More coverage of the return (on loan) of the Mold Cape, planned to take place later this year. This is not the first tie that the cape has been returned on loan – a previous exhibition of it in Wrexham took place in 2005.
23 February 2013 Last updated at 11:07
Mold gold cape to be displayed in Cardiff and Wrexham museums
A unique ceremonial Bronze Age gold cape which was discovered in Flintshire 180 years ago is to go on display in Cardiff and Wrexham this summer.
The Mold Gold Cape, thought to have been a woman’s, will be loaned first to the National Museum in Cardiff in July.
Afterwards the cape, which was made about 3,700 years ago, will move to the Wrexham County Borough museum.
The British Museum, which houses the cape in its collections, says it shows the sophistication of early societies.
Neil MacGregor, the museum’s director, said: “We are delighted that this exceptional object of national and international significance will be displayed in Cardiff and Wrexham.
“Through research on rare objects like the Mold Gold Cape, in recent years we have come to see British prehistoric societies very differently.
He said such precious objects showed that societies in Britain must have been “extremely sophisticated, both in skill and their social structure.
“They were not isolated but part of a larger European trade network, a web of trade and exchange from north Wales to Scandinavia.”
The Mold cape was last displayed in the Cardiff museum in 1996 and 2001.
David Anderson, director general of National Museum Wales, said they were delighted that the priceless masterpiece from north east Wales will soon be on display again in Cardiff.
Mr Anderson said the visit was a wonderful opportunity for local people and visitors to learn more about their heritage and early past.
“The Mold cape is of great importance, in both local and national contexts and is also of international significance to our understanding of cultural expression and power relations in Early Bronze Age Europe, reflected both in life and in death.”
Neil Rogers, leader of Wrexham council, said the last time the Mold Cape visited the town’s museum in 2005 it attracted 11,500 visitors in just 12 weeks.
“That fact more than any other illustrates the huge level of interest amongst the local public for both archaeology and our shared prehistoric heritage.
“So I am naturally excited at the prospect of the cape’s return to the town,” he added.
The cape will be shown at National Museum Cardiff from 2 July to 4 August and at Wrexham museum from 7 August to 14 September, 2013.
Do the Londoners upset about the missing Banksy consider how Greece feels about the Parthenon Marbles?
The story of the Banksy artwork that disappeared from a wall in London has reached some sort of conclusion, with the news that the auction is no cancelled. It is great to see people getting so enthusiastic about preserving local artwork, but do the people whose protests stopped this auction ever consider how the original owners of many of the disputed artefacts in Britain’s museums feel?
If we consider the circumstances, the missing Banksy is a very weak case – there is nothng to indicate that it was not the owner of the wall who was selling it. Or that he had a right to do whatever he wanted to with this wall.
In term of the artwork, it could be argued that it was site specific – but only to the extent that Banksy had chosen that wall for it. realistically, it could have been applied equally well in many other locations. Furthermore, consider the duration that the artwork existed in this location for – only a matter of months. If this is contrasted to the Parthenon Marbles, they were located in-situ for over two millenia, and were designed specifically with that location in mind – to the extent that they formed an integral part of the building that they were on – they could not be removed without destroying parts of the building.
Stopping this auction & enriching the streets of the borough of Haringey might be a good cause – but the people supporting it really ought to think about the many far more important cases that Britain’s museums try & brush off as unimportant.
Interestingly, a new artwork has already appeared on the wall that the Banksy has been removed from – so restoring it is not possible without destroying another piece of art…
Banksy mural: I’m being scapegoated, says Miami art dealer
Richard Luscombe in Miami
Friday 22 February 2013 15.47 GMT
The owner of a Florida art house handling the controversial auction of a Banksy mural prised from a north London wall has spoken out to claim he is being unfairly scapegoated, and insists the sale is legal and will take place.
Slave Labour, a spray painting depicting a barefooted boy making Union Jack bunting in a sewing machine, by the celebrated street artist Banksy, was removed from the wall of a Poundland shop in north London last week under mysterious circumstances. As local authorities, residents and the shop’s owner have denied all knowledge, protests from UK authorities have turned to the Miami auctioneer.
Frederic Thut said that his Fine Art Auctions Miami gallery has been inundated with abusive phone calls and emails from the UK since it was revealed this week that the artwork was set to go under the hammer Saturday for up to $700,000.
But Mr Thut, a 35-year veteran of art auctions who has handled tens of millions of dollars’ worth of work from artists including Matisse, Monet, Picasso, Renoir and Warhol, says the anger of those protesting against the sale is misplaced.
“It’s been said that the artwork was stolen, and that is just not true,” he told the Guardian.
“We take a lot of care with our consignors, who they are, what they do, and if there’s any illegality we will not touch it. Everything is checked out 150%.”
Protests from London have focused on the anonymity of the seller and the covert removal of the 4x5ft slab, which literally disappeared from the wall, infuriating residents who described it as a gift to the local area.
On Friday, Scotland Yard confirmed that it had received an enquiry from US authorities regarding the artwork. “We have advised the US authorities that there are no reports of theft at this time,” said a spokesman for the Metropolitan police.
Mr Thut confirmed only that the anonymous seller is a “well-known collector” who is not British. But he said that the owner’s prime motive for the sale was to conserve artwork that might otherwise be lost, and that the buyer would be supplied with a letter of provenance.
“Our consignors are not gamblers or money-makers. They are people whose first interest is in art and its preservation,” he said.
“We respect our clients and their confidentiality. It’s not our decision to have [the Banksy] returned. We only sell it. We do not have control of it.”
Thut, however, said that he supported the inclusion of the piece, and a second Banksy entitled Wet Dog, a 2007 artwork removed from the West Bank of Bethlehem and estimated in value between $600,000 and $800,000, in Saturday’s 118-lot Modern, Contemporary and Street Art sale.
“It’s about conservation: here’s a piece of art, [and] we are going to protect it,” he said. “It could have been destroyed. When you try to make an event with a speciality you want the best lots, and Banksy is a part of the street art scene.”
Politicians have joined the fight to prevent the sale. Local council leader Claire Kober, the leader of Haringey council, escalated the fight to have the Banksy returned to London by writing to the Miami mayor, Tomas Regalado, and appealing to him to halt the sale.
In the letter she described the artwork, which appeared just before the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee last year, and was interpreted as an attack on the celebrations, as “a landmark that people have come from all over London, the UK and the world to see”.
Although Thut is certain that there are no legal obstacles to the sale, he fears that the furore might have damaged the reputation of his company, which moved into Miami’s trendy Wynwood arts district two years ago and has been steadily carving a niche as one of the city’s leading arts auctioneers.
“It’s sad, because the majority of comments we have had are uneducated and people don’t understand,” he said. “We have a thick skin, but this is not the kind of publicity that we were looking for, and we’re really not too keen for this. It may be that this affects our reputation, and that’s not fair.”
Until this week’s Banksy controversy, the Miami company, founded by Thut in September 2011 in partnership with his long-established New York-based appraisal business, was largely unknown outside of fine arts circles. It has a staff of seven scattered between Miami, New York and Paris and deals mainly with European clients.
But it scored a significant success in December at an auction during the city’s Art Basel fair when it sold a 1910 Valentin Serov portrait, which was expected to reach $150,000, for $4.7mn, a world record for a Russian painting.
Thut, a Swiss-born art enthusiast and former dealer who was one of the pioneers of online art auction rooms, accepts he will probably now be better known for this episode, which he insists is not of his making.
Meanwhile, Banksy, the reclusive artist who has in the past criticised the efforts of those who have tried to sell his works, has made no comment about the Miami sale, either personally or through his “handling service” Pest Control.
Marc Schiller, founder of the street art website woostercollective.com and who claims to be a friend of Banksy, told the Guardian that the work was worthless in an art auction because it was only ever intended as a piece of location-specific social commentary.
“I’m not buying the argument that because Banksy put a piece in public it gives a person the right to steal and resell it,” he said. “When he is on the street he is giving his work to the public to enjoy for a day, a month, a year or more. His position has been that if you take his work out of its context it’s not his work any more, it’s no longer a Banksy.”
“Sotheby’s and Christie’s would not touch it, and the only way you can sell it is through shady circumstances, by keeping yourself anonymous and never telling how you got it, how it came to be.”
He added that he doubted the auction would be successful. “The truth is that it’s worthless, and even if somebody buys it for whatever price, their only opportunity is to look at it from the perspective that it was acquired by theft,” he said.
“No legitimate collector would buy it. My argument is not that the sale shouldn’t happen; it’s that there shouldn’t be a market for it.”
24 February 2013 Last updated at 04:44
Banksy artwork taken in north London withdrawn from sale
A Banksy artwork which was taken from a London street and had been listed for auction in the US has been withdrawn from sale, the BBC has learned.
The Banksy mural, depicting a boy hunched over a sewing machine making Union Jack bunting, disappeared from Whymark Avenue earlier this month.
It had been expected to be auctioned in Miami later but the auction house told the BBC the sale was halted.
A new mural had appeared on the street wall where the image was removed.
Slave Labour – the mural that was removed – appeared on the wall in Wood Green, north London, last May, shortly before the celebrations to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
It disappeared from the side of the Poundland store last weekend and had been expected to fetch up to £450,000 at auction in Miami.
Fine Art Auctions Miami (FAAM) confirmed to the BBC that the Banksy mural had been withdrawn from sale.
However, a spokesman gave no reason for its withdrawal.
“Although there are no legal issues whatsoever regarding the sale of lots six and seven by Banksy, FAAM convinced its consignors to withdraw these lots from the auction and take back the power of authority of these works,” he said.
‘Affection’ and ‘disappointment’
Earlier, Haringey Council said it had learned that the sale was stopped at the last minute.
Haringey Council Leader Claire Kober said it was “a true credit to the community” that their campaigning seemed to have “helped to stop the sale of this artwork from going ahead”.
“We will continue to explore all options to bring back Banksy to the community where it belongs,” she said.
