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October 29th, 2013

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October 27th, 2013

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NEWLY DISCOVERED NOK SCULPTURES EXHIBITED FOR THE FIST TIME, NOT IN NIGERIA BUT IN GERMANY

NEWLY DISCOVERED NOK SCULPTURES EXHIBITED FOR THE FIRST TIME, NOT IN NIGERIA BUT IN GERMANY.

 

Nok sculpture, male figure with shell on his head

,

Nigeria, now in, Liebighaus Sammlungen, Frankfurt, Germany

Photo:Goethe University Frankfurt, Institute for Archaeological

 

 

 

We read with astonishment and anger that recently discovered Nok sculptures are being displayed for the first time ever in Germany and not in Nigeria where they were discovered. An exhibition Nok Origin of African Sculpture, organized by Frankfurt University and Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung runs from 30 October 2013 to 23 February 2014 and presents over one hundred Nok sculptures recovered by archaeologists from Frankfurt University(1)

 

Readers will recall the dispute between Nigerian archaeologists and the German archaeologists excavating in the Nok area, with the Nigerian scholars accusing the German excavation team of stealing Nok pieces by sending them to German without any proper control from the Nigerian side; the Germans responded that the pieces found were being sent to Germany for further examination and repair and would be returned after repair(2)

It is difficult to understand why artefacts newly recovered in Nigeria should be exhibited first in Germany and not in the country where they were discovered. This raises the question for whom the Nok pieces are of relevance. Whose history and culture could this new evidence enrich or clarify? Are the Nigerians the primarily concerned people? What relevance have the Nok pieces to German history or culture? If this arrangement was with the consent of the National Commission of Museums and Monuments (NCMM), it surely must explain to the Nigerian public this optic that puts the German public before the Nigerian public.

The notice on the exhibition indicates that the Nok pieces will be shown in a “dialogue with contemporary works from Ancient Egypt and Greek-Roman Antiquity from the collections of the Liebieghaus”. But this exhibition will not go to Nigeria: “After having been presented to the public in the Liebieghaus for the fist time, the sensational finds with their outstanding free forms will return to Nigeria to be shown there”. What we are being told here is that after the German public has had the advantage of seeing the Nok sculptures in dialogue  with Egyptian and Graeco-Roman artefacts, the new findings and the objects loaned by the NCMM will be returned without the Egyptian and Graeco-Roman artefacts. Are we being told that Nigerians and other Africans need not learn from the knowledge and perspectives gained from the comparative presentation?

Germans and other Europeans may see the full exhibition but not Africans?

Why do we have different presentations? It seems to me we are being told that Nigerians should only be concerned with Nigerian artefacts and not Egyptian or Graeco-Roman artefacts. Somebody must explain this differentiation in treatment.

Could well be that the Germans could not trust the Nigerians to look well after the precious Egyptian and Greek artefacts in the exhibition? So bad is Nigeria’s reputation with respect to keeping artefacts even though recent exhibitions where Nigerian artefacts should have shown otherwise. Prejudice is stronger than reality.

One explanation may be that the exhibition has been conceived in purely “universal/encyclopaedic” optic. Thus the Nok pieces are not per se enough for an exhibition They are placed in the context of European art history and compared with Graeco-Roman works and Egyptian artefacts which some Europeans seem to forget are African and consider as part of European culture. Once the “universal/encyclopaedic approach is no longer required, having fulfilled its justification for presenting or holding African artefacts, the show outside Europe proceeds without the Graeco-Roman elements. Note the reference to the Sahara: “The elaborately restored reddish figures are confronted with about sixty artworks from Egypt in Late Antiquity and Classical Greece that date from the same period. While the exchange between these cultures was blocked by the Sahara two thousand years ago, the show at the Liebieghaus offers the opportunity to compare the entirely independently created Nok sculptures with the art of the contemporary cultures around the Mediterranean.”

The notice of the exhibition states that two Nigerian universities as well as the Nigerian Federal authorities were involved in the research. But why are the names of the universities involved not mentioned? Had Oxford and Cambridge or other western universities been involved, would their names not have been mentioned? The Germans have been excavating in the Nok area since 2005 but it was only last year that a protest of the Nigerian Association of Archaeologists, forced the NCMM to review its memorandum of Understanding with the Germans and to allow the Universities of Jos and ABU to be part of the project.

