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Kwame Opoku: Oba of Benin never endorsed donation of artefacts to foreign museum

April 14, 2014 – 08:20

Oba of Benin never endorsed donation of artefacts to foreign museum



Members of the notorious British Punitive Expedition of 1897 against Benin, posing proudly with looted Benin ivories and bronze objects


We reproduce below an interview with Prince Edun Akenzua, younger brother of the Oba of Benin,published in the Nigerian Guardian.


The brother of the Oba makes it clear that the Benin Monarch never assented to the donation of looted Bronzes to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts nor did the King send any representation to Boston for the celebration of the acquisition of the looted artefacts. The group of Edos who pretended to represent the Oba of Benin had no permission from the Oba.


In the interview, Prince Edun outlines the function of the Benin Bronzes as records of  the history of the Benin people. Thus those who hold the Bronzes are withholding evidence of Benin history and culture. How will a people write its history or record its culture when others have stolen the relevant evidence? It is true though that there are many in the British Museum and in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, who believe it is their function to write the history of Benin. That the people themselves can and would write their own history has never occurred to the people in London and Boston,

An important fact. mentioned in the interview. is the decision of a British citizen, Mr Mark Walker  to return Benin artefact. Walker inherited two Benin Bronzes from his great-great-grandfather who was one of the soldiers that invaded Benin  in 1897 . He wants to return  the object to Benin, convinced that this is the right thing to do since he considers it wrong for others to withhold the artefacts of another culture. He is taking the artefact himself to Benin City.


Will the people at the British Museum, Boston Museum of Fine Arts,, Ethnologisches Museum, Berlin and World Museum, Vienna, take a lesson from Mr. Walker and examining their own consciences, determine whether, after all that has been written and said about the notorious invasion of Benin in 1897, it is correct for them to hold on to illegal artefacts, forcibly taken from a people who now seek their return.


Kwame Opoku. ,7 April,2014.






Almost every Western museum has some Benin objects. Here is a short list of some of the places where the Benin Bronzes are to be found and their numbers. Various catalogues of exhibitions on Benin art or African art also list the private collections of the Benin Bronzes. Many museums refuse to inform the public about the number of Benin artefacts they have and do not display permanently the Benin artefacts in their possession since they do not have enough space. A museum such as Völkerkundemuseum, Vienna, now World Museum, has closed since some 10 years the African section where the Benin artefacts were, apparently due to repair work which are not likely to be finished before 2017.


Berlin – Ethnologisches Museum 580.
Boston, – Museum of Fine Arts 28.
Chicago – Art Institute of Chicago 20, Field Museum 400
Cologne – Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum 73.

Glasgow _ Kelvingrove and St, Mungo’s Museum of Religious Life 22
Hamburg – Museum für Völkerkunde, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe 196.
Dresden – Staatliches Museum für Völkerkunde 182.
Leipzig – Museum für Völkerkunde 87.
Leiden – Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde 98.
London – British Museum 900.

New York – Metropolitan Museum of Fine Art 163.
Oxford – Pitt-Rivers Museum/ Pitt-Rivers country residence, Rushmore in Farnham/Dorset 327.

Stuttgart – Linden Museum-Staatliches Museum für Völkerkunde 80.
Vienna – Museum für Völkerkunde now World Museum 167




Oba of Benin never endorsed donation of artefacts to foreign museum




Friday, 04 April 2014 00:00  Written by Alemma-Ozioruva Aliu



Over six months after the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) Boston, U.S. opened a Benin gallery for the donated controversial artefacts in its possession, Prince Edun Akenzua, a younger brother to the reigning Oba Erediauwa insists that the foreign museum used some Nigerians resident abroad to impersonate the Oba and got forged endorsement. Last year, the museum had received donation of 28 pieces of art in bronzes and six ivories from an American, Mr. Robert Owen Lehman. The donor is the heir to the vast collection of a famous banker, Phillip Lehman (1891-1969), who was one of the early collectors of Benin art. The collection is among the cultural objects looted when the British forces invaded old Benin Kingdom in 1897, which eventually led to sending Oba Ovonramwen Nogbaisi (1888 -1914) to exile in Calabar. An estimated 4, 000 cultural objects from the Benin palace were allegedly looted by the British military. But confusion set in when some chiefs who claimed to have got the nod of the Oba led a contingent of controversial representatives of the monarch to MFA, late last year in apparent endorsement of the donation. The alleged impersonators led by some chiefs came under the name, Coalition of Committed Benin Clubs in Boston. Akenzua disowns the group and the chiefs as well as their leaders. The Enogie of Obazuwa is the great-grandson of foremost Benin Monarch, Oba Ovonramwen N’ogbaisi who was banished to Calabar by British imperialists after the Benin invasion of 1897 and died in 1914. Akenzua spoke to Alemma-Ozioruva Aliu on the possible ways of re-possessing the looted artefacts. Excerpts:



DO you think the agitation for the return of stolen Benin artefacts is still necessary today? What relevance do these items still have on Benin culture?



Number one, they belong to Benin which is very important, but the reason which most of them were made four hundred, five hundred years ago, no longer exist. At that time, they were all made as diaries for the people here. When there was anything relevant in the Benin Nation, the Oba ordered the iguehon to cast that event in bronze just like you will do today whenever you have any important thing that you want to do, you record it in your diary. In those days, the Benin people didn’t know how to write like the Egyptians who had the Hieroglyphics, so whenever there was any important thing, the Oba would instruct that it be cast in brass or bronze that is what they were doing then. About 75 per cent of those things carted away were done as record and diary for the Benin people. Others were done for the various alters. So today, they don’t need to cast things in bronze to record because we can now write, so I will say they would no longer be used as they were used in the past. But nevertheless, these things belong to Benin and now domiciled in other climes with other people who have now put them in their museums and they are making money out of them for themselves over there. If only for that reason, for that purpose, they have to be brought back to their owners. That is our argument.



But will they ever yield to the agitation to return these artefacts? 



They are quite reluctant, putting up various arguments for retaining the artefacts. Although those arguments are not valid because our own argument bothers on the moral grounds of the issues; these things belong to us, they were looted from us, and they should be returned. As a matter of fact, the institutions in Europe, and all those places are mainly the ones making the argument. I was in the UK last year and I was also doing the same campaign. Wherever I had the opportunity, I would tell them the need to return those things, not only to Benin. But all those cultural property that have been removed forcibly by the British or by anybody else should be returned to their owners. Most of them were being returned to the Europeans, to the Jews, to the Irish, Welsh to Ethiopia so why not to Benin? We are bringing that argument up and luckily, there are some individuals particularly in UK who listened to this kind of argument we are putting up, who believe that what the British did in those days taking other peoples’ property was wrong. And in fact, one of such people, a private British citizen, Mr. Mark Walker who is now the great grandson of one of the soldiers who fought in Benin, and has two of those bronzes has agreed to return them to the Oba of Benin. And I think he will come around April to come and make that presentation because he himself did not quite like the idea of one government going to another country, seizing things and taking them away. Apparently, he is not a soldier like his great-great-grandfather, but he was a policeman in the UK, in the royal security. He is a retiree, about 80 years old and I think he must have been seeing a number of all those things they were taking to the Queen of England from all over those areas called the British Empire, and didn’t like the idea. He has now offered to come to Nigeria and return the works in his possession to the Oba of Benin. He is personally coming to do that.



 The Benin community in London had arranged a meeting with Walker and the Nigerian High Commission. They agreed at that meeting, that Walker and his friends mentioned to the High Commissioner that they offered to come to Benin and return those things. I think with him doing this, there may be other people in the same school of thought like this man who may have some of those things and would want to come and present them. As a matter of fact, some years back, I went to UK to try and urge the British government to allow the British museum return Benin artefacts in their possession. I worked in collaboration with the late Benny Grant who was a member of parliament and one of the strategies we had was to appeal to individuals since it is easier to deal with individuals than institutions, to plead with individuals who have those things in their private collections to return them to Benin. One of such people we wanted to reach at that time was Mr. Ted Heath, unfortunately, Benny Grant died before we could reach Heath.  Then, I had the opportunity to testify before the House of Commons Committee on these kinds of things.



Last year, there was a ceremony on the donation of some of these artefacts to Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), Boston, US. What is the position of the palace on this development?



The event happened around September to October last year. I was in the UK at the time. I didn’t know such thing was going to happen. But I got an SMS from The Guardian, Nigeria, asking the very question you just asked now and of course, it was quite news to me, so I sent from London a message to the Oba and forwarded the query from The Guardian and from the National Commission of Museums and Monuments (NCMM) to the Oba and asked to be guided. I got a reply from the palace that the Oba has directed the Secretary to the Benin Traditional Council (BTC) to inform me that the palace did not send any representation to that museum, the palace was not even aware of what was being done and of course after what I got, I now sent my reply to both The Guardian and the NCMM. I told them categorically that the palace did not send anybody there. It is quite clear; the Oba would not have done that. That is a private museum in Boston. The Oba is using all his might and influence, his resources to get all the people including his friends, friends of Benin, the government of Edo State, Federal Government, everybody to join in the demand for the return of those things to Benin because of that, it is just only clear that he could not have endorsed the donation of those things to any museum anywhere in the world. And if people are generous and they want to return those things they don’t have to donate them to another museum at this time in the 21st Century. If they are feeling generous, they are feeling magnanimous, if they want to return those things, they should send them down, donate them to the Oba of Benin who owns them any way. The least they can do is to donate them to these or federal government of Nigeria not to another foreign museum. What is the meaning of that? The Oba didn’t endorse it, he didn’t even know about it.
I heard later on when they have done it that the museum was going to set up within the Museum of Fine Arts what they call the gallery of Benin Arts. Why should the Gallery of Benin Arts be in Boston Museum and not in Nigeria Museum or Benin Museum? They had their own problem in Boston because the people contacted me after the show. There is a club called the Benin Unity Club in Massachusetts. They called me after the event to ask if it was true that the palace supported that kind of venture and I said no, the palace could not have supported it. They said they were angry too with the management of the museum because at the time they knew that they were going to do that event in that place, they told them to clear with the Benin palace, before anything at all. They promised to get permit but after a while they said they were not going to come to Benin they have been told no one could guarantee their safety in Benin because of kidnapping. The Benin Club of Massachusetts were angry, because at the time they were talking, Bill Clinton was even visiting Nigeria so they could not understand why they were talking about security issue.