It appeared that a starting bid of $400,000 (£262,450) had been made before the auction of the artwork was halted.
The new mural that appeared on the north London wall depicts a woman in a nun’s habit, but it is not known if it is by Banksy.
BBC Oxford producer Andy Gordon was visiting relatives on Saturday when he snapped the newest addition to Whymark Avenue in Haringey.
“We thought we were just going along to see the gap in the wall and were surprised to see something else had appeared.
“There was obviously a lot of affection for it in Wood Green and a lot of people were very disappointed when their Banksy disappeared.”
He said the new mural had appeared in exactly the same spot as the Banksy artwork.
Local councillor Alan Strickland said residents had been left “really shocked and really astonished” at the disappearance of the mural of the boy.
“Banksy gave that piece of art to our community, and people came from all over London to see it,” he said.
Banksy’s work has been at the centre of a number of thefts over the years.
In May 2010, two pieces were stolen from a gallery in London, after a man used a road sign to smash a glass window at the front of the building.
A year later, a piece known as Sperm Alarm was ripped off the wall of a hotel in Central London, and appeared on eBay for £17,000. It was never recovered.
David Cameron’s point of view on the return of the Koh-i-noor diamond has had a lot of coverage in recent days. In many ways, the view that he gives is very similar to the line taken by the British Museum on items such as Parthenon Marbles & the Benin Bronzes – that the British are ideally placed to display these artefacts as part of collections from all corners of the globe, where they can be seen by many people. This reasoning always reeks of imperialism to me however – it is an entirely self-appointed role – the artefacts weren’t generally taken with this purpose in mind originally & giving the great museums of the world this role was never something decided by the original owners of the artefacts either. Surely, if the aim is for these works to be seen by as many people as possible, then India would be an ideal location anyway. England may once have been at the centre of the world, but with the rise of the Middle East, South East Asia & China, India is ideally placed to be a hub linking these regions. There is little in reality to link the Koh-i-noor to England, although it should be remembered that is an object that has always moved from place to place. No doubt, one day it will move on, beyond England’s borders, but where it ends up at that stage, is ass yet unknown.
Daily Star (Bangladesh)
Sunday, February 24, 2013
Who owns history, Mr. Cameron?
Last Week, British Prime Minister David Cameron, during his official visit to India, made a disconcerting statement in Amritsar. He said his country would not return the 105 karat Kohinoor diamond, one of the largest in the world, which was taken in 1850 from South Asia as a “gift” to the British monarch Queen Victoria. He reiterated that the “diamond in the Royal Crown is ours.” “I do not believe in returnism, as it were. I don’t think it is sensible. The right answer is that the British Museum and other cultural institutions around the world should make sure that the things which we have and look after so well are properly shared with people around the world,” he said.
The history of the Kohinoor diamond is a fascinating one. It was mined in the thirteenth century in Andhra Pradesh, and was initially in possession of King Prataparudra in that region. Kohinoor stayed with the Mughals for a long time. Emperor Shahjahan affixed it on his Peacock Throne to add glamour to the piece. The Kohinoor fell into difficult times when it was seized by Persian King Nadir Shah when he attacked Delhi.
But Nadir Shah himself was soon deposed from his throne. So Durrani carried it with him to Lahore where, in return for the stone, he got help from Ranjit Singh, the king of Punjab, to get back his kingdom. Soon after, the British came to Punjab and raised their flag on the citadel of Lahore. According to the terms of the Treaty of Lahore Ranjit was asked to surrender the Kohinoor to the British. In fact, the Maharaja of the Punjab was asked to “gift” it to the Queen of England. Kohinoor is said to be priceless. But according to an assessment made by the Royal family it is worth $20 billion.
The question that begs an answer is, with the dissolution of the British Empire in South Asia can the British queen keep this stone since it was acquired under false pretence? It is only logical that it should have been gracefully returned by Her Majesty to the place of origin. India has already requested for the return of the diamond, but neither the queen nor her successive governments have responded positively so far.
The British have always been hypocritical when the sensitive matter of return of art and other treasures forcibly taken during conflict was mooted. First, during the Napoleonic wars, France had plundered many art pieces from Italy. The French justified the “large scale and systematic looting of Italy by seeing themselves as the political successors of Rome.” The French forces also proffered the opinion that their sophisticated artistic tastes would allow them to appreciate the plundered art. Britain, which was the victor in the Napoleonic wars did not subscribe to this view. So when the Duke of Wellington finally defeated Napoleon in 1815 he took steps to repatriate art plundered by the French.
Second, during the Second World War, Germany appropriated art from public and private collections throughout Europe and Russia. It plundered 427 museums and destroyed 1,670 orthodox churches in Russia alone. Elsewhere in Europe, Germany raided 237 Catholic churches and 532 synagogues. So at the end of the Second World War, the British, as one of the Allies, immediately went to work to return treasures taken by the Germans.
A working party chaired by Nicholas Serota, head of the British Tate Museum, laboured to help museums look through their collections for materials that dated to those events. An international Convention was crafted in the Hague in 1954, which was the first step taken to return art stolen by the Germans in the 2nd World War.
In spite of all the laudable steps, the British were reluctant to act when it was their turn to return valuable objects taken when they were the colonisers. Besides the Kohinoor diamond, the British have in their inventory the exquisite Elgin marbles from Greece, the Rossetta stone from Egypt and many more. In fact, there are also several valuable pieces of artifacts from Bangladesh which are housed in the South Asia section of the British Museum. These items are the heritage of our people. But they are unable to access them because of the prohibitive cost of travel to London to see them.
Britain’s argument, which Mr. Cameron is parroting, is: treasures should be accessible to greatest number of people, which means retaining them in the great museums of the world, like the British Museum. Another argument is that “history is history and modern museums should not be punished for past sins.” Again, it is sometimes legitimate for countries like Britain to remove artifacts in order to preserve or save them. The Kohinoor and other valuable items need to remain with them for all these good reasons.
But Mr. Cameron should also consider other cogent points. First, display of the Kohinoor in the crown of a British monarch is an anachronism. This is based on a false notion that only western minds can appreciate these treasures. This is highly offensive. Second, most of these treasures were acquired illegally and unethically. The Kohinoor was already willed to a temple but was forcibly “gifted” to the British queen. There is therefore a moral imperative for their return to their place of origin. Thirdly, it may be true that developing countries in the past were not capable of looking after their heritage. But that fortunately has now changed. In fact, controversial upkeep in well-known western museums may have harmed many artifacts which they claim to protect.
Mr. Cameron is a young politician who is much in synch with his present generation. We are therefore surprised to learn that he does not hold progressive views on these matters. The world has changed dramatically since the days of Queen Victoria. South Asia cannot be denied of its rich heritage because of its colonial past. Britain with its present status does not own history nor is it capable of defending its history. In all fairness, let Britain understand its own limitations now.
The writer is a former Ambassador and a regular commentator on contemporary matters.
Kwame Opoku (by email)
DAVID CAMERON RULES OUT THE RETURN OF THE PARTHENON MARBLES AND THE KOHINOOR DIAMOND TO THEIR COUNTIES OF ORIGIN.
On the last day of his trade visit to India, David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, ruled out the return of the Kohinoor Diamond to India and added that the same applied to the Parthenon /Elgin Marbles. (1)
Cameron thought it was best that these objects be left where they are in the care of the British Museum
He said treasures such as the Elgin Marbles, brought back to the UK at the turn of the 19th century, should remain in British museums while being made available to be ‘properly shared’ with institutions abroad. He also added that he did not believe in “returnism”.
“The right answer is for the British Museum and other cultural institutions to do exactly what they do, which is to link up with other institutions around the world to make sure that the things which we have and look after so well are properly shared with people around the world,” Cameron said.
The Koh-i-Noor diamond is not in a museum but is part of the crown jewels; it is the central piece of the British Queen’s coronation crown
What David Cameron stated in India is nothing new. He has said that before and is merely repeating the standard British Museum/British Government answer to repatriation demand. Cameron did not mention the Benin bronzes and other looted/stolen objects in British museums but it is clear he was enunciating a general principle that would apply to the Benin artefacts that the British stole in their notorious invasion of Benin in 1879. The British have always argued that if the return the Parthenon Marbles, the Nigerians would request the return of the Benin bronzes, thus amalgamating artefacts of different nature, different histories and quality; that the so-called flood gates would be opened
The Greek Government, through the minister for cultural affairs has answered Cameron’s declaration by stating that there is “difference in approach and conception separating us (Greece) from the United Kingdom on the issue of the Parthenon Marbles”, and emphasized that:”it is not necessary for us to reiterate anything else on this issue apart from that: Greece’s steadfast national position has been and will always be that the Marbles be repatriated and be materially linked to the place where the civilisation that created them was born and flourished.” http://www.elginism.com
At almost the same time as Cameron was telling Indians and Greeks that their famous artefacts would not be returned, the Nigerians were reported to be discussing with the British Museum and other European museums about the return of the Benin bronzes. (2). Is it possible that the British Museum would take a position different from that of the British Prime Minister and different from the museum’s standard and constant position over the last 50 years?
It is noticeable that the British have always made their position clear and spoken loudly whilst the Nigerians are following quiet diplomacy. As we have often said, the Europeans are shouting from the rooftop their determination to hold on to their ill-gotten artefacts whilst the Nigerians are whispering in the living room their fervent desire to recover their looted artefacts. That policy has so far not brought the Nigerians, contrary to all appearances, any tangible restitution.(3)
How can one pursue a policy of quiet diplomacy when the opposing party is always clear and loud about its consistent position?
Kwame Opoku, 21 February, 2013.
2. Tajudeen Sowole, Amid hope of restitution, Nigeria hosts foreign museums
3. K.Opoku, What we understand by “restitution”.
Diamonds are forever… ours… David Cameron’s the anti-returnist’s reasoning behind keeping Koh-i-noor
Most common phrases we here about diamonds today (not least the one used in the title of this post) were created by the De Beers cartel – an organisation that’s main aim is to boost the price & sales of diamonds around the world. Even without De Beers though, diamonds have always been highly valued & sought after by the wealthy.
