohn-Büste, die Aengevelt der Hochschule im Jahre 2002 gespendet hat: “Gleichgültig, ob Kunst- oder Buntmetallraub: Der Raub der Büste aus solch niederen Motiven macht mich fassungslos und wütend. Ich bitte deshalb die Leipziger Bürger um ihre Mithilfe und setze 1.000 Euro Belohnung zur Ergreifung der Täter und hoffentlich Wiederbeschaffung aus. Gemeinsam können und müssen wir erreichen, dass die von dem renommierten Bildhauer Karl-Heinz Klein geschaffene Mendelssohn-Büste an ihren Platz zurückkehrt.”
Dabei gehe es nicht allein um den materiellen Wert des Kunstwerkes in Höhe von rund 9.000 Euro, sondern auch die große ideelle Bedeutung des unsterblichen Mendelssohns als Gründer der ältesten Musikhochschule Deutschlands und Ehrenbürger der Stadt Leipzig, gab die Hochschule für Musik und Theater “Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy” am Freitag bekannt.
Aengevelt rief die Leipziger Bürger zu Solidarität auf und bat um Unterstützung für den Freundeskreis der Hochschule (Freundeskreis der Hochschule für Musik und Theater “Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy” e.V., Spendenkonto: 110 695 800 · Dresdner Bank · BLZ 860 800 00).
Die rund 15 Kilogramm schwere Mendelssohn-Büste aus Bronze ist in der Nacht zum Mittwoch vom Hof des Hochschulgebäudes Dittrichring 21 gestohlen worden (LEIPZIG FERNSEHEN berichtete). Sie war ein Einzugsgeschenk von Aengevelt anlässlich der Eröffnung dieses HMT-Zweitgebäudes im November 2002. Auch Hochschulrektor Prof. Robert Ehrlich sprach von einem “unermesslichen ideellen Verlust”.
Quelle: Hochschule für Musik und Theater Leipzig

Fieberhafte Suche nach Mendelssohn-Büste

Nach Raub der Mendelssohn-Büste der Hochschule für Musik und Theater Leipzig: Dr. Wulff Aengevelt (Düsseldorf) lobt 1.000 Euro zur Ergreifung der Täter aus.

Mit Entsetzen reagierte Dr. Wulff Aengevelt, Mitglied und Vorsitzender des Kuratoriums des Freundeskreises der Hochschule für Musik und Theater “Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy” (HMT), auf den Raub der Mendelssohn-Büste, die Aengevelt der Hochschule im Jahre 2002 gespendet hat: “Gleichgültig, ob Kunst- oder Buntmetallraub: Der Raub der Büste aus solch niederen Motiven macht mich fassungslos und wütend. Ich bitte deshalb die Leipziger Bürger um ihre Mithilfe und setze 1.000 Euro Belohnung zur Ergreifung der Täter und hoffentlich Wiederbeschaffung aus. Gemeinsam können und müssen wir erreichen, dass die von dem renommierten Bildhauer Karl-Heinz Klein geschaffene Mendelssohn-Büste an ihren Platz zurückkehrt.”

Dabei gehe es nicht allein um den materiellen Wert des Kunstwerkes in Höhe von rund 9.000 Euro, sondern auch die große ideelle Bedeutung des unsterblichen Mendelssohns als Gründer der ältesten Musikhochschule Deutschlands und Ehrenbürger der Stadt Leipzig, gab die Hochschule für Musik und Theater “Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy” am Freitag bekannt.

Aengevelt rief die Leipziger Bürger zu Solidarität auf und bat um Unterstützung für den Freundeskreis der Hochschule (Freundeskreis der Hochschule für Musik und Theater “Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy” e.V., Spendenkonto: 110 695 800 · Dresdner Bank · BLZ 860 800 00).

Die rund 15 Kilogramm schwere Mendelssohn-Büste aus Bronze ist in der Nacht zum Mittwoch vom Hof des Hochschulgebäudes Dittrichring 21 gestohlen worden (LEIPZIG FERNSEHEN berichtete). Sie war ein Einzugsgeschenk von Aengevelt anlässlich der Eröffnung dieses HMT-Zweitgebäudes im November 2002. Auch Hochschulrektor Prof. Robert Ehrlich sprach von einem “unermesslichen ideellen Verlust”.

Quelle: Hochschule für Musik und Theater Leipzig

December 16th, 2009

Posted In: Mailing list reports

Tags:

16 MILLIONEN DOLLAR PRO TAG
Verbrecher verspekulieren sich bei Kunstrauben

VON PETER DITTMAR15. Dezember 2009, 11:31 Uhr
Nur der Handel mit Drogen und Menschen scheint für Kriminelle lukrativer: Pro Jahr werden Kunstwerke im Wert von rund sechs Milliarden Dollar gestohlen, hauptsächlich in Italien und Frankreich. Nur wenige von ihnen gelangen zurück in die Öffentlichkeit. Doch bei vielen Werken verspekulieren sich die Diebe.

Kunst und Geld sind Geschwister. Zerstritten oft, aber nicht selten auch „einig gegen eine Welt von Feinden“. Im Guten wie im Schlechten. Denn „auch heute ist Kunstkriminalität mit einem jährlich verursachten Schaden von sechs bis acht Milliarden US-Dollar weltweit einer der größten Kriminalitätsbereiche nach Geldwäsche, Drogen- und Menschenhandel.“
Das war bei der Tagung des b.v.s, des „Bundesverbandes öffentlich bestellter und vereidigter sowie qualifizierter Sachverständiger e.V.“ unlängst zu hören. Und das wird auch allenthalben zitiert. Hinterfragt wird es kaum, obwohl es recht fragwürdig ist.
Selbst wenn man nur von der niedrigen Zahl, sechs Milliarden Dollar, ausgeht, hieße das, dass an jedem Tag im Jahr für 16,4 Millionen Dollar (rund elf Millionen Euro) Kunstwerke gestohlen werden. Das wären pro Jahr mehr als 8000 Kunstwerke, von denen jedes mindestens fünf Millionen Euro wert sein müsste.
Zu diesem Betrag würde der sensationelle Raub der vier Gemälde von Cézanne, Degas, Monet und Van Gogh im Februar 2008 aus der Sammlung Bührle in Zürich mit dem (hohen) Schätzwert von 180 Millionen Franken (112 Millionen Euro) gerade einmal einen Zehn-Tage-Satz beisteuern.
Doch ähnlich Aufsehen erregende Kunsträubereien gab es 2008 nicht. Denn die meisten Diebstähle, 43 Prozent, betreffen Privatpersonen. Da geht es um Kunst, die oft schlecht oder gar nicht dokumentiert ist und die sich, weil es nur selten prominente Werke sind, verhältnismäßig leicht absetzen lässt. Galerien bilden mit 14 Prozent die nächste diebstahlgefährdete Gruppe. Und der Rest betrifft Museen, Kirchen, Friedhöfe.
Die von den Dieben bevorzugten Länder sind Italien (27.000 Objekte = 74 pro Tag), Frankreich (6000 oder 16 pro Tag, Deutschland (2265 oder sechs pro Tag sowie Polen und Russland. Gemälde, Skulpturen und Statuen, auch Religiöses werden am häufigsten geklaut. Und die Liste der „beliebtesten“ Künstler führt beim Art Loss Register Picasso mit 741 Verlustanzeigen an, gefolgt von Karel Appel, Miró, Chagall, Dalí, Dürer und Warhol.

