Naar aanleiding van diverse incidenten bij erfgoedbeheerders (musea, bibliotheken, archieven, kerken met kostbare collecties en monumenten) organiseerde het Instituut Collectie Nederland (ICN) op basis van een projectvoorstel door Ton Cremers (Museum Security Network) in 2002/2003 de Haagse Pilot waar circa 25 Haagse erfgoedbeheerders samenwerkten aan het opstellen van hun individuele calamiteitenplannen en de basis werd gelegd voor een netwerk van collegiale samenwerking en ondersteuning bij incidenten en calamiteiten. Dat Haagse Netwerk is actief sinds 2003.

De Haagse Pilot werd in november 2003 afgesloten met het zeer succesvolle congresGLAMOUR FOR SAFETY AND SECURITY. Deze naam werd bedacht door Antoinette Visser (momenteel directeur van het Haags Historisch Museum) – de zeer enthousiaste motor achter de Haagse Pilot – van het ICN.

Musea ondernemen vele ‘glamorous’ activiteiten zoals wisselende tentoonstellingen, prachtige vaste presentaties en productie van prachtcatalogi. Met dergelijke activiteiten kan in de erfgoedwereld en daarbuiten ‘gescoord’ worden en deadlines worden, soms moeizaam, altijd gehaald.

Het maken van een calamiteitenplan is niet glamorous en er is geen deadline. Vandaar dat het maken van zo’n plan vaak vooruit geschoven wordt. Antoinette Visser en het ICN wisten glamour toe te voegen aan het maken van een calamiteitenplan, en met veel succes.

Na de Haagse Pilot vonden projecten plaats in Leiden, Delft en Rotterdam. Ook in België werd de ICN aanpak overgenomen en vonden overeenkomstige projecten plaats. Ton Cremers was bij al deze projecten betrokken.

Op basis van deze projecten en het door Ton Cremers gemaakte format voor calamiteitenplannen in musea publiceerde het ICN in 2003 de HANDLEIDING VOOR HET MAKEN VAN EEN CALAMITEITENPLAN VOOR COLLECTIEBEHERENDE INSTELLINGEN (auteurs Marja Peek en Ton Cremers).

Uiteindelijk verspreidde deze methodiek zich als een olievlek over heel Nederland aangestuurd door de provinciale museumconsulenten en gesubsidieerd door OCW via deMondriaanstichting, provinciale en gemeentelijke overheden. Dankzij deze methodiek hebben enkele honderden erfgoedbeheerders inmiddels een calamiteitenplan met daarin een hoofdstuk COLLECTIEHULPVERLENING.

Deze COLLECTIEHULPVERLENING moet analoog aan de bedrijfshulpverlening periodiek geoefend worden. Die oefeningen schieten er meestal bij in.

Dankzij samenwerking tussen Ton Cremers en Jeroen Jochems, directeur van deDocumentenWacht en de MuseumWacht kunnen nu CHV TRAININGEN op locatie gegeven worden. Jeroen Jochems heeft in vele provinciale projecten CHV voorlichting en CHV training gegeven. In de MuseumWacht heeft hij zich omgeven met een uitgebreid netwerk van gespecialiseerde restoratoren die waar nodig gespecialiseerde ondersteuning kunnen geven bij de CHV trainingen.

Het is niet de bedoeling dat de CHV trainingen een verkorte opleiding hanteren en restaureren erfgoedcollecties wordt. In onze visie moet de collectiehulpverlening en de eerste bereddering tijdens of zeer kort na een calamiteit zo zijn opgezet dat ook niet-collectiedeskundigen adequaat kunnen optreden om schade te voorkomen of te beperken. Na de calamiteit zal de deskundigheid van de collectieprofessionals het primaat hebben. Vergelijk het maar met de rol van een EHBO-er en de arts. De collectie professionals moeten vanzelfsprekend een belangrijke rol vervullen bij het opzetten van het CHV plan, inclusief de prioriteitenstelling, en de instructie van de medewerkers.

De trainingen die aangeboden worden door het tandem Jeroen Jochems / Ton Cremers, eventueel aangevuld met gespecialiseerde restoratoren, heeft de meeste kans van slagen indien de organisatie in het bezit is van een actueel calamiteitenplan. Mocht dat plan er niet zijn dan kunnen we ondersteuning bieden bij de totstandkoming van dat plan.

Jeroen Jochems

Ton Cremers

January 31st, 2010

Posted In: Uncategorized

UNESCO is launching a campaign to protect Haiti’s moveable heritage, notably art collections in the country’s damaged museums, galleries and churches, from pillaging.
The Director-General of the Organization, Irina Bokova, on Wednesday wrote to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, asking for his support in preventing the dispersion of Haiti’s cultural heritage.
“I would be most grateful,” she wrote, “if you would request Mr John Holmes, your Special Envoy for Haiti and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian affairs, as well as the relevant authorities in charge of the overall coordination of UN humanitarian support in Port-au-Prince – the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and the Department of Peace Keeping Operations (DPKO) – to ensure, as far as possible, the immediate security of the sites containing these artefacts.”
Ms Bokova further asked Mr Ban to consider recommending that the Security Council adopt a resolution instituting a temporary ban on the trade or transfer of Haitian cultural property. The Director-General also suggested that institutions such as Interpol, the World Customs Organization (WCO) and others assist in the implementation of such a ban.
The Director-General is also seeking to mobilize the support of the whole international community and of art market and museum professionals in enforcing the ban. “It is particularly important,” she urged in her letter, “to verify the origin of cultural property that might be imported, exported and/or offered for sale, especially on the Internet.”
Referring to UNESCO’s previous experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Director-General said she intended to draw on national and international experts to orient and coordinate the assistance required to protect Haiti’s cultural heritage. “This heritage,” she insisted “is an invaluable source of identity and pride for the people on the island and will be essential to the success of their national reconstruction.”
It is important to prevent treasure hunters from rifling through the rubble of the numerous cultural landmarks that collapsed in the earthquake. Among them are the former Presidential Palace and Cathedral of Port-au-Prince, along with many edifices in Jacmel, the 17th century French colonial town Haiti planned to propose for inscription on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
The one property already inscribed on the List – the National History Park – Citadel, Sans Souci, Ramiers – with its royal palace and large fortress appears to have been spared by the quake. As were the country’s main museums and archives.
UNESCO has already helped salvage the exceptionally rich historical archives of George Corvington, the historian of Haiti. It is also contributing to attempts to rescue whatever panels or significant fragments remain of the remarkable painted murals that decorated the Episcopal Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Port-au-Prince.

January 30th, 2010

Posted In: Mailing list reports

According to a report in the Nigerian Compass reproduced below, the French Government has returned to the Nigerian Government two artefacts looted during the colonial days. This is good news.
We have in various articles demonstrated the illegality, the illegitimacy and the immorality of detaining the cultural artefacts of others against their consent, whether the objects were looted, stolen or acquired under other dubious circumstances. We have urged Western museums that are full of such objects to endeavour to come to some acceptable arrangements with the owners. However, most Western museums have remained deaf to all reasonable pleas and demands for restitution.

January 29th, 2010

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

Thieves Bore Hole Through Library Wall; $12K Worth Of Computer Equipment Stolen
Ripped out of the pages of a novel, some bold thieves bored through the wall of a Philadelphia library and stole thousands of dollars worth of computers.
Now, the people who depend on those computers are pleading for help.
The novel and the movie Shawshank Redemption come to mind, but instead of 20-odd years it took thieves several hours to smash through the brick wall, taking with them the lifeline of an entire community, Fox 29’s Julie Kim reported.
The picture shows the work of some dedicated thieves at the Cecil B. Moore Branch Free Library located on Cecil B. Moore and Ridge avenues.
“Someone had burrowed a hole through the wall and came and stole all of the computers,” library patron Marjorie Lazenby said.
Six harddrives, eight computer monitors and the accessories to go with them were all ferreted away through a hole in the wall.
On the other side is a vacant home the thieves used for cover.
“Who would even think of something like that?” Lazenby asked.
It’s been a plot in novels and movies, but here in the real world the theft of the $12,000 worth in equipment means people like Lazenby lost a reliable way to access the Internet.
“I went to look for an apartment and look for another job,” she said. “And that’s heartbreak to me because I use them at least twice a week. I need them. I don’t have a computer at home.”
Jonathan Mathis described his use of the library computers as “looking for work, you know, on as many online career sites as I can find.”
The thieves left the card catalog and the printing computers alone, perhaps deterred by the surveillance computer.
For now, there’s no more free computer or Internet access and, according to the signs posted inside the library, due to drastic budget cuts funding may not be available to replace them.
“If anybody out there can help, please help. We need the help,” Lazenby said.
Police have not reported any arrests, and investigators could use some leads. So, if you have any information, you’re asked to contact them.
Kim did speak to someone from the Free Library of Philadelphia, who told her they are hoping to get new computers installed, but they first need to figure out how to safeguard the building.

January 29th, 2010

Posted In: Mailing list reports

FRIDAY, 29 JANUARY 2010 00:00 NIGERIAN COMPASS
THERE are indications that Nigeria’s efforts to repatriate some of it’s stolen artifacts have started yielding dividends as officials of the French government handed over to Nigeria two artifacts dated over 400 years which were unlawfully taken away from the country during the colonial times.
The works which prices in local and international market have risen immensely, have been in the collections of French galleries.
A  representative of  the French government handed over the monoliths to a representative of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chief  Ojo Maduekwe in France. At the international workshop on Illicit Trafficking of Cultural Property held early this week at the Reiz Continental Hotel in Abuja, the artifacts were handed over to the Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Senator Jibrin Gada who left it in the custody of the Director General of National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM), Mallam Yusuf Usman.
Also, the government is about to recover  two Nok cultural artifacts in Canada and bring them back to the country as early as possible, the Federal Government informed.
Maduekwe who was represented at the event by Mr. John Shama Shaga, reiterated that the governemt of Nigeria is not leaving any stone unturned in its quest to bring back the stolen artifacts to where they rightfully belong and commended French government for returning the two monoliths.
Accepting the returned antiquities on behalf of the government, the Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Senator Gada, urged museum professionals and agencies with the responsibilities of protecting the nation’s cultural property to come up with concrete workable measures for protecting Nigeria’s vast cultural heritage.
“I wish to reiterate that our cultural property represents the soul of our nation, the pages of our history and the source of inspiration to our country which therefore must be safeguarded for future generations of Nigerians. I wish to express my gratitude to French government and call on other countries to follow suit,” Gada said.
In his welcome address at the colourful ceremony held at the Reiz Continental Hotel in Abuja, the NCMM helmsman, Mallam Usman noted that “unauthorised and illicit movement of cultural objects and property” have become high issues of concern in the country. According to him the development gives so much concern to experts in the field of the arts and cultural studies as well as lovers of art that the topic now takes a prime place in international discourses. Therefore, several countries around the world have been putting in place various means of monitoring and controling the illegal movement of cultural materials to stem the now tidal vicious practice.
He moaned that the trend diminishes and impoverishes the growth potentials of a country’s art and cultural sector adding that the act also undermines a country’s tourism potentials and most unfortunately, exposes the apparent lapses of security procedures.
“Nigeria has suffered greatly from unlawful pillaging of her cultural property. This assault which has come in various forms and guises over the years has further depleted our national collections and added to those of other nations.
“Just like other nations, Nigeria has over the years put in place various legislations and means of checking this embarrassing practice by appending signatures to various international conventions entered into by the international community,” Usman informed at the occasion.
In the keynote address entitled, Towards a Strategy for Curbing Illicit Trafficking and the Return of Cultural Property, which was presented by Prof. Folarin Shyllon, the scholar recommended that Nigeria should commence bilateral negotiations with the governments of the United Kingdom and the Federal Republic of Germany for the return of the Benin bronzes adding that if negotiations fails, Nigeria should seek the assistance of the international committee to facilitate her request for the return of its antique treasures in UK, Germany and other European countries.
During the colonial era, an immense number of Nigerian and other African nations’ artefacts were plundered and taken to Europe prompting the growth of art movements and socio-cultural trends that built on African artistic culture. Several palaces, shrines, communual art collections and communities were sacked as the colonialists went for the cultural materials. The looting was grandly executed by the European who at some events obtains the items through the force of arms and via the abduction of cultural costudians and dethronement of kings as in the case of the plunder of the palace of Oba Ovurawon in Benin City in 1897.
Under the guise of Christian evangelism, trade exchange and others cummunities were made to part with their artefacts, masquerades, totems and other masterpieces which ended up in western collections. As a result, such cultural items as masks, bronze sculptures, ivory pieces, ancestral drums and others from Oron monoliths to highly ornamented Igbo Ukwu artefacts, Benin bronze, Nok teracotta pieces,  Awka traditional door posts, Ife sculptures among others are found in large numbers in big art collections in western world including the such highly rated art houses as the British Museum in London, The Luvre in Paris, Museum Island in Berlin among other places.
In September last year, France made a surprise hand-over of four fragments of an ancient tomb mural to Egyptian antiquities authorities. the four pieces were priceless tomb murals that are originally from Egypt. President Nicolas Sarkozy of France who handed over the pieces to Mubarak during a lunch at the presidential palace in Paris further pledged his country’s willingness to return a fifth piece in the first week of October, 2009 to the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. That pledge was fulfilled. The move set art authorities around the world abuzz with discussions on the repatration of artifacts.
Most experts at home narrowed the questions to what the Nigerian government is doing in the campaign to retreive its thousands of antiques scattered across the western art collections and museums filled Internet-based art discourse platforms.
An  Associated Press report 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 the return of the highly treasured fragments held by the Louvre museum was its 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 that 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.
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  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.”
The French handover of Nigerian artefacts marks a beginning of substantiable result in the still simmering campaign for the return of the artefacts to its orignal homes in Nigeria and other parts of Africa which is enjoying increasing global support.
By Lekan Olaseinde (Abuja) and Chuka Nnabuife (Arts Editor)