The Frankfurt exhibition will also deal with the illicit trade in Nok artefacts and the numerous forgeries that have found their way to

 the art market. There is a Red List– ICOM on the exportation of Nok artefacts from Nigeria since these artefacts are evidence of Nigeria’s history and culture

 . (3)

It would be interesting to know how the newly discovered artefacts found their way to Germany. How many of these pieces are in Germany and how many are left in Nigeria? Does anybody have exact records of the movements of these artefacts?

How would Germans feel if important archaeological finds in their country that related to German history and culture were to be first shown in Nigeria before being made available to the German public? Would they not feel that discoveries in Germany should be first exhibited there? Giving priority in this matter to the German public and not the Nigerian public is a clear manifestation of disrespect for Nigerians. But are the Germans alone to be blamed? This situation must have been created with the connivance or passivity of some highly placed Nigerians. Insulting Nigeria has become almost a hobby of many westerners and the Nigerian authorities have so far done little to discourage this. I have yet to see a Nigerian diplomat or other official (other than former Ambassador to Austria, Biodun Owoseni) vigorously defend his country in the western world. German archaeologists gave interviews to Der Spiegel which wrote uncomplimentary accounts about Nigeria but  from Nigerian authorities so far there has been no comment. (4) The Berlin Government denied ever having heard directly or indirectly from Nigerian authorities of a request for the return of the Benin artefacts. (5). Again there is no reaction from Nigerian authorities.

What are the representatives of Africa’s most powerful State afraid of?

It is said that except one object, all the Nok pieces were broken and the objects shown in the exhibition have been “elaborately restored”. So by the time Nigerian scholars see the newly discovered objects their original state would have been modified; only the German researchers would be familiar with the original state of the artefacts.

The explanation that these objects were taken for further examination could be used anytime one wants to take objects out of Nigeria. Besides, we heard that the Nok storage in Jos was recently emptied and the museum in Jos has no record of what was removed or who emptied the store. The NCMM would presumably have no record of this.

It may well be that most of the issues we are raising here have been settled in a Memorandum of Understanding between the Nigerian authorities and the Germans and there may equally be some other side agreements that only the parties are aware of. If the Germans acted in accordance with unpublished agreements we may never know the facts. In this context, it seems to me that the parties may have resorted to a system of partage. This system  allowed in the past western States to build up their voracious universal museums. According to this system, those who financed the archaeological excavations were entitled to a share of the finding. This allowed countries such as France, Germany, Great Britain and others to cart away loads of artefacts from Egypt, Irak, Iran, Turkey and elsewhere. Frankly, the source countries were generally cheated. Even the fervent supporters of the “universal museums,” such as James Cuno admit that the system worked mostly to the benefit of the west(6) That system also led to interminable disputes such as that concerning the bust of Nefertiti.

Since the Germans are financing the excavations in the Nok area, it could well be that they are allowed to take away artefacts by unpublished agreements or with the silent approval of the Nigerian authorities whose control of what is going on in the Nok area is weak or non existent, this having been the criticism of Nigerian archaeologists. This has been indirectly confirmed by the German scholars who boasted in the unchallenged Der Spiegel article that there are areas where even the Nigerian police do not dare to enter.

This exhibition, like many recent exhibitions on Nigerian art, has served to show the weakness of Nigeria to control the use of its vast cultural resources. If Nigeria cannot even ensure that archaeological finds made in Nigeria are first shown to the Nigerian public before they are shown in Europe, one wonders how far Nigeria could lead the struggle to recover looted African artefacts from the Western world. The failures of leadership have become so glare that even Nigeria’s best friends are beginning to have doubts about the willingness or ability of the current leadership to be effective in the protection of cultural artefacts.

Kwame Opoku. 25 October, 2013.

NOTES

 

 

1. 

http://www.kunstpedia.com/nieuws/nok-origin-of-african-sculpture—an-exhibition-of-the-liebieghaus-skulpturensammlung.html

 

 

2. The dispute between Nigerian and German archaeologists has been discussed in various publications. See inter alia, Germans Loot Nigerian Artefacts | Leadership Newspapers www.leadership.ng

“LOOTING OF NIGERIA’S ANTIQUITIES: MUSEUM OFFICIALS, ARCHAEOLOGISTS SET NEW RULES,”

http://www.nigerianbestforum.com/blog/looting-of-nigerias-antiquities-museum-officials-archaeologists-set-new-rules/#sthash.6kLkIuts.dpuf