1 von 10
Die teuersten Gemälde aller Zeiten (Stand 2009)
10. Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1649): “Das Massaker der Unschuldigen“ (1609/11), 76,7 Millionen Dollar (2002)

Doch Kunst wird nicht nur geschätzt. Sie wird auch immer wieder überschätzt. Das lässt sich gerade bei der Kunstkriminalität nicht übersehen. Davon können Auktionatoren ein Lied singen. Die Einlieferer haben oft fantastische Vorstellungen über den Wert der Kunstwerke, die sie besitzen.
Ein schönes Beispiel aus allerjüngster Zeit ist Hans Holbeins „Madonna des Bürgermeisters Jakob Meyer zum Hasen“, das dem Haus Hessen gehört. Wie andere Adelsfamilien will es, was es „ererbt von seinen Vätern“, zu Geld machen. Da das berühmte Gemälde in der Liste national wertvollen Kulturguts steht, kann es nicht ins Ausland verkauft werden – es sei denn, die Bundesregierung erlaubt die Streichung von dieser Liste. Das mindert den Preis erheblich.
Trotzdem war ein Betrag von 40 Millionen Euro im Gespräch. Aber das genügt den Eigentümern nicht. Ihr Anwalt behauptet, ein „am Verkehrwert orientierter Verkaufserlös“ läge „nach Schätzung namhafter Auktionshäuser jenseits der dreistelligen Millionengrenze“.
Nun handelt es sich zwar um eines der wichtigsten Gemälde des jüngeren Holbein. Trotzdem ist wenig wahrscheinlich, dass es einen „Verkehrswert“ von 100 Millionen Euro und mehr hat. Diese Grenze haben bisher lediglich zwei Gemälde überschritten.
Für Pollocks „No.5, 1948“ soll David Geffen von einem unbekannten Käufer 140 Millionen Dollar (110 Millionen Euro) erhalten haben. Beweisen lässt sich das nicht. Nicht anders ist es mit den 135 Millionen Dollar (107 Millionen Euro), die Ronald Lauder für Klimts Porträt „Adele Bloch-Bauer I“ gezahlt haben soll. Schließlich ist das Renommieren mit „Höchstpreisen“ unter Sammlern kein neues Phänomen.
Der höchste von allen Zweifeln freie Preis wurde 2004 bei Sotheby’s in New York für Picassos „Junge mit der Pfeife“ gezahlt. Das waren mit Aufgeld 104,2 Millionen Dollar, damals 86 Millionen Euro. Und der teuerste Altmeister, Rubens’ „Massaker der Unschuldigen“, kam 2002 in London auf 49,5 Millionen Pfund, umgerechnet 77 Millionen Euro. Nun sind zwar Alte Meister höchster Qualität auf dem Kunstmarkt äußerst rar. Aber dass der Holbein, an Deutschland gefesselt, Londoner oder New Yorker Zuschläge erreicht, ist höchst unwahrscheinlich.
Von ähnlichen Preisfantasien werden Kunstwerke begleitet, die gestohlen wurden. Das gilt selbst für die bescheideneren Regionen der Druckgrafik. Als im November in Oslo von Edvard Munch nacheinander die Lithografien „Lösrivelsen II“ und „Historien“ gestohlen wurden, hieß es, sie seien 300.000 und 240.000 Euro wert. Nur lagen die höchsten Auktionspreise für diese beiden Grafiken bislang nur wenig über 90.000 Euro für das eine und knapp 28.000 Euro für das andere.
Die Fantasie-Zahlen schmeicheln jedoch nicht nur den Sammlern, deren Verlust damit dramatisiert wird, sie werden auch von den Kunstdieben geschätzt, weil sie so aus der Zeitung erfahren, was ihre Beute wert ist. Denn ihnen geht es ums Geld.
Kunstdiebstahl ist, wenn berühmte Werke gestohlen werden, oft „art-napping“, also der Versuch, ein Lösegeld zu erpressen. Alle in diesem Gewebe Gefangenen – Sammler, Museen, Versicherer – bestreiten zwar, dass das üblich sei. Aber ein „Finderlohn“ von gewöhnlich sieben bis zehn Prozent des Marktwertes wird schon mal gezahlt. Oder eine „Aufwandsentschädigung“ für Mittlerdienste bei der Wiederbeschaffung. Denn das kommt allemal billiger als die volle Versicherungssumme.
Und es hat seine Tücken. Das musste die Hamburger Kunsthalle erfahren, nachdem sie 2003 Caspar David Friedrichs „Nebelschwaden“, die 1994 in Frankfurt aus der Schirn gestohlen worden waren, zurückerhalten hatte. Sie wollte dem Rechtsanwalt, der das eingefädelt hatte, seine Auslagen nicht zahlen, weil sie ihn der Komplizenschaft mit den Dieben verdächtigte. Aber da das nicht zu beweisen war, wurde die Kunsthalle vom Gericht zur Zahlung verurteilt: 250.000 Euro – bei einem Versicherungswert von knapp zwei Millionen Euro.
Eine Rückkehr der verlorenen Kunstwerke ist allerdings eher die Ausnahme. Lediglich zwischen zehn und 20 Prozent der Fälle werden aufgeklärt. Und die Liste berühmter Bilder, die nicht wieder auftauchten, ist lang. Viele dienen, das gilt inzwischen weitgehend als gesicherte Erkenntnis, den weltweit agierenden kriminellen Banden als eine Art Zweitwährung beim Drogenkauf oder als Pfand, um illegale Kredite abzusichern. Damit kommen Drogen- und Menschenhandel ins Spiel, denen, was die Umsätze betrifft, die Kunstkriminalität angeblich nur wenig nachstehe.

VAGE ZAHLEN

Doch selbst wenn die sechs bis acht Milliarden realistisch wären, wäre das ein kümmerlicher Erlös. Denn nach Schätzungen der Vereinten Nationen werden mit Menschenhandel etwa 35 Milliarden, mit dem illegalen Drogenhandel zwischen 400 bis 500 Milliarden Dollar umgesetzt. Wobei auch das nur vage Zahlen sind, weil keines dieser „Gewerbe“ seine Buchführung publik macht oder das Finanzamt an den Erlösen teilhaben lässt.
Nicht anders ist es bei der Kunstkriminalität – wobei unausgesprochen bleibt, ob sich die Zahlen nur auf Raub und Diebstahl beziehen oder ob Fälschungen und andere Formen des Kunstbetrugs, auch die Beute aus Raubgrabungen und der Kunstschmuggel mit eingerechnet sind.
Auf der Seite von Interpol heißt es deswegen unmissverständlich: „Wir besitzen keine Unterlagen, dass der illegale Handel mit Kunst die dritt- oder vierthäufigste Form illegalen Handels ist. Jedenfalls ist es äußerst schwierig, eine genaue Vorstellung zu gewinnen, wie viele kulturelle Objekte weltweit gestohlen werden, und es ist unwahrscheinlich, dass es jemals darüber genaue Statistiken geben wird.“
Nicht anders sieht es bei den Summen aus, die damit umgesetzt und verdient werden. Nicht zuletzt auch, weil Kunstbesitz oft nicht versichert und bei Diebstahl nicht gemeldet wird, weil er mit Geld erworben wurde, das den Umweg über Steuern und Finanzamt scheute. Kunst und Geld sind nicht zuletzt Geschwister, die ihre Geheimnisse zu wahren wissen.

December 16th, 2009

Posted In: Mailing list reports

Tags:

During Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s visit to Paris, France handed over five ancient Egyptian relics. But for Zahi Hawass, the flamboyant Egyptologist at the heart of the latest antiquities scrap, the mission is not yet over.
By Guillaume LOIRET (text)

Gone are the days when young French writer André Malraux, who would go on to become France’s minister for culture, could chip off four sculptures from a Cambodian temple and ship them back to France. Almost a century later, the French government has officially returned five frescoed fragments from a Luxor tomb to Egypt, ending a row that had poisoned relations between Cairo and Paris.

The artefacts, the last of which was handed over to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak by his French counterpart, Nicolas Sarkozy, in Paris on Monday, are thought to belong to a more than 3,200-year-old tomb in the Valley of the Kings. They were illegally carried out of Egypt in the last century, before the Louvre museum in Paris acquired them in 2000 and 2003.

Enter the antiquities hunter

The fragments’ return home is largely the work of a 62-year-old Egyptian, Zahi Hawass, who has spent the better part of the past decade scouring the world on the hunt for relics from the Pharaoh’s age. “This news fills me with joy. I have sent a delegation from the Cairo museum to fetch them in Paris,” he told FRANCE 24.com in a phone interview from Cairo.

A controversial figure, Hawass has been at the helm of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities since 2002. As such, he alone can grant archaeologists the permits required to carry out excavations in his country.

