All posts tagged: restitution

The complex issue of looted Chinese art restitution

The complex issue of looted Chinese art restitution

[ad_1] Historical engraving, produced in 1865, depicting the Summer Palace in Beijing. IMAGE BROKER/ HEMIS.FR The show is performed each evening in front of an audience of 1,000, in the heart of the Gobi Desert. For over 20 years, in the Thousand Buddha Caves of Dunhuang, a Chinese heritage site comprising over 400 cave temples and chapels carved out of the rock between the 4th and 14th centuries, a play has been staged to depict the “plundering” of its treasures, with local actors dressed as Westerners. At the beginning of the 20th century, under the declining Qing dynasty, the virtually abandoned site of Dunhuang attracted the interest of Western archaeologists and explorers, as it was rumored to contain a wealth of treasures. It was against this backdrop that sinologist Paul Pelliot (1878-1945), a member of the Ecole Française d’Extrême-Orient, acquired some 10,000 manuscripts, paintings and prints for virtually nothing. He deposited his gains on his return to France at the Musée Guimet and the Bibliothèque Nationale, where they remain to this day. As a small …

Italian government Bans MIA Loans Over Ancient Sculpture Dispute

Italian government Bans MIA Loans Over Ancient Sculpture Dispute

[ad_1] The Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA) has become musea non grata to the Italian government after a years-long dispute over a Pentelic marble copy of a lost bronze by the ancient Greek sculptor Polykleitos depicting “the spear-bearer” Doryphoros, The Art Newspaper reported Friday. The over-six-foot-tall sculpture is currently at the MIA, but Italy claims it was looted in the 1970s from the archaeological site at Stabiae and, in February 2022, it requested that the Doryphoros be returned. Nunzio Fragliasso, the chief prosecutor at the court of Torre Annunziata said at a press conference in Pompeii in February of this year said that request has gone unanswered.  Related Articles The MIA, which bought the Doryphoros in 1986 for $2.5 million, says that the statue was found in international waters near the Italian coast, which means that Italy has no claim on the work. As a result of the feud, the Italian culture ministry’s director of museums, Massimo Osanna, banned state museums from loaning works to the MIA. The order followed a request from the MIA to borrow …

Sotheby’s Ordered to Reveal Consignor and Buyer of Tiepolo Painting

Sotheby’s Ordered to Reveal Consignor and Buyer of Tiepolo Painting

[ad_1] A New York State Supreme Court judge ruled that Sotheby’s must reveal both the consigner and the buyer of a Giovanni Battista Tiepolo painting purchased in 2019 that may become subject to a restitution claim, according to the New York Times. Three heirs of a Jewish art dealer named Otto Fröhlich say the painting, St. Francis of Paola Holding a Rosary, Book, and Staff, was lost during the Holocaust when Fröhlich fled Austria to escape the Nazis in 1938. The heirs need the names of the buyer and the seller to pursue the claim, according to the suit.  Related Articles Experts told the Times that while courts have in the past directed an auction house to reveal one of the two parties involved in a sale, it’s rare for both names to be revealed. “This case certainly establishes clear precedent that where heirs provide support for their claims of restitution, auction houses will be required to disclose the names and contact information of the buyers and sellers of the claimed looted art and cannot hide behind confidentiality policies …

Three Disputed Rubens Paintings to Remain at the Courtauld Institute

Three Disputed Rubens Paintings to Remain at the Courtauld Institute

[ad_1] A trio of paintings by Peter Paul Rubens will remain with their current owner, the Courtauld Gallery in London, the UK Parliament’s spoliation advisory panel ruled. The works in question are St Gregory the Great with Ss Maurus and Papianus and St. Domitilla with Ss Nereus and Achilleus (1606–07); The Conversion of St. Paul (1610–12); and The Bounty of James 1 Triumphing Over Avarice, for the ceiling in the Banqueting House, Whitehall (ca. 1632). The spoliation advisory panel, which determines the rightful ownership of contested artworks, rejected three separate claims for the Rubins works. Among those fighting for the works was Christine Koenigs, the granddaughter of German banker and collector Franz Wilhelm Koenigs. Related Articles Published on March 18, the spoliation advisory panel report outlines the provenance of the works, which once belonged to a notable collection of drawings and paintings amassed by Koenigs. In 1932, Koenigs transferred the bulk of his collection to Lisser & Rosenkranz bank in Hamburg for a loan. Three years later, he transferred 47 paintings, among them the three Rubens pieces, to …

Lack of Progress From Many Countries on Nazi-Looted Art: Report

Lack of Progress From Many Countries on Nazi-Looted Art: Report

[ad_1] Most countries have made little to no progress on the restitution of art and cultural property looted during the Holocaust, according to a recently released report. “Holocaust-Era Looted Cultural Property: A Current Worldwide Overview” found that while seven countries have made “major progress” in returning items to their owner, 24 countries from among the 47 surveyed have not done sufficient historical research, provenance research, instituted a claims process, or “made a substantial number of restitutions.” The report also notes that while there has been progress with restitutions from public collections, items in private collections should be a key area of attention going forward. Related Articles The report was unveiled by the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Material Claims) during an event at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC on March 5. The event was organized and presented by WJRO and the US State Department during the 25th anniversary of the Washington Principles. The Washington Principles are eleven non-binding principles that representatives of 44 …