January 29th, 2010

Posted In: African Affairs

Frankreich als Hauptziel
Kunstdieben auf der Spur
Kunstschätze, Museen, unbewachte Kirchen: Jährlich werden in Frankreich 2000 Kunstdiebstähle verzeichnet. Kunsthändler haben oft ihre Finger mit im Spiel.
Und plötzlich ist die Wand im Museum leer:
(Foto: picture-alliance / dpa/dpaweb)
Der französische Polizeioberst Stephane Gauffeny hat das neue Jahr mit einem Berg von ungelösten Fällen begonnen. Seine Aufgabe ist es, in Frankreich gestohlene Kunstschätze wieder aufzuspüren. “Das ist ein enormer, aber faszinierender Job”, sagt Gauffeny. 2000 Kunstdiebstähle würden in Frankreich pro Jahr verzeichnet.
Der internationalen Polizeibehörde Interpol zufolge steht Frankreich mit seinen zahllosen Kulturschätzen und Museen, die jährlich von Millionen von Touristen anziehen, neben Italien weltweit an der Spitze der Kunstdiebstähle. Vermutlich in der Nacht zu Silvester wurde in Marseille das Bild “Les Choristes” (“Die Chorsänger”) von Edgar Degas im Wert von 800.000 Euro von der Wand eines Museums gestohlen. Bei zwei anderen Kunstwerken, darunter ein weiterer Degas, zeigen Spuren, dass die Diebe auch diese mitgehen lassen wollten, sie aber nicht aus den Halterungen lösen konnten.
Kunsthändler an Hehlerei beteiligt
Drei Tage später traf es dann einen Privatmann, aus dessen Villa in Südfrankreich 30 Gemälde im Wert von rund einer Million Euro verschwanden, darunter Werke von Picasso. Im Juni brachen Diebe sogar in das Pariser Picasso-Museum ein, wo sie ein Skizzenbuch des Künstlers entwendeten, dessen Wert von der Regierung auf drei Millionen Euro beziffert wird. Die Langfinger nutzten dabei offenbar Bauarbeiten, die gerade wegen als zu lax kritisierter Sicherheitsvorkehrungen angesetzt worden waren.
Oft handelt es sich bei Diebstählen der Werke bekannter Künstler um Auftragsarbeiten. “Je wertvoller ein Werk ist, desto schwieriger ist es zu verkaufen, weil jedermann das Objekt kennt”, sagt Kunstexperte Didier Rykner, der über solche Fälle in seinem Online-Journal “La Tribune de l’Art” berichtet. Die wertvollsten Kunstschätze würden von professionellen Hehler-Ringen oft noch am Tag des Diebstahls außer Landes geschafft, sagt Gauffeny. “Die meisten Leute, die an der Hehlerei beteiligt sind, sind echte Kunsthändler.”
Kirchen oft unbewacht
Durch bessere Sicherheitsmaßnahmen seien die Diebstähle im vergangenen Jahrzehnt aber um drei Viertel gesunken, sagt der Polizeioberst. Das größte Problem seien inzwischen Provinzmuseen und in noch stärkerem Maße Kirchen, weiß Kunstexperte Rykner. “In Gotteshäusern gibt es bedeutende Kunstwerke, die nicht gut bewacht werden.”
Weniger teure und damit weniger bekannte Gegenstände blieben oft in Frankreich und würden gelagert, bis sie nach einiger Zeit wieder auf den Markt gebracht würden, sagt Gauffeny. Bei Lyon stieß die Polizei vor einigen Jahren auf ein Lager von hunderten Quadratmetern Größe, nachdem es ihr gelungen war, einen Ring von Kunstdieben zu sprengen.
Interpol stellt Liste ins Netz
Zur Abschreckung hat Frankreich in den vergangenen Jahren die Strafen für Hehlerei verschärft. Und Interpol hat im August zudem einen Online-Katalog mit gestohlenen Kunstwerken ins Netz gestellt. Er listet hunderte in Frankreich entwendete Gemälde auf, aber auch wertvolle Kruzifixe, Kelche und andere Schätze, die über Jahrzehnte aus Kirchen entwendet wurden. Obwohl viele wohl für immer verschwunden bleiben werden, liebt Gauffeny seinen Job, der zuweilen auch bewegende Momente mit sich bringe. “Wenn wir ein aus einer Kirche gestohlenes Objekt zurückgeben, kommt das ganze Dorf, um uns zuzusehen”, erzählt der staatliche Kunstfahnder.
Roland Lloyd Parry, AFP

January 28th, 2010

Posted In: Mailing list reports

Hitler’s Vermeer, Pride of Vienna Museum, Faces Nazi-Era Claim
By Catherine Hickley
Jan. 27 (Bloomberg) — Hermann Goering coveted it. Adolf Hitler purchased it. Now the heirs of the man who sold it to him want the Vermeer painting back from a museum in Vienna.
“The Art of Painting” is the most valuable painting in Vienna’s public collections and the only work byJohannes Vermeer in Austria. It’s housed in theKunsthistorisches Museum, where an exhibition on the history, restoration and content of the picture opened yesterday.
The show coincides with a government-sponsored inquiry into whether Hitler’s acquisition amounted to a “sale under duress” and the painting should be returned to the heirs of the seller. The heirs say Jaromir Czernin, who spent 15 years in lawsuits to get it back after World War II and lost, had no choice but to sell it as his family was under threat.
“I am pretty sure the Republic of Austria will give this picture back,” said Andreas Theiss, senior partner at Wolf Theiss, the law firm representing the heirs.
“It is clear that if Czernin had said ‘Mr. Fuehrer, I know you are interested in my painting, but bad luck,’ then it would have been taken away anyway and his family would have been sent to a concentration camp,” Theiss said over a fish lunch in a restaurant near the museum on Vienna’s Opernring.
Prized Vermeers
Theiss said it’s impossible to set a value for the painting, though low estimates put it at 150 million euros ($211 million). Only 34 paintings that scholars unanimously attribute to Vermeer exist today. They’re all in museums, including the Louvre, London’s National Gallery, the Metropolitan in New York, Dresden’s Gemaeldegalerie and Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum.
“The Art of Painting,” dated between 1665 and 1668, is considered by many scholars to be the most important of these. It shows the artist in his studio, dressed in a stylish doublet, studying a demure model robed in blue, her eyes downcast. He is beginning to paint a wreath of blue laurel leaves on her head. A thick leather-bound book in one hand and a trumpet in the other reveal her identity as Clio, the Muse of History.
Vermeer didn’t paint it on commission and it stayed in his possession until his death in 1675. His widow, left in dire financial straits, tried to keep it but was forced to sell. It later was falsely attributed to Vermeer’s colleague Pieter de Hooch and was bought by the Czernin family in 1813.
Sale to Hitler
Jaromir Czernin inherited “The Art of Painting” in 1929. He decided to sell it, and in 1937 negotiated with U.S. Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon for a price of $1 million in gold. Austria agreed to grant the export permit, Theiss said.
Then, with the annexation of Austria to the German Reich in 1938, the sale abroad was no longer permissible. Czernin, whose family was Austrian aristocracy, began negotiating with the German industrialist Philipp Reemtsma. Theiss said Reemtsma may have been acting on behalf of Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering, who was desperate for a Vermeer for his own private collection — so desperate, that he once traded 150 paintings for a forgery by Han van Meegeren.
As soon as Hitler found out about the talks, he made use of the “Fuehrervorbehalt,” his prerogative to acquire before others, because he wanted the picture for his Fuehrermuseum in Linz, the city where he spent his childhood. He acquired it for 1.65 million Reichsmarks (about $660,000 at the time). Reemtsma had offered 2 million Reichsmarks, Theiss said.
“It was important that Hitler got it for less,” Theiss said. “He wanted to show Goering: I am the more successful because I got it cheaper.”
Gestapo Arrest
The Vienna-based heirs, represented by Jaromir Czernin’s daughter Sophie Huvos Czernin, say the use of that prerogative amounted to a sale under duress. They argue that Czernin had no option but to sell the painting to Hitler because he was married to a “second-degree Jewish half-breed.” Czernin was later deprived of his estates and was held by the Gestapo for three months, according to a memorandum from Wolf Theiss.
The price paid by Hitler was nevertheless by far the highest he paid for any artwork for his planned museum in Linz, according to Birgit Schwarz, a historian who has published two books about Hitler and his art collection.
Many of the 1,000 works assembled by his adviser on the project, Hans Posse, were looted from Jews in Austria. Others were acquired through forced sales in the Netherlands, Schwarz said in an interview in Vienna. They were stored in Hitler’s Fuehrerbau in Munich, where the Nazi leader would pay regular visits to inspect them.
Salt Mine
He had two Vermeers — the other was “The Astronomer” seized from the Rothschilds — yet his preference was for German 19th-century painters like Hans Makart, Arnold Boecklin and Anselm Feuerbach.
By the end of World War II, Hitler’s collection comprised about 4,700 works, yet the museum was never built. In May 1944, the collection was sent to a salt mine at Altaussee for protection. U.S. troops found it there at the end of the war, along with other masterpieces such as Michelangelo’s “Bruges Madonna” sculpture and the “Astronomer.”
“The Art of Painting” was returned to Vienna to be restored to the rightful owner. It has hung in the Kunsthistorisches Museum since 1945. Though Czernin sued for its return, Austria refused to restitute the painting in the 1950s, saying that neither duress nor the reduced purchase price could be proven. He died in 1966.
Handing it back to Czernin’s heirs would be a loss for Austria, which has already restituted prize works from public collections to prewar owners. The government was forced to relinquish five Klimt paintings in 2006 after a court ordered their return to Maria Altmannof California. Austria decided against buying the works because they were too expensive. The works included the 1907 portrait known as “Golden Adele,” which Ronald S. Lauder later bought for $135 million for his Neue Galerie in New York.
Decision Looms
Researchers Susanne Hehenberger and Monika Loescher are working on a provenance report about “The Art of Painting” for the Austrian Commission for Provenance Research. That commission passes its findings to a special council which makes recommendations to the government on whether disputed artworks in public collections should be restituted to heirs.
Sabine Haag, the director of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, declined to comment on the details of the case while the research is still under way.
“It is in our interest that the material is very comprehensively examined,” she told a news conference at the opening of the exhibition. “We expect a decision in the course of 2010.”
“Vermeer: The Art of Painting” is showing at Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum through April 25. For more information, go to http://www.khm.at/.
To contact the writer on the story: Catherine Hickley in Vienna atchickley@bloomberg.net.

