Category Archives: Restitution

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. […]

Recent American Restitutions

Posted on: December 14, 2018 by Alexander Herman

American prosecutors have been busy of late. Not only has New York Assistant District Attorney Matthew Bogdanos been active over the past 18 months in seeking seizure and forfeiture orders for stolen or looted property, but the US Attorney’s office has been busy as well. Added to this is the favourable stance the US courts […]

Progress on the Washington Principles: a glass half full after 20 years?

Posted on: December 5, 2018 by Emily Gould

The adoption of the Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art by 44 nations in 1998 marked a deeply significant moment in the development of cultural policy in the 20th and 21st centuries. Whilst the extent of looting perpetrated by the Nazis during the 1933-45 period was fairly well understood at that stage, few would have […]

Cultural ‘Matrimony’ as a New Approach to Heritage Disputes

Posted on: November 29, 2018 by Sharon Hecker

The Benin Dialogue Group has recently announced plans to construct a new Royal Museum in Nigeria to display objects looted from the country that are now in European collections. This is an excellent example of what I call cultural ‘matrimony’, a new approach that can be used to resolve heritage disputes. This solution is in […]

French report calls for massive restitution of African artefacts

Posted on: November 28, 2018 by Alexander Herman

Last week, French President Emmanuel Macron received the report he commissioned in March on the restitution of African artefacts currently held in French Museums. The commission followed the President’s speech in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, delivered one year ago today, in which he had called for “the conditions to be met within five years for the […]

Major sale of restituted Nazi-spoliated works tonight

Posted on: November 12, 2018 by Alexander Herman

Tonight, Sotheby’s auction house in New York will hold a major sale of early 20th century European masterworks, including pieces by Kandinsky, Monet, Magritte and Miró. But perhaps most exceptional will be three restituted works that had been spoliated during the Nazi period. Two of these were returned to the heirs of Alfred Flechtheim, a […]

Addressing the challenges in international cultural property crime

Posted on: July 1, 2018 by Emily Gould

The 2018 Transatlantic Cultural Property Crime Symposium held on 28th and 29th June 2018 promised a varied and wide-ranging approach to current issues in heritage crime. It certainly did not disappoint on that score. The conference, organised jointly by Queen Mary University of London, Mount Saint Mary College, New York and the University of Maryland […]

Assistant Director Alexander Herman quoted in New York Times

Posted on: April 5, 2018 by Kiri Cragin Folwell

Assistant Director Alexander Herman was quoted yesterday in the New York Times article U.K. Museum Offers Ethiopia Long-Term Loan of Looted Treasures. Alexander commented on treasures taken from Ethiopia 150 years ago that could be returned on a long-term loan from the Victoria and Albert Museum. He said, “The loan is a powerful method of […]

Culture as a unifier: the Ethiopian manuscripts

Posted on: February 9, 2018 by Alexander Herman

The story begins 150 years ago. In 1868, deep in the deserts of east Africa, a British expedition led by General Robert Napier, was attacking the capital of the Abyssinian Empire, Maqdala, ruled over by King Tewodros. The British were looking to teach Tewodros a lesson for having imprisoned a number of British envoys and […]

Ancient crown to be returned to Turkey in out-of-court settlement

Posted on: December 12, 2017 by Holly Woodhouse

A golden crown dating from the fourth-century BC will be returned to Turkey following an out-of-court settlement between a Turkish national residing in Scotland and the Government of Turkey. The crown, reported to have been valued at £250,000, was in the possession of Edinburgh café owner Murat Aksakalli, who claimed to have inherited it from […]