The fact is though, that there is a long story to the Koh-i-noor – it only became British property relatively recently & was taken in circumstances that many today would see as morally / ethically questionable. It had been valued by others for a long time before Britain got hold of it & various countries still claim that it is theirs. Many analogies / parallels can be drawn with this case, although I personally feel that the comparison to the Parthenon Marbles is a particularly poor one & merely serves to highlight how uneducated David Cameron is about both of the cases.
That said though, the cases can still both be equally valid – and something needs to be done to work towards resolving them rather than merely brushing off requests with flippant remarks.
Diamonds are forever… British. Why Cameron really can’t give back the Koh-i-noor
by Sandip Roy Feb 22, 2013
Diamonds are forever and they are for your EYES only.
So India, you can look but don’t even dream about getting the Koh-i-noor back.
Instead David Cameron has given India a parting gift – a post-colonial word – returnism.
“I certainly don’t believe in returnism, as it were,” he said. “I don’t think that’s sensible.”
The ever-helpful Cameron had a suggestion for what might be sensible.
“The right answer is for the British museum and other cultural institutions to do exactly what they do, which is to link up with other institutions around the world to make sure that the things which we have and look after so well are properly shared with people around the world.”
One is not quite sure how they intend to “properly share” the Koh-i-noor with Indians. Could Pranab-babu wear it when he opens the next session of Parliament?
Anyway I don’t think anyone is planning to ever loan the crown jewels to the erstwhile Jewel in the Crown. But this “returnism”, the misbegotten lovechild of colonialism, is interesting.
Returnism, as far as I can make out translates into something like this. I steal your laptop. Then I get it a spiffy cover and upgrade your anti-virus protection. Then when you ask for it back, I say, “Sorry, I am keeping it. I just have too many files on it now. And look how well I maintained it. I even ran a disk defragmenter on it. But hey, if you are in the neighbourhood, stop by any time and take a look for old times sake. ”
Cameron, of course, has his own logic. He could not apologise for Jallianwala because he fears that once he goes down that route, the apology list would take up the rest of his term as prime minister. Similarly once he returns the Koh-i-noor, other countries might want bits of their heritage back.
“It is the same question with the Elgin Marbles,” said Cameron as if that was a piece of unassailable British logic.
Whoa. It needs a certain chutzpah to justify one bit of imperial thievery with another bit of colonial skullduggery.
It’s true that if Britain really did start giving everything that it acquired questionably back to the rightful claimants, that would leave it with very little of its own other than some John Constable paintings of the English countryside.
It does, however beg the question, how much of the British Museum is really British?
The list of things affected by “returnism” would be long – Koh-i-noor, Elgin Marbles, Benin bronzes, Ashanti regalia, the Rosetta Stone.
The Brits are not alone of course. There’s the Nefertiti bust in Berlin, Priam’s treasure in Russia and big chunks of the Louvre in Paris.
But that does not mean “returnism” does not happen. The Louvre returned frescoes to Egypt. The Musee de l’Homme in Paris returned the Hottentot Venus to South Africa. The Kankaria mosaics were returned to the Orthodox Church in Cyprus after a court case in Indianopolis. The Met returned the Euphronius Krater to Italy in exchange for the right to display some comparable artifacts. All the art plundered during the Holocaust is supposed to be returned to the original owners. The Nazis, infamously, had special departments to seize and secure objects of cultural value. But it’s worth remembering that the Germans weren’t the only ones doing the looting. The Allies did their bit as well.
Of course, Britain’s problem is it cannot even do a cultural swap. What could it claim from its old colonies in lieu of the Koh-i-noor? It’s not like it could take back cricket.
Cameron might like to pretend that the United Kingdom is the guardian of the world’s treasures. The fact is colonisers took them because that was a way they could project their power over their subjects. As Napoleon boasted after pillaging Italy, “We now have all that is beautiful in Italy except for a few objects in Turin and Naples.”
How much these guardians of the world’s heritage truly guard them was clear to all when the Americans and British stood by after the toppling of Saddam Hussein and allowed the National Museum of Iraq to be looted. However they showed far more alacrity about securing the building of the Ministry of Oil.
As far as the Koh-i-noor goes, the diamond does have a checkered history and there are many claimants to it. In fact, “there could be other claimants besides the government of India if the “it-belonged-to-me-before-you” principle is taken to its logical conclusion,” says an editorial in the Economic Times. It suggests however that if the economic downturn in Britain gets worse, they may have to resort to selling “the family silver, not to mention the crown jewels.” So India may yet get back the Koh-i-noor.
But India also would need to get its act together. After all, Vishwa Bharati managed to lose Rabindranath Tagore’s Nobel medal because the security personnel were busy watching an Indo-Pak cricket match on television while thieves broke into the museum.
However that lapse need not prevent us from coming up with our own term to match Cameron’s returnism. How does Kohinoorism sound, Mr Cameron?
22 Feb, 2013, 04.02AM IST, ET Bureau
Returning Kohinoor to India is easier not said than done
Diamonds are (a bond) forever; that is presumably why India keeps asking Britain to return the Kohinoor and the former Empire strikes back with an inevitable “no”.
It is not surprising, therefore, that the British Prime Minister David Cameron once again replied in the negative about giving back the most famous jewel in the British crown during his visit to India this week.
He had said exactly the same thing here two years ago too. As well he might because if Britain starts acceding to every demand for the repatriation of something by aggrieved countries — evocatively dubbed as ‘returnism’ by Mr Cameron — not only will its museums be emptied of most of their prized exhibits such as the Elgin Marbles, the royal family’s own cache of jewellery would be utterly depleted too.
Returning the Kohinoor also has an additional hitch: the 180-carat diamond had several prominent owners in India since it was mined in the Deccan before the 14th century, so there could be other claimants besides the government of India if the “it-belonged-to-me-before-you” principle is taken to its logical conclusion.
Deciding who finally gets it could take decades, particularly if it goes to court. The consolation is that while India may not get back any of the stuff that the former colonial rulers carried off as booty or ‘presents’, Indians are slowly acquiring that country’s other iconic possessions in situ anyway.
Soon, they may start buying back moveable treasures, like the two Russian billionaires who are procuring the famed Faberge eggs of the erstwhile czars from collections round the world. Of course, if the economic downturn in Britain reaches the point where the family silver — not to mention the crown jewels — have to be sold, India may yet get back the Kohinoor — with interest.
As the case of the Banksy artwork removed from the wall in Wood Green continues, more & more people are trying to draw slightly absurd parallels to the Parthenon Marbles & calling for the British Ministry of Culture to intervene to block the auction from taking place. However in this case, I can’t really understand quite what the basis for the arguments is.
It now seems clear that the owner of the building (of which the wall on which the graffiti was on was a part) authorised & presumably organised the removal of the artwork. No doubt they stand to make a reasonable profit from it. Now, Banksy picks the walls he paints on – with no consultation with the owners, so this lucky owner is soon going to be wealthier than they were before – and it is entirely through luck.
Haringey Council are claiming that the art is something that enriched the area & was in part something that belonged to the people. It is unclear how they can make this judgement, though, when much of their time is spent cleaning graffiti (that is typically of much poorer quality) off walls. There is no body which decides what is graffiti & what is street art – and that one must be scrubbed off & one preserved, so there argument does not really carry much weight.
It would be great if the work could have stayed – but that is just my own personal opinion – nothing more. Just because you don’t like what is happening, it doesn’t mean that the law should suddenly intervene (without any clear legal framework under which to do so).
Comparisons to the Parthenon Marbles are far more ridiculous – street art by its nature is a transient thing – even with protection, paint will flake off in a few years, leading it to fade away. The sale is being made legally (despite the fact that many people are upset by it).
February 20, 2013, 6:25 pm
London’s Stolen Banksy Heads to the Auction Block Despite 11th Hour English Rescue Attempt
Part of the inherent definition of street art is that it is, by nature, public. It appears on the sides of buildings and on sidewalks, in doorways and on concrete blocks. It most often appears in urban neighborhoods, and tends to lend itself to some sort of social commentary. The illicit nature of the craft is in itself subversive and, as a corollary, non-commercial. Or it was anyway.
In recent years, street art has become gritty-chic, touted by the likes of Kate Moss, and therefore increasingly popular as a collecting category. Original works by Banksy, probably the most important street artist of the last twenty years, now fetch six figures at auction. It was only a matter of time before people started ripping down walls to, quite literally, extract the value from them.
Last week, in her book review of “Banksy: The Man Behind the Wall,” ARTINFO’s Rachel Corbett wrote about about how he helped popularize the idea of finding commercial success as a street artist:
“What Banksy and [his business partner, Steve] Lazarides had done together was create a market for street art where none had existed before,” [Will] Ellsworth-Jones writes. Since 2002, prints from Banksy’s first official edition, “Rude Copper,” have gone from £40 apiece to as high as £13,000 today. Ultimately Banksy and Lazarides parted ways, and his new sales and authentication company, Pest Control, has proved even more profitable, reporting £1.1 million in assets in 2010.
These commercial works are generally editions deliberately created to be sold after a street artist has already gained popularity stenciling or painting on urban building walls. But it doesn’t always happen that way. Yesterday, ARTINFO reported that an original Banksy mural — poking fun at the fanfare surrounding Queen Elizabeth’s 60th anniversary Diamond Jubilee celebration last year — had been cut down from a wall in North London and appeared at an auction in Miami, estimated for $500,000-700,000. Today it came out that Arts Council England attempted to stop the sale, but found that they had no legal recourse to do so. Even though the work was probably stolen off the wall, the ACE has not yet been able to contact the owners of the building to verify that it was taken down illegally. Furthermore, it is unclear that any export laws were broken.