January 27th, 2010

Posted In: Mailing list reports

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January 27th, 2010

Posted In: African Affairs, Mailing list reports

Egypt Relics Chief Pulls in Revenue as He Fights for Nefertiti
January 26, 2010, 10:44 PM EST By Daniel Williams
Jan. 27 (Bloomberg) — Zahi Hawass, head of Egyptʼs antiquities department, promotes his countryʼs cultural treasures with a showmanʼs skills and an entrepreneurʼs instincts.
His Indiana Jones-style hat and vest and television- documentary appearances put an Egyptian face on Egyptology after two centuries of foreign domination, he says. His goals include recovering icons such as a 3,300-year-old bust of Queen Nefertiti from abroad and restoring national pride in Egyptʼs relics — even in someone elseʼs museum.
“These artifacts remind us we were once a superpower,” he said during a Jan. 20 interview in his Cairo office.
Hawassʼs approach is turning those artifacts into income for Egypt. Exhibits from Tutankhamunʼs tomb that have traveled the U.S., Canada and Europe since 2005 were mounted in collaboration with National Geographic in Washington and Los Angeles-based AEG, owner of concert halls, sports teams and arenas. The tours have netted Egypt $100 million, Hawass said.
The partnerships represent a break from the past, when Egyptʼs government paid to send treasures abroad on missions of national prestige.
“If I had managed the old exhibits, Egypt would be rolling in money,” he said.
Commercialization helps fund preservation of domestic monuments, construction of new museums and protection of sites. Tourism was the countryʼs top source of foreign exchange in the fiscal year through last June, bringing in $10.5 billion, and accounted for $3.2 billion during the first quarter of the 2010 fiscal year, three times as much as the Suez Canal.
Scanned a Mummy
Hawassʼs Egypt-first focus underpins the celebrity and controversy surrounding him. He is unapologetic about his TV exploits: taking King Tutʼs mummy into the open air in 2005 for a CT scan and declaring the discovery of Queen Hatshepsutʼs mummy based on a missing tooth.
“A little publicity is a good thing,” he told a reporter when a wind blew up during the King Tut exhumation, feeding the legends of a mummyʼs curse.
“This was just show business,” said Saleh Bedeir, a researcher who resigned from the scientific team of Hawassʼs Supreme Council of Antiquities after the Tut project. “It has nothing to do with science.”
Hawass, 62, links Egyptology to refurbishing his countryʼs identity. Last month, he announced that a cemetery near the Giza Great Pyramids contained Egyptian workers who built the stone structures, not Hebrews toiling under the pharaohʼs whip.
“These people were not by any means slaves,” he said. Renovating Synagogues
He has renovated Cairo synagogues to help persuade Egyptians of the value of diversity, he said.
“Our history is a unique blend: Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Arab. I want people to feel that.”
Hawass undermined such liberal pronouncements last year with comments about Jews on an Egyptian television talk show.
“They always move together, even if in the wrong direction,” he said. “Look at the control they have over America and the media.”
After his remarks made the Internet rounds abroad, Hawass said on his own blog he was only trying “to make a point about disunity and fighting in the Arab world.”
He was also criticized last October by the Cairo-based Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, which said Hawass was persecuting a researcher for disagreeing with him on how to handle mummies. The group said in a report that Hawassʼs actions were “inhibiting scientific views.”
ʻNo Truthʼ
The Supreme Council issued a denial: “There is no truth to these arguments that we are attempting to curtail discussion.”
Repatriation may be Hawassʼs most difficult campaign. The Nefertiti bust in Berlinʼs Neues Museum and the Rosetta Stone in Londonʼs British Museum top his wish list.
ed“Thereʼs no legal basis, we have no legal right to get them back,” Hawass said. Yet he will persevere: “These are Egyptian monuments. I will make life miserable for anyone who keeps them.”
Victoria Benjamin, a spokeswoman for the British Museum, said in an e-mail the “trustees feel strongly that the collection must remain as a whole.”
Friederike Seyfried, director of the Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection at the Neues Museum, told Deutsche Presse Agentur Dec. 21, “the position of the German side is clear and unambiguous: The acquisition of the bust by the Prussian state was legal.”
Return Frescoes
Hawass banned France from exploration in Egypt last October to get the Louvre Museum in Paris to return frescoes removed in the 1980s. The Louvre complied because “serious doubts” emerged about “the legality of their exit from Egyptian territory,” Franceʼs Culture Ministry said at the time.
Several international conventions since 1954 have prohibited wartime looting, theft and resale of artifacts. The bans donʼt apply to the distant past, Hawass said. He plans to hold a conference in April on the subject and invited 30 countries, including Greece, which wants the British Museum to return the Elgin Marbles, sculptures removed from the Parthenon in the early 19th century with permission of Ottoman rulers; and Mexico, which seeks the feathered headdress of Montezuma, the Aztec ruler deposed by Spanish conquistadors, now in Viennaʼs Museum of Ethnology.
Appealing to Egyptian pride, Hawass defends TV appearances that show him opening tombs and chambers, sometimes with an axe. “You want a foreigner to open them?” he said.
–Editors: Melinda Grenier, Peter Hirschberg To contact the reporter on this story: Daniel Williams in Cairo at +2-010-330-2417 or dwilliams41@bloomberg.net To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg in Jerusalem at +972-2-640-1104 or phirschberg@bloomberg.net

January 27th, 2010

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Smuggling network busted
According to the antiquities department many of the finds came from sites in Cyprus while other artefacts originate from countries yet to be determined. — PHOTO: AP:
http://www.straitstimes.com/BreakingNews/World/Story/STIStory_481900.html#
NICOSIA – CYPRUS authorities said on Monday they had uncovered the island’s largest ever antiquities smuggling ring trying to sell stolen artefacts for 11.5 million euros (S$22.8 million).
Ten Cypriots have been detained in custody while authorities have issued arrest warrants against five other suspects – including a Syrian – in connection with the case, police said.
Some of the objects date back to 2000 BC and include pottery, coins and small golden statuettes. According to the antiquities department many of the finds came from sites in Cyprus while other artefacts originate from countries yet to be determined.
Police said they had 110 officers on the case after being alerted by Greek authorities when a Greek undercover policeman was approached by someone offering the treasure for sale in Cyprus.
‘By cooperating with the Greek authorities were able to track and locate this smuggling ring,’ Communications Minister Nicos Nicolaides told reporters on Monday.
However, the case also raises questions about security surrounding the island’s archaeological sites. ‘This is our heritage and the most precious things we have so they should be made safe,’ said Nicolaides.
Police are also investigating whether the suspects are linked to a wider international smuggling network. Authorities on the British bases in Cyprus also helped in the search of properties where the cultural treasures were hidden. — AFP

January 25th, 2010

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Picasso needs repairs after woman tears it
NEW YORK – A notable painting by Picasso will undergo repairs after a visitor to the Metropolitan Museum of Art accidentally lost her balance and struck it.
The museum says the accident caused a vertical tear of about 6 inches in the lower right-hand corner of “The Actor,” painted by the artist during the winter of 1904-05.
The museum says the damage didn’t affect the “focal point of the composition.”
Curatorial and conservation staff assessed the painting’s condition following Friday’s accident when a visitor attending a class struck the artwork in one of the museum’s galleries.
The nearly 6-by-4-foot canvas depicts an acrobat posed dramatically against an abstracted backdrop.

January 25th, 2010

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Hemali Chhapia, TNN, 24 January 2010, 02:01am IST
MUMBAI: India has lost a slice of its history, from an institution no less than Asiatic Society of Mumbai, founded in 1804 to preserve India’s rich antiquity. From the deep recesses of this establishment where even roaches can’t enter, maps circa 18th Century — priceless, irreplaceable, hand-drawn and colourful original prints — have been disappearing from its vaults.
Almost nothing remains of the entire set of maps that date back to 1803-04: they depict the expanse of Mumbai (then Bombay) in great detail when the first revenue survey was carried out. Called the Dickinson survey, close to 350 rolls had every part of the city drawn — its street plan, forts, old tanks, buildings. The 200-year-old guardian of these maps has no clue how they slipped through its fingers. And in what doesn’t seem to be an admirable reflection of Asiatic Society’s efforts to preserve these records, another set of antique rolls last catalogued in 1975 is short of 150 maps. These included admiralty charts of various parts of the world, some drawn by the Portuguese who were considered prolific cartographers.
‘‘It appears to be a systematic theft. Of another set of 1,330 maps that were catalogued by an internal committee of Asiatic, only 1,135 remain now. I’ve written a letter to Society regarding these missing maps. Maps have been vanishing over a period of time,’’ said geographer B Arunachalam. The architect of University of Mumbai’s geography department, Arunachalam’s expertise is mathematical cartography, and he has worked with bodies like Society of Indian Ocean Studies, Indian National Cartographic Association, National Geographic, India.

Antique maps missing from Asiatic SocietyHemali Chhapia, TNN, 24 January 2010, 02:01am IST
MUMBAI: India has lost a slice of its history, from an institution no less than Asiatic Society of Mumbai, founded in 1804 to preserve India’s rich antiquity. From the deep recesses of this establishment where even roaches can’t enter, maps circa 18th Century — priceless, irreplaceable, hand-drawn and colourful original prints — have been disappearing from its vaults.
Almost nothing remains of the entire set of maps that date back to 1803-04: they depict the expanse of Mumbai (then Bombay) in great detail when the first revenue survey was carried out. Called the Dickinson survey, close to 350 rolls had every part of the city drawn — its street plan, forts, old tanks, buildings. The 200-year-old guardian of these maps has no clue how they slipped through its fingers. And in what doesn’t seem to be an admirable reflection of Asiatic Society’s efforts to preserve these records, another set of antique rolls last catalogued in 1975 is short of 150 maps. These included admiralty charts of various parts of the world, some drawn by the Portuguese who were considered prolific cartographers.
‘‘It appears to be a systematic theft. Of another set of 1,330 maps that were catalogued by an internal committee of Asiatic, only 1,135 remain now. I’ve written a letter to Society regarding these missing maps. Maps have been vanishing over a period of time,’’ said geographer B Arunachalam. The architect of University of Mumbai’s geography department, Arunachalam’s expertise is mathematical cartography, and he has worked with bodies like Society of Indian Ocean Studies, Indian National Cartographic Association, National Geographic, India.

January 24th, 2010

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January 22nd, 2010

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ANCIENT STATUE DISCOVERED IN ROME
The ancient statue was being used to decorate a flower bed in a housing estate / Europics
A PRICELESS ancient Roman statue has been discovered being used to decorate a flower bed in a housing estate.
The headless sculpture of an emperor is believed to have been stolen some time in the 1930s and then used during the construction of a posh private square in Naples, Italy.
It is thought to date back to the 2nd century BC and may once have stood in the grand gardens of a local palace.
One officer told the Austrian Times: “We knew they were aware that this statue existed but neither they nor we knew where so we just kept searching until we found it.”
Police have now restored the statue to the city’s archaeological museum after a race against time to beat the Mafia to the treasure.

January 22nd, 2010

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January 22nd, 2010

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January 22nd, 2010

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Museum offers reward for pirate’s head
A museum in Germany has offered a reward of thousands of euros for a nail-pierced skull, thought to be that of legendary pirate Klaus Stoertebeker.
The skull was stolen from the museum earlier this month.
“We are launching an appeal for the head,” said the director of the Hamburg History Museum, Lisa Kosok, without saying precisely how much was on offer.
The cranium, thought to be about 600 years old, was spirited away on January 9 in mysterious circumstances from its exhibition case.
Ms Kosok said the theft could be a “bad joke” or the culprit could be a collector with an interest in pirates.
“There are many possibilities. We are following up on a number of leads,” she said.
The skull, impaled by a large rusty nail, was discovered in 1878 during construction for a warehouse district in an area where pirates used to be beheaded and their heads displayed on spikes as a grisly warning.
The museum had long displayed the skull, which was already missing a jawbone, as belonging to Stoertebeker.
Stoertebeker is believed to have been executed in 1401 with 30 henchmen outside the walls of the Hanseatic League city.
Later forensic analysis determined that the skull may well belong to a man beheaded about 1400, although not necessarily Stoertebeker.
The museum tried in vain in 2004 to produce a definitive link to Stoertebeker with a DNA analysis comparing genetic material from the cranium with that of possible descendants.
Stoertebeker, old German for Tip Up the Mug, earned his name for his fabled carousing.
After a lengthy reign of terror on the North Seas, he was captured off the Helgoland archipelago and taken to Hamburg to be executed.

January 22nd, 2010

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13,000 Native American artifacts stolen from Southern Illinois refuge
KSDK
Thousands of Native American artifacts were stolen then sold for profit. An Illinois man has been convicted of not only stealing those artifacts, but causing devastating damage to the Cypress Creek Wildlife Refuge where he found them.
The Southern Illinois refuge, two hours from St. Louis, is protected or it was supposed to be. But authorities say one man created his own archeological dig, taking 13,000 artifacts from the ground.
Authorities from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife conducted surveillance on the suspect, and then recovered the items at his home. Among the artifacts, they found spearheads, ax heads, and tools for grinding grain. They also found more than 200 pieces of human skeletal remains.
Authorities believe the suspect, identified as Leslie Jones, would steal the items then sell them.
“Mr. Jones was using the artifacts he would collect to supplement his income. This is how he made a living,” said Geoff Donaldson of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The artifacts represent Native American culture from the Archaic Period, roughly between 3,000 and 9,000 years ago. Archeologists believe the site was a temporary village where people made tools with flint from the nearby creek. And what could have provided archeologists with knowledge of the past has now been largely destroyed.
“You cannot put a dollar amount on what was removed from the Cypress Creek Wildlife Refuge, you can’t do that. It’s a piece that can’t be restored,” Donaldson said.
For the most part, these artifacts can’t be reburied so they’ll likely end up on display in places like museums or educational centers. As for the human remains, archeologists say they can’t identify any modern descendants because they are simply too old. There is a protocol for making sure the remains are handled properly and that a Native American organization will be consulted. But they too will likely end up in the Illinois State Museum.
For his crime, Leslie Jones was sentenced to 30-days in prison, 500-hours of community service, five years of probation and $150,000 in restitution.
Authorities hope this will act as a deterrent to others.
“We’re hoping it will prevent other people, or make other people think twice before they try to do it,” said Mike Brown of the Cypress Creek Wildlife Refuge.