A few years back he embarked on a mission to repatriate some of the artefacts from Ancient Egypt that are currently held in Western museums. On his website, Hawass boasts of having recovered some 5,000 works of art that had been disseminated across the world. To lay his hands on the Louvre’s relics, he went so far as to withdraw Egypt’s collaboration with the landmark Parisian museum.

In a statement released on Monday, Sarkozy said France was “committed to fighting the illegal trafficking of works of art”. But in an interview with FRANCE 24.com, a source at the French culture ministry, who wished to remain anonymous, said Hawass’s move to withdraw Egyptian collaboration with the Louvre was tantamount to blackmail.

He also noted that France was careful to point out that it was handing over – and not returning – the fragments. “A return would have implied a theft, whereas the Louvre bought the fragments in good faith – even though they had initially been taken out of Egypt illegally,” he noted.

Recovering Egypt’s finest art

Hawass has recently repeated his demand for the British Museum to return the famous Rosetta Stone, which helped French scientist Jean-François Champollion decipher Egyptian hieroglyphics more than two centuries ago.

Cairo’s famous antiquities hunter has also lobbied for the return of a 3,500-year-old bust of Queen Nefertiti, wife of the famous Pharaoh Akhenaten, on show at the Neues Museum in Berlin. Hawass is set to discuss the matter with a representative of the Neues in Cairo later this month. “Negotiations with Germany have only just begun,” he said.

Nor will the Louvre’s recent gesture of goodwill spare it from future harassment. For Hawass, the return of the frescoes is just the beginning. “We will officially request the return of six major works currently in France, including the famous Dendera zodiac [deemed one of Ancient Egypt’s most valuable objects and also housed in the Louvre],” he told FRANCE 24.com.

Hawass’s persistent demands have irritated some officials in Paris. “There was a time when he even wanted the obelisk on Place de la Concorde [in Paris]! We cannot empty all of France’s museums just to please him,” said the source at the French culture ministry. Concerning the Dendera zodiac, he added, “We are protected by the UNESCO convention [an international text, signed in 1972, that details the rules governing ownership of artworks acquired through fraud].”

The hidden agenda

Hawass has more than one trick up his sleeve. In a bid to pile the pressure on Paris, London and Berlin, he has announced plans to host an international conference on the return of artworks to their rightful owners some time next year. “The idea,” he said, “is to raise awareness of the issue and draw up a list in which each country can name the antiquities it wants back.” Italy and Greece will no doubt be invited.

Critics say the archeologist’s zeal conceals a hidden agenda, with some suggesting he has set his eyes on the post of culture minister. But one thing is certain: Hawass is hoping the future Grand Egyptian Museum, which is set to open on the Giza plateau between 2011 and 2012, will house the most beautiful works of art from Ancient Egypt – including those that are now abroad.

December 15th, 2009

Posted In: Mailing list reports

Tags:

$12.3 million in Smithsonian property is missing, inspector general says
Since 2005, the Smithsonian Institution has lost $12.3 million in personal property, including 89 laptop computers.
A. Sprightley Ryan, the Smithsonian’s inspector general, told a congressional committee Thursday that management had failed to hold employees responsible for pilfering items belonging to the Smithsonian, mostly office equipment. “The institution has held only one person accountable for $40 worth of the $12.3 million in missing property in the last five years,” Ryan said.
G. Wayne Clough, the Smithsonian secretary, told the House subcommittee on interior, environment and related agencies, a panel of the Appropriations Committee, that the institution would now strictly enforce policies involving museum property.
Ryan, following reports from another Smithsonian unit, discovered that managers were required to adhere to few controls in registering property, pursuing missing objects or disposing of property. The inspector general recommended better training and wider use of accountability forms.
Clough said the Smithsonian is in the process of hiring three people who will be dedicated to managing these concerns.
The inspector general also reported that the Smithsonian had misappropriated $550,000 from its facilities maintenance accounts to two capital construction projects during fiscal 2008. Maintenance and repair of the Smithsonian’s aging structures has been a chief concern in Congress for many years, and the Appropriations Committee’s funds had been earmarked for those purposes. Rep. Norman Dicks (D-Wash.), the subcommittee chairman, called the switch a “misuse of how Congress intended the money to be spent.” Ryan replied, “We are satisfied that the likeliness of this happening again will be minimal.”
Dicks said he was also concerned about the impact of asbestos in public and storage buildings on Smithsonian workers and visitors. The Washington Post reported Thursday that a former employee of the National Air and Space Museum had received a settlement of $233,000 following a diagnosis of a lung disease linked to breathing asbestos fibers. Clough said that a number of measures to detect and communicate about asbestos were in place and that several dozen employees had requested a health screening. The results of the screenings, however, were not yet known, he said.
The committee also received a new report from Mark L. Goldstein, a director of the Government Accountability Office, who said the Smithsonian was moving ahead on reforms but still had areas to improve, including its contracting policy, financial reporting and involvement with the museum’s advisory boards

Since 2005, the Smithsonian Institution has lost $12.3 million in personal property, including 89 laptop computers.

A. Sprightley Ryan, the Smithsonian’s inspector general, told a congressional committee Thursday that management had failed to hold employees responsible for pilfering items belonging to the Smithsonian, mostly office equipment. “The institution has held only one person accountable for $40 worth of the $12.3 million in missing property in the last five years,” Ryan said.

G. Wayne Clough, the Smithsonian secretary, told the House subcommittee on interior, environment and related agencies, a panel of the Appropriations Committee, that the institution would now strictly enforce policies involving museum property.

Ryan, following reports from another Smithsonian unit, discovered that managers were required to adhere to few controls in registering property, pursuing missing objects or disposing of property. The inspector general recommended better training and wider use of accountability forms.

Clough said the Smithsonian is in the process of hiring three people who will be dedicated to managing these concerns.

The inspector general also reported that the Smithsonian had misappropriated $550,000 from its facilities maintenance accounts to two capital construction projects during fiscal 2008. Maintenance and repair of the Smithsonian’s aging structures has been a chief concern in Congress for many years, and the Appropriations Committee’s funds had been earmarked for those purposes. Rep. Norman Dicks (D-Wash.), the subcommittee chairman, called the switch a “misuse of how Congress intended the money to be spent.” Ryan replied, “We are satisfied that the likeliness of this happening again will be minimal.”

Dicks said he was also concerned about the impact of asbestos in public and storage buildings on Smithsonian workers and visitors. The Washington Post reported Thursday that a former employee of the National Air and Space Museum had received a settlement of $233,000 following a diagnosis of a lung disease linked to breathing asbestos fibers. Clough said that a number of measures to detect and communicate about asbestos were in place and that several dozen employees had requested a health screening. The results of the screenings, however, were not yet known, he said.

The committee also received a new report from Mark L. Goldstein, a director of the Government Accountability Office, who said the Smithsonian was moving ahead on reforms but still had areas to improve, including its contracting policy, financial reporting and involvement with the museum’s advisory boards

December 15th, 2009

Posted In: Mailing list reports

Tags:

Habtra, Iraq: there have been fears over stolen antiquites in the region

Archaeologists from around the world are meeting in Cambridge University to discuss the setting up of an international body to prevent the looting of historic sites.
The Illicit Antiquities Research Centre, based at the university’s McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, says that the volume of illegally excavated and exported artefacts has “increased enormously” in the past 20 years.

More than 60 archaeologists and academics from 20 countries will be meeting at the institute on Monday to discuss ways of reducing the threat to historic sites and artefacts caused by looting and the trade in stolen antiquities.

An international black market in antiquities is increasing the number of raids on historical sites
Among recent causes for concern for archaeologists have been the loss of items from ancient cities in Iraq, in the wake of the Gulf War, and the trade in excavated material from important sites in Mali and Peru.

The organisers say that they want the conference to be a “springboard” for the formation of an organisation to “stem the looting and discourage the collecting of ancient objects”.

The delegates will discuss the loss of historical evidence through the destruction of finds by looters and the links with an international black market in illegally-acquired antiques.

The research centre, which monitors looting and the trade in antiquities, says that this growing illegal industry has been the key factor behind “the large-scale plundering of archaeological sites and museums around the world”.

“The single largest source of destruction of the archaeological heritage today is through looting – the illicit, unrecorded and unpublished excavation to provide antiquities for commercial profit,” said Professor Colin Renfrew, director of the institute.