 The organizers paid some people to come and perform ugho dance on that day, did a few things and as a result of that, they put together quickly, what they called Coalition of Committed Benin Clubs in Boston. As far as we are concerned here, there is nothing of such, I don’t know anything of such, but I do know that the Benin Club of Massachusetts, years ago sent a letter to Oba of Benin appealing to him to allow them name the Oba as their patron and I do know the Oba accepted to be their patron. So, if there was an argument there, it will probably be between the Benin Club of Massachusetts or the so called Coalition of Benin Clubs in Boston.



Is there any possibility of using the instrument of the law to get these artefacts back?
I think maybe our legal experts can answer this better because as far as I can say, it is a little bit complex because those things were looted from palace of the Oba of Benin at the time there was no Nigeria, in 1897. If anybody wants to take action on this issue, we can only think of the International Court in the Hague, we can’t do it in the courts in Nigeria, courts of America, courts of England or anywhere, but I wonder if the International court will accept any brief from individuals. Will they listen to Nigeria government on that issue? We have very many brilliant lawyers that will be able to answer the legal question.



Beyond the Briton that volunteered to return some of these things has there been any other museum that has returned any artefacts to the palace?



No one has done that. Incidentally, some years back, the late Ekpo Eyo, who was the curator of the National Museum in Lagos; through his instrumentality, (General Gowon was the Head of State then) he had to go and buy some of those artefacts back to Nigeria. Nigeria had to pay for them instead of the foreigners paying us royalty.



 In 1977, when we wanted to use the Idia plaque for the FESTAC event, they did not even let us have it. At that time, we wanted to borrow if just for a symbol for the period of the festival. Perhaps they were suspicious that if they gave us we would not return it. At first, they asked us at that time to pay 2000 pounds insurance because it was very fragile. But you tell me, how can elephant tusk be fragile, is it is paper? They refused to let us have it, then my father called the Igbesamwan people here, those who made the original one to do the replica. At the end of the day nobody could differenciate the original from the replica, it was the replica that we used for the FESTAC.



One of the things the Benin Club of Massachusetts is quarrelling about now is that even If they are going to see the Benin Gallery at MFA in Boston, they have to pay money. If you are doing that, there has to be some royalty to the original owners



Oba of Benin never endorsed donation of artefacts to foreign museum.


April 14, 2014 – 08:08



 It has been widely reported in the press that a group of private Chinese businessmen and collectors from Hunan Province, China, have collectively bought a Chinese wine vessel for US$ 20 million in a private auction at Christies in New York after a previously announced public auction had been cancelled.  The group intends to donate the vessel to the Hunan Provincial Museum which already has the lid of the ritual vessel. (1)


Christies issued a statement:

Christies is pleased to announce that a group of private collectors from Chinas Hunan province has offered to purchase the ‘Min’ Fanglei and donate this magnificent bronze to the Hunan Provincial Museum in China. After close consultation with the current owner over the last several days, Christies has facilitated a private sale, allowing the vessel to be united with the lid kept at Hunan Museum. We are pleased to have brought together our consignor and these collectors resulting in this excellent outcome that will allow the King of all Fangleis to go back to its place of origin in Hunan.



As always, it is our duty to be a responsible steward of the important cultural objects that are entrusted to our care.


said Steven P. Murphy, CEO Christies



Christie’s feels privileged to have acted as custodian of the Min Fanglei and to have facilitated its transfer. 



According to Christies  the bronze vessel has an impeccable provenance:


This bronze has been extensively published since as early as 1928, and has been handled by some of the most important dealers and collectors of the early 20th century, including A.W. Bahr, C.F. Yau and C.T. Loo. 


 Readers will no doubt recall that there have been reservations regarding the purchase of ones cultural artefacts from abroad that had been previously looted or acquired under dubious circumstances. (3) What we have not been informed, at least in the press reports on the Chinese purchase of the Min Fanglei, is how this magnificent  artefact, said to have been used as ritual wine vessel, came to the western world and the full circumstances of its acquisition. That the vessel has impeccable provenance, having been extensively published since 1928 and handled by some of the most important dealers and collectors of the early 20th century, does not indicate to us how it was initially acquired and brought to the West. At best, this statement must be considered as guaranteeing the authenticity of the artefact as original Chinese product. Readers will no doubt be aware that some important dealers and collectors have been involved in the purchase of artefacts that turned out later to have been acquired under dubious circumstances(4)


Punting aside for a while the question of how the wine vessel came to the Western world, one may legitimately ask whether spending astronomical sums on such cultural objects has any limits.  True that in the present case we have a very magnificent object but in most cases the price required  has no direct relation to the intrinsic quality of the object: it is the Western dominated art market that determines the price. This case demonstrates clearly the power of the market. This same vessel was sold in 2001 for US$ 9 million and now in 2014 fetches 20 millionsAre we condemned forever to be ruled by the forces of the Western-dominated art market? Must we Africans subject the return of our looted cultural artefacts to the mechanism of the Western art market?


It is interesting to note that the vessel will be donated to the Hunan Provincial Museum which already has the cover of the vessel. But there is no information about how the cover is in Hunan whilst the vessel itself was in the West. Was the vessel taken away after it had been discovered with its lid or were the two parts discovered independently? The South China Morning Post-CHINA                 states:

(5)  But there is no information on how this separation came about. Are the specialists not interested in telling us the history of this magnificent artefact which is said to have been published several times but in fact only reference to one book has been given by Christies? It reminds us of authors who tell us about the effect of the Benin Bronzes on European attitudes to African art but carefully omit to mention the 1897 invasion of Benin and the burning of Benin City by the invading British Army.


We looked at the book by George Souli de Morant, Histoire de lArt Chinois de lAntiquit jusquՈ nos jours (1928) as well as its English translation but did not find any explanation how the separation of the vessel and its cover came about(6) We will have to wait until the vessel is in the Hunan Provincial Museum which may tell the full history of the magnificent wine vessel.


Kwame Opoku, 6 April, 2014.



 Private buyers from Hunan recover ancient bronze vessel, the Min Fanglei

Published: Saturday, 22 March, 2014, 4:35am


Xu Donghuan


museums, collectors set for fierce bidding on iconic bronze…/chinese-museums-collectors-set-f.





3. K. Opoku

Chinese Purchase of Looted Chinese Artefacts: An Example for Other States?

4. The various returns of artefacts by US American imuseums and institutions to Italy as well as the trials of dealers and even a curator have shown that important dealers and collectors cannot always be trusted to do the right thing.


Websites such as 

Looting Matters. Chasing Aphrodite

 have details on recent cases putting in doubt the reliability of dealers.




6. Payot; A History of Chinese Art-From Ancient Times to the Present Day. 

translated by G.C.WheelerGeorge G.Harrap & Co, London, 1931










 Ritual Wine Vessel, China




‘Een boze neger die zijn eigendommen komt ophalen; dat is emancipatie’ (en een bestuursvoorzitter die dieven uitnodigt)

March 24, 2014 – 11:58

“Het is een wonder dat ze (kostbare schilderijen) nog niet gestolen zijn”, zegt bestuursvoorzitter Carel Weeber van het Museo di Korsou in Willemstad, Curaçao. Het lijkt haast een uitnodiging om de schilderijen te komen stelen. Weeber is al een aantal jaren bestuursvoorzitter van dit verwaarloosde museum en verbergt zich ook al jaren achter het excuus dat er geen geld is om het museum te verbeteren. Dat kan zo zijn, maar doordat deze verwaarlozing voortduurt en nu hij het nodig vindt publiekelijk te blaten dat het hem verbaast dat de kostbare schilderijen nog niet gestolen zijn, is de kans groot dat het museum dadelijk niet alleen zonder geld, maar ook zonder schilderijen zit.

Als het al zo is dat er geen geld is kostbaarheden op onverantwoorde wijze te tonen, dan is enige daadkracht op zijn plaats. De huidige sitting-duck opstelling is niet acceptabel. Waarom die schilderijen niet ergens goed beveiligd opslaan totdat er wel fondsen gevonden worden om het museum te verbouwen, of desnoods naar een andere locatie te verplaatsen?

Mochten er schilderijen gestolen worden, dan heeft Weeber in De Volkskrant van 21 maart 2014 anticiperend schuld bekend.

Ton Cremers


‘Een boze neger die zijn eigendommen komt ophalen; dat is emancipatie’

OPINIE – Meindert Fennema − 21/03/14, 07:01

© anp. Otrabanda

column Vloekend haalde de Curaçaose kunstenaar Yubi Kirindongo zijn kunstwerk uit het museum in Willemstad, zag Meindert Fennema. ‘Zijn kunstwerk had meer ruimte nodig, maar die ruimte werd hem door de curator van de tentoonstelling, Jennifer Smit, niet gegund. Het oude militaire hospitaal van Curaçao, gelegen in Otrabanda, is thans een museum. Het souterrain, dat eigenlijk begane grond is, is door een overstroming onbruikbaar geworden. De ‘bel-etage’ die je met een lange trap bereikt bevat vier zalen, gescheiden door twee brede gangen die elkaar in het midden kruisen.

In één van die zalen hangen een aantal zeer waardevolle schilderijen van Nederlandse schilders: Jan Toorop, Carel Willink, de meester-vervalser Van Meegeren en Isaac Israëls (in het Museo di Korsou gespeld als Isaak Israels). ‘Het is een wonder dat ze nog niet gestolen zijn’ zegt bestuursvoorzitter Carlos Weeber, in Nederland als architect bekend onder de naam Carel Weeber.

Twee andere zalen staan vol met antiek meubilair, zodanig opgesteld dat het iets van een zolderverkoop heeft. Slechts één zaal bevat schilderijen van Antilliaanse kunstenaars.

lees verder:

‘Een boze neger die zijn eigendommen komt ophalen; dat is emancipatie’ – Meindert Fennema – VK.

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Wie beschermt onze Rembrandts? Predictive Profilers!

February 27, 2014 – 13:01

Wie beschermt onze Rembrandts? Predictive Profilers!