The New York Times contacted the auction house, Fine Art Auctions Miami, which assured the paper that it had acquired the work in good faith, but would not give up any details on how it came to have the mural in its possession.
“Fine Art Auctions Miami has done all the necessarily due diligence about the ownership of the work,” a spokeswoman for the house said on Wednesday morning. “Unfortunately we are not able to provide you with any information, by law and contract, about any details of this consignment. We are more than happy to do so if you can prove that the works were removed and acquired illegally.”
At this point, it seems there is little to be done but wait to see what happens next. There are so many legal gray areas in this case that it’s hard to see a future other than a broken piece of North London disappearing into some wealthy collector’s guarded enclave forever (or at least until Bansky prices spike again and it shows up at another auction house).
— Shane Ferro
FBI urges probe into missing Banksy
New graffiti on Haringey wall suggests artist smells a rat
22 February 2013
Scotland Yard has been asked by the FBI to investigate the removal of a Banksy street mural in Haringey.
The Met’s arts and antiques unit launched preliminary inquiries after the celebrated graffiti artist’s work, titled Slave Labour, was hacked off a wall outside the Poundland shop near Turnpike Lane last week.
US law enforcement officials got involved when the piece, which depicts a young boy hunched over a sewing machine making Union Jack bunting, turned up for auction in Miami, where it is due to go under the hammer tomorrow with an estimated price of £500,000. After widespread public outrage led by Haringey council, questions remain over how the popular mural came to be removed — and what can be done about it.
The council and Poundland condemned the removal of the piece, which was painted last May, before the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and is thought to be a critique of sweatshops that produce cheap decorations. The owner of the building, Wood Green Investments, has so far refused to comment. Asked if the two company directors, Robert Davies and Les Gilbert, sanctioned the mural’s removal, a friend said today: “That is the $64 million dollar question.
“Here is their problem. If they were to say they were not involved then it becomes a theft and the police come knocking at their door. If they say they are involved, they will be very unpopular. If they comment in either direction it would be a problem.” It emerged today that Banksy may have passed his own verdict on the row after a new artwork was painted on the same north London wall. During the early hours a graffiti artist stencilled an image of a startled rat holding a sign with the word: “Why?”
Slave Labour, on a 4ft x 5ft slab of concrete, turned up on the website of Fine Art Auctions. Confronted by American journalists, the owner of the auction house, Frederic Thut said: “Fine Art Miami is not looking for controversy. We are looking for the good collector, the good buyer.”
A spokesman added: “Fine Art Auctions Miami has done all necessary due diligence and unfortunately is not able to provide any [further] information or details. We would be happy to do so if you can prove that the works were obtained illegally.”
Haringey council leader Claire Kober said: “We have had residents from across the borough and people across the UK and beyond express how dismayed they are that a piece of art given to the community for free is now being sold for a quick profit.
“We are urging the Culture Secretary to back our appeal and use any powers she has to halt the sale of this unique piece of public art.”
The FBI declined to comment.
Costas Tzavaras, Greece’s minister responsible for cultural affairs has responded to David Cameron’s comments that he does not support the return of the Elgin Marbles.
Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 13-02-21
Culture minister on Parthenon Marbles issue
AMNA — Greece and the United Kingdom have a different approach on the issue of the Parthenon Marbles, alternate Education Minister responsible for cultural affairs Costas Tzavaras said on Thursday in reply to statements by British Prime Minister David Cameron.
There is a clear “difference in approach and conception separating us (Greece) from the United Kingdom on the issue of the Parthenon Marbles”, he said.
While on a visit to India, Cameron was faced with a demand by the country’s government for the repatriation to India of the 105-carat Koh-i-Noor diamond, which is currently set into the Crown of Queen Elizabeth and is on display at the Tower of London.
The diamond, one of the largest known in the world, is believed to have originated in India’s Andhra Pradesh state.
Rejecting the Indian claim for its return home, the British premier likened the case to that of the Parthenon Marbles, the return of which has been demanded for long time by Greece.amna
Tzavaras stressed that “it is not necessary for us to reiterate anything else on this issue apart from that: Greece’s steadfast national position has been and will always be that the Marbles be repatriated and be materially linked to the place where the civilisation that created them was born and flourished.”
Following David Cameron’s comments that there were no plans to return the Koh-i-noor diamond, a group in Mumbai is proposing that India could leas the diamond from Britain rather than it being returned. Similar deals has been proposed in the past for the Parthenon Marbles, where they could return to Greece as a long term loan, to avoid the anti-deaccessioning clauses in the British Msueum act – although, all such proposals have been rejected by the museum.
I do not know what the legal status of the Koh-i-noor is. Unlike the Parthenon Sculptures, it is not held by a museum, but is part of the crown jewels. Now, this is a far more unique situation & I have no idea of the legal framework attached to items such as this belonging to the Crown – so whether any sort of loan is possible without changes in the law is unclear. If anyone knows more about this, please clarify the details for me.
You can vote for the return of the Koh-i-noor on the Made In India website.
Times of India
‘Kohinoor must be given to India on lease’
TNN | Feb 22, 2013, 03.46 AM IST
MUMBAI: A citizens’ group has provided a unique solution to the tug-of-war over the Kohinoor diamond. It has suggested to the British Prime Minister that the UK government lease it to India for a period of 25 years.
“We do appreciate the safety and preservation that you have offered to the Kohinoor,” a letter from Shailendra Singh, head of Made in India, to British PM David Cameron says, before going on to offer a solution: the British government can lease the Kohinoor back to India for 25 years. The organization had asked Indian citizens to vote for a petition on its website, http://www.iammadeinindia.com, asking for the return of the gem to India.
The Kohinoor diamond ended up with the East India Company in 1849 under the Treaty of Lahore.
“On March 29, 2013, it will be 164 years since the diamond was taken away from us and to date, we await the return of the diamond to its rightful owner, India,” the letter adds.
The organization says it’s aware that the British Museum Act, 1963, prevents national museums from removing items and the UNESCO Convention, 1972, does not cover Kohinoor as part of cultural property that must be restituted.
But these “man-made” laws can’t negate the fact that Kohinoor is an integral part of India’s history and heritage and, therefore, it has come up with the “lease” solution, the letter says.
This story seems very similar to that of the Lindisfarne Gospels – and is made more similar by the fact that the British Library & the British Museum used to be one & the same institution.
Yet again, an artefact is returned – but only on a very short term loan. This seems to be an acknowledgement that in some ways it belongs closer to where it was created – but at the same time limiting its visit to as short a period as possible, to stop people getting any idea that it may make sense for it to be permanently on display outside the British Museum.
Mold Gold Cape To Return To Area
Posted: February 22, 2013 Written by Rob Taylor
The Mold Gold Cape will go on loan from the British Museum for public display in Wales this summer. In partnership with Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales and Wrexham County Borough Museum & Archives, this will be the third time the cape will have been displayed in Cardiff and will go on to be shown in Wrexham, not far from where it was found. The Cape will be on display for free at both venues as part of the Spotlight Tours organised through the British Museum’s Partnership UK Scheme.
The Mold Cape is a unique ceremonial gold cape and made around 3,700 years ago, during the Early Bronze Age. A highlight exhibit at the British Museum, the cape will be shown at National Museum Cardiff 2 July to 4 August and then Wrexham County Borough Museum, 7 August to 14 September 2013.
The cape is one of the finest examples of prehistoric sheet and embossed-gold working in Europe. Skillfully and carefully fashioned from a single sheet of thin gold, it is unique in design. The cape was discovered in Mold, Flintshire in 1833 when workmen discovered a skeleton in a grave at the centre of a circular burial monument. The accompanying grave goods, hundreds of amber beads, gold and bronze fragments, were divided up between them and the land tenant. The British Museum, recognizing its importance and significance – and at a time before a National Museum existed in Wales – devoted efforts and care in acquiring the cape and accompanying fragments for its collections. It was given prominence in the British Museum prehistory displays from early on and in the 1960s and 70s British Museum experts looked at how the fragments were joined. The original shape of the object only became clear after painstaking work at the Museum, piecing together all the embossed fragments to reveal its original form as a cape. Recent research has suggested that the wearer of the cape, amber bead necklace and the bronze knife may have been a woman.
Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum said, “We are delighted that this exceptional object of national and international significance will be displayed in Cardiff and Wrexham this summer and are hugely grateful to our partners, the National Museum Wales and Wrexham County Borough Museum, for their collaboration as well as the Art Fund for their support. Through research on rare objects like the Mold Gold Cape, in recent years we have come to see British prehistoric societies very differently. These precious objects show us that societies in Britain must then have been extremely sophisticated, both in skill and in their social structure. They were not isolated but part of a larger European trade network, a web of trade and exchange from North Wales to Scandinavia.”
David Anderson, Director General, Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, said, “We’re delighted that this priceless Bronze Age masterpiece from north east Wales will soon be on display here again at the National Museum Cardiff. Having one of Britain’s most famous ancient artefacts and one of the most important European Bronze Age finds on display in Wales, where it was originally found, is a wonderful and unique opportunity for local people and visitors to enjoy and to find out more about their heritage and early past. Working in partnership with museums such as the British Museum and Wrexham County Borough Museum enables precious artefacts such as the Mold Cape to be accessible to all. The Mold Cape is of great importance, in both local and national contexts and is also of international significance to our understanding of cultural expression and power relations in Early Bronze Age Europe, reflected both in life and in death.”
Councillor Neil Rogers Leader of Wrexham County Borough Council said, “The last time the Mold Cape came to Wrexham Museum in 2005 it attracted 11,500 visitors in just 12 weeks. That fact more than any other illustrates the huge level of interest amongst the local public for both archaeology and our shared prehistoric heritage. So I am naturally excited at the prospect of the Cape’s return to the town. The exhibition at Wrexham Museum will tell the story of its discovery and by looking at the evidence for other similar sites in the area, attempt to set it in its contemporary archaeological context. The display of the Cape would clearly not be possible without the co-operation of both the British Museum and Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales and Wrexham County Borough Council is extremely grateful to both bodies for their on-going support in continuing to bring our shared National treasures to Wrexham.”
