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February 28th, 2010

Posted In: Mailing list reports

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February 28th, 2010

Posted In: insider theft

IS THE DECLARATION ON THE VALUE AND IMPORTANCE OF THE “UNIVERSAL MUSEUMS” NOW WORTHLESS? COMMENTS ON IMPERIALIST MUSEOLOGY

“If museums were capable of helping to devise and communicate a universal perspective on cultural values which achieves credibility and currency outside western cultural elites, they would indeed make an  invaluable contribution to global society.” Mark O’ Neil (1)

Horseman, Benin, Nigeria, now in British Museum, London, United Kingdom:
http://www.museum-security.org/opoku_universal_museums.htm

David Gill has posed the question whether the Declaration on the Value and Importance of Universal Museums should be considered as worthless in view of the fact that the main objective of providing immunity against restitution claims has not been achieved. With regard to the restitutions made by major US American institutions to Italy – Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and Princeton University’s Art Museum .- he states:

“Such repatriations perhaps demonstrate the flawed thinking behind the “Declaration on the Importance and Value of Universal Museums”.

Has the time come for these major museums to review their policies? Is the declaration now worthless?” (2)

The Declaration was signed in December 2002 by 18 major museums including Art Institute of Chicago, State Museums, Berlin, Cleveland Museum of Art, J.Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Louvre Museum, Paris, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The British Museum initiated the project, seeking to gather support to counteract the increasing political sympathy that Greece was gaining with regard to the Parthenon/Elgin Marbles. Although the British Museum did not sign the Declaration, it issued a press release to support the statement and carried the document on its website, stating that “Eighteen of the world’s great museums and galleries have signed a statement supporting the idea of the universal museum. The statement was drafted at their last meeting in Munich last October, and presented to the British Museum for publication”. (3) One may wonder why a group of leading museums meeting in Munich would present their statement to the British Museum for publication. This reveals the division of labour between the British Museum which needed support and the signatories of the Declaration. Moreover, the document bears the marks of the British Museum. The well-drafted clear language which hides more than it reveals, the great emphasis on Greek civilization and the role of the museums in making it possible for the public to appreciate Greek art, all point to the influence of the museum in Bloomsbury.  Readers know that the director of the British Museum often speaks and writes as if he had “discovered” or “invented” Greece. Indeed, he has gone so far as to declare: “But it is perhaps only in the British Museum that the full measure of the Greek achievement can be grasped. Walking through the galleries you can see how the Greek reinvention of the human form changed sculpture from Turkey to India, as well as providing the visual vocabulary for the entire Roman Empire”.(4) The press release of the British Museum served as preface to the Declaration. The museum did not sign the document because it looks better if a statement strongly supporting it is not signed by the beneficiary itself.

full text:
http://www.museum-security.org/opoku_universal_museums.htm

February 25th, 2010

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

The (Mis)adventures of the Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA)
The Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA) has been busy these past few months. The summer of 2009 saw it team up with the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Canada to import the Dead Sea Scrolls, found between 1947 and 1956 in West Bank of Palestine. This collaboration was complicit in breaking the following international agreements and national guidelines:
– UNESCO First and Second Protocols of the Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (1954)
– Convention on the Means of prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (1970)
– Canada’s Cultural Property Export and Import Act
– Canadian Museums Association Ethics Guidelines
Obtained from East Jerusalem during the 1967 Six Day War, the international community has long established that the scrolls were illegally obtained through war—full stop. The ROM did not seem to have a problem with this travesty, but received a firestorm of complaint and protest from Canadian citizen groups, including Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME), which sent a delegation that met with the CEO of the museum. Shamefully, a number of Islamic, faith-based groups have advertised this exhibition, ignorant (deliberate?) of its multiple flagrancies.
Today, the IAA has teamed up with the Jerusalem Municipality and the Israeli government to okay the building of a “Center for Human Dignity-Museum of Tolerance” by the Simon Wiesenthal Center based in Los Angeles, California, USA. The problem? This purported museum of “tolerance” is planned to be built over Mamilla Cemetery, the most ancient cemetery in the whole of Palestine, with burials dating back to the 12thcentury and the crusades. Part of the cemetery has already been desecrated, with its graves dug out in order for a parking lot to be built on top of it. Years later, hundreds more graves must be dug out for the current museum ventures, purportedly worth up to $200 million dollars.
The head archaeologist of the museum site, Gideon Suleimani, confirmed that around 4 layers of graves must be dug out, with some already relocated to an unknown area—much to the anger of families whose ancestors’ graves have been desecrated. “We’re talking about tens of thousands of skeletons under the ground there,” noted Suleimani, who has been ignored by the IAA.
A group of families brought this case to the Israeli supreme court, only to lose (the IAA successfully kept out Suleimani’s testimony on behalf of the plaintiff families). However, the Campaign to Preserve Mamilla Jerusalem Cemetery (http://www.mamillacampaign.org/etemplate.php?id=55), a campaign made up of families, has taken the case to the United Nations, and have asked the cemetery to be protected under its UNESCO heritage site status. Furthermore, the famed Frank Gehry, chief designer of the Museum of Tolerance, pulled out due to “other commitments”. The project could also not raise the $200 million mark it had hoped for, leaving it with out a designer, and no firm plan.
This desecration and displacement of peoples and corpses is only a miserable continuation of Israel’s post-1948 policies. Whether it’s the IDF or the IAA, the same sad story abounds. At a time when the international community calls for Israel to move out of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and at least engage in reasonable negotiations with elected Palestinian officials (ahem, Hamas), it is deplorable to observe that in ancient Palestine, not even the dead are safe.
http://worldbfree88.wordpress.com/2010/02/24/the-misadventures-of-the-israeli-antiquities-authority-iaa/

February 24th, 2010

Posted In: looting and illegal art traffickers

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February 23rd, 2010

Posted In: African Affairs

European Arrest Warrant sees dealer taken into custody again
22 February 2010
A DEALER who says his career has been ruined by trumped-up charges in the Greek courts has been arrested again – even though he is currently appealing against the conviction and three-year jail sentence.
Malcolm Hay’s plight first came to media attention two years ago when it was revealed that the Greek authorities had applied to have him deported to Athens under a European Arrest Warrant, a measure devised to fast track suspects in terrorism cases.
Antiquities dealer Mr Hay told ATG that the Greek courts were using the EAW because the measure didn’t require them to show any evidence pointing to his guilt and because any costs associated with the prosecution would fall on the UK.
The UK authorities are already looking into other cases after serious concerns were raised over the abuse of the EAW system by overseas courts.
As ATG reported at the time of Mr Hay’s first court hearing, the EAW was linked to a transaction between him and an Athens-based antiquities dealer dating from 1999.
At the centre of the case was a dispute over whether the items he sold to the Athens dealer were the same as those seized from her by the Greek authorities as suspected stolen artefacts.
Mr Hay said an invoice he issued for the sale of a small number of minor artefacts and broken pieces was used by the Greek dealer to explain away a large number of important but stolen artefacts in her possession. What is astonishing, he says, is that the Greek courts accepted the Athens dealer’s explanation despite the invoice not matching the objects in any way.
The most worrying aspect of the litigation was that, at an earlier hearing before the extradition tribunal, the court had ruled that, although Mr Hay had made every transaction in London, the Greek court could claim jurisdiction over the alleged crime.
Although the transaction dated back to 1999, the first Mr Hay became aware that anything was wrong was on July 14, 2007, when he returned to London’s City Airport from abroad. He was told that there was a problem with his passport, but it turned out to be a delaying tactic while the police were alerted. After an hour’s wait, officers armed with automatic weapons arrived and told Mr Hay that he was the subject of an EAW.
He was handcuffed and taken to Stratford police station where he was held for two days in the cells and then taken before an extradition tribunal.
He suffered a similar shock on February 2 this year when he returned to the UK from another overseas trip only to be arrested again and removed from the plane at Heathrow. He then spent a night in the cells before appearing at Westminster Magistrates Court.
“I was brought before the same judge who had presided at the last tribunal in 2007/8 and she remembered the case and wondered if she had not already dealt with it,” he told ATG.
“The problem is that when I was sentenced and an appeal was lodged, the sentence was suspended until the hearing of the appeal, but there is a ‘caution’ applied which should be paid.”
He had been given legal advice not to pay the caution, which had led to the issue of a new EAW against him on the same charges. “We are intending to pay the caution now and apply to have the warrant eliminated by the Greeks but it is not clear [if this will happen]. I could again face legal action to extradite me to Greece, and there is a good chance that it would succeed.”
Mr Hay, who claims he was framed by the Athens dealer in the case, was outraged that he could not be represented during the trial, because he would have first had to submit himself to Greek custody.
He is due back in court on February 24 for a further hearing.
By Ivan Macquisten

