Category Archives: Australia

Art and Limitation Periods

Posted on: August 19, 2015 by Alexander Herman

A painting was stolen in 1991. It was a work referred to as Girl in Sunlight by Australian impressionist Rupert Bunny (see below). It was owned by James Watt from Melbourne. Watt tried to recover the painting, but there was nothing he could do. He died in 1993. In May 2010 the painting was seized by the […]

Behind the scenes of the Subhash Kapoor operation

Posted on: July 30, 2015 by Ruth Redmond-Cooper

An interesting and in-depth article appeared last week in the New York Times about Subhash Kapoor’s antiquities smuggling operation. This involved looted antiquities that had been taken from a number of cultural and religious sites throughout India, then sold to unsuspecting buyers. These were buyers of importance, including the National Gallery of Australia, which had purchased […]

Criticism mounts ahead of BM show on Aboriginal art

Posted on: April 20, 2015 by Alexander Herman

Having highlighted the issue in an earlier post, the criticism of the upcoming British Museum exhibition, Indigenous Australia: Enduring Civilization (a purposely ambiguous title?) has become more vociferous with a cutting article published recently in The Guardian provocatively entitled ‘Preservation or plunder? The battle over the British Museum’s Indigenous Australian show’. Past events involving the Dja Dja Wurrung bark etchings are […]

Demand for return of bark etchings as new exhibition set to open

Posted on: March 13, 2015 by Alexander Herman

The British Museum has an upcoming exhibition of art and artefacts from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders entitled Indigenous Australia: Enduring Civilization set to open on 23 April 2015. However, as one recent Guardian article makes clear, all is not well in relations between the museum and representatives of certain indigenous groups, namely the Dja Dja Wurrung people of central Victoria. This […]

Another Australian auction dispute

Posted on: January 13, 2015 by Alexander Herman

On the heels of McBride v Christie’s Australia, came another auction dispute from Australia, this one involving the children of renowned painter John Olsen and Sotheby’s Australia. Sotheby’s had listed for auction an Olsen work entitled Mother, which had been painted in 1964 for the painter’s second wife, marking the birth of their daughter. The children, now executors of their mother’s […]

Recent authenticity dispute in Australia

Posted on: January 9, 2015 by Alexander Herman

Judgment was rendered last month by the Supreme Court of New South Wales in the case of McBride v Christie’s Australia. The case involved the auction sale of a painting by Australian modernist artist Albert Tucker in May 2000 to a barrister named Louise McBride for AUD $75,000. Later, in 2010, when McBride made arrangements to sell the […]

Gough Whitlam on the Marbles

Posted on: October 29, 2014 by Ruth Redmond-Cooper

Former Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam passed away last week at the age of 98. He had served as Prime Minister between 1972 to 1975, during a turbulent period of Australia’s history. He had also spoken at an Institute of Art and Law event in 2001 on the topic of the Parthenon (or Elgin) Marbles. He was […]

Tasmanian human remains returned from Berlin

Posted on: August 1, 2014 by Alexander Herman

The human remains of an Aboriginal woman from Tasmania who had lived in the early nineteenth century were returned to Hobart, Tasmania earlier today. The remains had been acquired by the Anatomy Institute in Berlin, Germany in the 1840s and, more recently, resided in the collection of Berlin’s Charité Medical Museum. The Charité Museum, in returning the […]

Australia makes its first Nazi art restitution

Posted on: June 16, 2014 by Alexander Herman

Inspired by ‘international law’ and the 1998 Washington Principles, the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) in Melbourne recently announced that it will be restituting a portrait to the heirs of its original owner, Jewish industrialist Richard Semmel. The portrait, originally thought to be a Van Gogh original, had been part of Semmel’s collection which was dispersed and sold under duress by […]

City of Adelaide Export Scandal

Posted on: June 2, 2014 by Alexander Herman

As reported here late last year, the famed City of Adelaide ship had been set to leave Scotland for its name city, Adelaide in South Australia. The Australian group seeking its relocation, Clipper Ship City of Adelaide Ltd [CSCoAL], had obtained an Open General Export Licence supposedly for this purpose. The ship left and after a brief stop […]