The Mold Gold Cape was featured as one of the top ten treasures in the 100 objects in “A History of the World” in partnership with the BBC. This project was awarded The Art Fund Prize in 2011 and the prize money awarded has formed the basis for The Spotlight Tours.
David Cameron argues against returnism, stating that he does not support return of Parthenon Sculptures
British Prime Minister, David Cameron had already indicated in 2010, that he had no interest in considering the return of the Koh-i-noor diamond to India. During his current visit to the country, he has once again re-iterated his point – but this time extended it to cover other cases such as the Parthenon Marbles (although it is not the first time he has mentioned his views on that case either).
Taking this approach is a great shame. He wants to encourage greater trade links with India, and he has made limited apologies for some of the worst atrocities of colonial rule, but at the same time, his actions suggest that he still believes we are in the age of empire – that Britain can lay down the way problems are to be dealt with & that everyone else had to just buy into it, without any real option to put their point of view across properly.
He argues that the British Museum is already linking up with other museums around the world, but whenever this has taken place, it is very much the British Museum that sets the terms of how the relationship will operate – and in most cases is created to promote a two way traffic (i.e. to enrich the permanent collection in London with high quality temporary loans). Any reciprocal loans are something that they accept as part of some deal, yet it rarely feels as though they are a driving factor.
Cameron talks of returnism – labeling complex cases as though they are all basically the same & can be dealt with by a short comment, whereas the reality is that each case is very different. There is a huge range between cases, from those strong restitution cases where there is a clear argument for return & relatively weak ones, where for most people, the balance might sway in favour of them being retained, perhaps because their original purchase was legitimately made, or perhaps because of when / how they were taken etc.
Certain sectors of Britain’s ruling classes need to wake up to the fact that we no longer have an empire & that times have changed – we might have once led the world, but dragging our heels in the attempts to cling onto the past will be of no help in trying to regain this position.
Thursday February 21, 2013
Cameron rules out return of Parthenon marbles
British Prime Minister David Cameron has ruled out the return of the so-called Elgin marbles to Greece.
Speaking from India, where he is on an official visit, on Thursday the Tory leader turned down requests for the return of the Koh-i-noor diamond to Britain’s former colony saying he did not believe in “returnism.”
“It is the same question with the Elgin marbles,” Cameron said, referring to the classical Greek marble sculptures currently on display at the British Museum in London.
Greece has long campaigned for the marbles, which are part of the Parthenon temple on the Acropolis and which were removed by Lord Elgin during Ottoman rule, to be returned to their rightful place.
“The right answer is for the British Museum and other cultural institutions to do exactly what they do, which is to link up with other institutions around the world to make sure that the things which we have and look after so well are properly shared with people around the world,” Cameron said.
The Koh-i-noor diamond is set in the crown of the late Queen Mother and is on display with the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London. It was presented to Queen Victoria in 1850 under the Empire’s rule. India has made repeated requests for its return.
David Cameron defends lack of apology for British massacre at Amritsar
First serving UK prime minister to visit scene of 1919 Indian shootings says it would be wrong to ‘reach back’ into history
Nicholas Watt in Amritsar
The Guardian, Wednesday 20 February 2013 09.04 GMT
David Cameron has defended his decision to stop short of delivering a formal British apology for the Amritsar massacre in 1919, in which at least 379 innocent Indians were killed.
As relatives of the victims expressed disappointment, the prime minister said it would be wrong to “reach back into history” and apologise for the wrongs of British colonialism.
He was speaking shortly after becoming the first serving British prime minister to visit the scene of the massacre, which emboldened the Indian independence movement. He bowed his head at the memorial, in the Jallianwala Bagh public gardens. In a handwritten note in the book of condolence for victims of the massacre, Cameron quoted Winston Churchill’s remarks from 1920. He described the shootings, in his own words, as a “deeply shameful event”.
As he prepared to leave Amritsar, Cameron explained why he had decided against issuing an apology. “In my view,” he said, “we are dealing with something here that happened a good 40 years before I was even born, and which Winston Churchill described as ‘monstrous’ at the time and the British government rightly condemned at the time. So I don’t think the right thing is to reach back into history and to seek out things you can apologise for.
“I think the right thing is to acknowledge what happened, to recall what happened, to show respect and understanding for what happened.
“That is why the words I used are right: to pay respect to those who lost their lives, to remember what happened, to learn the lessons, to reflect on the fact that those who were responsible were rightly criticised at the time, to learn from the bad and to cherish the good.”
Among the relatives of the victims who were disappointed that the prime minister had not apologised was Sunil Kapoor, whose great grandfather Waso Mal Kapoor died in the shootings. He said: “If he said it is shameful, why did he not apologise?”
Kapoor, president of the Jallianwala Bagh Freedom Fighters’ Foundation, said: “I am not satisfied that he did not meet the families. We have waited 94 years for justice.”
Cameron said Britain could still be proud of its former empire – while acknowledging the mistakes – as he rejected demands to return the Koh-i-Noor diamond to India from the British crown jewels.
He said: “I think there is an enormous amount to be proud of in what the British empire did and was responsible for. But of course there were bad events as well as good events. The bad events we should learn from and the good events we should celebrate.
“In terms of our relationship with India is our past a help or a handicap? I would say, net-net, it is a help, because of the shared history, culture, and the things we share and the contributions that Indians talk about that we have made.”
Asked whether Britain should return the diamond, he said:
“I don’t think that is the right approach. It is the same question with the Elgin marbles,” he said. “It is for the British Museum and other cultural centres to do exactly what they do do, which is link up with museums all over the world to make sure that the things we have, and are looked after so well, are properly shared with people around the world. No, I certainly don’t believe in returnism.”
The Indians were shot dead in Amritsar by riflemen acting on the orders of Brigadier General Reginald Dyer. No 10 believes there is no need to apologise because the British state condemned Dyer’s actions at the time. As war secretary in 1920, Churchill described the shootings as “a monstrous event, an event which stands in singular and sinister isolation”.
Sukumar Mukhajee, secretary of the memorial committee, whose grandfather survived the shootings, welcomed Cameron’s remarks. Mukhajee, who met the prime minister, said: “He has come here. He has paid his tribute. It is more than an apology.”
Anita Anand, the BBC presenter, tweeted during Cameron’s visit: “My grandfather was one of the lucky few who survived.”
The prime minister hopes his strong condemnation of the shootings will help Britain and India to move on from what the Queen has described as the sadness of the past. He believes he is on firm ground in declining to apologise because of Churchill’s strong language a few months after Dyer was forced to retire.
Churchill told the House of Commons on 8 July 1920: “That is an episode which appears to me to be without precedent or parallel in the modern history of the British empire. It is an event of an entirely different order from any of those tragical occurrences which take place when troops are brought into collision with the civil population.”
The prime minister, who has an eye on the Sikh vote in Britain, paid an hour-long visit to the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Out of respect to Sikhs as he visited their holiest site, he wore a dark blue bandana on his head.
The prime minister said he had been moved by his visit to the Golden Temple. “Today was fascinating and illuminating – to go to the place that is so central to the Sikh religion. I am proud to be the first British prime minister to go and visit the Golden Temple and see what an extraordinary place it is – very moving, very serene, very spiritual. It was a huge honour and a great thing to be able to do. I learnt a lot.
“In coming here, to Amritsar, we should also celebrate the immense contribution that people from the Punjab play in Britain – the role they play, what they give to our country. What they contribute to our country is outstanding.
“It is important to understand that, to pay respect to that, and to seek a greater understanding of the Sikh religion. And that is why the visit to the holy temple, the Golden Temple, was so important.”
David Cameron’s comments on the Koh-i-noor diamond have provoked huge amounts of controversy amongst Indians everywhere, with thousands of posts on twitter speaking out against his attitude. The vocal attitude of the restitution supporters is to be encouraged – and perhaps other countries could learn from some of their techniques and apply them to their own campaigns. I was particularly intrigued by this comedy routine discussing the diamond – and its continued retention by Britain.
The British Prime Minister made apologies, for some of the worst acts committed in India during the time of the British Empire – something that may have required much thinking & soul searching (& possibly even a few conversations with lawyers about any potential increase in liability / culpability). At the same time though, this was only a statement, something that required no physical or financial commitment. On the case of the Koh-i-nor however, making any sort of commitment would mean that he had to actually do something rather than just talking about it.
The saying that actiona speak louder than words is well known – but the very different approach to these two issues by David Cameron suggests that our Prime Minister would far prefer to be a man of (cheap) words, than one of (expensive actions). Words are meaningless unless they are followed up by some physical commitment.
In part, the British PM is no doubt worried that the return of such a high profile artefact as the Koh-i-noor, a diamond famous around the world, that forms part of the crown jewels. He is worried that restitution could be a vote loser, whereas, the clamour of voices for return is still not loud enough for its continued retention to be seen as cause for concern. Where people think that there is a just case for return (of any artefacts), they must continue to make their feelings known – letting the current owners know that the issue is not going to go away if it is ignored – that some sort of compromise or negotiated agreement needs to be met. Almost always, there is potential for an agreement that can benefit both sides – but it often involves thinking outside the box, to consider what each side has that may benefit the other & most of all, to put aside worries about any temporary loss of face that may be caused by doing the right thing.
Throughout all of this, we must remember that the Koh-i-noor (like many other restitution cases) is a complex issue. Different parties take different positions on the circumstances of the original acquisition – was it a spoil of war, or a legitimate exchange? If someone’s hand is forced in making a deal, does the deal still hold the same legitimacy? Furthermore, India is not the only country claiming ownership of the gem – so even if it returned, they might then have to deal with other restitution claims from Iran, Pakistan & Afghanistan (these are the potential claimants that I know of – there may well be others).