February 23rd, 2010

Posted In: looting and illegal art traffickers

Looted Artefacts Sold to Tourists in Israel Antiquities Scam
Submitted by owenjarus
A researcher has uncovered evidence of a widespread scam in Israel that results in tourists buying recently looted artefacts without their knowledge. Buying antiquities in Israel is legal if they were found before 1978, the year a major antiquities law was passed. There are numerous dealers in Israel, who are required to register with the Israel Antiquities Authority and keep an inventory of the artefacts they have for sale. Dr. Morag Kersel, of Brown University in the United States, has been studying the illegal antiquities trade in Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Territories.
Dr Kersel has been conducting interviews with anyone involved in antiquities who would agree to talk to her, including dealers, collectors, residents engaged in looting, government officials and archaeologists. These interviewees are guaranteed anonymity so that they can speak freely about the situation in the region. Dr. Kersel told me that she interviewed 36 antiquities dealers in Israel. Out of these dealers roughly half admitted to engaging in an elaborate scheme that allows recently looted artefacts to be sold to tourists.
Loophole in the Law
Here’s how the scheme works. While dealers have to keep an inventory of everything they sell, those inventories are often kept vague. A listing that says that a dealer owns a pot dated to the Bronze Age doesn’t mean very much, since many pots of that era will be in their shop.
A tourist who buys the artefact will get a certificate of authenticity but will often forget something important – an export permit.
“Lots of people who purchase artefacts don’t know that they’re supposed to ask for an export permit – the law doesn’t require the sellers to offer you an export permit,” said Dr. Kersel at a presentation at the University of Toronto in Canada.
Without the export permit the sale isn’t officially registered and the dealer can take the registry number and use it on a new – and often looted – antiquity. Since the inventory descriptions are kept vague it isn’t hard to find an artefact that looks similar to the one that was just sold.
Material “that was looted as recently as last week was illegally entering the legal market through an exchange of registry numbers,” said Dr. Kersel.
The tourist could, of course, be caught trying to take the antiquity out of the country without a permit. But even if they are, it’s hard to fault the dealer. After all they are under no obligation to let tourists know that they need an export permit.
Why Did the Dealers Confess?
Perhaps the most striking thing about this research is how many dealers admitted to it – more than a dozen of them. Dr. Kersel told me that the reason they admitted to this is that they are fed up with the practice and the system that makes it easy to carry it out.
“Many of them told me they probably wouldn’t do it if the guy next door wasn’t doing it,” she said. “As far as they’re concerned the system as it currently stands doesn’t really work.”
Kersel said that the Israel Antiquities Authority is aware that this scam is taking place but lacks the resources to clamp down on it. She pointed out that there were 65 registered dealers in Israel while she was in the country and only 2.5 officers dedicated to enforcing Israel’s antiquity laws. There simply are not enough people to go around.
The Looters
Dr. Kersel did much of her research while living in Jerusalem. Dr. Kersel also talked to people engaged in looting and learned a bit about what their motives are. Not surprising is the fact that many of them do it for money.
Poverty is certainly not a stranger in the Middle East. Just recently the Jerusalem Post reported that nearly one in three children in Israel lives below the poverty line. As of 2002 the general poverty rate in Jordan was reported at 14.2%. The West Bank economy has been hit hard by political conflict and poverty is rampant there.
However, there are some other motives for looting that you may not have guessed. One of them is – believe it or not – recreational.
“People are very interested in getting out on the weekend in the land and it’s just something that they do,” Dr. Kersel said in an interview. “They take their families out, have a picnic and dig around on their Tell.”
A Tell is a man-made hill that many modern day communities, in the Middle East, are situated on. If people have been living in the same place for thousands of years, the debris from that time will pile up, forming this hill.
Kersel’s research also revealed the presence of something more insidious – a practice termed ‘resistance looting’. That is people looting to try and remove evidence of foreign occupation. So far she has found evidence for this in the West Bank, but not in Israel or Jordan.
“People looted to find and destroy any evidence of occupation on their land,” she said in at the Toronto lecture. “Anything with a Jewish motif or anything with a Christian motif… it just so happens that those things are (worth hundreds) of dollars on the market.”
She said that she hasn’t found evidence that ‘resistance looting’ is being carried out in an organized way in the West Bank. “It seems to be more ad-hoc and not so organized.”
I also asked her whether there is any evidence of terrorist groups being involved in the trade in Israel/Jordan/Palestine. She said that that she has found no evidence of that so far.
Telling the Truth
The most obvious question this research begs is: how do we know people are telling the truth?
It’s “something I grappled with,” said Dr. Kersel. The anonymous format of the study means that there is no way for other people, such as this reporter, to check with individual people. Even the transcripts cannot be publicly released and must be destroyed after a few years.
Dr. Kersel admits that she cannot be certain that every person told the truth, every time. But there are patterns – more than a dozen antiquities dealers in Israel admitted to taking part in this scam, making that find almost impossible to dismiss. Several people said that resistance to occupation played a role in their decision to loot, making this motive difficult to ignore as well.
Why Looting Matters
Another question that may be asked is: why does this matter? If people, especially impoverished individuals, choose to loot for money then why should they be stopped?
In short – the looting of sites means that archaeologists lose valuable information needed to reconstruct the past. Once an artefact has been removed from context, without proper note-taking, then archaeologists cannot say where it came from and what material it is associated with. This note-taking is very important and archaeology students have it drummed in their heads to record every relevant detail.
Museums are full of artefacts that were taken without excavation. The Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto Canada has a sculpture which they believe to be of Cleopatra VII – the last ruler of Egypt. They acquired it in the early 20th century but, because they don’t know what site it’s from, didn’t make the identification until just after the year 2000.

February 22nd, 2010

Posted In: looting and illegal art traffickers

Possible Nazi art thefts found in Canada
Published on Sunday, 21st February, 2010 at 20:28 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson.
Art Gallery of Greater Victoria houses paintings from Norwegian Royal Palace.
Sinclair’s landing in Romsdal, 1876
Photo: (Illustration)Adolph TidemandWikimedia:
NRK has discovered four paintings from the Norwegian Royal Palace collection “hidden away” in the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. Neither the Palace nor the National Museum will make any comment.
Astonished
The paintings by three Norwegian artists – Johan Christian Claussen Dahl (aka I.C. Dahl), Adolph Tidemand, and Karl Uchermann – and the Austrian artist, Anton Nowak, were part of the Palace’s collection from the 1800s, and were bequeathed by Walter and Emmy Graf-Howard.
The four paintings:
• I. C. Dahl: No title.
• Adolph Tidemand: Enken og Hendes Son.
• Karl Uchermann: Rabbits.
• Anton Nowak: Unknown.
Graf was a chambermaid at the Palace when WWII broke out and was entrusted with looking after them, according to the gallery’s director, Jon Tupper.
He tells NRK he was surprised when it gradually dawned on him what the gallery had received in 1993.
“We did a little research, and discovered Emmy had taken them with her to Canada when the Nazis were about to invade Oslo,” Tupper says.
Interrogation
“If this is true, why didn’t she return them in 1945?” says Carl-Erik Grimstad, the Palace’s former assistant manager.
But the Palace hasn’t asked them to be returned, won’t make any comment, and the paintings haven’t been registered as stolen with the Art Loss Register (ALR) in London.
“Vidkun Quisling claimed the Nazis stole 50 paintings from the Palace when he was interrogated just after the war. It should be possible to get to the bottom of this, but we have to find out more about Emmy Graf,” says Grimstad.
Meanwhile, Tupper says the gallery has written to everyone but claims nobody seems to be particularly interested; not even the National Gallery in Oslo.
“We’ll gladly give them back if they were stolen.”

February 22nd, 2010

Posted In: WWII

Security at small museums ‘shocking’ – dealer
By Allison Rudd on Mon, 22 Feb 2010
News: Dunedin
Long-time medal dealer Tom Taylor-Young is not surprised to hear a medal went missing from the Port Chalmers museum.
“It doesn’t surprise me, but it worries me . . . The security at most smaller museums is shocking, and I’ve been saying that for years to anyone who will listen.”
Raised in Dunedin, Mr Taylor-Young has been a dealer for more than 40 years and has worked in New Zealand and London.
He runs a shop and online business in Christchurch.
Small museums and other organisations responsible for historic items often did not realise how attractive rare items were to thieves, he said.
“A George Medal is very rare.
“Rare items need to be treated with respect.”
He said he had not heard of a George Medal being offered for sale in New Zealand, and if one did come on the market a collector would pay “$50,000 plus, and I wouldn’t like to say what the plus might be”.
New Zealand had been hit by a spate of thefts from museums and organisations.
In 2007, intruders broke into the Waiouru Army Museum and stole 96 medals from reinforced glass cases.
The medals were recovered.
Last October, Oamaru man Lindsay Smaill was convicted and discharged for stealing and selling war medals he had been responsible for at the Oamaru RSA.
In the same month, an audit revealed 30 war medals were missing from the Te Awamutu Museum.
The theft was discovered when one of the medals was put up for sale online by a United States collector.
In November, a box of 12 greenstone adzes was reported missing from the receiving area at the Southland Museum and Art Gallery in Invercargill.
Police inquiries are continuing.
Mr Taylor-Young said the Port Chalmers Museum needed to close temporarily, carry out a full stocktake and audit, value all items, and ensure it put proper documentation and security systems in place.
“Who knows how much other stuff may have gone missing and over what period of time.”
He offered to assist with the task free of charge because of his Dunedin connections.
allison.rudd@odt.co.nz