Additional materials from Looted Heritage  https://heritage.crowdmap.com/

“German archaeologists refute allegations of #looting #Nok culture in #Nigeria”

http://t.co/dWlVK6oF

German archaeologists looting Nigerian archaeological sites, or rescuing them? | conflict antiquities

 March 19, 2012 at 11:57 am

The AAN has repeated its allegations of Frankfurt archaeologists #looting in #Nigeria; but it has provided no evidence | conflict antiquities

March 26, 2012 at 6:13 am

According to the Archaeological Association of Nigeria (AAN), I am ‘an attack dog for the Germans’; and ‘cheap’! | conflict antiquities

March 28, 2012 at 8:31 am

agreement between Archaeological Association of Nigeria, and Nigerian National Commission and Goethe University | conflict antiquities

April 2, 2012 at 6:01 am

stats on Conflict Antiquities’ first birthday | conflict antiquities

August 24, 2012 at 2:14 pm

@samarkeolog Twitter archive: illicit antiquities trade in West Africa – Mali and Nigeria | conflict antiquities

Led by the Nigerian Association of Archaeologists, Nigerian archaeologists accused the German team of archaeologists from the University of Frankfurt present in the Nok area since 2005 of stealing and transferring many Nok pieces to Germany. The Germans respond that the pieces were being transferred to Germany for study and tests which cannot be done in Nigeria. In this connection, one may recall the dispute about the bust of Nefertiti that was surreptitiously taken out of Egypt and sent by the German archaeologist, Ludwig Borchardt to Berlin in 1913. Since then there has been a long-lasting dispute between Germany and Egypt about the ownership of the bust now displayed in the Neues Museum in Berlin. One may also recall reports regarding Leo Frobenius in Nigeria and the disappearance of the Olokun head after the German ethnologist had seen it. The great Ekpo Eyo states “The original “Olokun” head described by Frobenius is now represented only by a copy; no one knows where the original is. It is not impossible that Frobenius could have arranged for its subsequent replacement with a copy.” Ekpo

Eyo, and Frank Willett, Treasures of Ancient Nigeria, p.11 William Collins.

See K.Opoku, “Ile-Ife Triumphs in the British Museum, London: Who said Nigerians are incapable of Looking after their Cultural Artefacts?”

http://www.modernghana.com

It may be useful to recall also is the controversy between Turkey and Germany over the Return of the Bogazkoy Sphinx 

http://www.unesco.org/new/en/culture/

 The Bogazkoy Sphinx, along with other artefacts discovered by German archaeologists, had been sent in 1917 to Germany for restoration work. All the artefacts were returned except the Sphinx which the Germans decided to keep in the Pergamon Museum, Berlin. It was only in 2011, after pressure by Turkey and UNESCO intervention for years that Germany agreed to return the object. There are certainly many other examples of cases where Western scholars have, under the pretext of studying, taken cultural artefacts from Africa, Asia and Latin America and never returned them or did so only reluctantly afters years of dispute. There are thus historical examples to suggest caution and vigilance in sending artefacts abroad for tests or study. See also K. Opoku, “Nefertiti in Absurdity: How often must Egyptians ask Germans for the Return of the Egyptian Queen?” http://www.modernghana.com

3. Red List– ICOM

4, Der Spiegel, “German Archaeologists Labor to Solve Mystery of the Nok” http://www.spiegel The article has also been reprinted in the Nigerian paper, Guardian, Tuesday, September 01, 2009“ German archaeologists revisit the mystery of Nok”,

 http://www.ngrguardiannews.com

5.

K. Opoku, “Did Germans Never hear Directly or Indirectly Nigeria’s Demand for Return of Looted Artefacts?”  http://www.modernghana.com

 

6. Extract from K. Opoku, “

Refusal of Intellectual Dialogue: Comments on an Interview with James Cuno.” http://www.modernghana.com

James Cuno, a vehement supporter of the partage system who has called for a return to that system, has some very interesting remarks onpartage in his book Who Owns Antiquity? (Princeton University Press, Princeton and Oxford, 2008.):

“The question then is: should the fate of the archaeological record – and of antiquities alienated from their archaeological context – remain under the jurisdiction of national governments? Is there an alternative? Yes. And it was once in place and encouraged the scientific excavation of the archaeological record and the preservation and sharing of ancient artifacts between local governments and international museums. It is called partage. Under that policy, foreign-led excavation teams provided the expertise and material means to lead excavations and in return were allowed to share the finds with the local government’s archaeological museum(s). That is how the collections of archaeological museums at the University of Chicago, the University of Pennsylvania, and Harvard and Yale Universities were built; as well as important parts of the collections of the British Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was also how the collections in archaeological museums in Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Turkey were built. Foreign museums underwrote and led scientific excavations from which both the international archaeological and local political communities benefited. While local tensions increased over time as nationalist aspirations took hold, partage served both communities well. It was only with the flood of nationalist retentionist cultural property laws in the second half of the twentieth century that partage all but disappeared. The collections of the university museums mentioned above now could not be built, and the directors and faculty curators of those museums, many of whom are the loudest proponents of national retentionist patrimony/cultural property laws, could not teach and research as they do now. Much of their work is dependent on a policy no longer legal in the countries with jurisdiction over the archaeological materials they study.” pxxxiii (Preface).

Cuno writes further as follows:

“For many decades in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, archaeological finds were shared between the excavating party and the local, host country through partage.

This is how the great Ghandaran collection got to the Musée Guimet in Paris (shared with Afghanistan), the Assyrian collection got to the British Museum in London (shared with Iraq, before the formation of the modern, independent government of Iraq), the Lydian materials from Sardis got to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (shared with the Ottoman Empire, now Turkey), the Egyptian collection got to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, a number of collections got to the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, and of course how the great collections were formed at the university archaeological museums, like the Peabody Museums at Harvard and Yale, the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, and the University Museum at the University of Pennsylvania. But this principle is no longer in practice. With the surge in nationalism in the middle decades of the twentieth century, it has become almost impossible to share the archaeological finds. All such finds belong to the host nation and are its property. Only the state can authorize the removal of an archaeological artifact to another country, and it almost never does. Even when one lends antiquities abroad, it is for severely restricted periods of time.” p.14

Further in his book Cuno writes:

“The history of archaeology in Iraq has always been closely linked to the cultural and political ambitions of its governing authorities. During the late Ottoman period, Iraqi archaeology was dominated by teams of Europeans and North American excavators working on pre-Islamic sites at Babylon, Khorsabad, and Nippur. They had been drawn to the area intent on confirming the historical existence of Biblical events and places and with the view that the ancient history of what they called Mesopotamia was in fact part of the West’s subsequent Graeco-Roman and Judeo-Christian history. The term Mesopotamia itself was a classical Greek term used by Westerners to mark the lands known locally since the advent of Islam as al-‘Iraq in the north and al-Jazira in the south. Its use by Orientalists has been interpreted politically as a “reconstructive act severing ‘Mesopotamia’ from any geographical terrain in order to weave it into the Western historical narrative”: Mesopotamia as a pre-Islamic source for Western culture; Iraq as an Islamic, geographically determined – and thus limited – construction.

Under the British Mandate, from 1921 to 1932, archaeology in Iraq was dominated by British teams – including the British Museum working with the University of Pennsylvania at Ur, the fabled home not only of Sumerian kings but also the Biblical Abraham – regulated by British authorities. The Oxford-educated, English woman Gertrude Bell, who had worked for the British Intelligence in the Arab Bureau in Cairo, was appointed honorary Director of Antiquities in Iraq by the British-installed King Faysal in 1922. A most able administrator, having served as the Oriental secretary to the High Commission in Iraq after the war, Bell was responsible for approving applications for archaeologists, and thus for determining where in Iraq excavators would work. She was also a major force behind the wording and passage of the 1924 law regulating excavations in Iraq, a result of which was the founding of the Iraq Museum and the legitimization of partage:

Article 22: At the close of excavations, the Director shall chose such objects from among those found as are in his opinion needed for scientific completeness of the Iraq Museum. After separating these objects, the Director will assign [to the excavator]… such objects as will reward him adequately aiming as far as possible at giving such a person a representative share of the whole result of excavations made by him.

Article 24: Any antiquities received by a person as his share of the proceeds of excavations under the preceding article may be exported by him and he shall be given an export permit free of charge in respect thereof”. (Cuno, pp. 54-55).

After reading these extracts from Cuno’s book, one wonders how he could even think of recommending such a system to African and Asian countries, Greece and Italy. By his own account, the system of partage was dominated by the British and the Americans who determined where excavated cultural objects should be. So why should those countries which have experienced this system want to return to it? He even urges Western archaeologists to boycott “source countries” that refuse to return to the partage system. This is very interesting. If the partage system were beneficial to both sides as Cuno tries to make it appear, why is it necessary to resort to threats of boycott to persuade those countries to continue with the old system? Surely, these countries must recognize where their interests lie. Cuno thinks one must threaten them to follow the path which is clearly in their interest.

NEWLY DISCOVERED NOK SCULPTURES EXHIBITED FOR THE FIST TIME, NOT IN NIGERIA BUT IN GERMANY.

October 27th, 2013

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

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October 22nd, 2013

Posted In: insider theft

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October 22nd, 2013

Posted In: De Kunsthal, diefstal uit museum, Kunsthal

Zimbabwe: How Stolen Artefacts Were Found

21 October 2013

On Tuesday June 6 2006 the National Gallery of Zimbabwe was hard hit when a thieving visitor of the Gallery made away with four Zimbabwean headrests/mutsago and two Makonde masks/ helmets.

According to one sales assistant at the Gallery Shop, on this day, a man came into the shop at around 10am asking to see antiques on sale. After the man had toured the shop, he asked to see genuine objects and was advised to buy an entrance ticket for access into the gallery.

He declined to leave his small satchel at the attendance desk were bags are placed, insisting that his valuables including money could not be left in public storage. He went up to the North Gallery which used to house traditional artefacts back then. When there was no attendant in sight, the gentleman realised an opportunity to shop around the displays, untie the four headrests that were fastened to the wall, removed two masks that were on display stands and packed the six objects into his bag.

After a short while, the sales attendant noticed the visitor walking briskly down the ramp from upstairs and was suspicious. The gallery had just received an alert form the local Museum of Human Sciences and had just held a brief talk on the matter.

The thief increased his speed as he passed the attendants’ desk on his way out and immediately the attendants were alerted to look into the exhibition hall to check. They found that some of the displays had been tampered with and also found vacant display plinths.

The chase was on. One of the senior security guards, an elderly man, Mr Mavhunga (who is now late), continued the search and at the intersection of Samora Machel Avenue and Leopold Takawira Street about half a kilometre from the gallery, he spotted the thief. He proceeded to ask for assistance to apprehend the thief from the public but the guard was, however, stopped and beaten by bystanders who suspected he intended to rob the man, while the thief took to his heels to get a taxi.

The security officer took another taxi to continue the chase but unfortunately the vehicle ran out of fuel. The security officer then reported the matter to the police. In the meantime at the Gallery, the staff had called the police and an additional police report was filed by Mr Mavhunga.

The Directive Director of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Mrs Doreen Sibanda, then got in contact with the National Museums and Monuments in Harare knowing fully well that they had experienced thefts of artefacts. She was then advised by then NMMZ Deputy Director, Traude Rodgers, to get in contact with Mr Ton Cremes, who is a well known art security consultant and who is the founder of the Museum Security Network. Mr Cremers immediately requested images of the stolen items to put up on his website.

After five months Mrs Sibanda received a call from Mr Cremers indicating that the items had been located on sale on the internet by a seller in Poland and that several agencies, including the FBI in the United States of America, were organising themselves to be able to trap the seller.

Most likely the thief left the African continent via South Africa and from Poland he offered the objects to an American collector

It is believed that at the beginning of November, an American collector of African antiquities contacted the Museums security network because someone had offered him objects that looked very similar to those published on their website. The collector,, Mr Rand, was advised by Mr Cremers to get in touch with his local police. Mr Cremers alarmed Robert Wittman (FBI in those days) in the USA.

It appeared that the stolen Zimbabwean objects were offered by a resident of Poland. According to this man, the objects originally belonged to his father who worked in Zimbabwe while it was still Rhodesia.

A sting operation led by Mr Wittman to recover the stolen objects was scheduled to take place in Poland in order to corner the thief. The agencies involved – FBI, CIA and the Polish police – performed a great job and managed not only to recover the stolen artifacts, but also arrested the person who offered these objects for sale. It turned out that this person himself had committed the theft in Harare.

In November 2007 the National Gallery of Zimbabwe was informed by the Ministry of Justice in Poland that the Public Prosecutor’s Office had concluded its preparatory proceedings and had submitted the indictment against Polish national Marian Przepiorski to the Regional Court in Warsaw, second Criminal Unit. He was subsequently tried and is currently serving a jail sentence for the offence.

The artefacts were released into the custody of the Zimbabwean Embassy in Germany. The National Gallery is extremely grateful for their readiness to keep and secure the works. The artefacts were then handed over to our Operations Manager Mr Silas Matope, who brought them back on October 3 after serving a professional internship in Germany.

Many thanks to Mrs Lilian Chaonwa who is the Collection and Conservation at the institution for taking the photographs that were used by MSN plus as evidence during the trial against Marian. It should be noted that during the period, in which the artefacts were collected, the National Gallery had not started on the image documentation process and she had only taken the images as group collection of the display.

Another key player in the recovery of the stolen artefacts is Robert King “Bob” Wittman, who is a highly decorated Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent. As a result of his specialised training in art, antiques, jewellery and gem identification, Wittman served as the FBI’s top investigator and co-ordinator in cases involving art theft and art fraud.

Wittman has recovered more than US$300 million worth of stolen art and cultural property, resulting in the prosecution and conviction of numerous individuals. Although he is now no longer with the FBI, he continues to use his expertise as an art security consultant for the private sector.

The Museum Security Network made the recovering of the stolen artefacts a reality for the National Gallery of Zimbabwe at a time when some would have believed it was impossible.

Since 1996, the Netherlands-based Museum Security Network has disseminated news and information related to issues of cultural property loss and recovery. Since its founding the Museum Security Network has collected and disseminated over 45,000 reports about incidents with cultural property. The founder of the Museum Security Network, Ton Cremers, is recipient of the National Conference on Cultural Property Protection Robert Burke Award.

In September 2006, the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe and the National Gallery of Zimbabwe engaged with a Museum Security Consultant from Netherlands and this was sponsored by the Netherlands Embassy in Zimbabwe. The main Workshop was held in Harare followed by regional ones for both institution’s regional Galleries and Museums.

It was during these workshops that several recommendations were made including that only displaying the artifacts when there are secure display cases.

Since this period, the National Gallery has since improved its security and has erected CCTV camera within its buildings.

A lesson learnt in this whole encounter is always to report cases of art theft to local police and come out publicly to alert and get assistance from professionals in the field. Police in foreign countries will never act if a theft has not been filled in the country of origin. The Zimbabwean-American-Netherlands-Polish network really worked. A success like this is only too rare.

allAfrica.com: Zimbabwe: How Stolen Artefacts Were Found.

October 22nd, 2013

Posted In: Mailing list reports

How stolen antiques were recovered

site-iconsundaymail.co.zw/index.php
Sunday, 20 October 2013 00:00

Leisure Reporter
When a smartly dressed Polish gentleman stole six antiques from the National Gallery of Zimbabwe (NGZ) in June 2006, the whole occurrence seemed like a Hollywood movie, hitting a dramatic climax when the artefacts were discovered six months later in Europe.The antiques comprised of four original traditional Zimbabwean head-rests, commonly known as “mutsago” and two Makonde masks from Tanzania.

The Makonde masks were acquired by the gallery in 1964 while mitsago were acquired between the period 1962 and 1970. During that time, these artefacts were priceless as they were part of a permanent collection that was kept in the northern section of the gallery.

Seven years down the line what still puzzles the minds of many is how it all happened, how the security was breached and, most importantly, how the antiques were recovered.

In a bid to unveil the whole mysterious story, The Sunday Mail Leisure last week visited the NGZ to gather more information on the treasured African ethnographic objects.

Conservation and collection manager of the gallery Lillian Chaonwa said the objects were stolen dramatically by a Polish man.

“The story surrounding these returned objects started in 2006 when we had a daylight robbery from a man who had come requesting to see our old artefacts,” said Chaonwa.

“We are not sure if this man was visiting for the first time or after a few visits, but, when he arrived he was directed to his destination by the receptionist who was on duty that day.”

She said the man had a small bag which he refused to leave at the reception insisting that it carried his important particulars, including money.

Dressed in casual, the man was a Caucasian with a bold head and when he entered the gallery he took less than 10 minutes inside before he got out acting as if he had been called for an emergency somewhere.

“When the culprit entered the gallery, his bag seemed to be small but, it was one of those bags that can be opened to any size,” explained the conservations and collection manager.

“Normally visitors to see a specific person from the gallery should sign in their details at the reception while those who intend to have a tour are given tickets, but there were no details of this man.

“What triggered our security is the way that this Caucasian left the gallery, he was in an overstated rush carrying a bag which was bigger than the one he had got in with.”

She said some of the objects were cut down from the display with a very sharp object which showed how organised the crime was.

Soon after passing the gallery’s exit door, the bold man started running like a crazy man. Following him was the gallery’s security man who had seen all the suspicious moves.

Chaonwa added: “It is unfortunate that in our society people have a perception that only black people steal from white people, so when our security man was almost getting hold of the thief, he tried to grab the bag but fell on the ground.

“People around him didn’t even bother helping him out as they thought he was the one trying to steal from the white man.”

By the time this old man got back on his feet to try and catch up with the Caucasian man, it was already too late as the culprit was already in a taxi.

Without losing hope the security man from the gallery also got into another taxi to chase after the foreigner. Unfortunately he failed to keep up because the taxi he was using to follow the culprit ran out of fuel.

On the same day, NGZ made a police report and alerted all immigration ports to assist in recovering the stolen objects.

Chaonwa said nothing was tracked on the day until six months down the line when the gallery approached the Netherlands Museum security consultant, Ton Cremers, in mid-September.

“The deputy executive director of the national museum and monuments during that time was Traude Rodges and she referred us to Ton,” narrated Chaonwa.

She said the investigations were collaborations of forces at international level.“Ton has an organisation called the Museum Security Network and he was so connected with a lot of people including the FBI and CIA who assisted in the investigations,” said Chaonwa“We sent him the few pictures of the stolen objects, as well as the description and every necessary detail for the primary investigations.”

A few weeks after the gallery approached Ton, it was established that the Polish criminal was actually selling the most valued African artefacts on the Internet.

The revelations came after a faithful American artefact collector who intended to buy these objects genuinely became suspicious.

On the market, the objects were being sold for an average of US$15 000 each.The American man realised that the description of the crafts he intended to buy were similar to those that were stolen from Zimbabwe after consulting his agents before purchasing.

“Ton linked up with the American collector who also participated in the investigations as he kept on asking for pictures from the Polish to use as evidence,” Chaonwa said.

“The conversations were shown to the FBI and Robert Wittman was handling the case from FBI.“Each time we needed updating, we would communicate with Robert and Ton through teleconference and the use of such advanced technology made it easier for us to constantly communicate.”

She said the gallery was informed that the Polish criminal was sentenced in his country soon after he was exposed.

However, the name of the criminal and the American buyer were made a secret as they were never mentioned in the investigations or emails to the gallery from Ton.

The artefacts were taken to the Embassy of Zimbabwe in Germany because in Poland there is no diplomatic presence.

In Germany, the antiques were kept safe for some years before a representative from the gallery went to collect the valued objects.

Silas Matope had gone to Germany for an internship programme and he went to collect the objects from the embassy this year and returned on October 3.

The director of the Culture Fund, Farai Mufunya, has urged all museums, galleries and other places that keep traditional and cultural valued artefacts to tighten their security.

“Our traditional artefacts, music and dances define who we are, where we came from and represent our unique heritage that tells a story on our civilisation,” said Mufunya.

“If we lose such objects, we have lost our unique identity as well and our identity plays a major role in the world’s history.

“Our heritage should be passed on to future generations to help them understand where we came from; therefore they should be kept in safe places where there is tight security.”

 

October 21st, 2013

Posted In: Mailing list reports

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October 21st, 2013

Posted In: fakes and forgeries

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October 18th, 2013

Posted In: De Kunsthal, diefstal uit museum, Kunsthal

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October 18th, 2013

Posted In: De Kunsthal, diefstal uit museum, Museum thefts

Fraudulent art at Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach, 17 October 2013, Art Media Agency (AMA).

In Laguna Beach, California, two gallerists have been arrested for the sale of false artworks. The police have declared that the two men are suspected of having sold fake works of Damien Hirst, both online and at auction.

The men are accused of identity theft, conspiracy and fraud. They have been detained in Orange County Jail pending their extradition to New York, where the enquiry began.

According to police, most of the victims, including numerous non-Americas, bought the fakes on eBay or at auction in the United States. Investigators in Manhattan have conducted a search of the JazzArtz gallery, which the two men co-own. Detectives have come across other fake Hirsts, along with the Tools thought to have been used for their production. This is the second time that one of the men has been engaged in a fraud case, having formerly been arrested on the same charges in 2008.

Fraudulent art at Laguna Beach « AMA.