Modern India is a very different place, from the one that gave up the diamond to Britain in 1849 – in much the same way as contemporary Greece bears little resemblance to 1800, when it formed an outpost of the Ottoman empire. If Britain wants to deal with (& benefit from the wealth of) these modern countries, perhaps it needs to do something to put right some of the actions that reduced their culture in the past – rather than just returning again wanting to take more (albeit in a very different way).
Where does this all leave the Elgin Marbles? Well, Cameron has previously made his (ill informed) views on this subject clear in the past, so the fact that he has not had a sudden change of heart should not be seen as a big surprise. What is ridiculous however, is his lumping of completely different cases together under the one umbrella – the suggestion that all cases should be dealt with by a single statement, rather than even starting to consider the varying individual merits & circumstances of each one.
Cameron upsets many with the use of the term Elgin Marbles – a phrase that has for a long time been deprecated by the British Museum & that (while known to the public), is no longer taken as being the correct name for these sculptures. Use of such terms in public statements, suggests that he has only a passing acquaintance with the actual facts of these cases, meaning that his cursory brushing away of any suggestions of restitution is all the more galling.
I spoke before of his use of the word returnism – a term that does not seem to have many other mentions elsewhere – perhaps I should not complain too loudly about this though – particularly as the title of this blog is equally guilty of nealogizing… I actually quite like the term – if I hadn’t named this site Elginism, perhaps returnism would have been a good alternative name.
February 21, 2013 07:20
Britain doesn’t plan on returning Koh-i-Noor diamond to India, says Cameron
The enormous Koh-i-Noor diamond may have originated in India, but it won’t be returned to its original owners, reiterated British prime minister David Cameron on the third day of an official visit to India this week.
The 105-karat Koh-i-Noor diamond once graced the crown of Queen Elizabeth I and remains an integral part of the British collection of crown jewels, displayed at the Tower of London.
“I don’t think that’s the right approach,” said Cameron to reporters of the call to return the gem, noting that the same controversy surrounded the Greek Elgin Marbles, currently in the custody of the British Museum, wrote Reuters.
“The right answer is for the British Museum and other cultural institutions to do exactly what they do, which is to link up with other institutions around the world to make sure that the things which we have and look after so well are properly shared with people around the world,” said Cameron to Reuters.
“I certainly don’t believe in ‘returnism’, as it were. I don’t think that’s sensible.”
Cameron rejected a similar request back in 2010, writes the BBC, during an earlier official visit to India.
Marvelous as it is, the Koh-i-Noor was a treasured (if mistrusted) possesion of India’s Mughal rulers, who viewed it with both admiration and fear, ascribing to it a curse that affected only male owners of the jewel.
The Koh-i-Noor was taken from India during the colonial era in 1849, largely due to the influence of Lord Dalhousie — who viewed the stone not as a gift but as a spoil of war, after the Treaty of Lahore helped to formalize Britain’s occupation of the Punjab.
Pakistani Prime Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto called for the restoration of the diamond in 1976, a request that Britain denied.
New legislation proposed by the European Commission may help EU member states to recover artefacts that they believe have been illegally removed from their country. The clear limitation though, is that this would only work when both countries are EU members – which instantly strikes the majority of high profile restitution cases off the list of ones covered by the legislation. Although, the Parthenon Marbles would of course be covered.
Until more details of the legislation are published, it is hard to guage what the actual impact of it might be.
New legislation to facilitate recovery of illegally removed national treasures
Article | February 19, 2013 – 1:52pm | By Elena Ralli
The European Commission is planning to help Member States recover national treasures which have been unlawfully removed from their territory by amending its current legislation that has several inadequacies. Consequently, the European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani proposed today to strengthen the possibility for restitution available to Member States.
As Vice-President Antonio Tajani, responsible for Industry and Entrepreneurship stated: “Safeguarding the cultural heritage of all Member States is of major importance to the European Union. Our proposal is therefore necessary to further strengthen the effectiveness of the fight against illegal trafficking in cultural goods. The harmful effect on our national treasures represent a serious threat to the preservation of the origins and history of our civilization.”
The proposed changes would apply to cultural goods classified as “national treasures” unlawfully removed after 1993 that are now located on the territory of another Member State.
The suggestions regarding the amendment of the legislation include extending the scope of the definition of cultural goods, extending the deadline for initiating return proceedings in the courts of the country where the property is now located, using the internal market information system to facilitate administrative cooperation and information exchanges between national authorities and finally, asking any possessor of an object requiring compensation for returning the object to prove it was not knowingly acquired illegally.
Illegal trafficking of cultural goods covers a wide range of activities from the unlawful removal of cultural property without compulsory permission, to trade in stolen goods.
Sometimes, intra-national restitution cases can be just as complex as international ones. In the case of the Lindisfarne gospels, many have ben asking for their return for years, but the campaign is split over where their rightful home actually is.
It is unclear whether the loan that is now due to take place is the same one that was mentioned in this article from a few years ago. If so, it has taken a long time fro the commitment being made, to the actual loan taking place.
Of course, this isn’t really a return – just a fairly short loan. The campaigners still have a long way to go if they are to achieve their goal of having the documents located in the North East of England permanently.
Years of work behind three-month Durham’s Lindisfarne Gospels loan
By Mark Tallentire, Reporter (Durham)
1:00pm Thursday 21st February 2013
THIS summer’s North-East exhibition of the hallowed Lindisfarne Gospels will be hosted by Durham University. Mark Tallentire meets University Vice-Chancellor Chris Higgins.
THE moment the doors of Durham University’s Palace Green Library are thrown open on July 1 will mark both a beginning and an ending.
A beginning, because the three-month loan of the medieval treasure that is the Lindisfarne Gospels will have begun.
An ending, because the years of painstaking preparation for the much-anticipated display will have concluded.
For Durham University, and in particular its Vice-Chancellor Professor Chris Higgins, the return of the late 7th Century Northumbrian manuscript has been a pet project for more than half a decade.
Soon after taking up his post in 2007, Prof Higgins made getting the Gospels “home” a personal goal.
“It was the most important thing we could do for the North-East,” he says.
“The University is not here for the region – it’s here for the world.
“We’re not a charity. But we want to do what we can for the region.
“The Lindisfarne Gospels are so iconic for the North-East. They’re going to bring pleasure and education to so many people.”
At the time, the prospect of the British Library releasing one of its most prized possessions – even on a temporary basis – seemed unlikely.
Here in the North-East, the campaign for their return was badly split.
Some argued they should go to Lindisfarne, where they were created by a monk named Eadfrith, later Bishop of Lindisfarne.
Others preferred Durham, where they were kept, with the remains of St Cuthbert – to whom they were dedicated, for hundreds of years from 995 to the Reformation.
Prof Higgins grasped that, to convince the British Library the North-East could be trusted to properly care for the delicate artefact, it must be united on the matter.
“Unless we could get a consensus, the British Library wasn’t going to listen,” he reflects.
For the Durham University chief, there was only one winner.
Durham had both the academic experts capable of studying and contextualising the book and the museums capable of hosting it.
“All these things will help make the Gospels feel at home,” Prof Higgins says, from his Durham office.
“Coming here is really coming home. Eventually, everyone could see that. This was the one place we could host a world-class exhibition.”
That was one argument settled.
But, next on the agenda: precisely where in Durham?
The Cathedral would have been an obvious choice: reuniting the Gospels with Cuthbert and his Cathedral shrine.
However, this wouldn’t have worked, Prof Higgins says, for various security and conservation reasons.
Instead, Palace Green Library, just yards from the Cathedral and still within Durham’s World Heritage Site, emerged as the favourite.
Durham University launched a major refurbishment programme of the facility, moving collections commonly accessed by undergraduate students to an expanded Bill Bryson Library and preserving Palace Green for postgraduate study and special collections.
With the region speaking with one voice, the next challenge was to lobby London.
The British Library, and its predecessor the British Museum, have held the Gospels since the mid-18th Century.
Until well into the 19th Century, the Gospels were rarely publicly displayed, for fear they might be harmed by such exposure.
However, in 2009 experts decided it would be acceptable to loan out the Gospels for a period of up to three months, up to every seven years.
That December, the announcement the North-East had been waiting for followed: the Gospels were coming home, in summer 2013.
“It’s going to be fantastic,” Prof Higgins says.
“I would argue it’s going to be the most important exhibition in the country this year.
“It’s putting Durham at the heart of the nation culturally.
“It will raise the profile of the North-East and help Durham gain recognition as being capable of hosting world-class exhibitions.”
As well as the display of the book itself, there will be a preceding cultural celebration – dubbed the Festival of the North East – overseen by Northumbrian folk music star Kathryn Tickell, a celebration of the life of John Danby, who fought for the return of the Gospels for years through the Northumbrian Association but sadly died last New Year’s Eve before he could see them come “home”, performances by a 1,000-strong Lindisfarne Gospels Community Choir and numerous other treasures on show.
One of those treasures will be the Cuthbert Gospel, also known as the Stonyhurst Gospel, which is believed to have been St Cuthbert’s own copy of the Christian scriptures and is Europe’s oldest surviving book.
Its story, Prof Higgins suggests, is indicative of the “Lindisfarne legacy” – how the temporary loan will benefit Durham for years to come.
When the Cuthbert Gospel’s Jesuit owners, the Society of Jesus (British Province), decided to sell the manuscript, the British Library – encouraged by its work with Durham over the Lindisfarne Gospels – asked the University to join a £9m fundraising campaign to buy the 7th Century treasure.
The resulting cash drive ended in success last year – and the Cuthbert Gospel will henceforth be displayed alternately in Durham and London.
Beyond that, Prof Higgins has even bigger ambitions.
“We want the Dead Sea Scrolls,” he says, quite seriously.
The 972 largely Biblical texts discovered in the West Bank between 1946 and 1956 have twice been exhibited in the UK: in London in 1965 and Glasgow in 1998.
Could they follow the Lindisfarne Gospels to Durham? Much will depend on the success of this summer’s exhibition. But, given Prof Higgins’ determination, don’t rule it out.