February 22nd, 2010

Posted In: Museum thefts

Gardner Museum to recognize 20-year anniversary of unsolved crime
By FRANCES J. FOLSOM
Visitors to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum can’t help but notice the empty picture frames and blank spaces on some of the gallery walls with discreet notices stating what used to hang there.
On March 18, 1990, one of the largest art thefts in the world took place in the museum.
In her world travels, Gardner amassed a priceless collection of 2,500 artifacts of statuary, tapestries, Dante manuscripts and paintings by Rembrandt, Degas, Titian, Botticelli, Manet and Sargent.
Born in 1840 into a wealthy New York family, Isabella Stewart was 20 when she married John Lowell Gardner Jr. scion of an old Boston family. From then on, she would be known in the society pages as “Mrs. Jack.”
Gardner was never really accepted socially by the Boston Brahmins. She wasn’t from Boston and was educated in Paris, where she developed a taste for that city’s fashions. More important, the Stewart fortune wasn’t old money descending through generations, as it did in her husband’s family, the Gardners, Peabodys, Lowells and Endicotts.
Nevertheless, guests clamored for an invitation to one of the elegant parties she hosted at her Beacon Street home. She took under her wing writers and artists such as Henry James, Francis Marion Crawford, James McNeill Whistler and John Singer Sargent, introducing them to all the right people who could further their careers.
She was a vibrant, fascinating woman whose interests included art, classical music, horse racing and cheering on the Harvard football team and her beloved Red Sox.
The Gardners took their first trip to Europe after their 18-month-old son, Jackie, died of pneumonia in 1865. To soothe her grief, Gardner threw herself into collecting art.
They traveled around the world several times over three decades, acquiring art and decorative pieces in China, Japan, Egypt, France and Italy; “El Jaleo” by Sargent; “Death and the Assumption of the Virgin” by Fra Angelico; Peter Paul Rubens’ “Portrait of Thomas Howell, 2nd Earl of Arundel”; “Portrait of Madam Auguste Manet” by Edouard Manet; and Titian’s “Europa,” to name a few.
On their many trips to Venice, the Gardners would take up residence in the Palazzo Barbarro for months, visiting galleries, buying art and attending the theater and operas.
Gardner first met John Singer Sargent in 1886; two years later, Sargent painted his infamous portrait of her with her pearls and plunging neckline. The painting was so scandalous for the time that when it was unveiled at the St. Botolph Club, Jack Gardner ordered it never to be shown in public again.
Sargent would do several paintings of her during their 35-year friendship. He’s known to have said, “Mrs. Gardner does more for my paintings than I could ever do.”
When Jack Gardner died in 1898, Isabella Gardner purchased land in the Fens area to build her home and museum for their collections. She hired Boston architect Willard Sears and was involved in every aspect of the building process, from instructing Sears to design it to like the Palazzo Barbarro with an interior courtyard to climbing ladders to show how she wanted her paintings hung and overseeing her Worth gowns fashioned into backdrops for her artwork.
On New Year’s Day 1903, Gardner opened her home, Fenway Court, to Boston society. Legend has it that she greeted her guests standing at the top of the grand staircase wearing a strand of perfectly matched pearls that cascaded the entire length of the stairs.
Until her death in 1924, the museum was open one day a week, welcoming 2,000 visitors a year. Today, that number has increased to 200,000 yearly.
Gardner left her museum in a trust stipulating that after her death, nothing in it could be changed. That’s why there are the empty frames and spaces on the gallery walls; these were the artworks stolen the night of March 18, 1990.
Two men dressed as Boston Police officers rang the bell and told the guard, a young Berklee College of Music student, they had received a call about a disturbance. When he refused to open the door, the two intimidated him by saying he looked like someone they had arrested the week before. Out of fear, he let them in.
When the second guard, another Berklee student, arrived, the thieves bound and tied them. They then began their 81-minute spree, taking 13 works of art: Vermeer’s “The Concert”; three Rembrandts – “A Lady and Gentleman in Black,” “Storm on the Sea of Galilee” and “Self Portrait”; “Landscape With an Obelisk” by Govaert Flinck; “Chez Tortoni” by Edouard Manet; a Chinese beaker dating to the Shang Dynasty (1200-1100 BC); five ink and pencil sketchings by Degas; and a finial from the top of a Napoleonic flag.
“An experienced art thief spends no more than 15 minutes getting their targets,” Anthony Amore, director of security, said at a talk about the museum. “The fact that the thieves took as long as they did shows they didn’t know what to steal; they stabbed and cut paintings from their frames, leaving behind other priceless art. I think the finial was taken as a trophy.”
Amore went on to say, “This is still an open case with the FBI. The art is valued at $500 million; the $5 million reward still stands. We firmly believe that all the art will be returned someday.”
The museum is going forth with a $118 million addition by Italian architect Renzo Piano. The extra space will allow the curators to broaden their educational, artist-in-residence and outreach programs.
Isabella Stewart Gardner, patron of the arts that she was, would undoubtedly approve of this.

February 21st, 2010

Posted In: Museum thefts

Full text
Abstract:
The use of the National Stolen Property Act and Archaeological Resources Protection Act as mechanisms to protect cultural property taken from a foreign state through prosecution of individuals who buy, sell, and otherwise deal in such property is in direct tension with the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act (“CPIA”), a statute enacted in accordance with an international treaty to which the United States is a party. This Note explores how criminal liability under United States law for museum officials and others who acquire art, archaeological materials, and especially antiquities, originating in foreign nations conflicts with CPIA’s treatment of foreign cultural property. Part I discusses the principle of protection of cultural property in international law and the manifestation of this principle in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (“1970 UNESCO Convention”). Part II examines the 1970 UNESCO Convention’s influence on United States civil law and policy regarding foreign cultural property, and on the acquisitions policies of international and domestic museums. Part III discusses criminal penalties under both the National Stolen Property Act and the Archaeological Resources Protection Act for those who knowingly acquire stolen foreign cultural property. Part IV analyzes the conflict between policies on foreign cultural property followed by the United States and domestic museums and the application of criminal penalties in art-trafficking cases. In addition, this Part explores the consequences of the conflict for both the United States and individuals, and suggests resolutions to the conflict through law. Finally, Part V concludes that in order for the United States to fulfill its obligation under the 1970 UNESCO Convention, it must stop conducting a war on antiquities-and those who acquire them.
Keywords: Cultural Property Implementation Act, CPIA, Archaeological Resources Protection Act, ARPA, National Stolen Property Act, NSPA, 1970 UNESCO Convention, international art law, antiquities, archaeological materials, art, criminal law
Full text

February 20th, 2010

Posted In: looting and illegal art traffickers

Der graue Markt für bunte Bilder
von Stefan Koldehoff

http://www.cicero.de/97.php?ress_id= 6&item= 4721

Das Geschäft mit Raub- und Beutekunst floriert. Mit gestohlenen Gemälden wird Geld gewaschen und Heroin bezahlt, werden Steuern gespart und Sammlungen aufgebaut. Die steigende Nachfrage wird aus Archiven, Museen und Beutekunstlagern gedeckt.

Plötzlich war er wieder da, der große Unbekannte mit dem Hang zur teuren Kunst. Und zum ersten Mal hatte er sogar ein Gesicht – das von Calisto Tanzi. In verschiedenen Kellern, die Mitgliedern seiner Familie in Parma gehörten, fand die Polizei kurz vor Jahreswechsel ein kleines Privatmuseum: Carabinieri in schlecht sitzenden Uniformen hielten eine ungelenke Zeichnung und ein Stilleben aus van Goghs frühen holländischen Jahren in die Kameras, eine von zahlreichen Pourville-Landschaften von Monet, das Aquarell einer Hütte von Cézanne, eine Bleistiftzeichnung von Modigliani, ein kleines Picasso-Stillleben, eine rudimentär skizzierte Degas-Ballerina und ein gefälliges Frauenporträt des italienischen Salonmalers Giuseppe de Nittis in die Kameras.
Was man kauft, wenn einem Namen wichtig sind – und nicht Qualität. Vielleicht, so mutmaßten sofort einige Medien, sei nun auch der Verbleib jener Bilder geklärt, nach denen die Kunstwelt seit Jahren und Jahrzehnten sucht – weil sie irgendwann einmal gestohlen wurden und danach nie wieder aufgetaucht sind. Vielleicht sei Tanzi der geheimnisvolle Auftraggeber, von dem seit Jahrzehnten geraunt wird. Das Geld, die Diebe zu bezahlen, hatte er ja offensichtlich. Schon bald stand aber fest, dass diese Spur nicht nach Norditalien führte. Tanzi, der Gründer des pleitegegangenen Lebensmittelkonzerns Parmalat, hatte seine Bilder nicht versteckt, weil sie gestohlen waren. Er wollte sie nur nicht dem Konkursverwalter ausliefern.

Trotzdem sprach sofort wieder jeder vom unbekannten Auftraggeber, als in den letzten Stunden des Jahres 2009 bei zwei Überfällen in Südfrankreich gleich 30 wertvolle Kunstwerke von Degas, Picasso, Rousseau und anderen Klassikern der Moderne gestohlen wurden und anschließend, wie so viele vor ihnen, spurlos verschwanden. Die Kunstdiebstahlsdatenbank von Interpol in Lyon liest sich inzwischen wie das Inventar eines bedeutenden Weltmuseums. Unter der Nummer 2008/5583-1.4 ist dort das Cézanne-Porträt gespeichert, das bewaffnete Räuber im Februar 2008 mitsamt seinem schweren Stuckrahmen aus dem Privatmuseum der Bührle-Stiftung hinausschleppten. 2008/5181-1.1 und -1.2 markieren die beiden Picasso-Gemälde aus dem Sprengel-Museum Hannover, die im selben Monat aus einer Ausstellung in Pfäffikon verschwanden. Und seit dem 1. Januar finden sich dort unter der Nummer 2010/122-1.1 auch das Degas-Pastell, das Unbekannte trotz Alarmsicherung am Silvestertag aus dem Musée Cantini im Zentrum von Marseille von der Wand schrauben konnten. Die französische Polizei geht von einem sogenannten „Insider Job“ aus, bei dem Museumsmitarbeiter beteiligt gewesen wären.

Niemanden verwundert ernsthaft, dass solche millionenteuren Kunstwerke gestohlen werden. Verblüffend ist aber, dass viele dieser Bilder seit Jahren und Jahrzehnten nicht wieder aufgetaucht sind. Jene auf über hundert Millionen Dollar geschätzten Gemälde von Rembrandt, Vermeer, Degas und Manet zum Beispiel, die falsche Polizisten schon im März 1990 aus dem Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston geraubt haben. Von ihnen fehlt auch 20 Jahre später noch jede Spur – obwohl für Hinweise auf den Verbleib inzwischen fünf Millionen Dollar ausgesetzt sind und die Tat längst verjährt ist.

Solche Werke ließen sich am Kunstmarkt nicht verkaufen, heißt es nach spektakulären Kunstdiebstählen immer wieder gebetsmühlenartig. Die Täter blieben auf ihnen sitzen, deshalb hätten sie gar keine andere Möglichkeit, als sie irgendwann doch wieder den ursprünglichen Besitzern anzubieten – gegen Lösegeld oder einfach nur gegen die Zusicherung von Straffreiheit. Das aber geschieht nur in sehr wenigen Fällen. Was liegt also näher, als zur Erklärung immer wieder die Figur des verrückten Milliardärs zu bemühen, der sich in den vergangenen Jahren dieses geheime Museum der gestohlenen Bilder zusammenklauen ließ. Der sein Geld mit Drogengeschäften, Mädchenhandel, mit Blutdiamanten oder eben – wie im Fall Tanzi – durch Korruption und Veruntreuung verdient hat und nun, plötzlich zum Kulturmenschen mutiert, Meisterwerke der Kunstgeschichte in seinem begehbaren Kellertresor hortet. Die Sache hat nur einen Haken: Den internationalen Polizeibehörden ist es in den vergangenen Jahrzehnten nicht ein einziges Mal gelungen, einen solchen Sammler dingfest zu machen – weil es ihn nicht gibt.