December 15th, 2009

Posted In: Mailing list reports

Tags:

Recibió una llamada de Interpol, que considera “un pedido de rescate encubierto”
Por: Fernando García
Con hora 11.08, el e-mail partió de Madrid. “Asunto: Cuadros robados de Berni: Tengo que comunicarme con vos para contarte algunas noticias jugosas de los cuadro robados. José Antonio”. Desde su casa en España, entonces, José Antonio, uno de los herederos de la obra de Antonio Berni habló para contar una peripecia que podría resumirse así: “La realidad hoy es que los cuadros están pero hay que pagar para verlos”.

Berni sostiene que con fecha 24 de noviembre recibió en Madrid una llamada de la sección de Interpol-Buenos Aires. Si bien las 15 obras robadas el año pasado se publicaron en la página web de la división para denunciar su desaparición, Interpol no había participado en la investigación por decisión de la fiscal Claudia Gambotto. A través de esa llamada, explica Berni, “me transmitieron un pedido de dinero contra los cuadros de parte de gente que serían informadores. El sistema es así: uno firma un acuerdo por el cual el informador da una información a cambio de dinero. Para mí es un pedido de rescate encubierto. Los cuadros están pero hay que pagar para que aparezcan porque si no, como me dijeron, se pierden por un tiempo largo y no aparecen más”.

El subcomisario Marcelo El Haibe, jefe de la sección de Patrimonio cultural de la Policía Federal, reconoció haber llamado a Berni a Madrid. Su versión indica que a fines de setiembre recibió un llamado anónimo desde un locutorio. “Recibimos otros llamados antes sobre los Berni pero éste me pareció más serio”, asegura. Este anónimo se habría presentado como el abogado de un cliente al que le habían ofrecido los cuadros. Según El Haibe, el abogado explicó que el cliente hablaría en caso de que Berni ofreciera una “recompensa”. El anónimo, según su versión, se habría comprometido a volver a comunicarse. “Lo llamé a Berni para avisarle de esta situación y preguntarle si estaba dispuesto a ofrecer una recompensa, algo que está previsto en el Código Civil”.

Vuelve Berni. “Esto es alucinante: el primer llamado que tengo de la policía después de un año es para pedir dinero”. El Haibe dice que el “informante” no volvió a comunicarse. Berni tiene una versión muy distinta. “Después del primer llamado volví a comunicarme con Interpol. Esto pudo haber sido el 26 o 27 de noviembre. Me explicaron que este abogado les dio fotos de los cuadros, que las tenían ahí. Yo esta versión se la mandé grabada a la fiscal. Lo que dice ahora no es lo mismo que me dijo a mí”.

Lo que dice “ahora” El Haibe es que “si la negociación avanzaba se le iban a pedir elementos suficientes al informante para considerar que esa persona tenía las obras. Una manera era que aportaran fotos del reverso de las obras”.

Según Berni, el abogado que llamó a Interpol hasta tuvo contactos con los aseguradores de Ascoli & Weil. “Hubo un contacto fluido, así consta en la versión que mandé a la fiscalía. Cuando a mí me llaman de Interpol me hablan de esta persona como alguien culto y de dinero que no iba a vender la información por poco dinero”.

En Interpol dicen que fue una suposición porque esos cuadros no se los ofrecerían a cualquier cliente …

Si ahora se transformó en suposición es otra cosa … un policía no puede comunicarse con un damnificado para decirle “pague”.

Interpol de nuevo. “A veces ofrecer una recompensa de un 5 o 10% puede ayudar. La gente que los mandó a robar quiere algo de plata porque está visto que no los pueden vender”. ¿La grabación que Berni presentó ayer a Gambotto es una denuncia? “No, yo simplemente quise ponerla al tanto. Argentina va camino a transformarse en una Somalía del arte”.

¿Y usted cree que Interpol está en esto?

Yo no creo nada. La realidad es que hoy los cuadros están pero hay que pagar para verlos.

http://www.clarin.com/diario/2009/12/15/sociedad/s-02101254.htm

December 15th, 2009

Posted In: Mailing list reports

Tags:

À 19 millions d’euros, le «Portrait du comte Mathieu-Louis Molé» est la plus chère acquisition du musée depuis 2007.

Pour l’instant, il a trouvé refuge dans une des «salles rouge» où sont accrochés les peintres français. Demain, le grand Portrait du comte Mathieu-Louis Molé par Ingres, dernière et très chère acquisition du Louvre, prendra sa juste place aux côtés de Monsieur Bertin et du Duc d’Orléans. «On verra trois chefs-d’œuvre de l’art du portrait politique, qui résument à eux seuls tout le génie pictural d’Ingres», se réjouit Henri Loyrette, président du Louvre. Debout, de trois quarts, l’air sérieux mais pas sévère, le comte Molé scrutera ainsi les visiteurs, avec l’air de celui qui vient de loin.

C’est en effet à la suite d’un cambriolage que la famille de Noailles a décidé de vendre cette toile, image d’un lointain aïeul, diplomate et plusieurs fois ministre. «Elle était depuis toujours dans un grand salon, à la campagne : on l’a décrochée pour la mettre en sécurité. Mais ce n’était pas satisfaisant de penser qu’elle ne serait plus jamais vue», explique aujourd’hui la famille.

Vendre, mais à qui ? Selon une estimation de départ, ce tableau de maître valait quelque 30 millions d’euros – somme astronomique qui n’était à portée que d’une poignée de musées dans le monde. Lorsqu’il se positionne, le Louvre n’a d’ailleurs pas le budget de son ambition : il ne dispose que de 5,5 millions dans sa cagnotte. Il a en face de lui deux musées américains, dont les ressources ne sont pas encore affectées par la crise. «Ce tableau, nous le voulions. Un portrait de cette taille et de cette importance, il n’y en a quasiment plus. Le fait qu’il ait toujours été dans une maison de famille en garantissait la provenance, ce qui est rare de nos jours », explique Anne Vincent, responsable des acquisitions au Louvre.

Trois mécènes, Eiffage, la Banque de France et Mazars donnent chacun quelques millions d’euros. Marc Fumaroli bat le rappel des 60 000 membres de la société des Amis du Louvre, qui offriront en tout 3 millions. Il reste à trouver… plus du double.

«De la solidarité face à un trésor national»

La famille consent alors un premier effort, et baisse le prix à 24 millions d’euros. Mais le compte n’y est toujours pas. Se passe alors quelque chose de l’ordre de « la solidarité face à un trésor national », selon l’expression de Marc Fumaroli. Un mystérieux donateur intervient, on puise dans le fonds du patrimoine du ministère de la Culture, les Amis du Louvre remettent la main à la poche.

« De notre côté, nous avons décidé que ce tableau devait rester en France, et que le Louvre était le mieux placé pour lui donner une seconde vie », explique la baronne de Noailles, qui a fini par transiger à 19 millions d’euros.

Le musée estime qu’une histoire pareille ne pourrait avoir lieu à l’heure actuelle. Les mécènes hésitent désormais à s’engager lourdement.

Quant à la gratuité pour les moins de 26 ans, elle aurait « asséché» le budget annuel d’acquisitions « d’environ 2 millions d’euros». Pourtant, «une institution qui n’achète plus devient statique, et perd petit à petit de son rayonnement international», juge Anne Vincent.