January 20th, 2010

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SCHOCK IM MUSEUM FÜR HAMBURGISCHE GESCHICHTE
Störtebekers Totenkopf geklaut!
VON VOLKER PESCHEL UND STEFAN SCHNEIDER
Ein leerer Glaskasten, ein verschwundener Totenkopf – und keinerlei Spur. Die Polizei tappt in einem der spektakulärsten Kriminalfälle der letzten Jahre komplett im Dunkeln. Unbekannte haben Störtebekers Schädel aus dem Museum für Hamburgische Geschichte („HamburgMuseum“) gestohlen!
BILD gestern vor Ort am Holstenwall. Kaum Besucher im Museum. Ein Wärter döst hinter einer Vitrine auf seinem Stuhl.
Im ersten Stock ist der gruselige Originalfund normalerweise zu sehen. Ausgestellt in einem verschlossenen Glaskasten, der dekorativ in eine Holzwand eingelassen ist.
Darin als Ausstellungsstücke: die bekannte Rekonstruktion vom Kopf des bekanntesten deutschen Piraten. Und ein Holzstamm, mit zwei Schädeln aus dem 15. Jahrhundert, die mit Riesennägeln festgeschlagen sind.
Der eine gehörte einem namenlosen Piraten. Der rechte hingegen wird dem einstigen Schrecken der Meere, Seeräuber Störtebeker, zugeschrieben.
Und genau der ist weg!
Am Morgen des 9. Januar haben Mitarbeiter des Museums den Diebstahl bemerkt und die Polizei verständigt.
Polizeisprecher Holger Vehren (43) zu BILD: „Wir bestätigen ein Ermittlungsverfahren wegen Diebstahls.“ Zuständig ist jetzt die Zentraldirektion. Dort gibt es erfahrene Ermittler für „spezielle Diebstahlsdelikte“, die auch bei Kunstraub ermitteln.
Geheimnisvoll: An dem Glaskasten ist keine Gewaltanwendung zu erkennen. Nach BILD- Informationen stellten die Ermittler keinerlei Einbruchsspuren fest.
Die Polizei geht davon aus, dass der Totenkopf während der Öffnungszeiten gestohlen wurde.
Im Museum selbst gibt man sich bedeckt. Für heute, 11 Uhr, ist eine Pressekonferenz angesetzt.
Museumsdirektorin Lisa Kosok: „Wir sind alle sehr bestürzt über den Diebstahl. Der legendäre und geheimnisvolle Schädel aus dem 15. Jahrhundert ist eine Reliquie der Hamburger Geschichte, eine der Hauptattraktionen unseres Hauses.“

January 19th, 2010

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Tableaux volés: forte récompense
AFP
Un industriel français, propriétaire de 32 tableaux de maîtres dont un Picasso volés fin 2009 à la Cadière d’Azur (Var), a annoncé aujourd’hui qu’il offrait “une récompense de 100.000 euros” pour récupérer ses oeuvres.
“J’ai décidé d’offrir une récompense de 100.000 euros en échange de ma collection complète”, a déclaré le propriétaire des toiles volées, estimées par une expertise à environ 600.000 euros. Il a ouvert une ligne téléphonique spécifique à cet effet.
Parmi les oeuvres figurent un dessin de Picasso, “La ronde de la paix”, signé en 1961, et des oeuvres de l’Ecole provençale et de l’Ecole de Paris datant des 19e et 20e siècles signées par Ambrogiani, Chabaud, Fujita, Marcoussi, Rousseau (homonyme du douanier).
Un dessin de Modigliani, initialement signalé disparu, a été retrouvé, endommagé parmi les cadres brisés par les voleurs qui ont emporté uniquement les peintures.
“Ces tableaux sont invendables. Toute la reproduction de la collection a été mise en ligne par les services de gendarmerie sur le site d’Interpol”, a souligné l’industriel qui souhaite rester anonyme.
Toutes les oeuvres volées proviennent “pour partie d’héritage familial et pour partie d’achats en salles de vente et galeries”, a-t-il précisé.
Les nouveaux gardiens de la propriété de l’industriel de 57 ans, à la tête de sociétés spécialisées dans l’énergie, ont découvert le cambriolage le 31 décembre.
“Après avoir tenté de pénétrer par la cuisine et la salle à manger, le ou les auteurs ont réussi à fracturer les volets et la porte-fenêtre de la chambre de mon fils. Ils ont ensuite visité toutes les pièces de la maison, vidé tous les tiroirs et les armoires. Ils se sont enfuis en traversant sur plus de 700 mètres la colline voisine”, a indiqué l’industriel, en vacances à Stockholm au moment des faits.
La section de recherches de la gendarmerie de Marseille et le groupement de gendarmerie du Var ont été saisis de l’enquête par le parquet de Toulon. L’Office central de lutte contre les trafics de biens culturels (OCBC) a été informé.

January 16th, 2010

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Tableaux volés: forte récompense
AFP
Un industriel français, propriétaire de 32 tableaux de maîtres dont un Picasso volés fin 2009 à la Cadière d’Azur (Var), a annoncé aujourd’hui qu’il offrait “une récompense de 100.000 euros” pour récupérer ses oeuvres.
“J’ai décidé d’offrir une récompense de 100.000 euros en échange de ma collection complète”, a déclaré le propriétaire des toiles volées, estimées par une expertise à environ 600.000 euros. Il a ouvert une ligne téléphonique spécifique à cet effet.
Parmi les oeuvres figurent un dessin de Picasso, “La ronde de la paix”, signé en 1961, et des oeuvres de l’Ecole provençale et de l’Ecole de Paris datant des 19e et 20e siècles signées par Ambrogiani, Chabaud, Fujita, Marcoussi, Rousseau (homonyme du douanier).
Un dessin de Modigliani, initialement signalé disparu, a été retrouvé, endommagé parmi les cadres brisés par les voleurs qui ont emporté uniquement les peintures.
“Ces tableaux sont invendables. Toute la reproduction de la collection a été mise en ligne par les services de gendarmerie sur le site d’Interpol”, a souligné l’industriel qui souhaite rester anonyme.
Toutes les oeuvres volées proviennent “pour partie d’héritage familial et pour partie d’achats en salles de vente et galeries”, a-t-il précisé.
Les nouveaux gardiens de la propriété de l’industriel de 57 ans, à la tête de sociétés spécialisées dans l’énergie, ont découvert le cambriolage le 31 décembre.
“Après avoir tenté de pénétrer par la cuisine et la salle à manger, le ou les auteurs ont réussi à fracturer les volets et la porte-fenêtre de la chambre de mon fils. Ils ont ensuite visité toutes les pièces de la maison, vidé tous les tiroirs et les armoires. Ils se sont enfuis en traversant sur plus de 700 mètres la colline voisine”, a indiqué l’industriel, en vacances à Stockholm au moment des faits.
La section de recherches de la gendarmerie de Marseille et le groupement de gendarmerie du Var ont été saisis de l’enquête par le parquet de Toulon. L’Office central de lutte contre les trafics de biens culturels (OCBC) a été informé.

January 16th, 2010

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Italy Presses Its Fight for a Statue at the Getty
By ELISABETTA POVOLEDO
PESARO, Italy — One summer day in 1964 a fishing trawler from Fano, a small seaside town a few miles south of this provincial capital on the Adriatic, unexpectedly dredged up a life-size bronze statue from the ocean’s depths. Most likely fashioned in ancient Greece and lost at sea after being looted by Romans, the sculpture is now a centerpiece of the Getty Villa, part of the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.
If Italian prosecutors have their way, however, its time in America could soon be at an end.
The statue, called “Victorious Youth” in the Getty catalog but better known as the Getty Bronze (after the museum’s founder), depicts an athlete crowned with an olive wreath. It was originally thought by some archaeologists to be the work of Lysippos, the renowned sculptor of the fourth century B.C., though more recent studies date it to the second or third century B.C. It is widely held to be one of the finest original Greek bronzes to have survived from the classical era (most bronzes from that time are Roman copies), which helps explain why it has been at the heart of a complex legal dispute for decades.
The latest round was fought on Friday, in a court here, where Italian prosecutors and lawyers for the Getty presented closing arguments in a case dealing with one key question: Was the museum acting in good faith when it purchased the statue for a little less than $4 million in 1977?
The Italians assert that the bronze was smuggled out of Italy (after being buried in a cabbage patch and later hidden by a priest) without the proper export papers, and that the museum was willfully negligent in carrying out due diligence before buying the work.
The Getty counters that it bought the statue through legal channels and with clear title. “Consistent documentation suggests that the sale was done in good faith because the seller offered sufficient guarantees to overcome every doubt,” said Alfredo Gaito, one of the Getty’s lawyers.
The judge in Pesaro, Lorena Mussoni, must now decide this issue and whether to order the seizure of the statue, which could lead to a formal request to American authorities.
Wrangling over its ownership nearly prevented a 2007 agreement between the Italian culture minister and the Getty Museum for the return of 40 artifacts that the Italians believed were looted. The deal was signed only after both sides agreed to set the question of the statue aside.
Italy has campaigned aggressively in recent years against foreign collectors, both individuals and institutions, that it argues have purchased artifacts with questionable provenances. In 2006 the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York reached an accord with Italy over the return of artifacts with an uncertain past, and deals with museums in Boston; Princeton, N.J.; and Cleveland followed.
The campaign seems to be paying off in other ways too, said Gen. Giovanni Nistri, the leader of the Carabinieri’s specialized art theft squad. Speaking at a news conference in Rome on Thursday, General Nistri said that 2009 “saw a notable decrease in tomb raiding.”
Even so, he added, last year investigators recovered nearly 40,000 archaeological artifacts, mostly coins, many of them being offered for sale on the Internet.
Greater global awareness about the looting of archaeologically rich countries has also helped spur international cooperation, and Italian investigators on Thursday singled out United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in New York for their assistance in recovering several artifacts, tracked down before they could be sold at auction.
Two of those objects — a first-century fresco from a Roman villa in the city of Boscoreale, which was stolen from a warehouse in Pompeii, and a Corinthian krater that a Japanese museum had put up for auction at Christie’s in New York — were presented at the news conference. They were returned to Italy last year, as were more than 100 artifacts confiscated by the Swiss government from a Zurich man best known for having restored the 2,500-year-old Euphronios krater, which was once the centerpiece of the Met’s antiquities collection. That piece, which the Met bought in 1972, was formally returned to Italy in 2008; although Euphronios was Greek, Italian experts argued that most of his known works had been unearthed in Etruscan tombs near Rome.
In the case of “Victorious Youth,” however, the Getty Museum insists that there is no real link between the Greek bronze — which the fishermen who found it said that they had netted in international waters, and which only briefly passed through Fano before being spirited abroad — and Italy’s cultural heritage.
But locals in Fano argue otherwise.
“The statue and its discovery has become part of our culture and folklore,” said the town’s mayor, Stefano Aguzzi, in an interview. “It’s clear we have a claim to it.”
And the fact that Lysippos’s authorship has been called into question has done little to dampen enthusiasm here. A city newspaper, a local sailing race and several small businesses are all named for the Greek sculptor.
Recently, the local chapter of the Lions Club financed the creation of a larger-than-life copy of the bronze, which has been erected at the entrance to the port.
On Friday a tiny group of protesters picketed in front of the Pesaro courthouse, demanding the statue’s return.
J. Paul Getty, the multimillionaire, fell for the statue when he first saw it in the early 1970s, and weighed buying it jointly with the Met. But according to a written account byThomas Hoving, at the time the Met’s director (he died in December), Getty had concerns about the legal status of the bronze. The Getty museum bought it the year after Getty died.
Getting the statue back is “a question of justice,” said Alberto Berardi of Cento Città, the regional association that has spearheaded the restitution campaign. “No museum in the world should exhibit works whose provenance is clearly illegal.”
The judge’s ruling is expected this month. Even if she were to order the seizure of the statue, the ruling would have to be enforced in the United States. Certainly the statue’s return “will not be automatic,” Emanuele Rimini, another Getty lawyer, said on Friday.

January 16th, 2010

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AFBEELDINGEN UIT MUSEUM DE OUDE WOLDEN GESTOLEN ICONEN, JANUARY 10, 2010

KLIK HIER OM DE AFBEELDINGEN MET OMSCHRIJVINGEN TE ZIEN.

Please reach toncremers@museum-security.org (+31 6 242 246 20) if you have any information about these stolen icons.

January 15th, 2010

Posted In: Uncategorized

Edinburgh library art theft investigated Valuable painting taken from Signet Library over New Year holiday.
Police in Edinburgh are appealing for information after a painting was stolen from a library in the city.
The artwork, by Borders artist Tom Scott, entitled I Cannae Hear Ye was taken sometime between Thursday December 31 and Tuesday January 5 from the Signet Library in Parliament Square.
The library had been closed to the public during this time, although a Hogmanay event with approximately 200 guests was held. When the library re-opened a member of staff noticed that the watercolour, which is valued between £2,500 and £4000, was missing.
Police are now appealing for anyone who can help them find the painting to come forward.
A police spokesman said: “This has been an opportunistic theft of a relatively expensive piece of artwork, and we are eager to ensure it is returned to the library.
“Anyone who has any information that can assist our inquiries should contact police immediately.”

Edinburgh library art theft investigated Valuable painting taken from Signet Library over New Year holiday.video at http://news.stv.tv/scotland/east-central/150388-edinburgh-library-art-theft-investigated/

Police in Edinburgh are appealing for information after a painting was stolen from a library in the city.The artwork, by Borders artist Tom Scott, entitled I Cannae Hear Ye was taken sometime between Thursday December 31 and Tuesday January 5 from the Signet Library in Parliament Square.The library had been closed to the public during this time, although a Hogmanay event with approximately 200 guests was held. When the library re-opened a member of staff noticed that the watercolour, which is valued between £2,500 and £4000, was missing.Police are now appealing for anyone who can help them find the painting to come forward.A police spokesman said: “This has been an opportunistic theft of a relatively expensive piece of artwork, and we are eager to ensure it is returned to the library.”Anyone who has any information that can assist our inquiries should contact police immediately.”