Der verrückte Millionär mit Kunstverstand ist eine Legende, die Wirklichkeit sieht deutlich profaner aus: Es gibt seit vielen Jahren, vor allem aber seit der Öffnung des ehemaligen Ostblocks, einen grauen Markt für teure bunte Bilder. Nicht über seriöse Galerien oder Auktionshäuser wird mit ihnen gehandelt, sondern in Hinterzimmern, unter der Ladentheke und über das Internet. Mit gestohlenen Kunstwerken wurde in Luxemburg bereits Geld gewaschen, versuchten Kriminelle in der Türkei Heroin zu bezahlen, werden teure Immobilien finanziert. Selbst über Kleinanzeigen auf den Kunstmarktseiten seriöser Blätter wie der Süddeutschen Zeitung, FAZ, Welt oder des Handelsblatts werden samstags immer wieder Werke zweifelhafter Herkunft angeboten, die sich im legalen Kunsthandel nicht absetzen lassen. In der Regel ist dieser Vertriebsweg für jene, die aus den gestohlenen Bildern Geld machen, aber viel zu öffentlich. Geraubt werden die Kunstwerke von gut organisierten Banden, die häufig aus ausgebildeten, aber schlecht bezahlten ehemaligen Soldaten aus dem Ostblock oder vom Balkan stammen. „Seit sie am Geschäft beteiligt sind“, sagt Charles Hill, der ehemalige Leiter der Kunstabteilung bei Scotland Yard, „ist es auch zunehmend brutaler geworden. Dass Museen heute während der Öffnungszeiten überfallen, dass die Besucher mit Schusswaffen bedroht oder den Aufsehern ein Messer an den Hals gehalten wird, hat es früher nicht gegeben.“

Hauptbetätigungsfeld dieser professionellen Kunstdiebe sind die schlecht gesicherten Museen und Sammlerhäuser in Westeuropa. Der Kunsthistoriker Akinsha hatte Mitte der neunziger Jahre gemeinsam mit seinem Kollegen Grigori Koslow die Existenz von Geheimdepots in den russischen Museen öffentlich gemacht. In ihnen wird seit 1945 jene Beutekunst verborgen, die die Trophäenbrigaden der Roten Armee bei Kriegsende in ihre Heimat verschleppt hatten. Bis heute ist ihr Umfang nicht bekannt, offizielle Inventare gibt es nicht. Immer wieder konnten deshalb aus den „Spezfondy“-Depots Kulturgüter verschwinden, die anschließend auf dem grauen Markt angeboten wurden. Betroffen sind aber auch die regulären Museumsbestände. Im Sommer 2006 wurde bekannt, dass aus der Russischen Abteilung der Eremitage in St. Petersburg 221 Objekte vermisst wurden – vor allem Ikonen und Emailarbeiten aus dem 15. bis 18. Jahrhundert in einem geschätzten Gesamtwert von rund vier Millionen Euro. Als Käufer gelten vor allem Abnehmer in Fernost und in Südamerika.

Nach Recherchen der Moskauer Tageszeitung Gaseta sind aus russischen Museen seit 1990 mehr als 50 Millionen Kunstgegenstände gestohlen worden, darunter 3,4 Millionen Gemälde und 37000 Ikonen. Den Gesamtwert der auf dem grauen Markt angebotenen Objekte schätzt das Blatt auf mehr als eine Milliarde Dollar. Gerüchte, auch van Goghs Spätwerk „Das weiße Haus bei Nacht“ aus der Sammlung des Weimarer Fabrikanten Otto Krebs sei illegal aus dem Beutekunstdepot der Eremitage verkauft worden, haben sich allerdings nicht bestätigt.

In letzter Zeit spielt auch jene Raubkunst eine immer größere Rolle, die zwischen 1933 und 1945 ihren meist jüdischen Besitzern geraubt oder abgepresst wurde und anschließend den Weg über den Atlantik nahm. Das Bildnis eines „Mädchens aus den Sabiner Bergen“ von Franz Xaver Winterhalter zum Beispiel versuchte die amerikanische Besitzerin 2006 im Kölner Auktionshaus Lempertz versteigern zu lassen. An gleicher Stelle hatte es 1937 ihr Vater, der SA-Obersturmbannführer Karl Wilharm, bei einer Zwangsauktion günstig aus dem Besitz des enteigneten jüdischen Galeristen Max Stern erworben. Später war die Familie in die USA übergesiedelt.

Weitaus häufiger taucht am dortigen Kunstmarkt – vor allem bei kleinen Häusern, deren Angebot sich über das Internet nur schlecht verfolgen lässt – wieder auf, was US-Soldaten 1945 illegal aus Deutschland mitgenommen hatten. Weil die Generation der GIs inzwischen ausstirbt, wollen nun ihre Erben die längst abgekühlte heiße Ware zu Geld machen. Strafrechtlich sind die Diebstähle von 1945 längst verjährt.
Privatrechtlich gibt es keine verbindlichen Regelungen, deshalb profitiert der graue Markt.

Der wohl spektakulärste Fall betraf den mittelalterlichen Domschatz von Quedlinburg. Der GI Joe Meador stahl das unschätzbare Samuhel-Evangeliar, einen Reliquiarkasten aus Elfenbein und zehn weitere mittelalterliche kunsthandwerkliche Arbeiten und schickte alles einfach per Post in seine Heimat. Über einen Schweizer Händler, der Teile zum Kauf anbot, konnte der Kunstfahnder Willi A. Korte den Schatz schließlich in einem Schließfach der First National Bank im texanischen Whitewright wieder ausfindig machen. Ein anderer amerikanischer Soldat stahl 1945 in Weimar die beiden berühmten Porträts, die Albrecht Dürer 1499 von den Eheleuten Hans und Felicitas Tucher gemalt hatte. Erst 1982 erhielt die DDR-Regierung die beiden Tafeln zurück. In einem Museum in Florida tauchte unlängst Meißener Porzellan aus den Leipziger Kunstsammlungen wieder auf; ein reumütiger amerikanischer Pfarrer bekannte auf dem Totenbett, dass er als junger Soldat 1945 in Deutschland Zeichnungen gestohlen hatte.
Griechische Vasen aus den geplünderten Beständen der Würzburger Kunstsammlungen befinden sich angeblich noch immer im Art Institute of Chicago, das die Identität der Stücke aber bestreitet. Das Metropolitan Museum of Art hingegen gab schon vor Jahren, von der Öffentlichkeit unbemerkt, Gemmen zurück, die ein Offizier aus der Staatlichen Münzsammlung in München hatte mitgehen lassen: Wachsabdrücke, die man dort rechtzeitig angefertigt hatte, belegten die bayerischen Ansprüche. Ein Arzt aus Toronto besaß eine wertvolle Uhr aus dem Schlossmuseum Gotha, ein Museum in Philadelphia Teile von Prunkrüstungen aus der Rüstkammer in Dresden. Kaiserliche Urkunden mit Siegeln und alte Karten aus Nürnberg wurden nach Kriegsende ebenso in die USA verschleppt wie mittelalterliche Akten aus einem Kirchenarchiv bei Aachen oder eine Kartenspielerszene aus dem 19. Jahrhundert aus der Alten Nationalgalerie in Berlin. Das Gemälde fand sich im Büro eines Rechtsanwaltes in Upstate New York wieder. Dessen Sohn bestätigte die Herkunft des Bildes auch, verweigerte eine Rückgabe aber mit dem Hinweis auf die längst eingetretene Verjährung.

Im Museum von Pirmasens fehlen bis heute 15 Bilder von Heinrich Bürkel, die bei Kriegsende verschwunden sind. Eines von ihnen tauchte im Herbst 2007 im Münchner Auktionshaus Hampel wieder auf. Man kenne den Sammler gut, war alles, was das Unternehmen über die Identität seines Einlieferers sagen wollte. Es bedurfte längerer Recherchen, bis die Stadt schließlich herausfand, dass es sich um die Münchner Zeitschriftenverlegerin Beda Bohinger („Der Bäckermeister“, „Der Metzgermeister“) handelte, der es der Kunsthändler Konrad Bernheimer verkauft hatte. Nun wird prozessiert. Drei weitere Bürkel-Gemälde aus Pirmasens tauchten 2003 in einem kleinen Auktionshaus in Pennsylvania wieder auf. Ein amerikanischer Soldat hatte sie offenbar im März 1945 an ihrem Auslagerungsort gestohlen und in die USA geschickt. Erst eine Woche vor Weihnachten kam von einem anderen Absender die vorerst letzte E-Mail – diesmal mit angehängten Digitalfotos: sechs Herrscherporträts des 18. Jahrhunderts, eine bewölkte Flusslandschaft mit Höhlen und Schafen und ein römisches Stadttor von Heinrich Bürkel.
Eine Freundin, schrieb der amerikanische Absender, habe die Bilder von ihrer Mutter erhalten, die sie wohl ihrerseits von ihrem Bruder bekam, der während des Zweiten Weltkriegs in Europa diente. Recherchen hätten ergeben, dass die Bilder wohl aus Pirmasens stammten. Sollte sich dies bestätigen, wolle man das gesamte Konvolut nach Deutschland zurückgeben: „Diese Leute wollen und werden das Richtige tun.“