27/02/2014 – 12:27In Het Parool van 26 februari 2014 wordt het hoofd beveiliging van het Rijks, Emile Broersma, wederom geciteerd; vrouwen zouden beter zijn in observeren dan mannen. Het zij zo (is dat zo?).

Keuze op gender blijft omstreden, maar niet bij Broersma. Volgens de journaliste van Het Parool, Lorianne van Gelder, hebben de aanhangers van predictive profiling voorlopig het gelijk aan hun kant omdat er sinds 2006, de aanval op een schilderij van Van der Helst, geen incidenten meer zijn geweest in het Rijks. Wel, in de zestien jaar daaraan vooraf gaand waren er ook geen ernstige incidenten. Je zou met evenveel recht kunnen zeggen dat het 16 jaar goed ging dankzij het ontbreken van predictive profilers. Een nonsensverklaring, evenals de verklaring nonsens is dat aanhangers van predictive profiling hun gelijk aantonen doordat er sinds 2006 geen incidenten zijn geweest. In een eerdere column onder de titel Profiling in musea – geen detectiepoortje kan op tegen een mooie jonge vrouw stak ik al de draak met de reclamefolder bla bla rondom predictive profiling.

De verklaring in Het Parool dat predictive profilers het gelijk aan hun kant hebben is zowel historisch als inhoudelijk op los zand gebaseerd.

Het Rijksmuseum is meer dan tien jaar grotendeels gesloten geweest in verband met een grondige restauratie en verbouwing. Gedurende die gedeeltelijke sluiting was de Zuidvleugel – de Philipsvleugel – voor bezoekers geopend die daar de highlights van het museum konden zien. Dat gecondenseerde museum ontving jaarlijks bijna evenveel bezoekers als toen het museum nog helemaal open was. Tot aan het moment dat het Rijks weer helemaal opende, medio april 2013, werden alle bezoekers bij de entree via een geavanceerd detectiesysteem gescreend. Bijna dagelijks werden er messen, pepperspray, vloeistoffen en zelfs hamers uit de bagage en kleding van bezoekers gevist.  Het is pas sinds tien maanden dat geen gebruik wordt gemaakt van dat systeem, maar van predictive profilers. Ik vrees dat al die enge materialen nu dagelijks het museum binnen komen. Dat de aanhangers van predictive profiling het gelijk aan hun kant hebben is historisch strijdig met de vele jaren zonder predictive profiling en zonder incidenten en met de slechts korte tijd dat het nieuwe Rijks weer open is.

Inhoudelijk klopt de conclusie door Lorianne van Gelder, ongetwijfeld ingefluisterd door Emile Broersma, ook niet. Het is namelijk vrijwel onmogelijk de kwaliteit van bewaking en beveiliging af te meten aan het uitblijven van incidenten. Eind jaren tachtig van de vorige eeuw – ja, ja, zo lang lopen we al mee – vergaten schoonmakers in het Van Goghmuseum de buitendeur te sluiten nadat ze het bordes hadden geveegd. Toen de beveiligers hun posten innamen bleken er al toeristen, met rugzak en al, in het museum rond te lopen. Dat incidenten uitbleven, zegt dus niets over de kwaliteit van de bewaking en beveiliging op dat moment. Dat er sinds de opening van het Rijks geen incidenten plaatsvonden, zegt helemaal niets, pro noch contra, over het effect van predictive profiling in de museale context. Dat Broersma zich dit niet realiseert zegt wel van alles over zijn deskundigheid als beveiliger.

De kwaliteit van gebruikte beveiligingssystemen wordt pas duidelijk zodra zich (bijna-)incidenten voordoen. Predictive profiling heeft niet kunnen voorkomen dat een jeugdige bezoeker op een kostbare chaise longue ging zitten. Betekent dit nu dat die predictive profiling tekort schoot? Het zou kwaadaardig zijn als ik die gemakkelijke conclusie trok. Dat het museum overging tot aangifte omdat de schade ‘aanzienlijk’ zou zijn en dat men later spijt had van die aangifte, de schade niets voorstelde en de bedvandaal door de rechter werd vrijgesproken is een smet op het blazoen van het Rijks.

Stel dat er een ernstiger incident in het museum plaatsvindt, moet dan de conclusie worden getrokken dat predictive profiling gefaald heeft? Nee, er zou hoogstens kritisch bekeken moeten worden in hoeverre de investering in predictive profiling rendement oplevert. Bij dat rendement heb ik nu al grote vraagtekens.

Sinds 1984 – ik neem gemakshalve een periode van 30 jaar – ontving het Rijks circa 35 miljoen bezoekers. In die periode deden zich 5 incidenten (1 op de 7.000.000 bezoekers) van enige omvang voor: diefstal 18de eeuws klokje tijdens de gesloten maandag (interne kwestie?), diefstal van een ornamentbeeldje van een kast (op tweede Paasdag eind jaren tachtig), zoutzuuraanval op De Nachtwacht (1990), diefstal fragment Perzisch tapijt (2000) en de aanval op het schilderij van Van der Helst in 2006. Zeker vergeleken met de tijdspanne en het aantal bezoekers een gering aantal incidenten. Bij vier van die vijf incidenten had predictive profiling eventueel een preventieve rol kunnen vervullen. Ik zeg het met grote voorzichtigheid, want er is geen enkele zekerheid en ik heb zo mijn twijfels. Ook toekomstige incidenten zullen alleen dan iets over predictive profiling kunnen zeggen indien PP aantoonbaar een bijna-incident heeft voorkomen. Dat zal niet gemakkelijk te bewijzen zijn.

Is de investering in PP dan zinloos? Ik denk het niet. Wat zinloos en aanmatigend is, is PP te presenteren als ver superieur boven een detectiesysteem bij de entree waar meer dan tien jaar lang, dag-in-dag-uit van aangetoond is dat er resultaat was.

De predictive profiler die deze week, door getuige geconstateerd, in de onderdoorgang een passerende persoon met een capuchon aansprak met: “He, wat moet jij hier?!”, heeft het PP principe niet goed begrepen. Misschien kan het Rijks nog een dure aanvullende cursus kopen….


Toch moet ik een compliment maken, en wel voor de vasthoudende marketing rondom predictive profiling door een kongsi van voormalig politiemensen. Blijkbaar werd ook Lorianne van Gelder, journalist bij een kwaliteitskrant, ingepalmd door de gladde jongens.


Ton Cremers

Den Haag, 27 februari 2014

Museumbeveiliging, Ton Cremers » Blog Archive » Wie beschermt onze Rembrandts? Predictive Profilers!.

Profiling in musea – geen detectiepoortje kan op tegen een mooie jonge vrouw

February 27, 2014 – 13:00

Profiling in musea – geen detectiepoortje kan op tegen een mooie jonge vrouw

26/02/2014 – 15:16“Rijks verruilt bewaker voor geheim agente” (Het Financieel Dagblad, 8 februari 2014).

Volgens Emile Broersma, hoofd beveiliging van het Rijksmuseum te Amsterdam, kan de nieuwste elektronische detectieapparatuur niet tippen aan goed getrainde mensen. Een zeer aanvechtbare appels-met-peren vergelijking. Op grond van goede argumenten kan het tegenovergestelde beweerd worden. De onwetenschappelijkheid druipt van Broersma’s niet gefundeerde opmerking af; niveau STER reclame. Ik krijg er dezelfde kriebels bij als bij de gezondheidclaims van cholesterol verlagende voedingsmiddelen, calorieloze cola’s, wasmiddelen die witter dan wit wassen en auto’s die 1 op 50 rijden. Stuitende borstklopperij. Hier preekt de vos de passie, want wat is er aan de hand?

Broersma, nauwelijks nog verhuld, prijst een beveiligingsmethodiek aan die zijn makkers van Art Secure al enkele jaren aan musea proberen te slijten via cursussen ‘predictive profiling’. Sterker nog: Broersma trad namens Art Secure op als cursusleider in andere musea. Er heeft zich een kongsi gevormd van voormalige politiemensen die, met eurotekens op het netvlies, onbewezen succes claimen bij de beveiliging van musea.

Is predictive profiling dan nutteloos? Ik zal niet in dezelfde kuil als Broersma en consorten vallen door ongefundeerd het tegendeel te beweren van hun promotalk. Goed observeren van individuen in mensenmassa’s zal ongetwijfeld nut hebben, zeker indien die observatie gebaseerd is op instructie en oefening. Niets op tegen. Echter, wanneer succesverhalen komen uit de mond van mensen die direct of indirect financieel belang hebben bij het aanprijzen van een product en wanneer dat product dan ook nog eens aangeprezen wordt als DE oplossing, dan ontstaat bij mij argwaan. Hoed je voor de adviseur die oplossingen verkoopt.

Afgelopen zomer heb ik aan den lijve ondervonden hoe betrekkelijk het succes van die aangeprezen observatiemethodiek is. TV zender AT5 nodigde mij via een e-mail uit mee te werken aan een undercover test van de beveiliging van het Rijksmuseum. Ik wilde daar, natuurlijk, niet aan meewerken en stuurde de mail van AT5 door naar Broersma in het Rijksmuseum en zijn collega Drenth (ten overvloede: ook ex-politie en ook met een lijntje naar Art Secure) van het Van Goghmuseum. Beide heren schoten in een onbegrijpelijke angststuip. Hoewel ze die AT5 mail van mij kregen, nam geen van beiden de moeite met mij contact op te nemen. Vooral Broersma maakte het bont. Hij liet via een PowerPoint presentatie – let wel, in mijn bezit – drie dagen achtereen tijdens de ochtendbriefing in het Rijksmuseum mijn portret aan alle beveiligingsmedewerkers zien onder het kopje ‘verdachte personen’, met de nadrukkelijke opdracht om zodra ik het Rijks betrad de meldkamer te alarmeren en met het even nadrukkelijke verbod met mij in gesprek te gaan. Interessant is dat ik alle dagen waarop mijn portret op diffamerende wijze werd getoond door medewerkers uit het Rijksmuseum werd gebeld. Tot zover de falende solidariteit van die medewerkers met hun beveiligingsbaas. In plaats van die overspannen actie had een telefoontje van Broersma, of Drenth, naar mij alle kou uit de lucht kunnen helpen.