December 15th, 2009

Posted In: Mailing list reports

Tags:

PARIS — Le Louvre considère “tout à fait injustifiée” la demande de restitution de deux statues d’Apollon et de Jupiter (Zeus), que lui a adressée récemment la ville turque d’Izmir, a indiqué Henri Loyrette, le président-directeur du musée du Louvre, interrogé par l’AFP.
“Nous avons considéré que c’était une demande tout à fait injustifiée”, a déclaré M. Loyrette, en soulignant que ces deux statues de marbre avaient été achetées au XVIIe siècle par la France.
“Cette demande de restitution n’est pas une demande officielle”, a souligné M. Loyrette. Elle émane du maire d’Izmir, l’ancienne Smyrne, et n’est pas relayée par l’Etat turc, a-t-il ajouté.
Alors que la France a rendu lundi à l’Egypte cinq fragments de peintures murales auparavant détenues par le Louvre, le musée souligne que les deux dossiers sont très différents.
Les fragments restitués à l’Egypte avaient été acquis sur le marché par l’Etat français en 2000 et 2003. Lorsque Le Caire a fourni des documents démontrant qu’ils étaient sortis d’Egypte illégalement, le Louvre et les autorités françaises ont aussitôt accepté de rendre ces oeuvres.
L’Apollon de Smyrne et le Jupiter de Smyrne ont été découverts en 1680 en contrebas des ruines du stade de la ville et ont été achetées pour Louis XIV par un agent consulaire français. A cette époque, la France entretenait des relations privilégiées avec l’empire Ottoman, souligne le musée français.
Acquises légalement il y a trois siècles, ces statues “ne peuvent évidemment pas faire l’objet d’une demande de restitution”, souligne le Louvre.
Les règles internationales en vigueur, parmi lesquelles la convention de l’Unesco de 1970, ratifiée par la France en 1997 et dont les effets ne sont pas rétroactifs, concernent les objets d’art volés ou ayant fait l’objet d’un trafic illégal. Les sculptures de Smyrne du Louvre ne rentrent donc pas dans ce cas de figure, ajoute l’établissement public.
Dans une lettre adressée récemment à la direction du Louvre, le maire d’Izmir, Aziz Kocaoglu, a revendiqué ces deux statues de marbre exposées au musée du Louvre. Il estime que ces oeuvres devraient rejoindre un musée des civilisations égéennes que la ville entend fonder.
Le Louvre lui a répondu qu’il n’en était pas question et a relevé que le musée parisien “contribue à la valorisation du patrimoine turc et de la ville d’Izmir en particulier puisque cette demande a surgi à l’occasion de l’exposition en cours +D’Izmir à Smyrne+”.
Les deux statues sont actuellement visibles au Louvre dans le cadre de cette exposition qui se tient jusqu’au 18 janvier 2010.

December 15th, 2009

Posted In: Mailing list reports

Tags:

TORONTO — Is it real or fake?
That’s the question raised in a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum, which will present artifacts ranging from Egyptian antiquities and Chinese porcelain to knockoffs of designer brand clothing.
The 115 objects in “Fakes & Forgeries: Yesterday and Today,” opening Jan. 9, include bogus items displayed alongside their genuine counterparts. Visitors will see fossils, pre-Columbian urns, ancient Greek terracotta statuettes, black market DVDs and hockey equipment, the museum says.
Show sponsor Microsoft Canada contributes a display on counterfeit software, while the Bank of Canada is providing a historical exhibit on phoney money.
The exhibition also gives tips on how to avoid being fooled by modern scams, said Paul Denis, assistant curator in the ROM’s department of world cultures.
Forgery of art and collectibles has gone on for centuries and is bound to continue as prices for many works follow a steep upward trend, said Denis.
“Today’s counterfeiters also go far beyond the art market, creating all manner of phoney consumer goods: designer clothing, jewelry, electronic equipment, computer software, pharmaceuticals and even food,” he said.
“Fakes & Forgeries,” produced by the ROM, runs until April 4 and will travel to museums across Canada.

December 15th, 2009

Posted In: Mailing list reports

Tags:

Forged art and antiquities worth £4 million will be displayed at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
By Urmee Khan Published: 7:30AM GMT 14 Dec 2009
The exhibition, curated by the Metropolitan Police Service’s Art and Antiques Unit, will include confiscated works by Shaun Greenhalgh, the forger who executed “masterpieces” such as paintings purporting to be the work of the L S Lowry and statue of The Egyptian Amarna Princess.
The alabaster carved figure, created in Bolton in 2003, was sold for £440,000 before it was revealed as a fake.

The V&A will also show forgeries of work by the artist John Myatt, who copied 20th century artists such as Marc Chagall and faked Victoria paintings by Robert Thwaites, who was jailed in 2006.
They will form part of an exhibition to raise awareness about fraud by the Metropolitan Police Service’s Art and Antiques Unit, who will also showcase some of the investigative methods involved in detecting and preventing the increasingly sophisticated crime of art forgery.
Det Sgt Vernon Rapley, from the unit, said: “We need to raise awareness of fakes and forgeries and the issues surrounding it to try to prevent crime in the future.“Hopefully, by making people more aware of the dangers they face and the methods used, people will be able to protect against it.”
The Metropolitan Police Service’s Investigation of Fakes and Forgeries free exhibition which will open at the Victoria and Albert Museum on January 23– 7 February 2010. (http://www.vam.ac.uk/exhibitions/future_exhibs/index.html)

December 12th, 2009

Posted In: Mailing list reports

Tags:

Italian police recover hoard of stolen ancient artifacts

Associated Press

ROME — Italian police have broken up a ring of looters who raided tombs for ancient artifacts and exported them illegally to countries including the United States, officials said Friday.

During more than a year of investigations, authorities recovered nearly 1,700 statues, vases and other artifacts dating from pre-Roman times to the heyday of the empire. Police flagged 19 people for possible investigation by prosecutors.

The artifacts were mainly dug out from tombs in the areas around Naples and Venice and included a bronze bust of the emperor Augustus, customs police in Rome said .

Part of the loot had been smuggled to the United States to be sold to collectors, they said.

The Italians said they worked with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in New Haven, Connecticut, to recover 47 ceramic and bronze statutes that had been looted from a tomb in southern Italy dating between the 6th and 5th centuries B.C.

Over the past decades, thousands of artifacts have been secretly dug out and smuggled out of Italy to be sold to museums and collectors worldwide.

In recent years the country launched an international search for its lost treasures, cracking down on the illegal antiquities market and seeking deals with museums for the return of looted artifacts.

December 6th, 2009

Posted In: Mailing list reports

Tags:

Italy police seize secret stash of masterpieces

By FRANCES D’EMILIO (AP) – 1 hour ago

ROME — Italian tax police said Saturday that they had seized works by Van Gogh, Picasso, Cezanne and other giants of art in a crackdown on assets hidden by the disgraced founder of the collapsed dairy company Parmalat.

Authorities estimated the 19 masterpieces stashed away in attics and basements were valued at some euro100 million ($150 million).

Parma Prosecutor Gerardo Laguardia said that, based on wiretapped phone conversations, officials believed at least one of the paintings hidden by Calisto Tanzi was about to be sold.

“We got lucky. We learned that there were negotiations under way to sell one of the paintings” and raid three apartments in the area of Parma, near Parmalat’s headquarters, Laguardia said in an interview on Italy’s Sky TG24 TV. He didn’t identify the painting.

Bologna-based tax Police Col. Piero Iovino told The Associated Press by telephone that investigators believed the entire batch of paintings, watercolors and drawings were up to be sold. The prospective buyer was a Russian, possibly living in Italy, Iovino said.

No arrests were announced as part of the art seizure.

Tax police said Parma prosecutors are opening a probe into alleged concealing of assets in Parmalat’s bankruptcy case.

Parmalat, the dairy conglomerate known for its long shelf-life milk grew from a small dairy distributor in Parma, into a diversified, multinational food company by 1990, but collapsed in 2003 under euro14 billion in debt — eight times what it had previously acknowledged — in what remains Europe’s largest corporate bankruptcy. Many small investors who lost their life savings were among some 40,000 defrauded bondholders.

Italian courts have already ruled that Tanzi bore the brunt of responsibility for the collapse. Tanzi was convicted by a Milan court last year of market-rigging and other charges in one of multiple probes. He is currently on trial for alleged fraudulent bankruptcy.

Tanzi has blamed the banks for the labyrinth of deals that helped swell the company to a global empire with operations in more than 30 countries, but also led to the company’s collapse.

For years after the collapse, Tanzi was rumored to have had a “hidden treasure” somewhere. On Nov. 29, a state TV show alleged that Tanzi had hidden a collection of artwork to try to shelter himself from the effects of looming collapse of Parmalat.

“I don’t have any secret cache” of paintings, Tanzi told reporters the next day on the sidelines of his current trial in Parma, repeating his ongoing dismissal of reports that he had a so-called “little treasure” of assets squirreled away.