January 14th, 2010

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A twist in Getty Museum’s Italian court saga
Documents show that billionaire J. Paul Getty had legal concerns about a statue that his museum ended up purchasing after his death. It became known as the Getty Bronze.
By Jason Felch
latimes.com/news/local/la-me-getty14-2010jan14,0,7175504.story
January 14, 2010
Was the J. Paul Getty Museum acting in good faith when it purchased one of the finest ancient bronze statues in existence?
That will be the central question before an Italian judge after Friday’s closing arguments in a long-running legal battle in Pesaro, Italy.
At stake is a much-coveted work believed by some to have been created by Alexander the Great’s personal sculptor and plundered by Roman soldiers around the time of Christ before being lost at sea. A regional public prosecutor alleges that the Italian fishermen who discovered the Greek statue in 1964 failed to declare it to Italian customs officials and sold it to middlemen, who smuggled it out of the country.
The Getty’s general counsel Stephen Clark recently told Judge Lorena Mussoni that an exhaustive review of Getty files found no evidence that museum officials knew the statue had been smuggled.
But the Getty’s review missed at least one key document: a 1976 letter in which one of J. Paul Getty’s closest advisors refers to the museum’s “exploits over the bronze statue” as a “crime.”
The letter and other documents uncovered by a Times reporter show that the billionaire oilman and another potential buyer were troubled by the questionable legal status of the statue.
Maurizio Fiorilli, who represents Italy’s culture ministry in the trial, said in a telephone interview that he was not aware of the 1976 letter, despite the Getty’s claims that all relevant documents had been described to the court. It is too late to enter the document into evidence, but Fiorilli said he planned to bring it up in his closing arguments Friday.
“This is very important,” Fiorilli said.
In an interview, Clark said he had missed the letter during his records review but dismissed its importance.
“I wouldn’t draw the conclusion that this acknowledges there was some crime,” he said. Because the Getty bought the statue in good faith, he insisted, “Italy has no legal foundation for a claim.”
The case is probably the final chapter in the Getty’s long dispute with Italy over looted antiquities, which largely ended in 2007 when the museum agreed to return 40 of its most prized antiquities after concluding they had been looted and illegally exported.
The criminal allegations in the case were filed amid those heated negotiations, and are largely moot: The fishermen are all dead, and the alleged smugglers have never been identified.
The judge is nevertheless weighing whether to order the seizure of the statue, which was bought by the Getty in 1977 and today is an icon of the museum’s collection, displayed in its own climate-controlled room at the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades.
In 1964, the Italian fishermen discovered the ancient bronze in international waters, the last surviving crew member told The Times in 2006. Instead of declaring their find to Italian customs officials, they buried it in a cabbage patch and sold it to middlemen, who hid it in a priest’s bathtub before it was smuggled out of the country. Two years later, three brothers and a priest were charged with buying the statue from the fishermen and concealing it. An appeals court threw out their convictions in 1970 because of insufficient evidence. At the time, the statue was still missing and its value was unknown.
J. Paul Getty learned about the sculpture in 1972 from his trusted antiquities advisor, Oxford archaeologist Bernard Ashmole. The statue had resurfaced in Europe under mysterious circumstances and was being sold by a Munich art dealer for $4 million.
Enamored of the bronze, Getty asked his Los Angeles attorney to obtain an opinion on its legal status. The attorney talked to the seller’s Italian lawyers, who insisted that Italy had no claim to the statue.
But a year later, as Getty considered acquiring the statue jointly with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, he still had questions.
“It is clearly understood by us that no commitment is to be made by me on your behalf for the Greek Bronze until certain legal questions are clarified,” wrote Met director Thomas Hoving to Getty in a June 1973 letter. Hoving promised that the Met’s attorneys would talk with Italian officials to clarify the circumstances under which the statue had left Italy and whether the Italians were still pursuing a legal claim, records show.
The Met’s antiquities curator, Dietrich von Bothmer, raised legal concerns of his own, warning Hoving that the 1970 acquittal “does not permit the legal conclusion that the statue was . . . legally exported from Italy.”
In his acquisition proposal to the Met’s board, Von Bothmer wrote, “I recommend that legal opinions be solicited as to the possibility that a foreign government may at a later time, especially after publication of the statue, claim it as ‘artistic patrimony.’ “
In June 1973, Getty and the Met offered $3.8 million for the statue, provided that the legal matters were resolved, but the deal fell apart. A Met spokesman this week would not comment on what, if anything, the legal review had concluded. Von Bothmer died last October. Hoving died in December.
In 1974, Italy asked German authorities to seize the statue and extradite the Munich dealer who had offered it to Getty. Germany refused to honor the judicial request.
Getty and his museum’s antiquities curator, Jiri Frel, resumed negotiations for the statue in 1976. In a letter that February, Getty’s advisor Ashmole mentioned the pursuit of the bronze to Stephen Garrett, the director of Getty’s Malibu museum.
Ashmole wrote that “The Plunderers,” a recent British television show, “came pretty near the bone” in depicting the Getty’s acquisition of suspect antiquities. But the museum “was treated so gently as to make [it] sound almost innocent by contrast with the other horror stories.”
The museum’s “exploits over the bronze statue were also given, but again in such a way as to minimize the crime.”
Ashmole died in 1988. In an interview, Garrett acknowledged that the reference was to the Getty Bronze but said he did not recall what “crime” Ashmole was referring to. At the time, he acknowledged, museums did not ask many questions about objects they suspected of having been illegally exported.
When Getty died in June 1976, his legal concerns died with him. The following year, the Getty Museum bought the statue for just under $4 million — more than Getty himself had been willing to pay. Rather than check with Italian authorities as Getty had required, museum officials simply confirmed that the legal opinion provided by the dealer’s lawyers in 1972 was still valid, records show.
Even so, the statue was named in honor of the museum’s founder: The Getty Bronze.
Local pride
The community of Fano, where the fisherman brought the statue ashore in the 1960s, calls the bronze by another name: The Athlete of Fano. A life-size bronze replica stands at the entrance to its port.
For decades, the town has pined for the statue’s return. A complaint from a community group spurred the public prosecutor to file the current case.
Experts say the case does not fit neatly into the legal framework that has emerged for resolving disputes over looted antiquities: The statue was found by accident in international waters, not by looters ransacking an ancient tomb. And even if the judge ordered the seizure of the statue, Italy would still have to get the ruling enforced in the United States — a potentially difficult process.
But the residents of Fano saw a ray of hope in June when the judge ruled that the statue was part of Italy’s cultural patrimony, despite the short time it spent in the country.
And it may be hard, given its founder’s legal concerns, for the Getty to persuade an Italian judge that the museum conducted the proper due diligence before buying the statue.
“Instead of clearing it with Italian authorities,” said Patty Gerstenblith, a professor of law at DePaul University in Chicago, “they went to the one party that was sure to give them the answer they wanted.”
jason.felch@latimes.com

January 14th, 2010

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January 14th, 2010

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Museum security: integrated security systems to protect the priceless
Museums facing growing security challenge with rise of armed robbery
It only takes a shocking 58 seconds to steal a painting.Jonas Rehnberg, writer atAssa Abloy Future labs, speaks to former museum security chief Ton Cremers about the safe-keeping of precious artefacts in museums and art galleries.
In 2004, armed, masked robbers stormed into the Munch Museum in Oslo and stole two masterpieces – “The Scream” and “Madonna” – before the eyes of shocked spectators. As a result, the museum closed for nearly a year to update its security measures.
“Protecting priceless objects is a particularly tough challenge for public museums and galleries. These institutions face the conflicting dilemma of keeping objects safe, yet allowing millions of visitors a chance to see them,” says Ton Cremers, a former security manager at Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum for 15 years.
“A private collector of valuable cultural objects can obviously store the treasures in a strong vault, he doesn’t tell people about them and, above all, does not allow total strangers to enter and admire the collection,” he says. “Museums, on the other hand, have to do just the opposite. The goal of museum security is not to close its doors but to make sure they are opened to visitors in a responsible manner.”
Security systems must start from the roof
“Alarm systems must be attached to a building’s outer shell, windows, doors, and on all levels of a building, since experience shows that fifty percent of all thefts take place on the upper floors of a building, or even from the roof. Security measures should not be limited to motion detection inside the building,” Cremers remarks.
“The goal of museum security is not to close its doors but to make sure they are opened to visitors in a responsible manner”
“If permitted by the surrounding environment, it is ideal to have a security system that detects intruders as they are approaching the building. Use CCTV cameras with motion detection, infrared detection, or a laser system that continuously scans the outside premises.”
Cremers points out that these systems need a lot of maintenance, as the security cameras and scanners used need to be cleaned regularly to prevent false alarms. The fact that many art galleries and museums are housed in historic buildings adds to the complexity of installing adequate security. If a building’s construction prevents an upgrade to top-notch, hi-tech devices, security needs to be introduced via internal burglar-resistant compartments. “This requires a lot of creativity and tailor-made solutions,” Cremers notes.
The fact that many galleries are housed in historic buildings adds to the complexity of installing adequate security
How and where different objects are displayed inside the museum should also be a part of security planning. The most precious objects should never be placed near the outer shell of a building, a lesson painfully learned by the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna a few years ago, when the famous Cellini Salt Cellar was stolen. The theft of this valuable table sculpture, estimated at 30 million euro, took only 58 seconds. At the time, scaffolding was erected outside the building. The thief climbed the scaffolds, then smashed a window and a display case containing the piece.
“There was an alarm system attached to the windows, but no alarm response organisation will be quick enough to react adequately when it is possible to execute a burglary and theft in less than a minute,” Cremers notes.
Dependency on electronic alarm systems
This is a case, Cremers adds, which touches the very core of mistakes many museums make – they depend almost completely on electronic alarm systems.
“These systems are useless if not combined with structural and organizational measures. Security must always be established according to the redundancy principle, which means that if any of the security precautions are tampered with, the remaining measures must be able to do the job.”
Security during opening hours requires the same kind of redundancy thinking, Cremers adds. “Burglar-proof display cases and secured hanging systems for paintings are of limited use unless supported by electronic alarms and vice versa.”
Integrated security systems – key to complete solution
Redundancy thinking and integrated solutions are the cornerstones of Cremer’s advice when it comes to museum security. Firstly, he says, the organization must be reviewed according to a checklist that includes guards, visitor regulations, entrance checks, alarm response organization, layout of exhibits and routing through the building. The latter refers to a system whereby the visitor is guided through the exhibit along a dedicated path, which not only enhances viewer experience but also counteracts quick getaways following smash-and-grab attempts.
“No alarm response organization will be quick enough to react adequately when it is possible to execute a burglary and theft in less than a minute”
In addition, a complete security solution should cover structural issues such as doors, locks, fences, bars, burglar-resistant glass and hanging systems. These are complemented by electronic solutions such as motion detection, infrared systems, sound alarms, CCTV (Closed Circuit Television) systems and RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) solutions which are applied to or incorporated into the work of art, in order to locate it if stolen.
Use of CCTV as a deterrent
CCTV plays a very important part in discouraging prospective burglars, Cremers says: “All museums should have identification cameras and monitors at each entrance. Visitors and staff entering and leaving the building are monitored via CCTV cameras. This setup must be accompanied by a monitor, where the entrant clearly sees his or her image in a monitor. Thieves and robbers frequently pay a reconnoitre visit in advance. If they realise they have already been filmed they might be discouraged from any plans of thievery.”
According to FBI statistics, between 70 and 80 percent of all solved theft cases involve insider participation of some kind, says Cremers drawing attention to an often-overlooked source of crime. “I have been involved in risk assessments in over hundreds of museums over the past ten years, and it is quite astonishing how rarely the risk of insider participation is discussed.”
Growing security challenge for museums
All museums should have identification cameras and monitors at each entrance
Museums and galleries seem to be facing a growing challenge with the rise in armed robbery over the past ten years. However, Cremers believes steps can be taken to fight this.”Security gates at the entrance, fixed routes, CCTV, display cases and exhibiting the paintings behind glass – which makes them heavy and difficult to handle – are a few of the techniques available to combat the growing violence,” he says.
Finally, what happened to the Munch paintings? They were both recovered in 2006 and the museum now sports security measures such as X-ray scanners, metal detectors, and security gates for visitors.
“All our paintings are now protected with security glass and they’re very properly attached to the walls, and of course we have guards and extra surveillance,” Jorun Christoffersen, head of marketing at the museum, told CNN. “We consider the paintings as safe to exhibit now.”
Jonas Rehnberg
Freelance writer
Assa Abloy Future Labs

January 13th, 2010

Posted In: Mailing list reports

Museum theft in The Netherlands. Images of stolen icons

Images available on line at:

http://www.museumbeveiliging.com/stolen_icons.htm

Please reach toncremers@museum-security.org (+31 6 242 246 20) if you have any information.