THE Lindisfarne Gospels will be in Palace Green Library, Durham, from July 1 to September 30. For more information, visit lindisfarnegospels.com
In the space of a few years, return of artefacts looted by the Nazis has become almost the accepted norm, although it in itself is very much a special case offered favourable terms compared to almost any other disputed artefacts.
While the return of such disputed items is great, I do not see how an automatic dispensation should be applied to a single special case, while all others (no matter how strong their case) are treated as second class citizens on the journey to restitution.
15 February 2013 Last updated at 10:56
Louvre museum returns Nazi-looted artwork
Seven paintings taken from their Jewish owners in the 1930s are being returned to their surviving relatives as part of an ongoing French effort to give back looted, stolen or appropriated art.
The works include four paintings that currently hang in the Louvre in Paris.
Six of the pieces were owned by Richard Neumann, an Austrian Jew who sold off his collection at a fraction of its value in order to leave France.
The seventh was stolen in Prague from Josef Wiener, a Jewish banker.
All seven were destined for display in an art gallery that Adolf Hitler wanted to build in Linz, the Austrian city in which he grew up.
The gallery was to have been filled with artworks looted across Europe by the Nazis from museums and private collections, many of them Jewish.
The claims of the families involved were validated by the French government in 2012 after years spent researching the works’ provenance.
The six works from the Neumann collection are to be restored to his grandson Tom Selldorff, now 82 and a resident of the US.
The New Acropolis Museum represents a high point in Greece’s recent history – finally, after years of arguments, political wranglings & archaeological digs, a new home had been constructed to house the Parthenon Marbles. for once, a building was able to tell a story of a modern country that was still deeply in touch with its rich cultural heritage – it was not using moernity to turn its back on the old, but instead using it as a framework to re-evaluate it & re-discover it.
The Acropolis Museum: a paradigm of Nations Branding in the Making
Peggy Kapellou, Maria Kyriacopoulou Hellenic Foreign Policy
In the gloomy after crisis general ambience in Greece, how many of us still take the time to review major achievements of the country’s reputation to the International Community? And still, it was only three years ago, on June 20, 2009, the whole world witnessed the opening ceremony of what has been characterized by the New York Times as «one of the highest-profile cultural projects undertaken in Europe in the last decade»: the new Acropolis museum.
The inauguration day and the week of various festivities and parallel events, was the culmination of a long run project, carefully planned and implemented as part of an integrated approach.
The museum visioned to embed Greece’s cultural identity and heritage and become the vehicle for rebranding Greece, enhancing the country’s image and its capital worldwide. As it is clearly stated in its statute, claiming the Parthenon marbles was the museum’s chief goal. Such a political position brings the museum to the forefront of Greece’s cultural diplomacy.
In the early 2000′s, under the pressure of the coming Olympic Games held in Greece, Evangelos Venizelos -Minister of Culture- stressed on the argument of viewing the sculptures and the building as a whole; a single monument – the Parthenon. A unique argument in the Greek agenda that clearly distinguishes from claims of divided artifacts made by other countries. Melina Merkouri’s vision for the return of Parthenon marbles that began in the 80′s had found a new “ally”. The issue no longer lied on legal ownership. Still, to substantiate it, the construction of a new Acropolis museum was imperative.
After a series of unsuccessful design competitions, lawsuits and delays, architects Bernard Tschumi and Michael Photiadis were assigned to design the new Acropolis museum in collaboration with Dimitrios Pandermalis, the museum’s director. Unlike others, the new museum visualized to work in a holistic and natural context, so that a sense of unity between the artifacts and the natural environment (rock) is achieved.
A building of steel, concrete and glass, an “anti Guggenheim” design, the museum acts as an understatement on its own, allowing the exhibits to shine. Glass plays an ‘operative’ role. Glass walls of the Parthenon gallery offer the visitor a harmonious blend amongst contemporary Athens and its past. A direct visual connection is established as the frieze and the statues are displayed in front of an immense glass wall looking up at the Parthenon.
Carefully thought, all artifacts can be viewed in a similar spatial proportion to their original location. Furthermore, the use of replicas next to the originals is an outmost original idea and technique, unique in terms of museology standards. Of optimum importance light is used as a theme to add a fourth dimension to the ancient artifacts. Display lighting reveals the color variation of the surviving collection from the missing pieces. One can easily detect the contrast between the whiteness of the copies and the honey colored marbles.
In terms of communications strategy, the effort was dual: putting forward the concept of the monument’s entity and uniqueness but also branding the museum as a cultural product of superb quality. This product entails the masterpieces of classical art and the museum itself, both as a construction and as a location. Besides, the museum’s design and architecture are a component of the communications strategy. The idea is to create a sensation and to stress the uniqueness of the monument as an archeological site per se, inseparable from its surrounding environment and functioning as an entity.
Branding a state-of-the-art museum involved the creation of a new landmark for Athens and Greece. The museum would be the flagship of the nation’s archeological museums. Dimitrios Pandermalis stated: “it is a national project which promotes the classical identity of the Greek Nation and the global importance of classicism for art history and for culture in general.” To engage with its audience, the museum would have to manage how people perceive Greece. After all, perception is reality.
The next level of communications strategy involved the visualization of those perceptions, via symbolisms and connotations. The use of replicas, for instance, next to the original sculptures has explicit connotations to the absence of body parts residing in the British Museum. The visual recreation of the Parthenon frieze fiercely suggests the sculptures’ liaison to the monument and enhances the aim of claiming the sculptures.
Furthermore, the notion of a modern Greece that moves alongside its cultural past was visualized through the videos projected at the grand opening ceremony. Created by Athina Tsangari and accompanied by the music of Dimosthenis Gasparatos. The large-scale outdoor projections functioned as powerful and evocative tools of creating symbolisms and encoding emotional messages. Images, along with the music created a narrative. The figures become alive and start their journey to their new home, eager and content at the same time. Antique and contemporary Athens meet and mingle.
In addition, the same connotation of reuniting the Parthenon sculptures in their new home was propagated through the images of the artifacts being transferred from the Acropolis rock to the museum. A different but powerful symbolism was created through the strategic and symbolic role assigned to both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Culture on the inauguration day: to put back to their place missing parts of the exhibits. A political thesis is acclaimed.
The role of the media in broadcasting and diffusing all of the above mentioned intended messages was of crucial importance. The new Acropolis Museum was a world-scale event since its construction, raising international public awareness and a series of political, legal and aesthetics discussions. Thus, it has helped revive the interest in Greece’s classical heritage and grow the movement for the unification of the Parthenon marbles.
The museum has been a huge success; it figures on the top list amongst Greece’s archeological museums in terms of the visitors’ numbers. The publicity it attracted has urged the return of at least 25 missing artifacts including fragments of the Parthenon frieze from Italy, Vatican, Germany and Sweden. It is also successfully branded and identified with Greece at a national and international level. Currently the option of the marbles being sent back to Greece on a loan as become a possible solution. Still the British Museum stands firm to its position to retain them. For how long?
* Peggy Kapellou and Maria Kyriakopoulou are specializing on Cultural Diplomacy, at the Universite de Strasbourg, International Relations seminars, offered in Athens via City U.
Reading the original article closely, it appears that the Poundland store does not own the building from which the Banksy artwork was removed last week. On this basis, although many have complained about its removal, none of the complainants has been the actual owner of the wall – which suggests that the whole removal was probably arranged legitimately.
The auction page selling the artwork can be viewed here.
Banksy mural torn off London Poundland store for Miami auction
Monday 18 February 2013 12.54 GMT
A Banksy mural has been put up for auction on a US website with a guide price of up to £450,000 after being removed from a building in north London.
The artwork of a barefoot boy using a sewing machine to stitch union flag bunting, apparently in a sweatshop, appeared on the outside wall of a Poundland shop in Wood Green in May. It was widely interpreted as condemning child labour and mocking the impending Queen’s diamond jubilee celebrations.
Haringey councillor Alan Strickland said locals were angry at the removal of the mural and urged people to email the auctioneers to demand that it be removed from sale.
It was discovered to have been removed over the weekend and later emerged for sale with Fine Art Auctions Miami with a guide price of $500,000 to $700,000 (£323,000 to £452,000). Bidding for the picture, titled “Banksy Slave Labor (Bunting Boy). London 2012″, closes on Saturday.
A Poundland spokeswoman said the company was not the owner of the building and had not removed the artwork. The store tweeted: “We would like to confirm that we are not responsible for either selling or removing the Banksy mural. We are currently investigating.”
The owner of Fine Art Auctions Miami, Frederic Thut, told the Sun it was being offered for sale by a well-known collector who he refused to name. He added: “The collector signed a contract saying everything was above board.”
The picture is popular with locals and had attracted tourists to the area, with signs put up at the local tube station directing visitors to the mural. It had also been covered with acrylic to protect it.
A local resident told Haringay Online the artwork had been surrounded by scaffolding and tarpaulin since last Wednesday. She said she discovered it had been removed on Sunday when she checked under the tarpaulin.
In the past, Banksy has declined to authenticate works attributed to him that were up for auction because of a belief that street work should remain in its original location.
• This article was amended on Monday 18 February to correct the spelling of Haringay Online.
David Cameron made apologies to India, about some of the wrongs committed by the British within the country during the colonial period. The apology stops far short of rectifying all the problems – for instance many in India are unhappy that the Koh-i-Noor diamond still occupies pride of place in the Crown Jewels. There are many more treasures in institutions such as the British Museum that India would also like returned.
20 February 2013 Last updated at 13:11
Andrew North South Asia correspondent
What David Cameron did not apologise for
By making a statement of regret over the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, David Cameron has opened up a can of other questions and grievances over Britain’s colonial past.
What about the British museum returning all the treasures looted from India during the Raj? What about sending back the Kohinoor diamond still embedded in Queen Elizabeth’s crown?
And many commenting on this blog say it shouldn’t stop at India – what about the many casualties of Britain’s wars in Afghanistan?
