Important collection of Jerusalem Museum kept intact

Posted on: March 16, 2021 by

Updated 6th April 2021 following costs ruling in favour of Hashava Foundation*

Readers may recall the report by Meir Heller and Keren Abelow published earlier this year about the proposed sale of important artefacts from Jerusalem’s L.A. Mayer Museum of Islamic Art. We are very pleased to report that a resolution has been reached in this matter which will see the collection kept intact.

Following an outcry in Israel over the intended sale and a successful petition to prevent it filed to Israel’s High Court of Justice by Hashava Foundation, an arrangement was achieved which has been described as ground-breaking. Pursuant to the arrangement, the collection will be returned to Jerusalem and to the museum, which will be supported henceforth by the Qatar-based Al-Thani Collection Foundation. The innovative deal, brokered by Sotheby’s (where the items had been consigned for sale before the recent announcement) will involve mutual loans between the museum and the Foundation which is due to open a new museum space at the Hôtel de la Marine in Paris later this year.

Hili Tropper, Israel’s Minister of Culture and Sport expressed his delight that “…all our strenuous efforts to preserve intact the entirety of the collection of the L.A. Mayer Museum have come to such a successful conclusion”. He hailed the “spirit of cross-cultural cooperation” epitomised by the deal, which was also praised by Meir Heller, founder of the Hashava Foundation a lost art restitution organisation. Attorney Heller encapsulated the thoughts of many of those involved in the case from all sides when he spoke of “law, art and politics mixed together in the best possible way”.

* With thanks to Meir Heller and Keren Abelow for their contribution to this post and for subsequently providing the following update in respect of a supplementary verdict in this case handed down by the Israeli High Court on 25 March 2021, by which an award of costs was made in favour of Hashava Foundation. Such an award is rarely made in respect of a petition by a ‘public’ petitioner (i.e. seeking to represent public rather than private interests) and the petition by Hashava Foundation was noted by the court as having “’stopped’ the sale of the items, and in fact its submission and discussion contributed to this achievement; Meanwhile, the petition floated important legal and value issues regarding the sale of museum collection items that are of cultural, historical and financial value, and the need to regulate the issue in a variety of aspects.”  (Unofficial translation)

Image: L. A. Mayer Museum of Islamic Art, Jerusalem, by Ricardo Tulio Gandelman from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Flickr, CC BY 2.0,