January 13th, 2010

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Monet stolen in 2000 recovered

Warsaw – Polish police said on Wednesday they had recovered a painting by French Impressionist master Claude Monet stolen over nine years ago and had arrested the suspected thief.

Police spokesman Andrzej Borowiak told AFP that the man, whom he identified only as Robert Z, 41, had been arrested on Tuesday in Olkusz, southern Poland.

“We’re convinced that this is the individual who stole the painting,” Borowiak said.

He declined to say where the artwork itself – Monet’s 1882 oil painting “Plage de Pourville” – had been found.

“It had been kept in a good condition. It hasn’t suffered any visible damage,” he said.

The study of a beach in northern France was the only Monet on public display in Poland and was exhibited in a state museum in the western city of Poznan.

The theft was discovered on September 19, 2000.

Investigators had long been trying to trace an individual who was seen making sketches of paintings in the museum two days earlier, Borowiak explained.

“In December we obtained new evidence that helped us identify that individual, as well as the place where the painting was,” he said.

Police believe that Robert Z was the mysterious artist, he added.

The thief had cut the painting from its frame and replaced it with a copy.

Shortly before the theft, insurers had valued it at million dollars (€690 000). – AFP

January 13th, 2010

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Wielkopolska policja odzyskała obraz warty milion dolarów 2010-01-13 (09:20)
Wielkopolscy policjanci odzyskali skradziony dziewięć lat temu obraz Claude’a Moneta “Plaża w Pourville” – poinformował rzecznik wielkopolskiej policji Andrzej Borowiak.

Obraz znaleziono we wtorek w Olkuszu (woj. małopolskie). Policja zatrzymała 41-letniego Roberta Z. podejrzewanego o kradzież. Zatrzymany i obraz jeszcze w środę dotrą do Poznania.

Płótno Claude’a Moneta “Plaża w Pourville”, jedyny obraz Moneta w polskich kolekcjach, wart w chwili kradzieży co najmniej 1 mln USD, skradziono we wrześniu 2000 roku. Obraz nie był ubezpieczony.

19 września 2000 roku jeden z pracowników Muzeum Narodowego w Poznaniu zauważył, że zamiast oryginału płótna Moneta w ramach wisi falsyfikat. Przybyła na miejsce policja stwierdziła, że oryginał został wycięty z ram, a zamiast niego wstawiono falsyfikat.

– Przez te dziewięć lat policjanci wykonywali różne działania, które miały doprowadzić do odzyskania tego obrazu i do zatrzymania osoby, która dokonała tej kradzieży. Przełomem w tej sprawie była analiza śladów kryminalistycznych zabezpieczonych w miejscu kradzieży – powiedział Andrzej Borowiak, rzecznik prasowy wielkopolskiej policji.

Muzeum Narodowe nie chce się na razie wypowiadać w sprawie odzyskania obrazu. – Nie chcemy komentować tych doniesień, do czasu wykonania choćby wstępnej analizy konserwatorskiej. W tym wypadku analiza nie powinna być trudna, ponieważ obraz został wycięty z ramy i jego pozostałości są w rękach prokuratury – powiedziała Aleksandra Sobocińska, rzecznik Muzeum Narodowego w Poznaniu.

Tuż po kradzieży policja powołała specjalny zespół do wyjaśnienia tej sprawy. Opublikowano dwa portrety pamięciowe mężczyzn podejrzewanych o kradzież obrazu: pierwszy – kilka dni po kradzieży, drugi w lutym 2001 roku.

Policjanci, wyjaśniając sprawę, przyjęli kilka wersji śledczych. Jedna z nich mówiła o tajemniczym artyście malarzu, który dwa dni przed kradzieżą robił szkice w muzeum. Pracownikom muzeum podał dane personalne, które – jak się okazało – były fałszywe. Został sporządzony portret pamięciowy tego mężczyzny, który został zapamiętany w charakterystycznym jasnym, wełnianym golfie.

W wykryciu sprawców nie pomogły nagrody pieniężne. Dla osoby lub instytucji, która przyczyni się do odzyskania obrazu, ufundowano łącznie 100 tys. zł; 40 tys. nagrody przeznaczyło na ten cel Ministerstwo Kultury i Dziedzictwa Narodowego, a 60 tys. firma Polkomtel SA.

W 2001 roku Prokuratura Okręgowa w Poznaniu umorzyła śledztwo w sprawie kradzieży obrazu ze względu na “wyczerpanie możliwości znalezienia sprawcy i obrazu”.

Monet namalował “Plażę w Pourville” w 1882 r. Jest to olej na płótnie o wymiarach 60 na 73 cm. Wchodzi – m.in. razem ze “Spacerem po klifie w Pourville” oraz “Sieci rybackie w Pourville” – w skład cyklu obrazów z tej nadmorskiej miejscowości, namalowanych w jednym roku.

Płótno Moneta było w Wielkopolsce od 1906 roku, kiedy zostało zakupione przez niemieckie muzeum w Poznaniu. W Muzeum Narodowym w Poznaniu przy Alejach Marcinkowskiego było eksponowane przez ostatnie 10 lat z przerwami na ekspozycje wyjazdowe. Wcześniej znajdowało się w oddziale poznańskiego Muzeum Narodowego w Rogalinie.

January 13th, 2010

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Met Removes Images of Mohammed from Its Galleries
NEW YORK—The New York Post reports that the Metropolitan Museum of Art has pulled images of the Prophet Mohammed from its galleries devoted to Islamic art and suggests that the move is the latest chapter in the museum’s “history of dodging criticism.” Some Muslims believe that Islam forbids the delay of such images and have led protests in recent years objecting to their display in cartoons, most infamously in Denmark.
Met spokesperson Egle Zygas tells the Post that their removal was simply part of a regular effort to update the galleries. “They didn’t fit the theme of the current installation,” Zygas tells the Post. The museum is currently in the middle of a $50-million-dollar renovation of its Islamic art galleries and has only about 60 pieces from its 60,000-work collection of Islamic art on display.
The Post also states that the museum has made recent name changes “for the sake of political correctness,” quoting writer Michael Gross on the subject. It notes that its “Primitive Art Galleries” were renamed the “Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas,” and that what are now the Islamic Galleries will show art from “Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia and Later South Asia,” when they reopen in 2011.

January 13th, 2010

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New York prosecutors announce the forfeiture of stolen works by Camille Pissaro
January 13th, 2010 – 5:02 am ICT by BNO News  –
NEW YORK CITY (BNO NEWS) – New York prosecutors announced Monday the forfeiture of a stolen work by the artist Camille Pissaro.
In 1981, Le Marché, a painting by Camille Pissaro, was stolen by Emile Guelton who walked out of the Faure Museum in Aix-Les-Bains, France, with the work under his jacket. No arrests were made at the time. Later in 1985, Guelton approached a gallery owner, Jay Adelman, in San Antonio, Texas, to sell the work for him. Sharyl Davis, who was using space in the art gallery at the time, purchased the work for $8,500. Davis later auctioned Le Marché to Sotheby’s New York for an estimated $60,000 to $80,000.
When Sotheby’s asked Davis for the information about the print, she could only remember “Frenchie,” the man who cosigned Le Marché to the San Antonio art gallery. She later asked Adelman, who told her it was Guelton and that he was from Paris. That information later appeared in the auction catalog with an image of Le Marché.
Just before the auction, French federal law enforcement officers learned that Le Marché was at Sotheby’s. Based off of the information in the catalog, the officers located, contacted, and interviewed Guelton. He confirmed that he knew Adelman, was living in Texas in 1985, sent a container of artwork from France to the United States in 1984, and sold Adelman paintings. The officers showed a photo to a Faure Museum guard in October 2003 who identified Guelton as the thief from 1981.
Yesterday, the jury found that Le Marché was subject to forfeiture as property introduced into the United States contrary to a law known as the National Stolen Property Act, which, among other things, prohibits the transportation and sale of stolen property such as the Le Marché.
The Department of Justice sought the forfeiture of Le Marché in response to a treaty request from France that the artwork be seized, forfeited, and restored to France.
The U.S. Attorney in charge of the case praised the investigative efforts of ICE, and thanked French law enforcement for their partnership and cooperation. The case is currently being handled by the Office’s Asset Forfeiture Unit.
Camille Pissaro was a French Impressionist painter; he made significant visual contributions to Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. He also had a patriarchal standing among his colleagues, particularly Paul Cézanne and Paul Gauguin.
Read more: http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/world/new-york-prosecutors-announce-the-forfeiture-of-stolen-works-by-camille-pissaro_100302933.html#ixzz0cTNQtZ42

January 12th, 2010

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A History of the World in Looted Objects
The most remarkable thing about the British Museum’s forthcoming collaboration with the BBC — A History of the World in 100 Objects — is the almost total lack of critical response to the project from any quarter save for a few lonely voices of indignation echoing from the African subcontinent.
Instead we’ve witnessed a nauseating media hagiography of British Museum director Neil MacGregor in which he single-handedly educates the world from the comfort of his beautiful Bloomsbury office. We hear of “Saint Neil”, a “suave and smooth-talking Scot”, with a “lilting highland brogue”, a “skilled diplomat” with “infectious schoolboy enthusiasm”, a “natural storyteller” and “the most fortunate man alive.”
Already it’s clear that nothing will be allowed to derail this apotheosis on its upward trajectory to Mount Parnassus. Well, I’m sorry to fart in the lift, but I have one or two problems with this project.
The first objection is that like all British Museum projects since MacGregor took over the directorship, it marshals in its support so much Establishment apparatus that it forecloses critical reactions. This used to be called Gleichschaltung, but let’s not overdo it. After all, this is culture, not politics, or so MacGregor would have us believe.

Read the full text at : http://tom-flynn.blogspot.com/2010/01/history-of-world-in-looted-objects.html or at http://groups.google.nl/group/museum_security_network/browse_thread/thread/1fd1b1be5028aa8e?

January 12th, 2010

Posted In: Mailing list reports

PILOT PROJECT RESULTS IN EMERGENCY PLANS AND PARTNERSHIPS
Project tools available to aid preparedness
WASHINGTON, DC – Thanks to guidance from preservation professionals, local emergency managers, and fire officials, fifteen museums in Mississippi, Ohio, and Texas are prepared to protect visitors and collections from disaster. Preservation experts teamed with emergency personnel to conduct risk evaluations and provide tips for emergency planning and prevention at the museums as part of the pilot Risk Evaluation and Planning Program (REPP). The innovative project was conducted by the national organization Heritage Preservation with support from theInstitute of Museum and Library Services.
The Risk Evaluation and Planning Program is unique in its approach to emergency preparedness because it pairs preservation experts with emergency professionals to conduct an on-site risk evaluation, the essential first step in emergency planning. The combined expertise helped participating museums identify and correct internal risks and develop more realistic plans. Emergency personnel advised the museums about safety issues and hazards affecting their communities and shared information on local evacuation and response plans. Preservation professionals suggested priority mitigation steps to protect collections and guided the museums in developing effective plans.
Jan Anglin, Executive Director of the Tishomingo County Archives and History Museum, in Iuka,MS, said, “I cannot begin to express how wonderful this was for our museum. We were made aware of risk and how to manage any risk to our building and collections. Just like in many museums, we are limited on time and people, but with this program we were able to get it [emergency plan] finished and done properly.”
An evaluation of the project showed that in addition to developing emergency plans, staff at each participating institution increased their knowledge of emergency preparedness and response strategies, identified potential risks to the institution, built new relationships with local emergency managers and firefighters, and implemented simple and cost-effective mitigation measures. Factors such as budget, staff size, type of collections, governance, and geography did not affect an institution’s ability to plan for disaster and mitigate risks.
Heritage Preservation developed assessment tools and planning guidelines to help the evaluation teams. These resources can be used to improve preparedness at any institution. Along with a full report of the outcomes and lessons from the project, they are available at www.heritagepreservation.org/REPP.