But if Britain is in the mood to say sorry in India, there is one episode which stands out more than the Jallianwala Bagh massacre – the 1943 Bengal famine, when over 3 million people may have died, 4 years before the end of British rule.
If it gets any attention in the UK, it’s seen as one more tragic consequence of World War II, with British India at the time focused on the war against Japan.
But British actions and opposition towards Gandhi’s Quit India movement are now seen to have played a key role in the disaster.
While Winston Churchill condemned the Jallianwala Bagh massacre as “monstrous”, he took a very different attitude to Indian suffering 24 years later as prime minister.
His only reply to a telegram reporting how many Bengalis were perishing was to ask “why Gandhi hadn’t died yet.”
Mr Cameron should have apologised for the famine says Madhusree Mukherjee, who has written a widely praised history of the Bengali famine.
And why not? Tony Blair expressed regret for the Irish potato famine and for Britain’s role in the slave trade.
British officials say the motivation for going to Jallianwala Bagh was not to apologise for the Raj.
“He wanted to express his condolences for that particular incident because he was visiting Amritsar,” said a Downing Street spokesperson.
Madhusree Mukherjee says the prime minister may have wanted to avoid going further because “any admission of wrongdoing could facilitate a legal claim for reparations”.
The chief reason Mr Cameron went to Amritsar was because of the large numbers of voters of Punjabi origin back in the UK. So he had to say something about Jallianwala Bagh, officials say.
Many dismiss the practice of political apologies for past events as meaningless. Mr Blair, critics say, could easily say sorry for the Irish famine, but was never going to apologise for the Iraq war.
But David Cameron has set a precedent now in India, with his desire for “a special relationship”. If he plans a trip to Calcutta while he’s still prime minister, he won’t be able to avoid the Bengal famine.
Students from the 2nd High School of Corinth have protested at the British Museum for the return of the Elgin Marbles. It appears from the article, as though there was some sort of trouble with the museum staff when they were there. From past experience, the British Museum is happy with protests if they are pre-arranged, but doesn’t like ones that just turn up unexpectedly. The Marbles Reunited campaign has in the past helped to organise protests with Greek schools – dealing with the museum on their behalf to get the correct authorisation & avoiding possible problems with the museum’s security staff.
Students Wave Greek Flag at British Museum
By Christina Flora on February 15, 2013 in news, United Kingdom
Fifteen-year-old students of the 2nd High School of Corinth accompanied by three teachers traveled to London and gave their own message of the Parthenon Marbles waving four Greek flags and shouting the slogan: BRING THEM BACK!
The students delivered 36 letters written in English to the director of the museum in which they explained the factual reasons why the British Museum should return the marbles stolen by Lord Elgin to Greece.
Teachers of the school, C. Roumeliotis, Dimitra Paradisi and Despoina Micholia noted: “Our goal was to sensitize our students to this particular issue in order to embrace the need for the return of all Greek priceless treasures which decorate the Museums of Europe and especially the British Museum. These children have to struggle for the repatriation of our cultural heritage in the future.”
After this incident, the security of the Museum asked the teachers for an explanation. The teachers were ready to face the problem and ready to call the Greek Embassy in London. Finally after the explanations given, there was no problem and they continued their tour in London.
It is great that museums are working together, to try & tackle the problem of art theft. One can’t help thinking though, that they are much more interested in keeping artefacts in their own collections, that considering the plight of the original owners of many disputed items that ended up within their own collections.
Look out, art thieves: museums are fighting back
New organisation set up after high-profile thefts will let galleries share information instantly
Sunday 17 February 2013
Should criminals attempt to lift a valuable Chinese artefact from a museum display case, or scrawl over a priceless painting, their photograph now could be with the police and 800 cultural institutions in 20 minutes.
A new national organisation has been set up to allow museums and galleries to share their experiences of criminal behaviour with the police and each other, as they look to beef up security in the wake of ongoing threats to their collections.
A spate of high-profile thefts and vandalised work has left cultural institutions across the UK “on edge”, according to Vernon Rapley, the driving force behind the National Museum Security Group (NMSG), which has a reach of 800 institutions.
The group met for the first time on Tuesday in London. Representatives from about 70 institutions based around the country discussed threats facing galleries, museums, libraries and archaeological sites – and what they could do to protect themselves.
Mr Rapley, the head of security and services at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, described the group as a “self-circulating co-operative”, adding: “If the police authorities wanted to contact everyone in the museum security business in the UK they could do it at the touch of a button.”
The idea builds upon the cultural network which was put in place in anticipation of the Olympics last year. With the help of a software company called Facewatch, the NMSG has developed a website where arts organisations can report crimes to the police, share photographs of suspects, upload CCTV and share intelligence.
“As far as I’m aware we’re the only group in the world, certainly in the cultural sector, that can do that. We can have a theft in the morning and within 20 minutes we can have the image at 800 museums in the UK,” added Mr Rapley, who joined the V&A in 2010 from Scotland Yard, where he was head of the art and antiques squad.
The V&A is behind the initiative and has pledged to back it for three years, but hopes more cultural institutions will contribute as they feel the benefits. The London Museum Security Group, a similar body set up in 2006 which Mr Rapley worked on, was a contributing factor to art crime falling 80 per cent in the following two years.
Galleries and museums are on high alert after the recent vandalism of a painting by Mark Rothko in Tate Modern, as well as the heist of seven paintings, including works by Picasso, Monet and Matisse, taken from the Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam.
Mr Rapley said: “Can we do a great deal? Yes. We can circulate information about that person and the method. Unfortunately crimes like vandalism are almost impossible to stop. But at least we’re aware of it.”
The inaugural meeting of the NMSG included presentations by V&A director Martin Roth and his counterpart at the National Portrait Gallery Sandy Nairne, as well as by representatives of the Tate and the British Museum.
This story is interesting on a number of levels. Coming from Bristol, I saw Banksy’s work long before he was famous outside his home city & before his work became seen as art rather than vandalism. It was interesting to note the change of heart of the local newspapers, who switched their point of view within the space of a year, from stop this vandal ruining our city, to young Bristol artist achieves international recognition… Anyway, the case in this story is a peculiar one – the art appears without permission – an nobody gets paid for it initially, but if it is good enough, then it adds some sort of value to the wall that was picked as its location. At the end of the day, the artist expects many of their works to be erased by those who do not appreciate them, so the only person who really loses out is the owner of the wall it was on (and the other people who passed by the wall & appreciated it).
On the other hand, I don’t entirely buy into the idea that the artwork was a gift to the local community – I think it happened to be a wall in the right place & that was all there was to it.
That said, while the work was produced for free & was not commissioned as such, the idea that someone can come along & remove it without permission for purely personal gain is entirely wrong, just as much so as in other cases of stolen / looted art. The fact that it is possible to sell works such as this on the open market, suggests that many dealers & collectors are still completely lacking in any sort of moral framework to their dealings & that self policing of the industry does not work.
The fact that no complaint has been lodged with the police suggests that perhaps there is no crime to be reported – it would not surprise me if the person who authorised the removal & was doing the selling was in fact the owner of the wall.
It would be interesting to hear Banksy’s viewpoint on the story.
Banksy’s ‘Slave Labour’ mural taken from wall and put on U.S. art auction website for £450,000
Street art cut from London wall last week is now up for sale in America
Banksy Slave Labour could fetch nearly half a million at auction
Locals are furious their ‘gift’ from the mystery Bristol artist has been taken
By Sam Webb
PUBLISHED: 10:41, 18 February 2013 | UPDATED: 12:57, 18 February 2013
A painting by the elusive British guerilla artist Banksy has been gouged out of a wall in North London and is being sold by an American art dealer.
Banksy Slave Labour, depicting a child labourer sewing Union Jack bunting, is expected to fetch £450,000 on the Fine Art Auctions Miami website.
The street art was stencilled onto the side of a Poundland shop in Wood Green in 2012 but disappeared last week.
Gallery owner Frederic Thut told The Sun that it was being sold by a ‘well-known’ collector who is not British but refused to divulge any more information. He added that the painting was being stored in Europe.
Locals are furious about the painting being stolen. Councillor Alan Strickland says the artwork was a ‘gift’ to his community and has instigated a campaign to get the artwork returned by urging people to e-mail the U.S. auction website.
He said: ‘The Banksy appeared last May and created lots of excitement in the area – people were coming from across London to see it.
‘We were really proud to have a Banksy in our neighbourhood, so residents were shocked to realise it had been ripped out of the wall.
‘The community feels that this art was given to us, for free, and it’s now been taken away to be sold for huge profit. I’m very angry about the Banksy going – we want our Banksy back!’
Much of the controversial artist’s work is believed to have a political message, and Slave Labour is believed to be a statement on sweatshops churning out decorations and memorabilia got the Golden Jubilee and the London 2012 Olympics.
Poundland say they are not behind the removal of the artwork, which was behind a protective perspex screen when it was taken.
A spokesman said: ‘We’re not responsible for either selling or removing the Banksy mural. We’re currently investigating.’
A Met Police spokesman said the removal has not been reported as a crime.
An original Banksy artwork has been recovered by police after an art dealer alerted officers to an alleged fraud, Scotland Yard said.
The original of Wrong War by Bristol’s renowned graffiti artist and a signed print of No Ball Games were bought for £12,990 last month.
But two weeks after delivering the artworks to a customer in Plumstead, south London, the art dealer received bank letters stating that the cards used to buy the images did not have the authorisation of the cardholders.
Both payments were cancelled and refunded to the cardholder, leaving the dealer in Essex without the artworks or payments.
Officers from Greenwich CID launched an investigation when, in the meantime, the suspect contacted the art dealer again, this time to make a purchase of two Banksy prints worth £10,000.
Police were informed of this order and arrested a 25-year-old man at an address in Plumstead on February 8. He has since been bailed pending further inquiries.
Officers searched an address in Charlton, believed to be linked to the suspect, where they recovered Wrong War.