Broersma’s door achtervolgingswaanzin ingegeven geklungel kon niet anders dan als een rechtstreekse uitnodiging om het Rijks te bezoeken worden opgevat. Een riskante onderneming, begrijp ik nu uit het artikel in Het Financieel Dagblad, want lekkere meiden ‘die minder snel dan mannen afgeleid zijn’ en met ‘genetisch meer oog voor detail’ zouden via hun niet te onderschatten observatievaardigheden mij natuurlijk meteen door hebben, de meldkamer zou gealarmeerd worden en niemand zou het aandurven met mij in gesprek te gaan. ‘Genetisch meer oog voor detail’? Heeft Broersma na meerdere feministische golven en jarenlange emancipatie een typisch vrouwenberoep gevonden? Wat een van machismo doordrenkte discriminatie. Medewerkers worden door Broersma zonder enige schroom op basis van genen en uiterlijk geselecteerd. Is dat officieel Rijksmuseumbeleid? Die Dr. Cesare Broersma Lombroso toch! Van alle markten thuis, een multi-talent.

Ik zag tijdens mijn bezoek aan het Rijks bij de ingang slechts geanimeerd met elkaar kletsende beveiligers; het viel mij op dat bezoekers overdreven populair en tutoyerend, of in steenkolenengels werden aangesproken – plaatsvervangende schaamte was mijn deel – en dat een bezoeker een terracotta dubbelportret op de ‘beletage’, in de oostelijke kabinetten, liefkoosde, bekrabbelde en zich met zijn arm om het terracottabeeld door zijn partner liet fotograferen. Nogal afwijkend gedrag, maar geobserveerd door die schoonheidskoninginnen met bijzondere genen? Nee.

Kreeg ik enige extra aandacht bij mijn bezoek? Ik moet, gebukt onder teleurstelling, ontkennen. Werd de meldkamer of een leidinggevende geïnformeerd over mijn aanwezigheid? Nee. Hielden de mij bekende medewerkers zich aan het nadrukkelijke verbod met mij te spreken? Mag ik die vraag onbeantwoord laten? Fantaseert u maar, net zoals Broersma fantaseert over het effect van ‘predictive profiling’ en de observatiekwaliteiten van mooie meisjes.

Ik heb nooit de loftrompet geblazen over enig beveiligingssysteem omdat zulks zich tegen je keert wanneer het fout gaat. Hopelijk valt Broersma niet in de kuil die hij stelselmatig voor zichzelf graaft met zijn lofzangen op mooie dames en observatie van afwijkend gedrag. Ik gun het Rijks alle goeds en hoop van harte dat het op beveiligingsgebied nooit fout gaat, maar diep in mij is een duiveltje dat bijna onhoorbaar bij voorbaat in zijn vuistje lacht.

Overigens: laat ik nu altijd gedacht hebben dat het not-done is mededelingen te doen over je beveiliging. Ik raad iedereen aan die in het Rijksmuseum iets wil uitspoken: beware of beautiful girls.

Ton Cremers,

Den Haag, 26 februari 2014

 Museumbeveiliging, Ton Cremers » Blog Archive » Profiling in musea – geen detectiepoortje kan op tegen een mooie jonge vrouw.

Protected: The Con Artist: A multimillion dollar art scam – Wolfgang Beltracchi matter

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Protected: Revealed: the art experts who pass fakes as authentic | Art and design | The Observer

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Conference Art Crime and Cultural Heritage: Fakes, Forgeries, and Looted and Stolen Art

February 21, 2014 – 09:37

Conference: Art Crime, NY, June 2014

Art Crime and Cultural Heritage: Fakes, Forgeries, and Looted and Stolen Art

Event Information

Dates: June 4–6, 2014

Time: 9 a.m.–5 p.m.

Lipton Hall, NYU Law School

Elective Credit

Students in the following certificate programs can receive credit for a 10-session elective by attending the entire symposium. For additional information on the course assignment, please call (212) 998-7289.

With the spectacular rise in art market activity and international art transactions, the market for stolen and fraudulent art has boomed. Art crime is now the third-highest grossing criminal enterprise worldwide. Dozens of major U.S. arts institutions are grappling with repatriation and other issues concerning stolen or looted art in their collections.

Join legal experts from NYU School of Law, art crime lawyers, forensic experts, and other major players working on legal, forensic, governmental, and political efforts to address the enormity of this global phenomenon. Topics include the history of fakes and forgeries, insurance fraud, art theft and art scams, scientific and forensic approaches, provenance research, cultural repatriation, issues facing auction houses and purchasers, and current case studies.

General Admission

Full symposium fee: $955        Single-day fee: $350 AAA & NYSBA members and NYU students: $900 | $300

CLE units and financial aid are available for those who qualify.

Symposium Participants

  • Chris Marinello, Director and Founder, Art Recovery International
  • Jane C.H. Jacob, President, Jacob Fine Art in Chicago; Trustee, Appraisal Foundation, Washington, D.C.
  • Amy Adler, Emily Kempin Professor of Law, NYU School of Law
  • Anthony Amore, security expert; coauthor, Stealing Rembrandts
  • James Butterwick, Russian and fine art expert, London
  • John Cahill, Cahill Partners, LLP; Chair, Art Law Committee, New York City Bar Association
  • James Cuno, President and CEO, J. Paul Getty Trust
  • Patty Gerstenblith, Director, Center for Art, Museum, & Cultural Heritage Law, DePaul University; Chair, President’s Cultural Property Advisory Committee
  • Salomon Grimberg, author, Frida Kahlo Catalogue Raisonné
  • Kathleen Guzman, Managing Director, Heritage Auctions
  • Jim McAndrew, Grunfeld, Desiderio, Lebowitz, Silverman & Klestadt LLP; former Senior Special Agent, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • James Martin, Orion Analytical
  • Judith Pearson, President, ARIS Corporation
  • Marianne Rosenberg, lawyer and granddaughter of Paul Rosenberg, one of the world’s leading dealers in modern art prior to World War II; working to recover family art looted by the Nazis
  • Laurie W. Rush, Director, In Theater Heritage Training Program for Deploying Personnel, Archaeology Institute of America and U.S. Department of Defense
  • Meridith Savona / James Wynne, FBI Art Crime Team
  • Larry Schindel, Executive Director, ARIS Corporation
  • Lucian Simmons, Senior Vice President and worldwide head, Restitution Department, Sotheby’s, New York
  • Stephen K. Urice, Professor of Law, University of Miami School of Law
  • Geza von Habsburg, specialist, antiquities and Fabergé

Museum Security Network.

Protected: Artful dodger duped the experts

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Protected: Michelangelo’s fame built on forgery, claims author – News – Art – The Independent

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Protected: Traces of Nuclear Tests on Disputed Painting Prove It’s a Fake | LiveScience

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Museumbeveiliging, Ton Cremers – Petje af voor Sjarel Ex

February 5, 2014 – 14:45

Petje af voor Sjarel Ex

05/02/2014 – 14:31

Boijmans-directeur erkent fout bij aanbesteding ontwerp depot

Claudia Kammer

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam. Directeur Sjarel Ex heeft toegegeven dat hij de aanbestedingsregels heeft overtreden. Foto ANP / Koen SUYK


In zijn ‘naïviteit en enthousiasme’ praatte Sjarel Ex, de directeur van Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, in september met één van de vijf architectenbureaus die nog in de race waren om het nieuwe Collectiegebouw voor zijn museum te ontwerpen. Hij had geen idee dat hij daarmee de aanbestedingsregels schond.

‘Een stomme fout’, erkent hij in NRC Handelsblad:

“Als museumdirecteur ben ik gewend in een vroeg stadium met kunstenaars en tentoonstellingsmakers te overleggen. Daar worden projecten beter van. In diezelfde geest popelde ik om met de toekomstige architect over het open depot te praten.”

lees verder: Boijmans-directeur erkent fout bij aanbesteding ontwerp depot –

In  een recente column, en ook in eerdere fulmineerde ik tegen directeuren die hun verantwoordelijkheid voor de veiligheid van hun museum – een verwijt dat Ex absoluut niet gemaakt kan worden, integendeel – verwaarloosden en daarna stuntelden in de publiciteit. Ze kunnen aan Sjarel Ex een voorbeeld nemen. Iedereen kan fouten maken. Sjarel Ex speelde na zijn fout – wat is daar overtrokken op gereageerd – open kaart en erkende dat hij anders had moeten handelen. Daar kunnen heel wat collega’s, inclusief zijn buren van De Kunsthal en het Natuurhistorisch nog wat van leren.

Chapeau voor Ex!

Het doet mij genoegen dat de rechter goed begrepen heeft dat de gemeente Rotterdam paranoide reageerde op het foutje van Ex en geloofde in zijn oprechtheid:

MVRDV mag Boijmans-depot bouwen

De gemeente Rotterdam moet de opdracht voor een nieuw collectiegebouw voor Boijmans toch aan MVRDV gunnen. Dat heeft de rechtbank in Rotterdam dinsdagmiddag bepaald. (…)


Ex heeft later verklaard dat het gesprek, dat op zijn initiatief werd gevoerd, een fout was. MVRDV stapte naar de rechter. Die bepaalde dat het voorgesprek MVRDV niet op een voorsprong heeft gezet ten opzichte van de andere vier architecten in de aanbestedingsprocedure.

De punten waarop MVRDV beter scoorde dan het bureau waaraan de gemeente de opdracht heeft gegund, zijn tijdens het gesprek tussen MVRDV en de directeur van Boijmans niet aan de orde gekomen. Aangezien MVRDV verder als beste uit de bus kwam moet de gemeente de opdracht voor het collectiegebouw aan MVRDV gunnen.




 Museumbeveiliging, Ton Cremers » Blog Archive » Petje af voor Sjarel Ex.

Protected: BBC News – Fake £100,000 Marc Chagall painting ‘to be burned’

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Protected: The Cleveland Museum of Art rejects claims that its upcoming Van Gogh show includes eight fakes |

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Wat hebben Rudy Fuchs, Ruud Spruit, Gerard de Klein, Jelle Reumer en Emily Ansenk met elkaar gemeen?