January 12th, 2010

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A closed society of Alpine villagers is at the centre of an art theft scandal which threatens the reputation of the world’s oldest auction house.
The uniformed, self-governing group of porters called “Les Savoyards” – recruited from a handful of villages in the French Alps – has monopolised all removal and ushering duties at the prestigious Drouot auction house in Paris for 150 years. Eight of them now stand accused of systematically pilfering objets ranging from antique furniture, to diamonds, to paintings by Gustave Courbet and Marc Chagall.
Up to one million objects pass through the hands of Drouot each year. Not all of them, it seems, ever fall under the gavel of an auctioneer.
French investigators believe that some – by no means all – of the corps of 110 self-regulating, uniformed Drouot porters have been systematically hiding away items from large estates left by art collectors or wealthy people. If someone complained, the missing item would mysteriously reappear. If the theft was not spotted by the heirs, the items were sold privately or auctioned at Drouot after a period of months or even years.
read full report

January 11th, 2010

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Family saddened by museum theft
By KAY BLUNDELL – The Dominion Post Last updated 05:00 12/01/2010
http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/3221752/Family-saddened-by-museum-theft
The theft of the late Sir Len Southward’s original driver’s licence and his private collection of old commemorative coins and bank notes from Southward Car Museum has left his family bitterly disappointed.
Thieves smashed a glass fire door to gain entry to the Kapiti Coast museum overnight last Thursday and broke into two glass cabinets, taking two of Sir Len’s driver’s licences, including his original, dating back to about 1915, about 30 overseas commemorative coins and 60 laminated bank notes.
The haul included Dutch, American and New Zealand commemorative coins marking significant world events, such as Commonwealth Games, some emblazoned with the heads of Princess Diana and Prince Charles, and about 20 laminated overseas and local bank notes, all dating back to the 1950s.
Sir Len’s niece and Southward office manager, Sue Beissel, said the theft was disappointing for the family. “My uncle and auntie had collected them, I remember dusting them in their china cabinets when I was little. It is not that they were worth a lot of money, it is their sentimental value,” she said.
The break-in caused about $2500 of damage. The goods are insured, but assessing their value will be difficult as most are irreplaceable.
The collection was moved from Sir Len’s home to the museum about five years ago after he died.
“It is disappointing and scary. We give to the community and they get taken from us. Sir Len gave this museum to the country. You would think the community would be proud of this legacy but there are a few that leave a sour taste,” she said.
Although security systems were installed at the museum, video footage failed to identify the thieves as security cameras did not activate lighting at the time.
It was not the first time the museum had been hit by thieves. About six months ago two donated carved ivory tusks were stolen, and had not been recovered.
Sir Len set up the museum and auditorium in 1979, displaying more than 350 classic and vintage cars. Last year more than 46,000 tourists visited the museum.
“The only good thing is that the cars were not damaged,” she said.
Southward manager and trustee Stan Bellamore said Sir Len’s licences were of value only to the family and he believed the damage inflicted by the thieves cost more than the value of the items stolen.

January 10th, 2010

Posted In: Mailing list reports, Museum thefts

PARIS, Jan 10, 2010 (AFP) – French police colonel Stephane Gauffeny started the year with a heavy caseload.
His job: investigating the theft of art and treasures in France, one of the best-endowed and most stolen-from countries in the world, which was struck by two major crimes in the week after Christmas alone.
In the first, a picture by Edgar Degas worth 800,000 euros (1.14 million dollars) was unscrewed from the walls of a museum in Marseille.
The colourful pastel of performing singers, titled “The Chorus”, was on loan from the Musee d’Orsay, Paris’s eminent museum of Impressionist art.
Three days later, police discovered the theft of some 30 paintings valued at around a million euros, including works by Picasso and Rousseau, from a private villa in the south.
Both cases crossed Gauffeny’s desk at the government’s cultural theft investigations squad, where he oversees national efforts to “identify stolen objects and beat the traffickers.”
“It’s an enormous job — a fascinating job,” the stocky gendarme told AFP, sipping milky coffee at a Paris cafe after a morning of meetings.
Local and foreign thieves have for years been targeting the collections in French museums, churches and private homes, exploiting a rich cultural heritage that draws millions of foreign visitors a year.
In last year’s highest profile case, thieves broke into a museum devoted to Spanish artist Pablo Picasso in central Paris and stole a book of his pencil drawings valued by the government at three million euros.
Gauffeny says thefts have declined by a factor of four in the past decade as thieves look for loot that is easier to sell and France has stiffened penalties for those convicted of stealing objects classed as cultural assets.
But this still left 2,000 thefts across the country in 2008, according to his figures.
“We concentrate our energy on the biggest thefts or the biggest criminal rings,” Gauffeny said, citing an ongoing investigation of auctioneers at the renowned Drouot auction house in Paris.
Two Drouot brokers were charged last month after police recovered more than 100 artworks, including a painting by the 19th-century artist Gustave Courbet, “Seascape Under Stormy Skies”, worth 900,000 euros.
Gauffeny said it was a huge case and “extremely rare”, possibly involving scores of insiders — a different class of crime from the armed robberies or opportunistic thefts that his unit has dealt with in the past.
“We have put all our investigative resources into it,” he said.
The cross-border police agency Interpol, based in Lyon, cites France and Italy as the two nations worst affected by the theft of precious artworks and antiques.
In August it launched an online catalogue of missing artefacts, which lists hundreds of paintings stolen in France as well as crucifixes, chalices and other treasures burgled from its churches over the decades.
“France has a relatively large national heritage,” says Aline Le Visage, the representative in France for the Art Loss Register, a private firm that logs and identifies stolen objects for victims, dealers and other clients.
This abundance makes it “a country of choice” for art thieves — and many great works are held not by museums but by private individuals, she said.
“There has been a slight fall in thefts over the past 10 years or so on a world level, but we have noticed a rise in thefts from private owners and also in galleries.”
Robbers have struck at museums in Paris and other cities, sometimes in broad daylight, Gauffeny says, recalling various sting operations and cross-border hand-offs of stolen artworks, many of which quickly vanish abroad.
Police say major artworks are usually trafficked abroad, sometimes within days of being stolen — most to neighbouring European countries, but sometimes as far as the United States and Japan, from where they are rarely recovered.
Demand follows the same general trends as the legal art market, and much art crime is carried out by insiders. “Most of the people fencing the items are art dealers,” Gauffeny said.
Objects of lesser value often stay in France, sometimes held in reserve by the traffickers who quietly leak them back onto the market years later.
In one operation in 2008 in Marseille, Gauffeney said, police infiltrated a ring of thieves and seized paintings by Monet and Sisley after posing as buyers who wanted to take the works to the United States.
In another, near Lyon, an investigation into antique-dealing circles led police to a vast haul of stolen goods in a storage space spanning hundreds of square metres.
Outside the big city museum cases, Gauffeny and other experts say most of the crimes hit softer targets: unsecured provincial venues, churches and homes.
Didier Rykner, a fine art specialist who monitors thefts on his online journal La Tribune de l’Art, said many works are at risk in run-down, unguarded museums on which authorities are unwilling to spend money.
“In my opinion the problem of theft is more serious in churches than in museums. There are major works in churches and they are less well guarded,” he said.
“Yet the more valuable a work is, the harder it is to sell, because everyone knows the object.”
Some of the biggest cases, such as last year’s stolen Picasso, nevertheless remain unsolved, leaving plenty of work for Gauffeny’s department and its huge database of stolen items.
“We are always particularly on the look-out for national treasures,” said Gauffeny, while for minor or privately-owned artefacts, “the rate of recovery is low.”
The fight to recover cultural relics is “a really fascinating job, full of emotion,” he added.
“When you return objects stolen from a church, the whole village comes out to see you.”

January 10th, 2010

Posted In: Mailing list reports

Heritage: Do we care?
Ahmedabad: The last week began on an outrageous note. On Monday morning, Jamnagar police station registered an FIR stating that artifacts and paintings valuing anywhere between Rs2.5 to Rs5 crore were stolen from the sprawling royal palace. The story gets interesting. it was discovered that not only were these invaluable stolen at least a month-and-a-half back and nobody knew about it, but that the thieves had seemingly spent a lot of time in the palaces, perhaps even days there. It was later reported that Jam Ranjisinh Jadeja’s revered bat, after whom the domestic cricket Ranji trophy has been founded, was perhaps not stolen.
Even if this incident may or may not have been very grave in terms of the value of theft, what it certainly does is throws light on the callous disregard we as a society, the government and the caretakers themselves have for the valuables that these palaces house.
To begin with, most of the palaces, except the Gaekwads of Baroda, do not have a precise and exhaustive list of the paintings and other antique items in their palace. A good deal of the properties are disputed, leading to no investment by the warring parties in maintenance – as in case of Jamnagar.
Anything (painting, artifact, memorabilia etc…) more than 100-years-old cannot be sold, leaving very little incentive for the family to spend the high amount required to maintain it well. The government on the other hand is taking no interest in helping them with any kind of allowances / aid for maintenance. Worse still, a long-standing lament of the heritage hotel owners’ association (read the erstwhile royal families) is that the authorities are not even helping with basic tourist awareness of their around 30 properties in Gujarat.
Last but not the least, would you and I pay money to see our ancient paintings and artifacts like the carpets, chandeliers, perhaps even the classical original paintings of Raja Ravi Varma, depicting India? The answer is often a ‘No’.
The outcome of all of this is that this ‘heritage’, which historians, heritage conservationists, social scientists and art connoisseurs feel are a part of our identity – is decaying, very soon, beyond recognition. These artifacts are a depiction of Indian culture of the bygone era, when European beaches and Uncle Sam’s muscle power did not dominate the Indian mind space, and how India a century back absorbed other cultures without losing its own.
A brief look at what we are turning away our face from will be appalling to being with. Reliable sources confide at least four Raja Ravi Varma portraits are lying unpreserved in a property in Bhavnagar. Several history books, map records, cutlery, furniture, jewellery, arms like swords, specially woven carpets, chandeliers, licensed trophies of wild animals… the list goes on. A rough estimate of these things has been put at over one billion US dollars. And this does not include several timeless artifacts like ace cricketer Ranjitsinh’s bats that were feared stolen. For a cricket enthusiast, it would be invaluable.
Many of these palaces in Saurashtra are close to the sea, leading to further degradation from the salt-laden air.
“The private collections of the former rulers of states are still there in these palaces. And these are perishable items. Some were specially commissioned works, some by imported artisans, some works by tribal artisans. These artisans are not there anymore; this work does not happen now. If it is not preserved, this part of our history will be lost forever,” says IPS officer Ajay Chaudhary, and a member of the state heritage policy committee.
Art collector Anil Relia says his heart bleeds when he hears of these things. “All artwork has to be fumigated at least once a year. Paper fish is generated naturally as moisture touches the painting. It is basically a very simple process. Sometimes these artifacts are not even properly documented. Our laws are not conducive to effective maintenance of such antique heritage,” he says.
But talk to those in the custody of these memorabilia, the response is pat – “Who will pay for it?” maharaja of Wankaner Digvijaysinh says, followed by a heavy pause. “Of course we know there is value to the memorabilia, but how does one value it? It is invaluable,” he says. Maintenance, armed security, et al, he feels depends on the owner. “I have no suggestions for this. Laws alone will not help. Laws are for the society, not individuals,” he finishes.

January 10th, 2010

Posted In: Mailing list reports

Iconen uit museum Bellingwolde gestolen
BELLINGWOLDE – Kunstrovers hebben het afgelopen weekend zeven kostbare iconen gestolen uit museum De Oude Wolden in Bellingwolde.
De dieven zijn binnengekomen door een raam te vernielen. Het lijkt erop dat ze verstand van zaken hebben, want de daders hebben de meest waardevolle iconen meegenomen. De zeven antieke schilderijen hebben een gezamenlijke waarde van 23.000 euro.
De politie is op zoek naar getuigen van de inbraak.

January 9th, 2010

Posted In: Uncategorized

Missionary blamed for fatal library fire
Investigators Saturday implicitly blamed a missionary for a fire at a cultural institution in Tunis which killed him and destroyed nearly 17 000 books.
A judicial official said in a statement to AFP that traces of petrol had been found at the scene of Tuesday’s blaze in the library of the Institute of Arab Literature and on the body of the missionary.
The official quoted witnesses as saying that Italian monk Gian Battista Maffi, 55, had been seen entering the library carrying a container of yellow liquid.
“Analysis showed that the container contained petrol, traces of which were found on the clothing of the deceased,” the official said, adding that witnesses also said that Maffi had shown signs of depression.
Founded in 1926 by the missionary group the White Fathers, the institute contained some 32,000 books and manuscripts dating back to the 19th century, as well as other specialist publications. – Sapa-AFP
http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=85&art_id=nw20100109214009850C543743

January 9th, 2010

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NGO Campaigning for Retrieving Stolen Cultural Properties
Hwang Pyung-woo
By Kwon Mee-yoo
Staff Reporter
Many Koreans become interested in retrieving cultural properties stolen by foreign powers in the past after a French court recently rejected a Korean civic organization’s request to return royal texts from the Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910), taken by French soldiers during an attack in the 19th century.
Hwang Pyung-woo, the chief of Cultural Action and director of the Korea Cultural Heritage Research Institute, said France betrayed a promise made in a 1993 summit to return books plundered from Oegyujanggak a repository on Ganghwa Island, and he would push ahead to get them back.
Hwang and the civic group first asked the French Ministry of Culture to return the books, but the request was rejected.
The organization then filed a suit in a French administrative court in 2007 asking that a law should be revised to exclude illegally obtained property as national assets.
The ruling was made on Dec. 24, just 20 days after the hearing. “Generally, a court decision is handed down months after the hearing, but in this case, the hearing was only for form’s sake and the court made the ruling just before the holiday season. It was absurd,” Hwang said.
“We are considering appealing the decision, but it will take time as we have to fund the lawsuit ourselves.” About 180 million won to cover legal fees was raised through donations.
Hwang criticized the government for doing “nothing” to retrieve the royal texts. According to Cultural Action, there are 340 more documents pillaged by France other than the scripts from Oegyujanggak.
“The government should create a task force of experts specialized in retrieving cultural artifacts stored overseas,” he said. “I want to ask President Lee Myung-bak a question – which is more important, nuclear power plants or royal books from Oegyujanggak?”
Since 1991, the authorities have been urging the French government to return the royal texts, but hardly any progress has been made to date.
The civic group called for stronger government action to repatriate cultural artifacts from overseas, citing a recent case in Egypt, where arduous diplomatic efforts made it possible for the country to retrieve some stolen properties from France.
The Cultural Heritage Administration said that there are currently about 76,143 Korean cultural properties in 20 countries.
However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said they have been trying to get back the pillaged royal texts and thinks their efforts so far have gone unnoticed.
“The UNESCO convention on illegal cultural heritage outflow only regulates events after 1970. The five Egyptian painted wall fragments France returned last year were taken from 2000 to 2003 and were eligible to be returned under the terms of the convention,” an official of the ministry said. “However, our case is different and we cannot pressure France, citing the convention’s decision.”
The government is seeking more negotiations on a return or permanent lease of the documents when the heads of states hold talks at the G20 meeting in Seoul later this year.
King Jeongjo, the 22nd king of Joseon, built Oegyujanggak on Ganghwa off the west coast, as an annex of the Royal Library to store heirlooms, including the royal protocol texts that were taken by the French troops. The building was destroyed during the 1866 temporary occupation but has since been restored.
The collection was taken from Korea during “Byeongin-yango,” the French attack on Korea. French troops took 297 books from the archive that initially held about 1,000 ― the remainder were destroyed in a fire the soldiers started.
meeyoo@koreatimes.co.kr