A lawyer who represents Tanzi and serves as his spokesman didn’t answer his cell phone Saturday.

Police showed some of the paintings to journalists near Parmalat’s headquarters Saturday.

After the TV show, “we tightened the screws” and zeroed in on Tanzi son-in-law Stefano Strini, Iovino said. “He told us that the paintings were Tanzi’s” and led police to the apartments, he said.

As the corporate failure loomed, Tanzi moved to safeguard his wealth by hiding “property whose value endures through time,” Iovino said.

Among the masterpieces was a pencil on paper portrait of a ballerina by Degas, two Van Goghs, including a depiction of a trunk of a willow tree and a still life, a watercolor by Cezanne and a pencil-work by Modigliani.

Tax police official Massimo said some of the paintings were carefully wrapped for protection, but that other paintings, including a Picasso, were left open in the store room.

Associated Press reporter Giovanni Fontana contributed to this report.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5h6Ot4HOnZYKzlfNctSctVqi8kMEgD9CDAM180

December 4th, 2009

Posted In: Mailing list reports

Tags:

Together, towards restitution of cultural goods

Illicit traffic of cultural goods constitutes a transnational phenomenon that can only be fought by developing strong international cooperation, which unfortunately turns out to be an arduous task for Euro Mediterranean countries. The European Union is offering support to its partners.

Bruno Barmaki – Beirut, Eurojar

Within the framework of the Euromed Heritage program, and with the support of UNESCO (under the patronage of the Lebanese General Directorate of Antiquities), the European Union has held, on November 2009, a seminar on reinforcing legal and institutional framework for the prevention of cultural properties illicit traffic. In addition to experts from international organizations, representatives of 8 Mediterranean countries have taken part in this seminar: Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Occupied Palestinian territories, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. But, beyond this encounter, what is the situation on the ground?

In fact, with insufficient financial and technical resources, these eight countries are endeavoring, against all odds, to protect their national wealth from vandalism, pillage and illicit traffic: a real struggle, mainly due to legal and institutional obstacles.

In reality, the phenomenon of illicit traffic is so much important that it seems impossible to calculate. The main reason is that national and international authorities are often unaware of traffic perpetrators identity, not to mention the lack of coordination with international bodies and the absence of an exhaustive inventory on cultural properties in most of those countries. Unfortunately, illicit traffic of cultural goods is not a priority issue for governments. Yet, it should be considered like this one day: above all, the country’s identity is at stake here. Furthermore, cultural properties constitute a vital resource for cultural tourism. It seems regrettable that until now, archeological wealth issue is not reasonably examined by scientists as it should be.

Inventories: a starting point
How could countries succeed in preserving their cultural heritage? The first step is to create an inventory, experts say unanimously, as well as the Euromed Heritage program (who has already organized a workshop on this issue in Paris, in December 2008). Without an inventory of cultural goods, it is impossible to prove property in case of thievery. This is why this action should be urgently undertaken by all concerned countries. Nevertheless, if the principle of inventory seems simple – taking photos, describing, giving measurements and numbering the cultural property –, its execution is far from being that easy, especially when human and financial resources are seriously lacking. In the West Bank, “I am the only person in charge of this task” with some rudimentary tools, and this mission was not launched until recently, says Khader Abdelfattah Khanfar, director of inventory at the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquity. On the opposite side, Egypt is “a country that possesses inventory lists that date from the XIX century, with a law protecting archeological wealth”, explains Ramadan Badry Hussein, national documentation project director.

The fact remains that establishing an inventory is not sufficient. Cultural goods still have to be protected. It is not only a matter of museums surveillance, stocks control, forbidding access to excavation sites or hunting clandestine excavation perpetrators. Yet, these objectives are far from being easily reachable, even for small surfaces such as Lebanon, then what about huge countries like Algeria? In order to facilitate control measures, cooperation between different state bodies proved useful. Thus, administrative services related to General Directorate of Antiquities and to Customs and Police services are called to coordinate their activities. Speed and reaction skills to thievery are also essential.

Cross-border crime
What should be done in case of a crime? All is not lost, if concerned parties manage to have high-speed cooperation. In fact, once it is proved that illicit traffic crime is of cross border nature – accentuated with an illicit traffic on Internet -, immediate Interpol response would certainly facilitate the restitution of a stolen good. Except that local police services do not always solicit the “World police” assistance.

This lack of reactivity is seriously harmful, especially that Interpol is equipped with an electronic platform related to each local office, a network that allows to transfer information in a few minutes throughout the world”, explains Karl-Heinz Kind, head of team at the drug and criminal organizations unit, adding that “this database contains information about more than 34,000 cultural goods stolen in 2009, against 17,000 in 2000.” With detailed description and photos of each object, it helps identifying the cultural goods, notably in auctions and private art galleries or even in museums. Thanks to this database system, “it happens that we succeed to catch the stolen objects a few minutes before the auction takes place… sometimes 30 years after they were stolen”, adds Mr. Kind. In order to facilitate the work process, Interpol has extended its cooperation to include UNESCO and ICOM, as well as the National council for museums.

Customs officers should also be mobilized, “as borders surveillance constitutes a golden opportunity for the restitution of stolen pieces”, says Massimiliano Caruso, technical attaché at the World Customs Organization (OMD). The organization is making available several tools and resources to help limit the traffic of cultural properties, notably a database that is expected to be functional starting 2010, as well as an optional but unified export certificate, according to Mr. Caruso.

Also, “UNESCO has created a database of national laws on cultural heritage, import-export procedures, certificate models, contacts lists and Internet websites available for interested persons. To date, this list included links to 2233 full-text of laws related to 176 states, among which 100 from 20 Arab countries”, explains Edouard Planche, at the UNESCO Section of Museums and Cultural Objects.

Bilateral conventions
This cooperation would be even more efficient if it is accompanied by cooperation and bilateral conventions for the restitution of stolen properties between bordering countries, on the basis of reciprocity. One could imagine such agreements being concluded between Maghreb countries, or for instance between Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.

Can we think of a Euro-Mediterranean convention that helps link different countries of the Mediterranean? Jean-Louis Luxe, Euromed Heritage program expert, says he prefers an international cooperation for fighting against illicit traffic of cultural goods. The European Union is adopting at this level a much more personalized approach that consists in soliciting the involvement of officials from each country in reinforcing their legal and institutional framework to face this curse. In case of need, EU could offer expertise mission.

Thus, in view of the cross-border nature of these crimes, international conventions remain the most efficient tool. Even if we think that their elaboration is an easy task, seeing that their condemnation is unanimous, we notice that reality is much more complicated, since conventions should respond to “two conflicting logics regarding cultural properties: the market logic for importing countries, and the ethic logic for exporting countries”, explains Ridha Fraoua, seminar reporter, adding that “it was necessary to find a modus Vivendi between all the submitted proposals”. If La Haye (1954) and UNESCO (1970) conventions have received a great number of adherents, the UNIDROIT convention (1995), which has the advantage to be applicable directly in court without any need for national legislations, includes only thirty adherents, among which Algeria, the unique Southern Mediterranean country. If other “sources” seem reluctant, it is because they consider that this convention does not bring necessary legal warranties for the restitution of stolen cultural goods. Whatever were the apprehensions of these countries, they are called, according to Mr. Fraoua, to stop being “mere consumers of international conventions.”

It still remains that, as in all fields, awareness campaigns are vital for illicit traffic prevention. This is why the EU, UNESCO, Interpol and ICOM hold a large outfit of media tools. Jennifer Thevenot from ICOM explains that the council is for example publishing a series of “100 lost objects” and a “Red List” (per country) of stolen archeological pieces. The idea behind that is to adopt a “qualitative approach” to reach tourists and import markets specifically. Mediterranean partner countries actions remain limited in this field.

Workshops
The Euromed Heritage IV program has foreseen five legal workshops for the period 2008-2011, on the following themes:
-Inventories, Paris, France, December 2008.
-Reinforcing legal and institutional framework: “preventing and fighting illicit traffic of cultural property”, Beirut, December 2009.
-Reinforcing legal and institutional framework: “planning regulations and urban rehabilitation”, Rabat, December 2009
-Economic regeneration: economics of heritage assets and funding opportunities, 2010.
-Training and education in heritage management, 2011.