January 27, 2014 – 12:29

Wat hebben Rudy Fuchs, Ruud Spruit, Gerard de Klein, Jelle Reumer en Emily Ansenk met elkaar gemeen?
27/01/2014 – 09:47De naderende heropening van De Kunsthal te Rotterdam (1 februari 2014) na een ingrijpende verbouwing waarbij het klimaat en de beveiliging onder handen werden genomen, roept de publicitair wanstaltige toestand rondom de inbraak en diefstal van oktober 2012 weer in herinnering. Niet in het minst omdat de directrice van De Kunsthal onlangs in De Volkskrant verklaarde dat de beveiliging van De Kunsthal nu ‘goed’ is. Ansenk schaart zich in het rijtje directeuren van geslachtofferde musea die zich, nadat het fout ging, in de publiciteit ineens ontpopten als experts op het gebied van beveiliging en criminaliteit.Nog geen halve dag nadat een stelletje Roemeense losers kinderlijk eenvoudig wisten in te breken in De Kunsthal verklaarde Ansenk doodleuk dat de beveiliging van haar kunsthal ‘state of the art’ was. Een faux pas door emotie over de inbraak? Een vergeeflijke faux pas, ware het niet dat Ansenk in de dagen na die inbraak zowel in De Volkskrant als de NRC de strekking van dat ‘state of the art’ in andere woorden wederom benadrukte. In De Volkskrant werd ze geciteerd met “Er is geen aanleiding de beveiliging aan te passen”. Kan het nog zouter?Heb ik over dit gestuntel in de media al genoeg gezegd? Je zou het haast denken wanneer je de ingezonden brief van Raaskallende Ruudleest in de NRC van 23 oktober 2012. Spruit, want die Ruud is het, smeedt in zijn brief een band met de directeur van De Kunsthal, Emily Ansenk, waar – ik kan me niet anders voorstellen – Ansenk niet blij mee kan zijn. Ansenks buurman Jelle Reumer – directeur van het Rotterdamse Natuurhistorisch – sprong voor Ansenk en Raaskallende Ruud in de bres in een hysterische mail aan mij. Er ontplooit zich een trend, een trend die jaren geleden werd ingezet door Rudy Fuchs, chagrijnig fulminerend tegen een TV journalist nadat een schilderij van Picasso met een aardappelschilmesje was bewerkt door een bezoeker. Als museumdirecteur geef je na incidenten blijkbaar nooit toe dat de beveiliging gefaald heeft, of minstens kritisch onder de loep moet worden genomen, maar je schreeuwt stampvoetend uit dat die beveiliging ‘state of the art’ (Ansenk), ‘geavanceerd’ (Ruud Spruit) of zonder meer ‘goed’ (Fuchs) is. Om je woorden kracht bij te zetten, geef je desnoods de criminelen een compliment met hun ‘professionaliteit’ (Spruit). Er ligt terrein braak  voor mediatrainers..

Overigens vind ik niet dat in 1999 de beveiliging van het Stedelijk Museum onvoldoende was toen dat Picasso schilderij werd beschadigd. Niet de beveiliging faalde, maar Rudy Fuchs, niet bepaald bekend vanwege zijn bescheidenheid, faalde als woordvoerend directeur en viel als een amateur in de kuil die een volhardende journalist voor hem groef. Een pijnlijke TV vertoning.

Gerard de Klein, met in zijn kielzog conservator Yvonne Ploumen mailden mij ziedend van woede toen ik na de verwoestende brand in het Armando Museum in de pers verklaarde dat er onvoldoende afstemming was geweest tussen de gemeente Amersfoort, eigenaar van de Elleboogkerk waarin het museum gehuisvest was, en het museum. Hoe was het anders mogelijk dat men bezig ging met brandgevaarlijke dakwerkzaamheden terwijl het museum de belangrijkste tentoonstelling uit zijn bestaan had? Een tentoonstelling met kostbare bruiklenen die allemaal in de brand verloren gingen. Ik zou de relatie tussen het museum en de gemeente schade toebrengen met mijn opmerking in de pers, aldus Ploumen in een mail aan mij. Wie wat bewaart, die heeft wat. Mails als die van Ploumen zijn parels in mijn archief. Toen de gemeente Amersfoort de toezegging het museum te herbouwen heroverwoog, inmiddels sloeg ook in Nederland de financiële crisis toe, hadden De Klein noch Ploumen enige boodschap aan de relatie met de gemeente en gingen in de pers helemaal los over de onbetrouwbaarheid van de gemeente. De gemeente zou woordbreuk plegen.

Had die brand in het Armando Museum voorkomen kunnen worden? Natuurlijk. Strikt genomen kan, met uitzondering van brandstichting, iedere brand voorkomen worden. Had voorkomen kunnen worden dat de hele collectie verloren ging? Absoluut! Maar: er was vanuit het museum geen toezicht tijdens de werkzaamheden, het museum bezat geen calamiteitenplan met een onderdeel gewijd aan de collectie en er waren geen afspraken met de brandweer over het redden van de collectie, echter…De Klein en Ploumen wasten hun handen in onschuld en stelden zich als slachtoffers op. Ploumen mag nu de kar trekken bij het nieuwe, virtuele Armando Museum in Amelisweerd en Gerard de Klein vond onderdak als directeur in museumgoudA. Daar liet hij van zich spreken door de verkoop van een schilderij van Dumas en had hij in 2012 de pech dat er ingebroken werd en een kostbare monstrans gestolen. Het zit de man niet mee. Had die diefstal voorkomen kunnen worden? Ja. Treft Gerard de Klein hier blaam? Nee, maar ik ben wel nieuwsgierig wat de beste man gedaan heeft om herhaling te voorkomen.

Jelle Reumer van het Natuurhistorisch vond in zijn eerder genoemde arrogante en hysterische mail aan mij dat ik mijn pijlen niet moest richten op zijn buurvrouw van De Kunsthal, maar op de overheid die beknibbelt op budgetten waardoor de musea niet goed beveiligd kunnen worden. Het deed mij goed te lezen dat ook Jelle Reumer van mening is dat de musea niet ‘state of the art’, of geavanceerd beveiligd zijn. Echter, had de inbraak en diefstal door neushoorndieven in zijn museum iets te maken met teruglopende budgetten? Niets, helemaal niets. Het was de inertie van Reumer die deze diefstal mogelijk maakte. Vanuit zijn museum – er schort in het museum iets aan de loyaliteit met directeur Reumer - bereikte mij de informatie dat Jelle Reumer een waarschuwing door de politie terzijde had gelegd en geweigerd had de neushoorns te voorzien van replica hoorns. Een stap die in Naturalis terecht wel genomen werd toen wereldwijd een hausse aan inbraken plaatsvond in natuurhistorische musea.

Wat hebben Rudy Fuchs, Ruud Spruit, Gerard de Klein, Jelle Reumer en Emily Ansenk met elkaar gemeen?

De beveiliging van het Westfries Museum was, wat Raaskallende Ruud dan ook beweerde, ver onder de maat. Ruud verwaarloosde die beveiliging jarenlang en sloeg waarschuwingen van zijn beveiligingsinstallateur jaar na jaar in de wind. “We gaven feitelijk nooit aandacht aan de beveiliging” verklaarde zijn conservator ooit tijdens een receptie. Maar, Ruud mocht ondanks aantoonbaar falen op zijn post blijven.

De Klein verwaarloosde zijn verantwoordelijkheid als directeur van het Armando Museum en verzuimde, hoewel zijn museum deelnam aan een door het Mondriaanfonds gesubsidieerd project, te zorgen voor een calamiteitenplan voor zijn museum. Maar, Gerard mocht ondanks aantoonbaar falen op zijn post blijven.

De beveiliging van De Kunsthal, dat was geen nieuws, was onvoldoende en er werden geen aanvullende maatregelen getroffen toen er een kostbare tentoonstelling werd ingericht. Maar, Emily mocht ondanks aantoonbaar falen en domme presentaties in de publiciteit op haar post blijven.

Jelle Reumer weigerde de in zijn museum aanwezige hoorns van neushoorns te beveiligen, maar ook Jelle, het wordt eentonig, mocht ondanks aantoonbaar falen op zijn post blijven.

Werd Rudy Fuchs gecorrigeerd nadat hij zo onhandig manoeuvreerde in een TV interview? Niet dat ik weet…misschien achter de schermen?

Zo lang eindverantwoordelijken niet op hun verantwoordelijkheid worden aangesproken en aantoonbaar falen geen consequenties heeft, zal het aanmodderen blijven met de beveiliging van musea.

Ton Cremers

27 januari 2014

Museumbeveiliging, Ton Cremers » Blog Archive » Wat hebben Rudy Fuchs, Ruud Spruit, Gerard de Klein, Jelle Reumer en Emily Ansenk met elkaar gemeen?.

De Kunsthal: wat is de vergrotende trap van ‘state of the art’ beveiligen?

January 24, 2014 – 13:50

De Kunsthal: wat is de vergrotende trap van ‘state of the art’ beveiligen?

24/01/2014 – 12:10Emily Ansenk, directeur van De Kunsthal, verzekert in De Volkskrant van 24 januari 2014 dat De Kunsthal wanneer deze op 1 februari 2014 weer open gaat na een ingrijpende verbouwing ‘goed beveiligd’ is.

Is ‘goed beveiligd’ de vergrotende, of misschien wel overtreffende trap van ‘state of the art’ beveiligd? Want dat was De Kunsthal immers al volgens bluffende Ansenk toen in oktober 2012 op kinderlijk eenvoudige wijze een aantal schilderijen gestolen werd uit haar Kunsthal.

Hoe het ook zij: het camerasysteem is vernieuwd – wat zullen we die nutteloze, nostalgische camerabeelden uit 2012 missen – en er zijn rolluiken aangebracht. Stappen in de goede richting. Hopelijk zijn de buitendeuren inmiddels ook voorzien van normconforme sloten en zullen kostbare objecten in de toekomst getoond worden in inbraakwerende compartimenten of idem vitrines.