Ausdruck von http://www.cicero.de/97.php?ress_id= 6&item= 4721

February 20th, 2010

Posted In: Mailing list reports

INVALUABLE historical books have been stolen from Northwich Library in an act branded as ‘selfish’ by library staff.
The thieves stole eight titles from a locked glass cabinet, while the library, in Witton Street, was open to the public.
Sandra Taubinger, library manager, said: “It’s upset everybody here – it’s soul-destroying.
“It’s a very selfish act to deprive the community of the use of these books – we cannot replace them.
“It’s a community resource that has been stolen for someone’s personal gain or use.”
The books, which police say are valuable, include Anglorum Speculum the Worthies of England in Church and State; Howson and Rimmer, Chester As It Was; Britton’s Cheshire; Britton Bishop Hanley, Birds of Alderely (1914); Cheshire Extract from unidentified work; Hanshall History of County Palatine (1817); Holland – General View of the Agriculture of Cheshire and Irvine – History of Winnington Hall.
Sandra said: “These would have been of historical importance.
“As a community resource these books were invaluable.
“The books were free for people to come in and have a look – you don’t have to be a member.
“Anyone interested in local history collections could look and we would take the books out of the glass cases for people to look at.”
She added: “This leaves a very bitter taste in our mouths.”
Sandra said the cases, kept in the Colin Lynch room at the library, had been broken into deliberately.
“It looks like someone bent the locks and broke the glass – they’ve been quite determined,” she said.
The rest of the collection has been temporarily moved to Chester Record Office, until security can be reviewed at Northwich Library.
Northwich historian Colin Lynch said: “I’m shocked that these books have been stolen from my room, and that it’s been done in daylight.
“In a way, I agree that the collection should be moved to Chester but it defeats the object – why go to Chester to look at Northwich history?”
Sandra said staff hoped to get the collection returned to Northwich as soon as possible.
The books were taken between February 2 and 9.
Anyone with any information should ring police on 0845 458 0000 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.

February 20th, 2010

Posted In: library theft

The Mask of Kanefernefer List of Missing Artifacts

Stolen Ka Nefer Nefer mask in Saint Louis Art Museum

http://www.sca.gov.eg/en/RST_005Kanefernefer.htm
Date: New Kingdom, Dynasty 19, ca. 1295-1186 BC
Material: plaster, linen, resin, glass, wood, gold, and pigment
Provenance: Saqqara, Sekhemkhet Enclosure, burial of Kanefernefer
Inscriptions: One ancient inscription in ink on hand; later removed.
Excavated by: Mohammed Zakaria Goneim in 1951/52 for the Egyptian Antiquities Service
Publication: The Buried Pyramid, (London, 1956), Plate LXVIII
Status: Currently in the possession of: The St. Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, Missouri, USA
In the early 1950’s, Mohamed Zakaria Goneim discovered the burial of a 19th Dynasty noblewoman named Ka-nefer-nefer inside the 3rd Dynasty enclosure of Sekhemkhet at Saqqara. In 1959, Ka-nefer-nefer’s funerary mask, along with a number of other objects from Goneim’s excavations, was transported from the Saqqara storerooms to the Cairo Museum en route to Tokyo for inclusion in an exhibition that was never mounted. It was returned Saqqara, and then sent to the antiquities department conservation lab attached to the Egyptian Museum in 1966.
In 1973, many of the objects from the burial of Ka-nefer-nefer were registered at the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. The mask was not among these objects; since it was the most important object in the assemblage, we can infer that it was missing by that time.
In 1998, the Saint Louis Art Museum (SLAM) purchased this mask from Phoenix Ancient Art (owned by the Abouttam brothers, who have since been convicted on smuggling charges and sentenced to jail time in Egypt) for nearly half a million dollars. The provenance provided to SLAM with the mask is poorly documented and unconvincing; when coupled with SCA records, it can be shown clearly to be false: SLAM claims that the mask was given to Goneim by the Egyptian government following his discovery of it in 1952, and that the mask was seen overseas in 1953. This is not possible: Goneim, like any excavator working for the Egyptian government, would never have been awarded objects, and the SCA has clear documentation that the mask was in Egypt until at least 1966. Other parts of the alleged provenance can also be shown to be faulty, and it is the contention of the SCA that SLAM did not carry out due diligence before purchasing the mask. The mask is clearly stolen property, and must be returned to Egypt.
Dr. Zahi Hawass is currently in negotiations with Dr. Brent R. Benjamin of the St. Louis Art Museum and their respective legal counsels for the return of this mask. Anyone wishing to help the SCA put pressure on SLAM to return the mask can write a letter supporting our position to:
Dr. Brent Benjamin, Director
St. Louis Art Museum
One Fine Arts Drive
Forest Park, St. Louis, MO 63110-1380
Telephone 314.721.0072
dzumwalt@slam.org

February 19th, 2010

Posted In: Mailing list reports

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February 19th, 2010

Posted In: Mailing list reports

The Gardner Theft: Twenty Years Later

Anthony Amore, Director of Security, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, in conversation with Tom Ashbrook, host of National Public Radio’s On Point
In the early morning hours of March 18, 1990, thieves dressed as Boston police officers entered the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston and stole thirteen works of art. Twenty years later, the investigation to recover the missing paintings continues.
In a rare public program, Gardner Museum Director of Security Anthony Amore dispels some of the myths and misinformation by telling the real account of what happened on the night of the theft. New information on the museum’s progress to recover the works of art add to this dramatic ever-evolving story of loss and hopeful recovery.
Anthony Amore is the security director for the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Prior to joining the museum in 2005, he spent 14 years with the federal government as a special agent with the Federal Aviation Administration and later joined the Department of Homeland Security. He spearheaded the efforts to federalize security at Logan International Airport after the attacks of September 11, 2001, and was the agency’s lead responding agent to the attempted terrorist attack by the so-called “Shoe Bomber” that same year. He is currently investigating the theft of 13 priceless works of art stolen from the Gardner Museum in 1990.

Tom Ashbrook, host of National Public Radio’s On Point, is an award-winning journalist whose career spans twenty years as a foreign correspondent, newspaper editor, and author. He spent ten years in Asia starting at the South China Morning Post and later as a correspondent for The Boston Globe. He began his reporting career covering the refugee exodus from Vietnam and the post-Mao opening of China, and has covered turmoil and shifting cultural and economic trends in the United States and around the world. At the Globe, where he served as deputy managing editor until 1996, he directed coverage of the first Gulf War and the end of the Cold War. Ashbrook received the Livingston Prize for National Reporting and was a 1996 fellow at Harvard’s Nieman Foundation.

This event is sold out. Please contact the Gardner Box Office at 617 278 5156 or online to purchase tickets for other concerts and events.

Related programming:
Join us on Thursday, March 11 for The Dutch Room: Absence and Desire, a Room Views conversation with Curator of Contemporary Art Pieranna Cavalchini and Artist-in-Residence Elaine Reichek.

Anyone with information about the theft, the location of the stolen artworks, or the investigation should contact Gardner Museum Director of Security Anthony Amore directly at 617 278 5114 or theft@gardnermuseum.org.
The Museum is offering a reward of $5 million for information leading to the return of the stolen artworks in good condition. The Museum can ensure complete confidentiality.

Art Hostage Comments:

Anthony Amore, Man of Virtue, Morality and Honour, will be ready to answer all the awkward questions avoided over the years about the Gardner Art Heist.

Whilst this trip down memory, or should I say Nightmare lane is a useful educational exercise, it does not offer solutions to recovering the actual stolen art.

Unless of course Carmen Ortiz has told the FBI to step aside and allow a private recovery of the Gardner art without prosecutions.

The much maligned FBI in Boston have to be seen to be doing their job and they would like nothing better than to have the Gardner case taken from their jurisdiction and dealt with exclusively by Carmen Ortiz and Anthony Amore.

If Carmen Ortiz stands down the FBI and allows Anthony Amore to be very specific about the reward and issues an immunity agreement for giving Proof of Life, then the first hurdle will have been overcome.

Followed up by another immunity agreement for the actual recovery of the Gardner art. Once these things are in place then the recovery will happen.

Over to the Catholic Church Confession Box for the symbolic recovery of the Gardner art.

Followed by the Gardner Museum putting the Vermeer and co back on display.

However, when the Stolen Gardner Art, especially the Vermeer, goes back on display at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum , the crowds will stretch to the Canadian border and beyond.

Art Hostage predicts over 10 million people will jam the switchboard trying to book to see the Vermeer and co.

Come to think about it, how about Anthony Amore announces during the radio interview the reward is to double to $10 million to allow for inflation since 1997 when the reward was last increased from $1 million to the current $5 million. That would make certain people sit up and take notice and would send a clear message the time has come to bring home the Gardner art.

http://stolenvermeer.blogspot.com/2010/02/stolen-art-watch-gardner-art-heist_13.html

February 14th, 2010

Posted In: Mailing list reports

Sammlung Bührle: Kunstraub und Raubkunst

http://www.pz-news.de/Home/Nachrichten/Kultur/Sammlung-Buehrle-Kunstraub-und-Raubkunst-_arid,175601_puid,1_pageid,21.html

Wechselvolle Zeiten der weltbedeutenden Sammlung des gebürtigen Pforzheimers Emil Bührle – Schau in Zürich
ZÜRICH. Der gebürtige Pforzheimer Emil Georg Bührle (1890–1956) machte als Rüstungsfabrikant Karriere und war einer der bedeutendsten Kunstmäzene der Schweiz. Seine hochkarätige Kunstsammlung blieb lange ein Geheimtipp – jetzt schenkt ihr das Kunsthaus Zürich endlich die verdiente Aufmerksamkeit.

Der Februar 2008 brachte ein unsanftes Erwachen aus dem Dornröschenschlaf. Bei einem bewaffneten Raubüberfall wurden vier Gemälde aus der Sammlung Bührle gestohlen. Viele hörten damals erstmals von dieser privaten Kunstsammlung, die fernab der üblichen Touristenströme im Zürcher Villenviertel Seefeld gelegen ist. Zwei der geraubten Gemälde wurden kurze Zeit später wiedergefunden; von den beiden anderen, darunter ein Werk von Degas und Cézannes weltberühmter „Knabe mit roter Weste“, fehlt bis heute jede Spur.