December 4th, 2009

Posted In: Mailing list reports

Tags:

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

December 4th, 2009

Posted In: algemeen

BY IHOSVANI RODRIGUEZ
SUN SENTINEL
They were found spread out in cupboards, book shelves and in boxes inside a trailer home in Central Florida.

On Tuesday, about 150 Peruvian and Ecuadorian artifacts, some more than three centuries old, were returned to their homeland where authorities say they belong.

“I couldn’t dare to put a value to the collection, but as a culture, to us they are invaluable,” said Jaime Arrospide, deputy consul general of Peru, during a press conference in Miami.

The bizarre case began in 2007 when a retired businessman, identified as Edgardo Sosa, died with no relatives or heirs. After a long probate case, a management group that ran Sosa’s retirement community in Avon Park bought his home. Sales manager Heather Barfield said she found the artifacts and realized quickly they weren’t just any pottery that could be found on eBay.

“In searching the Internet, we realized this is illegal to possess. So we contacted the FBI,” she said on Tuesday.

Most of the artifacts — baskets, jewelry, figurines and sculptures — appear to be red clay pots of various sizes. Others seem to be made from cloth. Barfield said they were spread throughout the two-bedroom, pre-manufactured home.

The FBI’s Art Crime Team based in Miami teamed with archaeologists from Florida International University to trace the origins. They believe they were initially stolen from graves and churches and later sold on the black market.

About 140 items were determined to be from areas in that make up modern-day Peru and 12 were traced to sites in modern-day Ecuador.

Most predate the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Western Hemispher

December 4th, 2009

Posted In: Mailing list reports

Tags:

Freitag, 4. Dezember 2009 07:08  – Von Gabriela Walde
“Vier verlorene Kinder sind zurück!”, geradezu emotional kündigte Michael Eissenhauer, Generaldirektor der Staatlichen Museen, gestern in der Alten Nationalgalerie die Rückkehr von vier Gemälden an.

Allesamt stammen sie aus dem 19. Jahrhundert und galten seit 1945 verschollen: Charles Hoguets “Brücke über einen Fluss”, Eduard Meyerheims “Kinder vor der Haustür” und Virgilio Narcisse Díaz de la Peñas “Waldinneres”. Das Prunkstück unter den Rückkehrern dürfte Carl Blechens lichtdurchfluteter “Weg nach Castel Gandolfo” (1830) sein. Nach dem die vergilbte Firnes behutsam abgenommen wurde, leuchtet es nun frisch restauriert in malerischer Schönheit. Ab Januar 2010, nach Abbau der Carus-Ausstellung, wird es zusammen mit 35 anderen Werken des Künstlers im Blechen-Saal zu sehen sein. Dort, wo es auch früher hing. 1881 gab es im Haus die erste große Blechen-Retrospektive überhaupt.

Nicht alle verschollenen Werke gehören zur sogenannten Beutekunst, vieles wurde in den Kriegswirren zerstört oder durch (privaten) Diebstahl entwendet, oft kann aber die Art des Verlustes schlichtweg nicht näher bestimmt werden – wie es auch bei den vier Berliner Gemälden der Fall ist. Sie wurden alle unabhängig voneinander im Kunsthandel aus privater Hand angeboten. Blechen tauchte 2007 in München auf. Eine Echtheitsprüfung ergab, dass das Werk nach Berlin gehörte. Heute weiß man nur, dass das Gemälde aus Schutzgründen in den Flakbunker Zoo ausgelagert wurde. Vor dem Zweiten Weltkrieg besaß das Haus auf der Insel 47 Blechen-Gemälde, heute fehlen noch 13 Werke.

Erst nach der Wiedervereinigung war es überhaupt möglich, die genauen Verluste der Staatlichen Museen zu dokumentieren. Im geteilten Berlin gab es zwischen den Museumsleuten Ost und West eine von DDR-Seite verordnete Kontaktsperre. Die Alte Nationalgalerie vermisst aktuell 600, die Neue Nationalgalerie 800 Werke – ein Drittel des Bestandes. Die vier Gemälde bezeichnete Eissenhauer vor dem Hintergrund dieser dramatischen Verluste als ein “Rinnsal der Rückführung”.

Diese Rückführungen basieren heute oft auf diplomatischen Verhandlungen. Stiftungspräsident Hermann Parzinger lobte die “sehr gute Zusammenarbeit” zwischen den rückgabewilligen Besitzern und den internationalen Kunsthäusern wie Christie’s und Sotheby’s. In der Regel, so weiß man bei der Stiftung, sind die Auktionshäuser heute sehr vorsichtig im Umgang mit Werken, deren Provenienz nicht eindeutig geklärt ist. Mittlerweile fühlen sich die Kunsthändler einem Ehrenkodex verpflichtet, der gute Ruf und damit auch die Geschäftsbeziehungen stehen auf dem Spiel. Kommt es zu einvernehmlichen Lösungen zwischen beiden Seiten wird ein Aufwendungsersatz, bzw. ein Finderlohn ausgehandelt. Im Allgemeinen gilt ein Satz von zehn Prozent des Marktwertes. Die rechtlichen Rahmenbedingungen für Rückgabeverhandlungen sind laut Parzinger allerdings schwieriger als in anderen Ländern, wo es “optimaler läuft”. In Deutschland gilt auch auf Kunstwerke die Verjährungsfrist von dreißig Jahren – damit entfällt jegliche rechtliche Handhabung. So erklärt es sich auch, dass man in den seltensten Fällen Details des jahrzehntelangen Verbleibs rekonstruieren kann, zumal die Besitzer meistens anonym bleiben.

Gerade in den letzten Jahren sind vermehrt verschollene Werke aufgetaucht. Das liegt unter anderem daran, dass Dokumentationen lückenloser geworden sind und Provenienzforschungen professioneller. Zudem, so Eissenhauer, gäbe es einen wichtigen Generationswechsel, wo Kunstwerke frei und von den Erben nicht selten veräußert werden. Dazu passe ein zunehmender Bewusstseinswandel, wonach Kunstwerke nicht mehr nur beliebige Warenwerte darstellten, sondern zunehmend als geachtete Träger “kultureller und historischer Identität” verstanden werden.

December 3rd, 2009

Posted In: Mailing list reports, WWII

Tags:

Egypt to hold talks over Nefertiti bust
Thu Dec 3, 2009 6:19am

1 of 1Full Size
By Marwa Awad

CAIRO, Dec 2 (Reuters Life!) – Egypt, in a diplomatic tug-of-war with Germany over the bust of Queen Nefertiti, will hold talks this month to try to recover the 3,400-year-old pharaonic treasure Egypt says was smuggled out of the country.

Egyptian antiquities chief Zahi Hawass told Reuters he will meet the director of the Egyptian Papyrus Collection at Berlin’s Neues Museum, where the bust is on display, on December 20 to resolve the row over Nefertiti, the mother-in-law of boy king Tutankhamun.

With almond-shaped eyes and a swan-like neck, Nefertiti has caused a rift between the two countries, each intent on having the bust that attracts millions of visitors worldwide.

“The only thing we are going to discuss is whether the director has any legal papers to show that the bust of Nefertiti left Egypt legally,” Hawass said. “All evidence that I collected till now shows the bust of Nefertiti left Egypt illegally.”

Hawass’ efforts to repatriate Nefertiti are among the priorities of a campaign for the return of pharaonic treasures including the Rosetta Stone, now in the British Museum, that Egypt says were plundered by a succession of foreign powers.

Hawass said the German museum official, Friederike Seyfried, was expected to present evidence that the bust was acquired legally. Egypt will show how the bust was taken from the country after being passed off as a less significant find, he said.

The German officials could not be reached for comment.

The bust of Nefertiti was found in Egypt in 1912 at Tell el-Amarna, the short-lived capital of the realm of Nefertiti’s husband, the 18th dynasty Pharaoh Akhenaten.

The bust later turned up in Germany.

WILLING TO NEGOTIATE

Egypt would be willing to negotiate a deal to give Germany other Egyptian artefacts in return for Nefertiti, Hawass said, although he did not say which pieces might be on offer.