De inbraak uit 2012 zal niet alleen de geschiedenis in gaan dankzij de klunzige actie door small-time Oost-Europese crimineeltjes, maar ook dankzij het gestuntel door een betweterige directeur die tijdens een van de belangrijkste tentoonstellingen uit de geschiedenis van De Kunsthal een snoepreisje naar het buitenland maakte en doodleuk haar telefoon uit zette omdat ze niet gestoord wilde worden.

Een bijzondere bedrijfscultuur die museumwereld waarbinnen het mogelijk is dat een falende directeur doodleuk op haar post blijft zitten alsof er niets aan de hand is. Faillissement van verantwoordelijkheid.

Ton Cremers

Museumbeveiliging, Ton Cremers » Blog Archive » De Kunsthal: wat is de vergrotende trap van ‘state of the art’ beveiligen?.

Protected: NY jury to hear Jasper Johns testify at art trial

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Protected: Forging a career: a history of art’s fraudsters and fakes

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Cultural Heritage Lawyer Rick St. Hilaire: Ka Nefer Nefer mask – SLAM Mummy Mask Appeal: “You now have to beg for a do-over”

January 17, 2014 – 10:14

SLAM Mummy Mask Appeal: “You now have to beg for a do-over”

“All we want here is an opportunity to get in the gate,” argued U.S. Department of Justice Attorney Sharon Swingle before the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday. But Patrick McInerney, attorney for the St. Louis Art Museum (SLAM), told the court that he wanted finality in the government’s failed attempt to take the Ka Nefer Nefer mummy mask from his client.
Archaeologist Mohamed Zakaria Goneim discovered the more than 3,000 year old mask in Egypt in the 1950′s. Despite SLAM’s purchase of the mummy mask from a gallery in 1998 for approximately a half million dollars, authorities in the U.S. and Egypt say the mask remains a stolen object that was illegally removed from Egypt.
Government lawyers still want a chance to present this argument to the Missouri federal district court by filing a newly amended complaint that would restart the process to forfeit the Ka Nefer Nefer mask from SLAM. But they first need the approval of the court of appeals.The forfeiture case known as U.S. v. Ka Nefer Nefer was first begun in 2011 by the U.S. Attorney in St. LouisHowever, the lower courtdismissed the government’s claim in 2012, saying the the complaint was deficient. The district court turned the government down againafter attorneys tried to rejuvenate the case with a newly minted complaint alleging more facts surrounding the mask’s theft. Justice Department lawyers then appealed the district court’s technical decision dismissing the proceedings, setting the stage for Monday’s oral argument before a three judge appellate panel.

Circuit Court Judge James Loken bluntly observed during yesterday’s oral argument that the government made mistakes in the eyes of the district court and now, “You now have to beg for a do-over.” But Swingle protested that the grounds for the district court’s dismissal was not based on some “fundamental legal defect.” She stressed that the law favors deciding legal cases on their merits, not simply dismissing them before they are substantively argued. In fact, the law favors granting at least one opportunity to amend a complaint before dismissing it with prejudice, she argued.

McInerney contested Swingle’s assertions. “It’s really whether the government is entitled to an advisory opinion from the district court, with the help of defense counsel here, as to what the proper pleading elements are for their claim under the Tariff Act. Because that’s really what they want.”

If the government were successful in its appeal to restart the forfeiture case, McInerney suggested that it would be the first time that happened in the Eight Circuit under the federal rules. He argued that no special exception should be made for the government in this case.

Judge Loken may have given the impression that the government was out of luck, but he also hinted that government’s case might have life left if the appeal were denied. He asked more than once whether the declaratory judgment action might still go forward if the forfeiture case were dismissed. The “DJ” case is the original and still active companion case to the forfeiture action where SLAM petitioned to quiet the title of the Ka Nefer Nefer mask, seeking a judicial determination that it is the rightful owner of the mask. The appellate court suggested that the government could still argue its forfeiture claim as a defense in the DJ case. Swingle was not so sure, however.

Judge Diana Murphy inquired about allegations surrounding the sellers of the mask, remarking to Swingle, “When did facts come out about this company in Switzerland? …which has a cloudy past I gather ….” Swingle replied by describing specific criminal complaints made against the gallery’s owners. McInerney later addressed this issue of “some illegality” by saying,  “It ought to noted … that had absolutely no connection with this case; none whatsoever.” “The facts don’t show it.” Any criminal conduct claimed by the government “post-dated by four years the acquisition of the mask” by SLAM. “This left-handed suggestion that there was some … sort of misconduct in connection with the mask doesn’t stand,” McInerney iterated.

Judge Lavenski Smith attempted to clarify the timetable of the government’s requests to the district court to reconsider the dismissal of the case. He raised a question about the many months that went by between the filing of SLAM’s petition to dismiss the government’s forfeiture complaint, the district court’s dismissal, and the “equity to the government” concerning the opportunity to amend. In other words, why didn’t the government move for leave to amend its complaint during an apparently available ten month time period? Judge Smith, meanwhile, wanted to know what specific prejudice the museum would suffer if the case were allowed to continue and not dismissed. Swingle argued that the government’s actions were timely and, even if not, there was no disadvantage to SLAM.

Swingle endeavored to demonstrate that the government had been taking the high road in this litigation by expressing, “Our preference was to reach a mediated solution to this dispute …”  “It was the museum that precipitated a judicial intervention by filing the declaratory judgment.”

McInerney countered with several critiques. He cited federal attorneys’ failure to show that the mask was stolen. “In order to get to theft in the first place you have to get to ownership.” SLAM’s legal counsel argued that it is not enough for the government to allege that the mask was in one place at one moment and another place at another moment without alleging some type of theft. “They still can’t show that the item was ever owned by the Republic of Egypt,” he exhorted.

McInerney further contended that the government could have taken the case for appeal in a timely fashion but did not. They kept the case in district court, he charged, because “…they were banking on the district court writing a recipe for an appropriate complaint ….” It was 401 days after SLAM filed its motion to dismiss when the government finally presented what it believed was a factually compelling forfeiture complaint to the district court, presenting “satisfactory allegations” that “still don’t suffice,” pressed McInerney.

Swingle particularly objected that one of the grounds the district court relied on to dismiss the forfeiture case concerned an issue not even briefed by the litigants, but raised by the district court sua sponte (on its own), specifically that the government needed to allege facts showing that the mask was imported “contrary to law,” not simply that it needed to allege that the mask was stolen. McInerney urged that “contrary to law” was not a new element raised by the district court, it was just the district court recognizing what is required for a forfeiture claim filed under 19 U.S.C. §  1595a of the customs law.

On Justice Murphy’s mind was the district court’s failure to clarify why it denied the government’s request to amend the forfeiture complaint. She asked early in the oral argument if the district court abused its discretion. Later she questioned McInerney with, “You concede … that the district court did not say much?”Whether the district court abused its discretion is the issue that the judges will ultimately decide when they issue a ruling at a future date.

The appellate argument can be heard in its entirety by clicking here.

This post is researched, written, and published on the blog Cultural Heritage Lawyer Rick St. Hilaire at Text copyrighted 2010-2014 by Ricardo A. St. Hilaire, Attorney & Counselor at Law, PLLC. Any unauthorized reproduction or retransmission of this post is prohibited. CONTACT INFORMATION:

Cultural Heritage Lawyer Rick St. Hilaire: SLAM Mummy Mask Appeal: “You now have to beg for a do-over”.

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“Any Herero found within the German borders, with or without a gun, with or without cattle, will be shot. I no longer receive women or children. I will drive them back to their people or order them to be shot. These are my words to the Herero people .

The great General of the mighty German Kaiser”.

Extermination Order by the German commander, General Lothar von Trotha. (1)

Surviving Herero returning starved from the Omaheke desert where they had been driven by German troops after the battle at Waterberg; two women in front were unable to standWikipedia.

Surviving Herero returning starved from the Omaheke desert where they had been driven by German troops after the battle at Waterberg; two women in front were unable to stand


The last time we dealt with Namibian human remains in Germany, we suggested, contrary to the opinion of some, that the recent return of Namibian human remains by Germany was not the beginning of the end of the issue and definitely not the end of the question(2) There are far too many important issues that have not yet been settled or dealt with in such a way as to prepare the way for an eventual termination of demands. German officialdom has not shown itself prepared or willing to render adequate apology for the evil acts of the notorious German colonial troops against the Herero and the Nama in what has been described as the first genocide of the 20th century, an epoch to be distinguished by several genocides. Above all, the German State has not yet accepted the need to pay compensation for the incalculable damage and sufferings inflicted on the Herero and Nama, including the destruction of their cattle and other property as well as for unpaid labour.

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December 27, 2013 – 18:33

A recent article entitled “Colombia calls off exhibition of sculptures in face of protests”, reprinted by the Museum Security Network, seems to me to contain some lessons which may be useful for Nigerians and other Africans, often faced with requests to lend artefacts to the very Western museums that are illegally holding onto artefacts that had been looted in the colonial times or stolen/removed under dubious or unclarified circumstances(1)

What the people of San Agustin, a township in southern Colombia, have done was to prevent the removal of 20 monoliths from their town to Bogota that had already been packed and were to have been the centrepieces of an exhibition on San Agustin culture. The Colombian Minister of Culture therefore had to cancel the exhibition. The exhibition was to celebrate”100th anniversary of excavations in San Agustin by German ethnologist Konrad Preuss, who helped uncover many of the pieces now in the town’s museum and archaeological park”.

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Search results for mask of ka nefer nefer | The Art Law Report

December 27, 2013 – 09:52

Search Results for: mask of ka nefer nefer

The Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit has set oral argument for January 13, 2014 on the appeal from the dismissal of the government’s civil forteiture case against the Mask of Ka Nefer-Nefer in the St. Louis Art Museum.

