Author Archives: Alexander Herman

About Alexander Herman

Alexander is Director of the Institute of Art and Law. You can find him on Twitter @artlawalex and on LinkedIn. His new book 'Restitution - The Return of Cultural Artefacts' is out now.

Museums, restitution and the new Charities Act

Posted on: September 25, 2022 by Alexander Herman

An important change to charity law that will affect the ability of museums in England and Wales to return collection items was passed by Parliament in February as part of the Charities Act 2022 and is due to come into force this autumn. Charity law is especially important in the cultural sector because most museums […]

Benin Bronzes Joint Declaration signed between Germany and Nigeria… but what about the UK?

Posted on: July 5, 2022 by Alexander Herman

At the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin on Friday, a joint declaration on the return of the Benin Bronzes was signed by Germany’s Foreign Minister and Commissioner for Culture and Media, and by Nigeria’s Minister of Culture and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. By all accounts, it was an emotional occasion. ‘Today we have […]

Accessory charges brought against former Louvre Director

Posted on: June 10, 2022 by Alexander Herman

“I’m confident in saying there will be more seizures and more prosecutions arising out of this investigation…” Those were the words of Assistant District Attorney Matthew Bogdanos, speaking to Ben Lewis last year on the Art Bust podcast. He was referring to an antiquities trafficking ring he’d uncovered that had been dealing in artefacts smuggled […]

Fabergé in London – Russia sanctions and immunity from seizure

Posted on: May 25, 2022 by Alexander Herman

On 8 May, the exhibition Fabergé in London: Romance to Revolution concluded at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum. Several of the pieces on display had been lent by collections in Russia, namely those of the Kremlin in Moscow and the Hermitage in St Petersburg. The exhibition, which opened on 20 November 2021, began in a […]

Russian invasion of Ukraine and the international legal protection of cultural property

Posted on: March 3, 2022 by Alexander Herman

It has been alarming to witness the invasion by Russian troops of Ukrainian territory over the last seven days. Distressing images of the bombardment of cities, communities under siege and refugees pouring into neighbouring countries have proliferated online. The primary focus of the international community has understandably been on the protection of human life and […]

A new take on cultural heritage at the ICJ – Armenia v. Azerbaijan

Posted on: February 17, 2022 by Alexander Herman

It’s rare that an international court confronts cultural heritage issues. But that’s just what happened two months ago. On 7 December, an important Order came down from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at the Hague that included consideration of, amongst other matters, the importance of tangible cultural heritage to minority populations in times of […]

Restitution and the ‘return of beauty’ – afterthoughts

Posted on: February 4, 2022 by Alexander Herman

On Wednesday evening, I spoke on an online panel organised by the Universities of Bonn and Tel Aviv entitled The Return of Beauty: Restitution of Nazi-Looted Art in Comparative Perspectives. I was asked to introduce the topic of ‘post-colonial’ claims for the return of cultural objects as a point of comparison with claims for the […]

Looking ahead to 2022

Posted on: January 5, 2022 by Alexander Herman

Is it really time to make predictions? With the uncertainty that has accompanied these last two years, likely not. As I said last year, prognostication is a perilous enterprise. What can really be said about the year ahead without including a major asterisk? So let us instead try a more modest approach, by going over […]

Michael Steinhardt’s antiquities and the legal/moral divide

Posted on: December 9, 2021 by Alexander Herman

Collector Michael Steinhardt has been in the news this week, and not for the right reasons. On Monday, an agreement was announced whereby the New York DA’s Office would not prosecute Steinhardt for acquiring looted antiquities and, in exchange, Steinhardt would surrender 180 such artefacts to the DA, and these will soon (one hopes) be […]

Restitution – what’s really going on?

Posted on: September 30, 2021 by Alexander Herman

This piece first appeared on The Art Newspaper website on 28 September 2021. *** Much is happening in the global debate over the rightful place of cultural objects. Not a week goes by, it seems, without an important return being announced. Last week it was the return at a ceremony in Washington DC of the ancient […]