Category Archives: Africa

French law will finally tackle (some) African restitutions

Posted on: July 21, 2020 by Alexander Herman

Last week, the legal review of a bill under consideration by the French government was released. Following President Macron’s statement on the restitution of artefacts to African countries in November 2017 and the release of the controversial Sarr Savoy Report the following year, this is the first we’ve heard about specific legislation on the topic. […]

Action at last? France renews promise to return looted artefacts to Benin

Posted on: January 23, 2020 by Charlotte Dunn

President Emmanuel Macron originally promised to return 26 artefacts, currently held in the Musée du Quai Branly–Jacques Chirac in Paris, to Benin in 2018. These objects were taken as spoils from the Kingdom of Dahomey in 1892, as part of French colonial military action. Macron’s promise was made in response to the publication of the […]

Update on restitution: recent returns

Posted on: November 22, 2019 by Alexander Herman

After my piece last week on restitution, there have been some interesting developments in the area. First of all, a major non-profit organisation, the Open Society Foundations, has pledged US$15 million to assist groups working to restitute African heritage. The money is pledged over a period of four years. As I said when commenting on […]

One year after the Sarr-Savoy report, France has lost its momentum in the restitution debate

Posted on: November 15, 2019 by Alexander Herman

The following commentary first appeared in The Art Newspaper print edition (November 2019) and on The Art Newspaper website on 12 November 2019. A year ago this month, authors Felwine Sarr and Bénédicte Savoy submitted their controversial report to French President Emanuel Macron. The report recommended the return of a vast number of Sub-Saharan African artefacts currently in […]

New issue of IAL’s Art Antiquity and Law journal just released

Posted on: October 24, 2019 by Julia Rodrigues Casella Hommes

Marking the beginning of a new academic year, the latest issue of Art Antiquity & Law, IAL’s quarterly journal, is hot off the press and brings a number of articles ranging from topics such as musical instruments and their legal framework to arbitration, art theft, export of cultural goods and the repatriation claims for the […]

Eight months on from Sarr Savoy and… still waiting

Posted on: August 7, 2019 by Alexander Herman

Since the release of the Sarr Savoy Report at the end of November (over eight months ago), there has not been the feared avalanche of returns to Africa of artefacts from French public collections. Far from it. In fact, the latest public actions on the part of the French government seem to show a retreat […]

To deal or not to deal: provenance and morality in recent sale at Christie’s

Posted on: July 26, 2019 by Julia Rodrigues Casella Hommes

Earlier this month, controversy surrounded one particular lot in the ‘The Exceptional Sale’ at Christie’s in London. The object of the controversy was ‘An Egyptian Brown Quartzite Head of the God Amen with the features of the Pharaoh Tutankhamen’, dated to the Reign of Tutankhamen, c. 1333-1323 BC, New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty. The lot (no. 110) […]

Just Released: Art Antiquity & Law July 2019 Issue

Posted on: July 23, 2019 by Julia Rodrigues Casella Hommes

Landing just in time to absorb you during the Summer holidays, the July 2019 issue of Art Antiquity & Law (Vol. XXIV, Issue 2) has been released in print and online. Subscriptions are available either as hardcopy only, digital only as well as digital + hardcopy packages and can be purchased directly through our website. […]

News from the latest IAL Study Forum

Posted on: July 8, 2019 by Emily Gould

A fascinating day was enjoyed by all who braved London’s hottest day so far this year to attend IAL’s latest Study Forum held on 29th June. Topics ranged from the origins of modern copyright law to international laws on restitution to the treatment of human remains. Dr Elena Cooper (Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, CREATe) gave a […]

Law, Restitution and the Benin Bronzes

Posted on: December 23, 2018 by Alexander Herman

In 1897, British troops marched on Benin City, capital of the fabled West African kingdom of Benin, ruled over by a powerful Oba. The attack was called a ‘punitive expedition’ because it was a retaliatory response to the Oba having massacred a British delegation of eight officials, two traders and local escorts the previous month. […]