After a report from the United States that settlement talks in the civil forfeiture case against the Mask of Ka Nefer Nefer at the St. Louis Art Museum were sufficiently promise to suspend the briefing schedule in the Court of Appeals, the government has advised the court that those talks have failed.  The government’s appellate… Continue Reading

  The U.S. District Court in St. Louis has denied the government’s request to amend the complaint seeking civil forfeiture of the Mask of Ka-Nefer-Nefer from the St. Louis Art Museum.  Echoing some of the timeliness points we made after the government’s request for reconsideration of the dismissal of the case was denied on June 1,… Continue Reading

After the U.S. District Court denied the government’s Motion to Reconsider its earlier dismissal of the claim to the Mask of Ka-Nefer-Nefer in the St. Louis Museum of Art, the government has tried another procedure to revive the case, one that is normally unremarkable.  A review of the filings in the case raises the question, however,… Continue Reading

Fresh on the heels of our coverage here and here and in the Atlantic, the U.S. District Court in St. Louis has rejected the U.S. government’s efforts to save its case to reclaim the Mask of Ka-Nefer-Nefer.  After the case was dismissed in April, the government asked the court for permission to amend the complaint to… Continue Reading

Malcom Gay in the Atlantic reports on the dismissal of the federal government’s civil forfeiture action under U.S. customs laws United States v. The Mask of Ka-Nefer-Nefer, and the broader quesions about what a museum should do when faced with such claims.  In April, the U.S. District Court allowed the St. Louis Museum of Art’s Motion… Continue Reading

  The St. Louis Art Museum has defeated the federal goverment’s efforts to seize the Egyptian Mask of Ka-Nefer-Nefer under U.S. customs laws.  The Mask of Ka-Nefer-Nefer is a funerary mask of an ancient Egyptian noblewoman.  The St. Louis Art Museum purchased it from a dealer in 1998.  Sometime later, the United States began to seek its seizure, arguing… Continue Reading

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December 27, 2013 – 09:34




The restitution of those cultural objects which our museums and collections, 

directly or indirectly, possess thanks to the colonial system and are now being demanded, must also not be postponed with cheap arguments and tricks.Gert v. Paczensky and Herbert Ganslmayr, Nofretete will nach Hause (1)


Head of Queen Mother ,Iyoba, Benin, Nigeria, Ethnologisches Museum, Berlin, Germany.




As readers may know, there has been a strong opposition in Germany to the proposed Humboldt Forum project which, inter alia, will, involve the transfer of looted African objects, including the Benin bronzes, from the Ethnology Museum, Dahlem, Berlin, to the centre of the city at the Museums Island. A large group of German NGOs has formed a coalition movement, No Humboldt 21, to oppose this transfer and have brought the issue of the legitimacy of the African cultural objects in the Ethnology Museum. They consider the exhibition concept presented as Eurocentric and violating the dignity and the property rights of persons from many parts of the world.


On Monday, 2 December 2013, a public hearing was held by the Cultural Committee of the Berlin Parliament to discuss the current status of the conception and development of the Humboldt-Forum and the future use of the museums at Dahlem. The German press reported widely the discussions on the issues involved, including the legitimacy of the looted artefacts at the Ethnologisches Museum, Berlin and the proposed transfer of the artefacts to the proposed forum. (3)

The No Humboldt 21 group has argued persuasively that most of the 500,000 items in the museum were brought there on illegitimate ground, looted or forced from the inhabitants of the German colonies. They have pointed out that the Benin bronzes in particular were looted by the British in their notorious invasion of Benin in 1897 and sold to the Germans who knew they were buying stolen goods; three months after the invasion. They could thus not have had any bona fides. Indeed, one of the famous German ethnologists who were keen in collecting artefacts, Felix von Luschan had suggested approvingly that the way the British secured the Benin bronzes should be studied by others.(4)

Pwo mask, Chokwe, Angola, now in Ethnologisches Museum, Berlin, Germany.




In the present debate, supporters of transfer of the artefacts to the centre of Berlin, have offered the usual weak arguments which do no honour to German intellectual history and the solid reputations of German universities. Some have tried to avoid the main question of legitimacy by pointing out that bringing the objects to the centre of Berlin secures equality and respect for the African objectsMoving the non-European collections from Dahlem to the centre of Berlin and displaying them in proximity to the Museumsinsel will reintegrate them into an ensemble in which they will be freed of the stigma of the exotic. This too is part of the equality of presentation and perception of world culture.(5)

 Much surprising is the attempt by some to make Post-Colonial critique responsible for the existence of distinctions and differences between the European States and other States: `At the Humboldt Forum, the separation between Europe and non-Europe is lifted. Rather than being directed from Berlin exotic foreign worlds, the perspective of the exhibitions incorporates Europe. The challenge is to overcome the one sided post-colonial perceptions that place the European museum squarely in the tradition of colonialism and construe the non-European world as a victim of colonialism, thereby perpetuating the fragmentation of the world(6)

With all due respect to the learned professor, this is indeed a very remarkable statement coming from a scholar and former director of the Ethnologisches Museum, Berlin. She is making those who comment on the persistence of disparity and contradictions between European countries and African and Asian countries, responsible for the existence of these differences. A well-known German scholar from the 19thcentury who also wrote decades ago from Berlin would have simply said that theses differences are reflections of the persistent socio-economic disparities between European and non-European States.

One can understand that Prof. Knig does not want the Humboldt Forum linked to colonialism. I am afraid that all things considered, this would be impossible so long as the objects acquired under colonialism from former colonies are kept in the Humboldt Forum. Moreover, the conduct of the German authorities and the Ethnology Museum with regard to the restitution of the looted objects has been close if not the same as those of the colonialists.

Members of the British Punitive Expedition of 1897 against Benin with looted Benin ivories and bronze objects




It has also been stated that research into the ownership of the artefacts, the provenance would require a lot of resources and the lack of resources means that the research can only be done intermittently. The Humboldt-Forum Project is estimated to cost 590 million euros. But Germany has had many of these artefacts in its possession for more than hundred years. Besides Germans are known for keeping accurate records but when it comes to such artefacts, they have no reliable records.

In any case, as far as the Benin artefacts are concerned, there is no need for any provenance research. The museum knows, the German authorities know and we all know that the artefacts were looted in 1897 by the British from the Obas Palace in their nefarious invasion of Benin. What else more does the museum or the German authorities require to know?

King figure, Chibinda Ilunga, Chockwe, Angola, now in Ethnologisches Museum, Berlin, Germany.

 It has also been stated that one of the aims of the Humboldt-Forum is to bring curators and other scholars from the countries of origin to Berlin to discuss the problematic history of the artefacts and their interpretation. The German authorities have succeeded in recruiting some experts from Africa and Asia to be on the board of directors of the Humboldt-Forum; they count on artists, curators as well as communities in Berlin that are from the countries of origin of the artefacts to present their own views that would diminish the hitherto Eurocentric point of view:

In the presentation of objects of cultural significance it is important to create a variety of points of access. It is no longer sufficient to accentuate the European view of the world. The interpretative prerogative of European academics in museums has long been called into question by post-colonial criticism. Now is the time to draw appropriate conclusions.

Tendencies to exoticise all that is foreign are diametrically opposed to the Humboldt-Forums commitment to an egalitarian approach to the arts and cultures of the world. A wide variety of participants, and particularly indigenous groups and artists from the various countries of origin are therefore to be included in the constant re-interpretation of objects and their narrative presentation. In a change of perspective of sorts their knowledge can enrich our approach to the collections because they add new points of view and different types of knowledge. In this way multiple perspectives and a variety of voices will become part of the Humboldt Forums fundamental position with regard to its content, only thus can we objectify our own view of the world. There is no conflict in this self reflection of the museums position but it provides instead tremendous potential for the further development of our traditional cultural institutions.


We are sure the members of the board of directors, curators and artists would be shocked to hear they will be enlisted to interpret the history of such looted artefacts and thereby be put in conflict with their home governments and authorities who may have a different view of the history of the looted objects.

However, the opposition and argument of the anti-Humboldt coalition relates not to the interpretation of the looted objects but to the legitimacy and legality of a German museum holding objects of others confiscated with violenceThe insidious attempt to use the presence of the African and other diasporas in Berlin as justification for retention of the looted artefacts will not impress anyone. It would be seen by many as a cynical attempt to utilize persons who have been forced by circumstances to leave their original homes. Would anybody think of involving European communities in Africa to interpret European art and cultural objects?

It should be observed that the debate on the legitimacy of the German holding of the Benin Bronzes is taking place at the same time as the debate regarding the Nazi-looted artworks discovered in a private home in Munich. In the case of the Nazi loot, after initial reluctance, the German authorities have, under pressure from various groups, published part of the works. (8) Regarding the Benin works, the German authorities have admitted that the museum has some 507 Benin pieces(9)

The German authorities have also asserted that no Nigerian authorities or the Benin Monarch has asked for the return of the Benin Bronzes. Up to now, the Nigerian authorities have not challenged the German assertion.

Throne of the King of Bamum, Cameroon, now in the Ethnology Museum, Berlin, Germany.

It is well-known that the Berlin Ethnology Museum has some of the best Benin pieces as well as artefacts from other African countries, former German colonies such as Cameroon and Tanzania. Yet no African government or authority has sought to provide a statement relating to the current debate on the legitimacy of the artefacts in the Berlin museum. The Director-General of the Nigerian National Commission on Museums and Monuments (N.C.M.M) has issued recently several strong worded demands for the return of the Benin Bronzes and other Nigerian artefacts abroad but surprisingly the Commission has not challenged the German statement that Nigerian authorities have not requested the return of the Benin artefacts nor has the Commission sought to intervene in the Berlin discussions to correct erroneous views regarding the Bronzes.(10) Many African States have embassies in Berlin. Do they not report on such matters to their governments?

 As far as the restitution of looted artefacts is concerned, No Humboldt 21 holds the same view as most Africans: these looted objects must be returned. However, we do not express any view of the Humboldt Forum itself since this is a matter best decided by the Germans themselves but the fate of the looted artefacts concerns us. If this particular occasion is not utilized, there may not be any other opportunity to raise the issue in a way that may bring the issue of the restitution of the looted artefacts to the attention of the public. The debate will go on so long as the African peoples have not recovered their precious national treasures that were looted in the colonial era.

When this idea of transferring the African artefacts to the centre of Berlin was raised in 2008, we pointed out that in our times, the essential question was not whether the artefacts should be transferred to the centre of Berlin but rather the legitimacy of German possession and the need to return the objects to their rightful owners:

 Ethical and legal considerations should lead German intellectuals to plead for the return of all these objects except those which the owners consent to leave in Europe. This should be considered as the minimum sign that the evils of the past are condemned by the present generation and that they are seeking to take new paths in their relations with Africa and Asia. They should abandon any belief that one can overcome the past without any effort and without any critical examination of the past. They should consider Vergangenheitsbewltigung (coming to terms with the past) as relevant not only with regard to the Nazi past but also the colonialist past. Colonialism did not come to an end with the end of colonization any more than Nazism came to an end with the termination of Nazi domination in Europe.