Seit Überfall meist geschlossen

Seit dem Raubüberfall war die Sammlung nur noch eingeschränkt zugänglich. Nun hat sie ihren großen Auftritt im Kunsthaus Zürich – und es soll nicht bei einem einmaligen Gastspiel bleiben. Stimmen die Zürcher Bürger der Erweiterung des Kunsthauses zu, ist geplant, die Sammlung ab 2015 permanent zu präsentieren. Ein Gewinn für beide Seiten. Die Bührle Sammlung bekäme endlich ein großes Publikum und das Kunsthaus Zürich würde zum bedeutendsten Hort für die Kunst des französischen Impressionismus außerhalb von Paris aufsteigen.

Eine private Kunstsammlung spiegelt immer auch die Persönlichkeit des Sammlers wieder. Und so rückt mit der Ausstellung im Kunsthaus auch Emil Georg Bührle in den Fokus. 1890 in Pforzheim geboren, interessiert er sich schon früh für Kunst und Literatur. Bührle studiert in Freiburg und München und ist begeistert, als er bei einer Ausstellung in Berlin 1913 die Kunst der Impressionisten entdeckt. Es sollte eine lebenslange Leidenschaft werden. Nach Ende des Ersten Weltkriegs findet Bührle eine Stelle in der Fabrik seines Schwiegervaters. Dieser schickt ihn bald darauf in die Schweiz. 1924 übernimmt Bührle die Leitung der maroden Werkzeugmaschinenfabrik Oerlikon bei Zürich. In der Konkursmasse des Unternehmens stößt er auf das Patent für ein leichtes automatisches Geschütz. Er hat den richtigen Riecher: Die Produktion steigt an, Bührle wird zum führenden Rüstungsfabrikanten der Schweiz. Er verdient gut, sogar sehr gut, auch in der Zeit während des Zweiten Weltkriegs. Dem Aufbau seiner eigenen Kunstsammlung steht nun nichts mehr im Weg.

Im Lauf der Jahre trägt Bührle eine Sammlung von Weltrang zusammen. Der Schwerpunkt liegt auf der französischen Malerei des 19. Jahrhunderts. Die Ausstellung glänzt mit Van Goghs „Sämann mit untergehender Sonne“, Schlüsselwerken von Cézanne und Gaugin, Renoirs bezauberndem Portrait der „kleinen Irene“ und Monets monumentalen Seerosenbilder. Bührle entdeckt eine starke atmosphärische Verwandtschaft der Impressionisten zur venezianischen Malerei und erweitert seine Sammlung um Arbeiten von Canaletto, Guardi und Tiepolo. Landschaft, Stillleben, Porträt oder Genrebild – Bührle kauft, was ihm gefällt. Und so finden sich, etwas überraschend, auch mittelalterliche Heiligenskulpturen aus dem Bodenseeraum in der Ausstellung.

Links neben dem Eingangsbereich verbirgt sich ein kleiner, aber umso interessanterer Dokumentationsraum, der Bührles Lebenslauf rekonstruiert und Fragen nach der Herkunft der Bilder nachgeht. 13 Kunstwerke erwiesen sich nach Kriegsende als Bilder, die jüdischen Eigentümern gestohlen worden waren. Bührle gelang es, neun Bilder ein zweites Mal zu kaufen; vier Bilder musste er zurückgeben.

Pforzheim ging leer aus

Bührle und das Kunsthaus Zürich verbindet eine lange Geschichte. Er schenkte dem Museum Rodins Höllentor und zwei Bilder von Monet. Vor allem aber stiftete er den großen Ausstellungstrakt, in dem auch die jetzige Schau zu sehen ist. Die Vollendung des Baus erlebte er nicht mehr. Bührle starb 1956. Für den Fall seines Todes hatte er keine Vorkehrungen getroffen und so machte sich auch seine Heimatstadt Pforzheim Hoffnung, ein paar seiner Gemälde zu bekommen. Leider vergebens. 1958 wurde seine Sammlung zum ersten Mal im Kunsthaus Zürich ausgestellt. Zwei Jahre später gründete seine Familie die Stiftung E.G. Bührle.

Gang durch die Kunstgeschichte

Die Ausstellung gleicht einem beeindruckenden Gang durch die europäische Kunstgeschichte: Frans Hals, Delacroix, Ingres, Manet. Dazu Werke der Nabis, der Fauves und der Kubisten – Highlight hier sicherlich Picassos „Italienerin“ von 1917. Insgesamt rund 180 Arbeiten.

Alles nur Meisterwerke? Nein, eine Fälschung hat sich eingeschlichen. 1939 nahm Bührle an einer Auktion in Luzern teil, bei der beschlagnahmte Bilder sogenannter „entarteter Kunst“ aus deutschen Museen im Auftrag der Nationalsozialisten zum Verkauf kamen, darunter auch ein Selbstbildnis Van Goghs, das der Neuen Pinakothek in München gehört hatte. Bührle wurde überboten, griff aber sofort zu, als ihm 1948 eine zweite Fassung des Gemäldes angeboten wurde. Es war, wie sich später herausstellte, eine gut gemachte Fälschung. Auch diese Geschichte wird im Dokumentationsraum erzählt. Dieses Bild freilich ist nicht das einzige Kuriosum, auf das der Ausstellungsbesucher bei seinem Rundgang stoßen wird. Florian Weiland

Van Gogh, Cézanne, Monet – Die Sammlung Bührle zu Gast im Kunsthaus Zürich. Geöffnet bis 16 Mai, täglich außer montags von 10 bis 18 Uhr, mittwochs bis freitags bis 20 Uhr.

www.kunsthaus.ch

February 13th, 2010

Posted In: Mailing list reports

Art investor numerology
Friday February 12, 2010 | 00:56 by András Szántó in Brooklyn

from Artworldsalon.com

Statistics, statistics, and more statistics. Now that it’s snowing again and I am trapped in the house, I have cracked open the revised and expanded edition of Skate’s Art Investment Handbook. This well-informed, astute, efficiently written compendium deserves to be in the library of anyone seriously interested in the art market, investor or not. It has the additional virtue of treating its topic with a healthy dose of skepticism and occasional humor—as could be expected from a Central European author.
The hefty tome turned up in the mail the other day, and, somewhat to my surprise, I actually enjoyed thumbing through it. The work of a team lead by the Russian financier Sergey Skaterschikov, it includes a solid overview of the art and art-services market, along with detailed analyses of the market’s top tier, the 1,000 top-selling works at auction tallied in the so-called Skate’s Top 1000.
The book should delight all cultural enthusiasts who thrill to obscure quantitative trivia. We learn, for example, that:
•    Works by 300,000 artists, valued in total at $400 billion, are available to trade at any time on the global art market, resulting in a trading volume of $60 billion per year (with 90 percent of transactions falling under $10,000).
•    One million individuals and estates, 50 art funds, and 500 museums buy art regularly.
•    The 1,000 most expensive works sold at auction since 1985 were made by 183 artists and are collectively valued at $13.2 billion as of Apr. 30, 2009.
•    The world’s museums hold 100 million works of art; 100,000 of these can be expected to come to market annually through deaccessioning.
•    Art valuation decreases with size.
•    There are 10 million art works with pricing information available in published databases, and one million additional works come to market and are added to such databases each year.
•    Between 2002-2009, the combined value of living artists in the top 1,000 works grew by 350 percent.
•    Despite much talk about globalization, and a 20-fold increase in artists from Brazil, Russia, India and China in the market’s top tier, these artists account for only 1.5 percent of the combined value of the top-1000.
•    About 70-150 million works of art circulate on the market at any time.
On and on it goes—a seemingly bottomless trove of information, charts, and graphs. I relate these factoids without any ability to vouch for their accuracy. As Skaterschikov himself advises, “be careful what you read here.” Even so, they illustrate the vast scope of the art-investing universe today, and the audacity of those who seek to enter it and gain from it. How do the numbers sound to you?

http://www.artworldsalon.com/blog/2010/02/art-investor-numerology/

February 13th, 2010

Posted In: Mailing list reports

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February 10th, 2010

Posted In: Mailing list reports

February 21-24, 2010: National Conference on Cultural Property Protection!
Learn from the best, discover new trends, and take away effective tools for your organization. Network with national and international peers from small and large museums, libraries, galleries and cultural centers.
The National Conference on Cultural Property Protection offers insight and proven solutions for new and seasoned professionals in the field of cultural property protection.
Join us in Washington DC, February 21-24, 2010, for the National Conference on Cultural Property Protection.
Daily Schedule
Sunday, February 21, 2010:
Certified Institutional Protection Manager (CIPM & CIPM II) certification class (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
Registration begins at ~2pm
Welcome Reception 5-8pm
Monday, February 22, 2010:
Continental Breakfast (8-9am)
Welcome and Participant Introductions
Year-in-Review
Marketplace Introductions
Training for Retention
Marketplace Lunch (~1:30-2:30pm)
Breakout Sessions: Choose from Library and Fire Safety Topics
“Anything Goes” Question and Answer Session
Marketplace Reception (5-8pm)
Tuesday, February 23, 2010:
Continental Breakfast (~8-9am)
Managing Risk
Budget
Technology Review
Lunch with Guest Speaker (~12:30-1:30pm)
The Lone Offender and Active Shooter (double session)
Sessions conclude ~4pm
Wednesday, February 24, 2010:
Continental Breakfast (~8-9am)
Preparing for a Pandemic
Security Design Criteria
Officer Post Deployment
Sessions conclude ~12:45pm
Burke Award Luncheon (1-2pm)
MORE INFORMATION & REGISTRATION:    http://natconf.si.edu/

February 10th, 2010

Posted In: Mailing list reports

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February 9th, 2010

Posted In: looting and illegal art traffickers

“What few people realise is that MacGregor’s activities on behalf of the British Museum, although dressed up as a laudable didactic mission of public enlightenment and edification, are actually part of a more urgent project to protect the beleaguered edifice that is the Encyclopaedic Museum in Europe and North America.”   Tom Flynn (1)
Oba of Benin with two Attendants and two Portuguese in background, Benin/Nigeria, now in the British Museum.Seized by British troops during the invasion of Benin in 1897.
It is perhaps indicative of the cultural climate of our times that the British Museum and the BBC could announce a programme with a pretentious title such as “A History of the World in 100 Objects”. (2) A pretence to serving the whole world, a title which indicates a wider view but hides in fact the reality of frantic efforts to preserve the interests of a few in the guise of the so-called “universal museums” which have come under some heavy criticisms in recent years.