‘Priceless’ Artifacts Returned to Nepal from Belgian Collector

‘Priceless’ Artifacts Returned to Nepal from Belgian Collector

[ad_1] Art Recovery International (ARI), a research firm that facilitates the restitution of artworks, has orchestrated the return of two Nepalese cultural artifacts to the country’s officials. The two objects, according to the company’s founder, attorney Chris Marinello, were returned voluntarily from a private Belgian collector. The individual, whose identity was kept confidential as part of the exchange, had held the objects since the 1990s. In a repatriation ceremony that took place on Friday, Gahendra Rajbhandari, ambassador of Nepal to Belgium, received the artifacts: an 11th-century illuminated wooden manuscript cover of Shivadharmottara-shastram and a 12th-century carved wooden Shalabhanjika Yakshi strut. The former was said to have been lost from the National Archives of Nepal; the strut, a roof fixture traditionally used in Nepalese shrines, came from a temple in Itumbaha, a village in Nepal’s Kathmandu Valley. Related Articles Marinello declined to provide the estimated value of the artifacts in an inquiry from ARTnews, saying that according to Nepalese experts with whom he worked on the exchange, they are “priceless.” Cultural advocacy groups such as the …

Court Rules Art Institute of Chicago Is ‘Good Faith Possessor’ of Disputed Egon Schiele Work

Court Rules Art Institute of Chicago Is ‘Good Faith Possessor’ of Disputed Egon Schiele Work

[ad_1] The Art Institute of Chicago has secured a temporary legal win in an extensive dispute with the heirs of Fritz Grünbaum, an Austrian Jewish art collector who was disenfranchised during World War II. In a decision filed on February 28, Judge John G. Koeltl sided with the museum, enabling it to continue to hold Egon Schiele’s painting Russian War Prisoner (1916) in its collection. The judge dismissed a motion the collector’s relatives had filed, asking the court to reconsider a claim from the fall that halted their attempt to get the painting restituted. Related Articles The Art Institute of Chicago previously litigated the claim in a federal court, where a judge ruled in its favor in November 2023. Grünbaum’s descendants, Timothy Reif, David Fraenkel, and Milos Vavra, have tried to recover the work, a portrait of a seated male soldier, alleging that it was illegally acquired and inventoried by Nazi officials after Grünbaum was forced to relinquish his assets and later imprisoned. According to court documents reviewed by ARTnews, Koeltl denied suggestions that the …

Auctioneer Withdraws Looted 19th Century Maqdala Shield From Sale

Auctioneer Withdraws Looted 19th Century Maqdala Shield From Sale

[ad_1] An Ethiopian shield that was looted during a battle involving British forces in 1868 was withdrawn from an auction Thursday after an Ethiopian heritage official formally requested its return from the UK. The 19th century domed, decorated shield was Lot 903 in Anderson & Garland’s sale “The Collector’s Auction”, scheduled to take place Thursday morning at its head office in the English city of Newcastle. The metal and animal hide artifact had been inscribed with the location and date of the conflict “Magdala 13th April 1868”, (now known as Maqdala) and given a modest price estimate of £800-£1,200. Related Articles News of the sale’s cancellation was first reported by The Art Newspaper. The shield was part of large trove of royal, religious, and military artifacts that were looted after British forces seized a compound of the Coptic Christian Emperor Tewodros II, in what was then known as Abyssinia. Sites in the northern village where Tewodros was based were looted by released British hostages and British forces, and the objects were taken back to the …

Authorities Seek Return of Egon Schiele at Art Institute of Chicago

Authorities Seek Return of Egon Schiele at Art Institute of Chicago

[ad_1] New York authorities issued an official order last week to seize a work by Egon Schiele from the Art Institute of Chicago. Officials of Manhattan’s antiquities trafficking unit are investigating the circumstances around the work’s acquisition to the museum and its sale history as part of a broader legal inquiry into Nazi looted art, and now claim the work was stolen. The order for the return of Schiele’s Russian War Prisoner (1916), is the latest in a string of disputes carried out by the heirs of the Austrian Jewish collector and cabaret performer Fritz Grunbaum. His surviving relatives are seeking to recover 80 works dispersed from Grunbaum’s collection before he was imprisoned in 1938 and forced to relinquish his assets to Third Reich officials. He died in the Dachau concentration camp in 1941. Related Articles Various works from the collection, which included 81 Schieles, circulated among art dealers and entered museum collections in Europe after his death. Recorded sales of the works after the collector’s death date back to 1956, when a Swiss art …

Mexico’s ‘My Heritage Is Not for Sale’ Effort Hides a Troubling Reality

Mexico’s ‘My Heritage Is Not for Sale’ Effort Hides a Troubling Reality

[ad_1] Early last year, after experts from Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) discovered that 70 allegedly Mexican pre-Columbian artifacts were for sale on the online marketplace AuctionNinja, the country’s minister of culture took to X. Alejandra Frausto Guerrero, head of the Secretariat of Culture of the Mexican Government, wrote simply “we oppose the sale of Mexico’s cultural heritage.” In the following days, INAH and Frausto Guerrero’s office continued to condemn the auction in press statements, and filed complaints with the Mexico City Attorney General’s Office and Interpol, while the story circulated in Spanish-language news outlets. Frausto Guerrero also sent a letter to the platform demanding the auction be pulled down. Related Articles The auction nevertheless proceeded as scheduled, and all the pieces apparently sold, with AuctionNinja telling ARTnews it had no knowledge of the Mexican government’s claims. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s administration launched an ambitious campaign to reclaim lost or stolen Mexican cultural and historic goods shortly after he entered office in 2018, and Frausto Guerrero’s effort was just the …