During the celebrations concerning Nelson Mandelas passing away many Western leaders underlined his virtues of compassion and reconciliation. But these virtues do not appear to be part of the vocabulary of the West in the area of restitution of artefacts. Instead of seeking reconciliation with the African States that had been robbed of their national treasures, Western States have spent the last sixty years advancing all sorts of dubious theories, such as that the looted artefacts belong to the whole of mankind. Nobody has bothered to explain why Great Britain should loot from Benin the Benin Bronzes that allegedly belong to all of us. Time has also been wasted in developing the self-serving concept of Universal Museums which serves to justify the presence of looted artefacts in the big museums in the West. (12)

Will the Germans be willing and able to break away from this family that is prominently distinguished by its illegal holding of the looted cultural artefacts of other peoples? (13) Will they finally cease following those false prophets in the museum world in Berlin, Chicago, London, Los Angeles, Paris, Vienna and elsewhere who advise that the West has a duty to keep looted African artefacts in their museums?

Kwame Opoku. 21, December, 2013.



1. Die Rckgabe jener Kulturschtze, die unsere Museen und Sammlungen direkt oder indirekt dem Kolonialsystemverdanken und die jetzt zurckverlangt werden, sollte ebenfalls nicht mit billigen Argumenten und Tricks hinausgezgert werden.

Gert v. Paczensky and Herbert Ganslmayr, Nofretete will nach Hause, p.185, C. Bertelsmann, Mnchen, 1984.


2. No Humboldt 21

No Humboldt 21 - AfricAvenir International

3. See No Humboldt 21 for references to the following reports;

 Tagespiegel, 4 Dec. 2013,

“Showroom fr Raubkunst”

RBB Kulturradio: 05.12.2013

“Mssen Museen Beutestcke aus der Kolonialzeit zurckgeben?”

 Die Welt, 16.12.13 F

Berlins Stadtschloss hat ein Beutekunstproblem



18,Dec.2913 Ein Koffer voll koloniales Erbe


4. K.Opoku. Benin to Berlin Ethnologisches Museum: Are Benin Bronzes Made in Berlin?

5. Herman Parzinger, The Humboldt-Forum in the Berliner Schloss: Expectations and Opportunities, p.22, The Humboldt-Forum in the Berliner Schloss, published by the Stiftung Preussicher Kulturbesitz.

Hirmer, 2013

6. Viola Knig, Worlds in Motion: The Ethnologisches Museum at the Humboldt-Forum. Ibid, p.90.

See also her contribution Die Konzeptdebatte, in Band 59, Bassler-Archiv Beitrge zur Vlkerkunde Der Lange Weg 1999-2012, (eds.) Maria Gaida, Paola Ivanov and Viola Knig.`

Die Berliner Sammlungen als Ergebnis eines historischen Prozesses  der Erschlieung der Welt fr Europa sind der Ausgangspunkt. Geschichte und Gegenwart der einzelnen Kontinente sind ohne dieses Proze nicht zu verstehen und nicht darstellbar. Doch gilt es, einseitige postkoloiniale Vorstellungen zu berwinden, die das Humboldt-Forum in der Nachfolge des Kolonialismus ansiedeln wollen. Das Humboldt-Forum wird nur dann erfolgreich sein, wenn es die Trennung von Europa und Ausser-Europa berwindet. Die Perspektive der Ausstellungen geht eben nicht von Berlin in exotisch fremde Welten, sondern gleichermaen  vice versa und bezieht Europa stets mit ein. p. 62


7. Herman Parzinger

,The Humboldt-Forum in the Berliner Schloss: Experiences and Opportunities, The Humboldt-Forum in the Berliner Schloss, p.23

8. Nazi loot

Germany begins publishing list of 1,400 works found in Nazi art stash in Munich apartment,

Europe’s dirty little art secret,

 Anne-Marie O’Connor

Los Angeles Times 28 November 2013,0,6344299.story#axzz2lvYT4qaD


Abgeordnetenhaus Berlin Drucksache 17 / 12 360 Kleine Anfrage 17. Wahlperiode Kleine Anfrage derAbgeordneten Clara Herrmann (GRNE) vom 28. Juni 2013 (Eingang beim Abgeordnetenhaus am 01. 

Juli 2013) und 

Antwort (Postkoloniale) Auseinandersetzung mit dem Humboldt Forum


The Federal Minister for Culture has also given answers to similar questions from the Green Party, confirming the views from the Berlin Government.


10. K. Opoku, Did Germans Never Hear Directly or Indirectly Nigerias Demand for the Return of Looted Artefacts?


11. K. Opoku,

Why Do Europeans, Even Intellectuals Have Difficulty in Contemplating the Restitution of Stolen African Cultural Objects? Wolf Lepenies and the Ethnology Museum, Berlin,


12. K. Opoku, Declaration

 on the Importance and Value of Universal Museums: Singular Failure of an Arrogant Imperialist Project,


13. See annex below. See also K. Opoku, 

Is the Stealing of the Cultural Objects of Others a Specific Cultural Heritage of Europe or is it a Universal Heritage?




Almost every Western museum has some Benin objects. Here is a short list of where some of the Benin Bronzes are to be found and their numbers. Various catalogues of exhibitions on Benin art or African art also list the private collections of the Benin Bronzes. The museums refuse to inform the public about the number of Benin artefacts they have and do not display permanently the Benin artefacts in their possession since they do not have enough space. A museum such as Vlkerkunde Museum, Vienna (Now World Museum) has closed since 12 years and is not likely to re-open soon. The looted Benin artefacts are in the African Section.  The German authorities still have to explain the disparity between 507 objects they now admit and the figure of 580 given by Prof. Felix van Luschan who was instrumental in purchasing the Benin Bronzes for the Ethnologisches Museum, Berlin. Has the museum, like the British Museum also sold some of the Benin artefacts? See K, Opoku, Did Germans Never Hear Directly or Indirectly Nigerias Demand for Return of Looted Artefacts?

See also,

 Felix von Luschan, Die Altertmer von Benin, hrsg. mit Untertsttzung des Reichs-Kolonialministeriums, der Rudolf Virchow- und der Arthur Baessler-Stiftung, 1919.

Berlin – Ethnologisches Museum 580.

Boston, – Museum of Fine Arts 28.
Chicago – Art Institute of Chicago 20, Field Museum 400
Cologne – Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum 73.

Glasgow _ Kelvingrove and St. Mungo’s Museum of Religious Life 22
Hamburg – Museum fr Vlkerkunde, Museum fr Kunst und Gewerbe 196.
Dresden – Staatliches Museum fr Vlkerkunde 182.
Leipzig – Museum fr Vlkerkunde 87.
Leiden – Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde 98.
London – British Museum 900.

New York – Metropolitan Museum of Fine Art 163.
Oxford – Pitt-Rivers Museum/ Pitt-Rivers country residence, Rushmore in Farnham/Dorset 327.

Stuttgart – Linden Museum-Staatliches Museum fr Vlkerkunde 80.
Vienna – Museum fr Vlkerkunde (World Museum) 167.



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Cultural Heritage Lawyer Rick St. Hilaire: Oral Arguments Scheduled in Ka Nefer Nefer Mummy Mask Appeal

December 17, 2013 – 09:05

Oral Arguments Scheduled in Ka Nefer Nefer Mummy Mask Appeal

The Eight Circuit Court of Appeals has scheduled oral arguments for January 13, 2013 in the case of U.S. v. Mask of Ka Nefer Nefer. 

The case involves federal prosecutors’ efforts to forfeit the Ka Nefer Nefer mummy mask from the St. Louis Art Museum (SLAM). Government lawyers wrote in July 2011 that SLAM’s “claim of ownership is legally impossible, and as such the Mask is effectively contraband in the hands of the Museum.” 

Prosecutors allege that the ancient burial mask, which archaeologists discovered during an authorized excavation in 1952, was stolen from Egypt. SLAM purchased the cultural object in 1998 for approximately half a million dollars. 

A Missouri federal district court brought the government’s forfeiture case to an end in April 2012, concluding that the government’s complaint failed to specifically explain how the mask was allegedly stolen or smuggled, or how it was brought into the U.S. illegally. 

The U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a motion to reconsider the court’s decision, and in May 2012 the government revealed new information that it said would support a proposed amended complaint. Judge Henry Autrey denied the motion to reconsider, and federal prosecutors filed a proposed amended complaint anyway. The district court rejected the government’s case a second time. 

Source: Eight Circuit Court of Appeals
Attorneys for the government appealed to the Eight Circuit, arguing that the lower court abused its discretion by not allowing them to file an amended complaint. Lawyers for SLAM rebuffed their argument by contending that there is “no basis on which to find [that] the District Court abused its discretion in denying the Government’s fatally late and insufficient submission of its Proposed Amended Complaint.” SLAM chided federal officials for “the liberties the Government takes ….” 

The appellate case is expected to be heard by Circuit Judges James Loken, Diana Murphy, and Lavenski Smith. Loken is former chief judge of the appellate court, nominated to the bench by President George H. W. Bush in 1990. Murphy is a 1994 Clinton appointee, and Smith is a 2002 appointee nominated by George W. Bush.

This post is researched, written, and published on the blog Cultural Heritage Lawyer Rick St. Hilaire at Text copyrighted 2010-2013 by Ricardo A. St. Hilaire, Attorney & Counselor at Law, PLLC. Any unauthorized reproduction or retransmission of this post is prohibited.  CONTACT:

Cultural Heritage Lawyer Rick St. Hilaire: Oral Arguments Scheduled in Ka Nefer Nefer Mummy Mask Appeal.

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December 5, 2013 – 09:24

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Protected: Gardner Heist Update: Museum Got Threats After Theft, FBI Needs Public’s Help | WGBH News

December 5, 2013 – 09:22

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Protected: Unraveling Huge Thefts From Girolamini Library in Naples –

December 2, 2013 – 09:38

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