January 9th, 2010

Posted In: Mailing list reports

Beutekunst bei Sotheby’s: «Zarenlithografien»
Schwerin/London (dpa) – In einem Depot des Londoner Auktionshauses Sotheby’s liegen seit mehr als einem Jahr wohlverwahrt zwei Mappen. Darin befinden sich 294 Blätter im A-3-Format mit antiquarischen Farblithografien, die historische Uniformen des russischen Militärs zeigen.
Auf den Rückseiten weisen Stempelaufdrucke die sorgsam mit Seidenpapier geschützten Blätter als Eigentum des Schweriner Schlossmuseums aus. «Wir wollen die Mappen wiederhaben, sie gehören in die Landesbibliothek», sagt der Direktor des Landesamtes für Kultur und Denkmalpflege in Schwerin, Michael Bednorz. Doch die Jagd nach den «Zarenlithographien» ist zäh.
Die Sowjetische Militäradministration hatte die Mappen 1946 mit vielen anderen sogenannten Militaria aus dem Museum beschlagnahmt, seither galten sie als Kriegsbeute und verschollen. Möglicherweise wurden sie in die damalige Sowjetunion gebracht, vielleicht blieben sie auch im Zentraldepot der Sowjets in der DDR, erläutert Bednorz. Jedenfalls gelangten sie auf bislang ungeklärten Wegen noch vor 1989 in den Westen, wechselten mehrfach den Besitzer und tauchten am 12. Juni 2008 schließlich in London auf. Dort sollten sie bei Sotheby’s in der Auktion «Russian Works of Art» für umgerechnet mindestens 250 000 Euro unter den Hammer kommen. Das bekam die Landesbibliothek in Schwerin mit.
Der russische Zar Alexander II. hatte insgesamt drei Mappen mit zusammen 493 Lithografien – das Schicksal der dritten Mappe liegt bisher völlig im Dunkeln – im Jahr 1843 dem Mecklenburg-Schweriner Herzog Friedrich Franz II. geschenkt. Dynastische Beziehungen verbanden beide Häuser, man verheiratete immer wieder Sprösslinge der einen mit solchen der anderen Familie. Für die Landesbibliothek ist der Fall klar: Die Mappen wurden unrechtmäßig aus ihrem Bestand entfernt, nun sind zwei wieder aufgetaucht, sie müssen an den rechtmäßigen Besitzer – die Landesbibliothek Mecklenburg-Vorpommern – zurückgegeben werden.
Bei Sotheby’s sieht man das etwas anders. Das angesehene Auktionshaus erklärte sich im Juni 2008 lediglich bereit, die Versteigerung zu stoppen und die Mappen so lange zu verwahren, bis die Eigentumsfrage geklärt ist. Die Landesbibliothek erstattete noch im Sommer 2008 Anzeige bei der Staatsanwaltschaft Schwerin. Diese ermittelt seither gegen drei Männer wegen Hehlerei-Verdachts.
Es gibt einen ähnlichen Fall aus dem Jahr 1992. Damals war ebenfalls bei Sotheby’s das Gemälde «Heilige Familie mit dem heiligen Johannes und der heiligen Elisabeth» von Joachim Wtewael aus dem Jahr 1603 angeboten worden. Das Bild war kurz nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg von sowjetischen Truppen im Museum von Gotha (Thüringen) beschlagnahmt worden. Die Sache kam auf Betreiben der Bundesrepublik vor ein Londoner Gericht, das schließlich die Beschlagnahme durch die Sowjets als Diebstahl bewertete. Das Bild wurde an Deutschland zurückgegeben.
Einen Unterschied gibt es allerdings doch, das Gemälde hat einen deutlich höheren Marktwert als die Mappen mit den Lithografien. Würden die Schweriner den Rechtsweg mit vielleicht mehreren Instanzen beschreiten, könnten die Anwaltskosten den Wert der Mappen leicht übersteigen. Deshalb versucht die Landesbibliothek parallel zu den laufenden Ermittlungen eine gütliche Einigung mit dem Mann, der die Mappen bei Sotheby’s zur Versteigerung eingeliefert hat. Ihn kennen die Behörden inzwischen.

January 9th, 2010

Posted In: Mailing list reports

Summit may see return of artefacts
Cambodia is hoping to recover similar artefacts stolen from the nation over the years.
OFFICIALS … WILL DISCUSS TAKING ACTION … TO RETURN STOLEN ANTIQUITIES.
Friday, 08 January 2010 15:03 Sam Rith
CAMBODIA will likely take part in a conference in Egypt later this year demanding the return of stolen antiquities that are on display in museums worldwide. The Kingdom would be one of 30 countries worldwide invited to the conference, which is scheduled to be hosted by Egypt in April. Cambodian officials applauded the initiative. “This will be a gathering to send a message to the world, as well as individuals, to return antiquities to their origin countries,” said Hab Touch, director of the National Museum in Phnom Penh. Besides Cambodia, other countries participating in the Cairo gathering include Greece, Mexico, Peru, Afghanistan, Iraq and China, officials with Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities announced. “Officials from these countries will discuss taking action internationally to support efforts to return stolen antiquities to their countries of origin,” Zahi Hawass, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Egypt, said Wednesday. The conference will look at existing international laws on the subject and provoke discussion on how they can be used to “protect the rights of the countries to recover their cultural and archaeological property”, Hawass said. It is hoped that each country involved in the conference will draw up a list of antiquities it claims. Cambodia has worked with UNESCO and cooperated with other countries to urge the return of its ancient artworks. Many significant pieces have been lost over centuries, particularly during periods of war, said Hab Touch. Many pieces are on display in international institutions in France, Britain and the United States, as well as in private collections. Hab Touch said there was no figure available on how many Cambodian antiquities are currently residing in foreign countries. But at the same time, individual pieces long ago removed from the Kingdom have also been returned. Treasures restored In 2009, Cambodia received antiquities from the United States, Germany and Thailand, he said, including a statue of a headless four-armed deity datingback to the 11th century. The statue had been missing since the 1970s, until a Germanman encountered the object for sale by a private collection. He purchased it on the Kingdom’s behalf and donated it to the National Museum in December. The work to repatriate Cambodian antiquities, however, remains an uphill battle. “It is not an easy job,” Hab Touch said. “It is a complicated task that needs further work.” ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AFP

January 8th, 2010

Posted In: Mailing list reports

Priest dies in Tunisian library fire
An Italian Catholic priest has been found dead amid the rubble of a fire that ravaged a library in the Tunisian capital.
Vicar general Ramon Echeverria says the body of Father Gian-Baptista Maffi, a 54-year-old Italian, was discovered in the wake of Wednesday’s fire. Maffi was a full-time employee of the library.
Echeverria says the blaze destroyed 30 to 40 percent of the library’s 100,000-volume collection.
The origin of the fire is not known, but Echeverria dismissed speculation it might have been arson.
The library belongs to the Institute of Arabic Letters and was founded in 1928.
Its collection focuses on books about Islam and Arab cult.

January 8th, 2010

Posted In: Mailing list reports

Ancient books to remain in France
January 08, 2010
In the photo above left, taken during their 1993 summit in Seoul, Korean President Kim Young-sam, right, accepts a volume of the “Uigwe,” shown above right, from French President Francois Mitterrand. [JoongAng Ilbo]: http://joongangdaily.joins.com/article/view.asp?aid=2914996
A Korean civic cultural organization is crying foul over a recent French court’s ruling that Korea cannot recover its 19th-century books from the National Library of France.
According to the Seoul-based organization Cultural Action, a French administrative court dismissed its lawsuit demanding that they be allowed to retrieve the books, known as the “Uigwe” (Royal Protocols of the Joseon Dynasty), which were once stored in a royal library on Ganghwa Island during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910).
Hwang Pyoung-woo of Cultural Action said the court on Dec. 24 ruled that since the books are in the possession of the National Library of France, they remain French properties, and the method by which the books were acquired has no bearing on that fact.
Historians say France looted the library in 1866 but that it wasn’t until 1975 that Korea learned the books were in France’s possession. Park Byeong-seon, a Korean historian, found the titles while working at the French national library.
According to Cultural Action, the French court said in its ruling that international law prohibiting looting had not been established in the late 19th century. Hwang said he and his legal advisers are considering an appeal.
France decided recently to return Egyptian relics that had allegedly been stolen after Egypt cut ties with the Louvre museum. One of five painted wall fragments was sent back to Egypt in December.
Zawi Hawass, the head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities who led the campaign to retrieve the country’s relics, had said ties would not be restored until all stolen pieces were returned.
Under the 1995 convention by the UN International Institute for the Unification of Private Law on stolen or illegally exported cultural objects, nations are required to return cultural artifacts to their countries of origin if those items have been stolen or removed illegally. The convention also states that the nations currently in possession of the artifacts should be compensated for returning them, assuming the government had no knowledge that the objects were acquired illegally.
This is not the first time Korea has tried to retrieve the ancient books. During a 1993 summit, then Korean President Kim Young-sam and his French counterpart Francois Mitterrand reached an agreement in which Korea would import technology for the TGV high-speed train from France and Korea would be allowed to borrow the books and other treasures. But the books have yet to leave France.
By Yoo Jee-ho [jeeho@joongang.co.kr]

January 7th, 2010

Posted In: looting and illegal art traffickers, Mailing list reports

Egypt to host conference on the return of antiquities
CAIRO — Egypt will host a conference in April for countries demanding the return of their antiquities, stolen but on display in museums round the world, Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities said Wednesday. The conference will “discuss the question of returning stolen antiquities,” the council said in a statement. It gave no dates for the three-day conference.
Thirty countries, including Greece, Mexico, Peru, Afghanistan, Iraq, Cambodia and China, will participate in the Cairo gathering, said Egypt’s antiquities director Zahi Hawass, who has made the return of looted Egyptian artefacts the hallmark of his tenure.
“Officials from these countries will discuss taking action internationally to support efforts to return stolen antiquities to their countries of origin… and exhibited in certain museums and showrooms around the world,” Hawass said. The conference aims to work out “specific recommendations” and draw up a list of the antiquities claimed by each participating country.
It will also review international laws on the subject, for their “reconsideration” and “to protect the rights of the countries to recover their cultural and archaeological property,” Hawass added with elaborating.
Egypt is demanding, so far without success, the return of famous antiquities such as the Rosetta stone, held by the British Museum for more than 200 years, and the 3,400 year-old bust of Queen Nefertiti, a major Pharaonic artefact located at the Neues Museum in Berlin, which it says was taken out of the country illegally.
But it recently succeeded in getting back from the Louvre five fragments of mural paintings that are more than 3,000 years old after suspending cooperation with the French museum for not returning them.

January 7th, 2010

Posted In: Mailing list reports

French court dismisses S Korean suit to restitute historic texts
www.chinaview.cn
SEOUL, Jan. 6 (Xinhua) — A French court dropped an administrative suit filed by South Korean activists claiming the French government should return the royal texts its troops looted during its invasion more than a century ago, activists in Seoul said Wednesday.
Following the last hearing in early December, the court made an unusually quick decision two weeks ago that the historic texts, although stolen from the French invasion in 1866, are national property preserved in the National Library of France and how they were acquired does not change its status, a civic group Cultural Action said in a statement.
The activists, who filed a suit funded entirely by public donations in 2008, said the dismissal was expected and they are considering an appeal.
“We won’t respond to this shameful decision emotionally. We will find ways to put pressure on the French government while preparing for an appeal,” Hwang Pyung-woo, a cultural property head with the group, told Xinhua.
The rushed decision unveiled right before year-end holidays shows the court wanted to avert criticisms from Seoul, Hwang said.
The French army took away 297 books out of about 1,000 preserved in a royal archive during its invasion into Ganghwa Island during the Jose on Dynasty of Korea (1392-1910).
At a South Korea-France summit in Seoul in 1993, then French President Francois Mitterrand returned one of the 297 books to his South Korean counterpart Kim Young-sam.

January 6th, 2010

Posted In: Mailing list reports

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January 6th, 2010

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