February 7th, 2010

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

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February 7th, 2010

Posted In: Mailing list reports

Recuperadas en Conil obras de arte robadas en un Museo de Lisboa
Un vecino de la localidad era cómplice del ladrón portugués: guardaba en un almacén de su propiedad las piezas hasta venderlas a anticuarios de todo el país
ROSA ROMERO / CÁDIZ | ACTUALIZADO 06.02.2010 – 05:01
La Guardia Civil ha logrado poner fin al expolio que habían sufrido importantes museos de Portugal durante el pasado año. Agentes del Grupo de Patrimonio Histórico de la Unidad Central Operativa de la Benemérita, alertados por las autoridades del país vecino, iniciaron una investigación que ha culminado curiosamente en la provincia de Cádiz. En concreto, en la localidad de Conil, donde han sido recuperadas seis valiosas obras de arte, sustraídas por un ladrón luso en su mayor parte de un museo de Lisboa. Se trata de esculturas, fechadas en los siglos XVII y XVIII, que han sido halladas en el almacén propiedad de un vecino de Conil.
Esta persona, cuya identidad no ha sido facilitada, era una pieza clave del expolio, según desvelaron ayer a este diario fuentes de la investigación.
Y es que, explicaron, se había convertido en el cómplice en España del hábil ladrón portugués. En su almacén almacenaba las obras, y era él mismo el que se encargaba de ‘colocarlas’ en el mercado, vendiéndolas a anticuarios de todo el país.
El autor de los robos, que ha sido detenido en la localidad portuguesa de Tolosa, tras hacerse con las esculturas (la mayor parte, de más de 200 kilogramos de peso), las cargaba en una furgoneta y las dejaba almacenadas en el local del vecino de Conil, que ya se encargaba de darles salida .
En total han sido nueve las esculturas robadas en Portugal que han sido recuperadas en España. Todas llegaron a Conil en primera instancia. Aunque, durante el operativo desplegado por la Guardia Civil, en el municipio gaditano han sido halladas seis, que aguardaban la llegada de comprador. Las otras tres piezas reclamadas desde Portugal se encontraban en poder de comerciantes de antigüedades de Toledo y Málaga.
En principio, pese a considerarse probada la importante participación del vecino de Conil en el expolio, no se ha procedido a su detención. Sí está imputado en una investigación que prosigue y que la Guardia Civil no descarta que arroje nuevas detenciones.
Las nueve obras fueron llevadas por los agentes de la Guardia Civil al Museo Nacional de Arte Romano de Mérida, en depósito. Y allí han permanecido hasta que ayer la Guardia Civil hizo entrega de las esculturas a la Policía Judiciaria de Portugal, en un acto celebrado en el museo emeritense.
Las obras, además de en el museo de Lisboa, habían sido sustraídas en otras localidades como Borde, Portalegre, Estoril y Cascais. Muchas de las esculturas se exhibían en los jardines de los museos lusos. De ahí que el ladrón lograra apropiarse de las mismas sin especiales dificultades.

February 7th, 2010

Posted In: Mailing list reports, Museum thefts

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February 5th, 2010

Posted In: Mailing list reports

Museum theft connections investigated
By Matt Surtel msurtel@batavianews.com
Thursday, February 4, 2010 10:08 AM EST
CALEDONIA — One man has been charged and another is wanted in connection with thefts from area museums and historical societies.
Roy Ortiz, 35, was charged this week with criminal possession of stolen property, said Acting Supervisor Daniel Chapman of the Caledonia police. In the meantime, his brother Michael Ortiz is wanted for grand larceny by the Warsaw and West Seneca police departments.
According to workers in Caledonia’s Big Springs Museum, a man entered the building during regular hours and distracted the attendant with a photograph.
He asked her if she recognized a dog in the photo, and said it was lost and belonged to his daughter. The man then went to the second floor where he stayed about 30 minutes.
Museum workers discovered two days later that locks had been broken off some of the display cases. Several items, including a German World War II helmet and a Civil War surgical kit were taken.
Roy Ortiz is accused of trying to pawn the items at a shop in Greece, police said. He was taken into custody by state police in Rochester and was later questioned by Caledonia’s officers.
Police said he was committed to Monroe County Jail in lieu of $5,000 bail. Michael Ortiz, 38, remains wanted.
In West Seneca, police said he’s believed responsible for the theft of an antique gun this past October from that town’s historical society. Warsaw village police declined to release details of their investigation.
Police are checking to see if there’s a possible connection between the brothers’ respective cases. The investigation, which also includes the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office, along with the Mount Morris, Dansville and Penn Yan police departments, is continuing.
Both Ortiz brothers and a third brother, Kenneth, were charged in 2006 with criminal possession of stolen property after they were accused of stealing hundreds of antiques and collectibles throughout Western New York.
About 450 items were recovered at their homes in Albion and Ridgeway.

February 4th, 2010

Posted In: Mailing list reports

Stolen gold horn found in the Netherlands
THURSDAY, 04 FEBRUARY 2010 10:19 KR CULTURE
One of Denmark’s most important cultural works was found at a Dutch auction after being stolen in 1970
Exactly 40 years after it was stolen from a Zealand museum, the gold and ivory horn made for Danish author and hymn writer BS Ingemann’s 70th birthday turned up in The Netherlands, reports Frederiksborg Amts Avis.
The horn, made in 1859, was stolen in 1970 from the Museum of National History at Frederiksborg Castle in Hillerød, northwest of Copenhagen.
Museum curators had given up hope of ever finding the horn, as nothing was heard about it for several years after the theft. But Mette Skougaard, the current curator, went to an auction in Amsterdam this past week after she had been informed the horn was being sold.
‘It was a wonderful surprise. We thought that the horn would have been melted down, because the alleged thief would never say where it had gone,’ said Skougaard.
Police caught who the man they believed was behind the theft at the time, but he had already got rid of the horn.
Skougaard went to Amsterdam after hearing about the horn to verify whether it really was the same one made for Ingemann’s birthday.
‘There’s no question it’s the original, no doubt whatsoever,’ she said. ‘It’s completely unique – richly decorated and with Ingemann’s name etched on it. ‘We’ thrilled that it’s been found again, because it’s an important part of our heritage.’
The museum has now laid claim to the horn over its current owner, who resides in Germany.
The Museum of National History cannot disclose the actual value of the stolen horn, but in 1970 the police estimated that it was worth between 60-70,000 kroner.

February 4th, 2010

Posted In: Museum thefts

Op de KVCE LinkedIn groep plaatste Renate van Leijen eergisteren het onderstaande bericht:

Richtlijn culturele waardering historische interieurs beschikbaar -…

From: Instituut Collectie Nederland | February 02, 2010

http://www.linkedin.com/news?home=&gid=2637356&trk=myg_ugrp_news

De Richtlijn van het ICN is te vinden op: http://snipurl.com/u9pzl

Renate vermeldt: “Bij de uitvoering van een risicoanalyse is het belangrijk om inzicht in de waarde van uw collectie te hebben. Hoe hoger de waarde, hoe groter het waardeverlies in geval van een incident of calamiteit kan zijn. En hoe groter het effect, hoe groter het risico (zie ook rubriek het belang van waardering op deze site).”

Ik ben het met de relatie die Renate legt tussen waarde en Effect gedeeltelijk eens, maar wanneer je de verhouding waarde-effect vertaalt naar concrete voorbeelden zal blijken dat die verhouding bij de analysemethode die Risico ziet als het resultaat van de Kans op en het Effect van een incident complex is en dat waarde niet alleen van invloed is op het Effect. Overigens: het ICN heeft het in de Richtlijn over waardering en niet over waarde. Het lijkt mij dat er een, misschien iets te academisch (?), verschil is tussen waarde en waardering.

De Kans dat een incident zicht voordoet wordt bepaald door de maatregelen die genomen zijn om incidenten te voorkomen. Bij sommige incidenten hebben we niet de regie over de Kans. Denk hierbij bijvoorbeeld aan vernietigende natuurverschijnselen zoals aardbevingen, hevige sneeuw- of regenval. Als organisatie heb je geen enkele invloed op de Kans op dergelijke incidenten, en kan het risico alleen beperkt worden aan de Effect zijde van de R = K * E formule.

Brand en K*E

Er zijn een aantal hoofdoorzaken van brand:

  1. brandgevaarlijke werkzaamheden
  2. kortsluiting
  3. bliksem
  4. brandstichting

De Kans dat een brand zich voordoet kan door preventieve maatregelen bij oorzaken 1 tot en met 3 geminimaliseerd worden:

  1. protocollen brandgevaarlijke werkzaamheden
  2. huisregels voor bezoekers en medewerkers
  3. installatie elektrische systemen conform geldende normen
  4. periodieke thermische controle elektrische systemen
  5. spanningsloos schakelen gebouw buiten werktijden
  6. bliksemafleiding

De Kans op brandstichting verminderen is moeilijker. Inbraakpreventieve maatregelen spelen een kansverminderende rol (dan blijft altijd nog de mogelijkheid dat een bezoeker – denk aan de laatste aanslag op De Nachtwacht met aanstekerbenzine – of een medewerker brand sticht).