He said successive German governments have rebuffed Egypt’s demand for the return of the queen, one of the world’s most reproduced images.

“I can negotiate. I am not against museums or having artefacts be shown to the public,” Hawass said. “I can send them artefacts in return.”

Hawass said Berlin has been reluctant to lend the bust to Egypt for display in its homeland, partly over concerns that Egypt lacked the facilities to house the valuable artefact.

But Hawass said Egypt now had ample museums fit for unique artefacts, adding that he wanted to display Nefertiti in a newly completed museum in Minya in southern Egypt.

Hawass vowed to campaign for other important artefacts he said were illegally taken from Egypt.

Hawass said he would continue to push for the return of other artefacts including the Rosetta Stone, which carries an inscription in three scripts including Egyptian hieroglyphics and was the key to deciphering ancient Egyptian in the early 19th century.

Egypt is also seeking a statue of Great Pyramid architect Hemiunu from the Roemer-Pelizaeus Museum in Hildesheim, Germany; the Dendera Temple Zodiac from the Louvre in Paris; and Khafre Pyramid-builder Ankhaf’s bust from Boston’s Museum of Fine Art.

“If I have proof that this statue or painting is stolen from Egypt, I have the right to it,” Hawass said.

December 3rd, 2009

Posted In: Mailing list reports

Tags:

Het artikel BEVEILIGING EN VEILIGHEID IN EEN MUSEUM in het recente nummer van Securitymanagement (nummer 12, december 2009) eindigt met een quote van een van de deelnemers aan deze rondetafelconferentie over museumbeveiliging: “Die schilderijen kun je nergens verkopen, dat zie je iedere keer weer. Uiteindelijk komen ze bijna altijd weer terecht”. Dat zie je iedere keer weer? Ik monitor kunstdiefstal al 25 jaar en zie dat helemaal niet.

Het is niet zo dat beroemde kunst zichzelf beschermt omdat criminelen er toch niets mee kunnen. Zijn ze dan wel verkoopbaar? Wie zal het zeggen? Feit is dat slechts 20% van de kunstdiefstallen opgelost wordt en dat een nog kleiner percentage van de gestolen objecten wordt terug gevonden. Het terugvindpercentage van schilderijen is het minst somber. Van gestolen schilderijen wordt ongeveer 50% terug gevonden. Dat duurt gemiddeld 7 jaar. Wanneer een deelnemer aan deze rondetafelconferentie 50% ziet als “bijna altijd”, dan kan met even weinig recht gezegd worden dat ze “bijna nooit” terecht komen.

Over kunstdiefstal doen veel mythes de ronde. Een van de oudste is dat kunst gestolen wordt op bestelling. Er is nog nooit gestolen kunst terug gevonden bij die geheimzinnige verzamelaar die kunst op bestelling laat stelen. De diefstallen zouden verricht worden door georganiseerde bendes. Nog los van de vraag hoe georganiseerde criminaliteit gedefinieerd wordt kan ook deze bewering zeer onvoldoende gestaafd worden met feiten. Wanneer een zaak opgelost wordt waarbij sprake is van georganiseerde criminaliteit, dan wil dat nog niet zeggen dat kunstcriminaliteit voornamelijk een zaak is van georganiseerde criminaliteit.

Het probleem met kunstdiefstal is dat het aantal opgeloste zaken zo beperkt is dat stellige conclusies over dit fenomeen met grote reserve benaderd moeten worden. Nog zo’n cijfer: volgens de FBI is het zo dat 80% van de opgeloste diefstallen uit musea interne betrokkenheid heeft. Je schrikt je een hoedje wanneer je zoiets leest. Vormen die medewerkers zo’n groot risico? Zelfs die conclusie is niet gerechtvaardigd want het gaat hier over opgeloste zaken. Misschien is het wel zo dat verduistering in dienstbetrekking (= interne diefstal) gemakkelijker op te lossen is zonder dat die 80% iets zegt over de medewerkers als risicofactor.

Laten we met z’n allen stoppen met opmerkingen als “gestolen op bestelling”, “men kan er toch niets mee”, of “het komt wel terug” want we weten het niet.

Dat de terugkeer van gestolen objecten helemaal niet zo zeker is moet een van de vijf deelnemers aan deze rondetafelconferentie bevestigen, of is hier misschien sprake van wishful thinking en wordt gehoopt dat die uit het Museon gestolen diamanten juwelen nog boven water komen? Ik help het hopen.

Deelnemers aan de rondetafelconferentie:

  • Hans Buurman, Gemeentemuseum Den Haag
  • Erwin leemans, Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam
  • Peter Westdijk, Scheepvaartmuseum Amsterdam
  • Jan Melman, Naturalis Leiden
  • Rob de Jager, Museon Den Haag

Ton Cremers
Mueum Security Network

December 3rd, 2009

Posted In: Uncategorized

2. Dezember 2009, 17:12 Uhr
GÖTTINGEN. Ein Mitarbeiter der Universität Göttingen hat versucht, ein kostbares Buch aus der Hochschul-Bibliothek bei einem niederländischen Antiquar zu Geld zu machen. Das Buch aus dem 16. Jahrhundert, von dem es weltweit nur elf Exemplare gibt, sei dem Antiquar für 100 000 Euro zum Kauf angeboten und zugeschickt worden, teilte die Polizei am Mittwoch mit. Da ein anderes Exemplar zuvor bei einer Versteigerung 370 000 Euro erbracht hatte, schöpfte der Antiquar Verdacht und hakte bei der Universität nach. Diese schaltete die Polizei ein, die den Mitarbeiter bei der zum Schein vereinbarten Geldübergabe auf einem Autobahnrastplatz bei Göttingen festnahm. Bei dem Werk eines spanischen Autors von 1545 handelt es sich um die Erstausgabe eines Buchs über die Kunst des Navigierens mit einem Kompass. Das Buch lagerte bei der Bibliothek in einem Tresor in einem besonders gesicherten Bereich, zu dem der Angestellte als Verantwortlicher Zugang hatte. Unter seinem echten Namen bot der Mitarbeiter das Buch per E-Mail dem Antiquar in Utrecht an und gab vor, im Auftrag der Uni zu handeln. Der Niederländer bot 100 000 Euro für das Buch und ließ sich dieses auch zuschicken. Dann aber schöpfte er Verdacht. Gegen den geständigen Mitarbeiter wird wegen Unterschlagung ermittelt, die Hochschule suspendierte den Mann. Die Niedersächsische Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Göttingen gilt mit ihrem Bestand an alten Werken als eine der führenden Bibliotheken in Deutschland. Die Handschriften und wertvollen Bücher sind in geschlossenen Sondermagazinen und Tresoren untergebracht, deren Sanierung vor vier Jahren abgeschlossen wurde. In diesem Zusammenhang wurde auch die Sicherheitstechnik grundlegend erneuert. (dpa)

December 3rd, 2009

Posted In: insider theft, Mailing list reports

Tags:

12 detained in Paris over stolen painting
By JEAN-PIERRE VERGES (AP) – 8 hours ago
PARIS — French police detained 12 people in a sweep of a respected Paris auction house Wednesday after finding a stolen Courbet painting worth euro900,000 ($1.3 million) at an employee’s house.
Police raids on the Hotel Drouot, its warehouses and homes of employees uncovered other small artworks believed to have been stolen, a police official said.
Twelve people — an auctioneer, eight commission agents and three of their family members — were detained and questioned Wednesday by investigators from the agency for fighting art trafficking. Two were later released, the official said. The official was not authorized to be publicly named because the investigation is ongoing.
The 2004 theft of the Courbet painting, “The Wave,” prompted a formal judicial inquiry.
Police found it in the house of one of the commission agents, the official said. No other details, including about how and where the painting was stolen, were immediately available.
The stolen Courbet was one of several paintings by the convention-smashing, 19th-century realist master with a stormy ocean theme.
The Hotel Drouot is a large auction house in a sprawling 19th-century building in central Paris. It auctions fine art and antiquities, as well as such objects as pieces of the Eiffel Tower and mime Marcel Marceau’s top hat.

December 2nd, 2009

Posted In: Mailing list reports

Tags: