Museum Security Network

Kwame Opoku – REFLECTIONS ON THE ABORTIVE QUEEN-MOTHER IDIA MASK AUCTION: TACTICAL WITHDRAWAL OR DECISION OF PRINCIPLE?

“The men and women of these countries have the right to recover these
cultural assets which are part of their being”. (Amadou-Mahtar M’Bow,
Former Director-General of UNESCO).

read full text and view images at:
http://www.museum-security.org/opoku_idia_mask_sale_cancellation.htm

The cancellation notice of the auction of Queen-Mother Idia mask on 4
December by Sotheby’s could not have been shorter:

“The Benin Ivory Pendant Mask and other items consigned by the
descendants of Lionel Galway which Sotheby’s had announced for auction
in February 2011 have been withdrawn from sale at the request of the
consignors”.

This short notice is a great contrast to the enthusiastic announcement
of the proposed auction where the excellent artistry of the hip mask
was underlined. “All of the ivory masks are widely recognized for the
quality of their craftsmanship, for the enormous scale of Benin’s
artistic achievement and for their importance in the field of African
art “.

But what more does the cancellation tell us? Very little except that
the proposed auction will not take place as announced. Will the
auction take place sometime in the future and somewhere else other
than at Sotheby’s? Will the mask be silently passed on to one of the
so-called “universal museums” without our knowing?

read full text and view images at:
http://www.museum-security.org/opoku_idia_mask_sale_cancellation.htm

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