October 18th, 2013

Posted In: fakes and forgeries

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October 17th, 2013

Posted In: insider theft

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October 16th, 2013

Posted In: Tom Flynn

The Parthenon Marbles: A European Concern

Tom Flynn

Paper delivered by Tom Flynn at the Round Table at the European Parliament 
in Brussels on 15 October 2013
Ladies and gentlemen, colleagues, distinguished members of the European Parliament. Let me begin by thanking Professor Sidjanski for the kind invitation to contribute to today’s Round Table. It is a pleasure and an honour to be with you in Brussels. 
What can we say about the case for reunifying the Parthenon Marbles that has not been said a thousand times before? What more can we add to the numerous persuasive arguments already made for reuniting the dismembered components of Phidias’s finest achievement? How many more times must we convene to reiterate the importance of restoring coherence to a work of art whose desecration at the hands of Lord Elgin damaged one of Greece’s greatest gifts to the world?
The answer to these questions is that there will always be more to say about the case for reunifying the Marbles. There will always be new and ever more compelling arguments for reuniting them in Athens. And until that happens our generation and future generations will continue to convene and will go on reminding the British Museum of its moral duty to restore to these objects the dignity that Lord Elgin so rudely snubbed. The story the Marbles tell is of a cultural moment that is a precious and irreplaceable part of our birthright as Europeans and the bedrock of our democratic ideals. That story loses much of its narrative charge while its components remain dispersed across different locations.
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via tomflynn: The Parthenon Marbles: A European Concern.

October 16th, 2013

Posted In: Tom Flynn

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October 15th, 2013

Posted In: fakes and forgeries

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October 14th, 2013

Posted In: African Affairs

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October 14th, 2013

Posted In: fakes and forgeries

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October 9th, 2013

Posted In: fakes and forgeries

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October 9th, 2013

Posted In: fakes and forgeries

Duitse vandaal Rijksmuseum door rechter vrijgesproken

De 22-jarige Duitse toerist die in juli werd aangehouden op verdenking van het vernielen van een zeventiende eeuws rustbed in het Rijksmuseum, is vrijgesproken.

Het is niet bewezen dat de schade aan het waardevolle museumstuk is veroorzaakt door toedoen van de jongen, oordeelt de Amsterdamse rechtbank dinsdag. De jongen ging bij zijn bezoek aan het museum ‘voor de grap’ op het bed liggen.

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De jongen, die in de buurt van het Rijksmuseum stond, is na die constatering aangehouden. Twee dagen zat hij vast in een Nederlandse cel, om vervolgens terug te mogen keren naar zijn thuisland.

lees hele artikel op:

Elsevier.nl – Duitse vandaal Rijksmuseum door rechter vrijgesproken.

October 9th, 2013

Posted In: Uncategorized

Duitse vandaal Rijksmuseum door rechter vrijgesproken

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De 22-jarige Duitse toerist die in juli werd aangehouden op verdenking van het vernielen van een zeventiende eeuws rustbed in het Rijksmuseum, is vrijgesproken.

Het is niet bewezen dat de schade aan het waardevolle museumstuk is veroorzaakt door toedoen van de jongen, oordeelt de Amsterdamse rechtbank dinsdag. De jongen ging bij zijn bezoek aan het museum ‘voor de grap’ op het bed liggen.

Geldboete

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Het Openbaar Ministerie had twee weken geleden een geldboete van 1.250 euro geëist, omdat volgens de officier van justitie een ‘duidelijk signaal moest worden afgegeven’ dat dergelijk gedrag ‘onaangepast en onacceptabel was’.

Hij was opzettelijk heel voorzichtig te werk gegaan, zo zegt de jongen. ‘Ik deed nog speciaal mijn slippers uit, voordat ik ging liggen.

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De jongen, die in de buurt van het Rijksmuseum stond, is na die constatering aangehouden. Twee dagen zat hij vast in een Nederlandse cel, om vervolgens terug te mogen keren naar zijn thuisland.

 

lees hele artikel: Elsevier.nl – Duitse vandaal Rijksmuseum door rechter vrijgesproken.

October 9th, 2013

Posted In: Mailing list reports

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October 4th, 2013

Posted In: Museum thefts

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October 3rd, 2013

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October 3rd, 2013

Posted In: fakes and forgeries

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October 3rd, 2013

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October 2nd, 2013

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October 1st, 2013

Posted In: insider theft