Het Effect van een brand kan beperkt worden door:

  1. gebruik van brandwerende materialen
  2. compartimentering
  3. snelle signalering via een volledig dekkend brandmeldsysteem
  4. snelle alarmopvolging
  5. training van medewerkers (BHV)
  6. automatische blussystemen
  7. calamiteitenplan inclusief collectiehulpverlening (CHV)

Waarde van de collectie en het gebouw speelt bij het verminderen van Kans of Effect de rol dat er een relatie moet bestaan tussen de waarde die je beschermen wilt en de investering in allerlei maatregelen.

Het ICN maakt in de Richtlijn waardering historische interieurs zeer terecht een onderscheid tussen interne en externe waardering. Het maakt voor de interne waardering niet uit wanneer bijvoorbeeld het Streekmuseum De Meestoof in Sint-Annaland bij een brand zijn collectie historische klederdrachten verliest of het Mauritshuis zijn Vermeer schilderijen (bij het noemen van dergelijke concrete voorbeelden krijg ik kippenvel). In beide gevallen zal het betekenen dat de continuïteit van deze musea ernstig belemmerd wordt. Toch is het zo dat, hoe erg deze ramp ook voor De Meestoof zal zijn, de brand in het Mauritshuis extern als een veel groter waardeverlies zal worden gezien en het effect extern ook groter zal zijn.

Voor de risicoanalyse maakt het verschil in externe waardering nauwelijks iets uit maar wordt het Effect bepaald door het gevolg die de brand zal hebben voor de continuïteit van het museum. Die continuïteit wordt overigens ook bepaald door imago, in die zin is er bij ernstige incidenten kans dat het imago geschaad wordt. Imagoschade wordt altijd genoemd, maar zelden aangetoond. Zonder in casuïstiek te duiken zag ik de afgelopen tien jaar meerdere keren dat ernstige incidenten eerder leidden tot positieve dan negatieve reacties.

Het Effect van een incident waarbij collectie verloren gaat zal aanzienlijk minder zijn indien er sprake is van een te vervangen collectie. Uniciteit kan invloed hebben op de waardering, maar niet altijd.

Diefstal en R = K * E

Bij het risico diefstal (al of niet met inbraak) speelt waarde(ring) een heel andere rol. Er is een rechtstreekse relatie tussen waardering en de Kans dat een diefstal zich voordoet. Ik kies hier heel bewust voor de ICN terminologie waardering omdat waardering meer zegt over de aantrekkelijkheid voor diefstal – denk bijvoorbeeld aan niet waardevolle objecten die wel heel gewild zijn op de verzamelaarsmarkt – dan waarde. Waardering of waarde hebben geen enkele invloed op de kans dat zich een brand voordoet, maar wel op de Kans op diefstal of verduistering.

Wat voor diefstal evenzeer geldt als voor brand is dat zowel de Kans op als het Effect van een diefstal verminderd kunnen worden door preventieve maatregelen (inbraakwerendheid, bevestigingssystemen, vitrines, registratie en periodieke audtit van de collectie, bewaking)  als door repressie maatregelen (signalering, alarmopvolging). Waardering en waarde hebben weliswaar invloed op de kans dat zich een diefstal voordoet, maar die waardering en waarde zij niet te beïnvloeden.

Voor alle incidenten – variërend van brand, diefstal, vandalisme, overval en agressie – die ingrijpen op de collectie kan gezegd worden dat waardering en waarde invloed hebben op de beleving, intern en extern.

De invloed van waarde en waardering op de uitkomst van R = K * E beperkt zich niet tot de Effect kant van de formule. De Richtlijn historische interieurs zal zonder enige twijfel aangrijpingspunten bieden voor het niveau van en investering in maatregelen om die interieurs te beschermen. Alleen al om die reden is het goed dat het KVCE deze Richtlijn onder de aandacht bracht.

Ton Cremers

February 4th, 2010

Posted In: Uncategorized

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Group will appeal ruling to keep looted books in France
A Korean civic group said last week that it will appeal a French court’s decision to reject a request for the return of royal texts taken by French troops during a 19th-century invasion.
Group will appeal ruling to keep looted books in France
Joong Ang Daily February 02, 2010
A Korean civic group said last week that it will appeal a French court’s decision to reject a request for the return of royal texts taken by French troops during a 19th-century invasion.
The group, known as Cultural Action, said it decided to file the appeal later last week over the Dec. 24 ruling by the administrative court in Paris that found that 296 historic Korean royal books at the National Library of France were “national property” and could not be returned to Korea.
“We are filing an appeal because not doing so would only mean that we are accepting the wrong judgment of the French court,” said Hwang Pyung-woo, a cultural property head with the organization.
The collection chronicles most of the royal history of Korea’s Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) and was stored in an archive called Oegyujanggak on Ganghwa Island off Korea’s west coast. French troops invaded the island in 1866, and during their withdrawal took the texts from the archive, which held about 1,000 books. The rest were destroyed in a fire set by the troops.
Probably unaware of their origin, the National Library in Paris had classified them under its Chinese index until they were rediscovered by a Korean historian living in France, Park Byeong-seon, in 1978.
In government-level negotiations over the past decade, France agreed to lease the collection on a “long-term and regular basis” to Korea for display. But the accord never materialized due to differences on the form of the exhibit and calls from Korea that they be repatriated, not leased.
France has digitalized the collection for online reading and given a digital edition to South Korea.
In the December ruling, the French court said the books have been public material in France over the past 140 years, and the circumstances of their acquisition do not change that status.
The court also asserted that international rules banning pillaging were not in place in the late 19th century.
The civic group argues that the French claim to the books’ public status is absurd because no one even knew of their existence until the Korean historian discovered them and that they had been wrongfully classified as Chinese.
Cultural Action has also criticized the Korean government’s low-profile approach, demanding a permanent lease rather than repatriation, contrasting it with Egypt’s hard-line stance that led to the recent handover of several looted tomb paintings from the Louvre Museum.
“The government’s idea is to have them displayed in Korea, but their ownership will still remain in France. We believe that the wrong history cannot be corrected until the ownership is returned,” Hwang said. Yonhap

February 3rd, 2010

Posted In: Mailing list reports

RICHA BHATIA
New Delhi : The week-long festivities of the Delhi Public Library’s (DPL) 60th year celebrations at the Lalit Kala Akademi were cut short when a fire broke out at the exhibition venue on Monday, the inaugural evening.
The fire, which according to Library officials occurred due to an electrical fault, destroyed the entire exhibit area, including 130 rare books, some dating back to the 17th Century.
According to the DPL officials, the fire started at 8 pm after the exhibition had wound up and most of the guests had left.
Banwari Lal, Director of DPL, said: “We are still estimating the damage but almost all books on display were gutted in the fire.” Around three fire tenders were employed to douse the flames that raged for half an hour.
The fire destroyed 1,300 books from the DPL stock, with titles on cooking, gardening and bonsai, children’s books and bestsellers. The exhibition centre also had on display 100 rare books borrowed from the Hardayal Municipal Public Library and 30 books and magazines from Marwari Library. Among the rare and irreplaceable books that were destroyed in the fire was a handwritten Bhagwat Mahapuraan (dated 1800), a 17th Century book Voyages and Travels of the Ambassador and seven volumes of rare Hindi magazines such as Stree Darpan, (1918), Sudha, (December 1932) and Saraswati (1916).
Chairperson of the Delhi Library Board Shailaja Chandra, who had conceptualised the exhibition, said “Around 80 per cent of the stock can be restored. I believe the collection of rare books can be resurrected with the help of Indira Gandhi National Centre of Arts. The DPL stock can also be replaced with new books. What cannot be replaced are the bonsai plants, part of a demonstration that was supposed to unfold later in the week.” The DPL staffers managed to retrieve two bound files of the Hindustan Times and the The Navbharat Times, dating from 1952-1972.

February 3rd, 2010

Posted In: Mailing list reports

Egypt tightens penalties for relics robbers, smugglers
Monday, 01 Feb, 2010 | 10:06 PM PST |
CAIRO: Parliament amended Egypt’s antiquities law on Monday to bring in stiffer punishments for the theft and smuggling of relics while granting patent rights to the country’s antiquities council.
The amendment requires Egyptians who have antiquities to report their possessions to the Supreme Council of Antiquities, headed by Zahi Hawass, in six months. The sale of antiquities is still banned.
“Parliament agreed on article eight that forbids trade in antiquities but allows possession of antiquities with some individuals, on condition that they cannot use them to benefit others, or to damage and neglect them,” Hawass said.
These relics, he said, can in future only be given as a gift with the council’s authorisation. They may also be passed on as part of an inheritance.
The antiquities legal counsel, Ashraf el-Ishmawi, who helped in the drafting of the amendments, clarified that the law precluded antiques and heirlooms.
He said the new law increased prison sentences for smuggling artifacts out of Egypt to 15 years and a one-million-pound (182,815-dollar) fine. The penalty for stealing artifacts has been doubled to 10 years.
“The goal of the new law is to protect Egyptian antiquities.” It also increases the punishment for tampering with antiquity sites to five years in jail, while a new provision gives patent rights to the antiquities council on precise replicas of antiquities that are certified by the council.
The amendments were passed after a stormy debate in parliament after steel magnate Ahmed Ezz reportedly proposed that the sale of some artifacts be allowed in Egypt, following the examples of Italy and France.
Culture Minister Faruq Hosni and Hawass both threatened to resign if parliament accepted the proposal.
Hawass has doggedly campaigned for a clampdown on the trade and smuggling of artifacts since he became head of Egypt’s antiquities council in 2002.
He says that 5,000 artifacts have been returned to Egypt since then, most famously five fragments of an ancient fresco acquired by the Louvre Museum in France.
The museum returned them to Egypt after Hawass said they were stolen and threatened a boycott. He has also demanded the return of the iconic Queen Nefertiti bust from Germany’s Neues Museum. -AFP

February 1st, 2010

Posted In: Mailing list reports