Cultural Heritage News

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  • 02 Jun 2015 2:34 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Museums draw up 'red list' to help spot stolen Iraqi antiquities

    Museum experts from around the world on Monday issued an "emergency red list" to help authorities identify Iraqi antiquities at risk of being looted and illegally exported as the country battles a surge in jihadist violence.

    The list from the Paris-based International Council of Museums (ICOM) highlights objects that are popular on the black market such as sculptures, stone tablets, vases and coins, and tells customs and police officers how to spot stolen ancient treasures.

  • 02 Jun 2015 2:30 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    House bill targets ISIS profits from cultural destruction

    By Cristina Marcos

    The House passed legislation on Monday to help prevent the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) from reaping profits from damage to cultural heritage sites.

    Passed by voice vote, the measure would restrict U.S. imports on archaeological material from Syria. A similar ban is already in effect for Iraq.

    Lawmakers said the measure would limit the ability of ISIS to wipe reminders of history from the face of the Earth and make monetary profits in the process by selling ancient artifacts on the black market.

  • 02 Jun 2015 8:25 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Federal agents comb records for disgraced dealer Subhash Kapoor's sales and gifts

    Authorities claim that Kapoor organised global trade in stolen Asian antiquities, casting doubt on some of his gifts to international museums

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York hosted a private reception in 2009 for the Manhattan-based, Indian-born art dealer Subhash Kapoor to honour his donation of dozens of Indian drawings. But even as he was being feted, the illegitimate side of Kapoor’s success was beginning to come to light.

    The reception marked a high point for Kapoor who had built his Madison Avenue showroom, Art of the Past, into a leading source of Asian art for museums and collectors around the world. Kapoor had carefully cultivated that status with donations of Indian paintings and the sale of rare South and South-east Asian antiquities to leading museums including the Met, which today has 81 objects fr om the dealer in its collection.

  • 02 Jun 2015 8:22 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Stolen art? Why no one can say for sure

    One of the main art databases, the Art Loss Register, has issued certificates for works looted or subject to recovery claims

    by Charlotte Burns  |  2 June 2015

    The Art Newspaper has discovered that the largest and most powerful due diligence service used by the art world is at the centre of three separate provenance disputes, two of which are working their way through international courts.

    The Art Loss Register (ALR), a company founded by Julian Radcliffe that works with law enforcement officials worldwide, more than 80 auction houses, most major art fairs and innumerable collectors and dealers, has provided certificates confirming that works of art were free from claim, when they were in fact subject to claims by third parties or stolen.

    “It’s incredibly frustrating because it doesn’t matter what you do,” says one affected person, who asked to remain anonymous. “You do everything you can to check a painting is clean, and it’s useless. How can you protect yourself? You can’t.”

  • 02 Jun 2015 8:19 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Calls to open looted-art archives grow louder

    Museums and the trade want to put an end to the Catch-22 situation with Medici and Becchina

    by Ermanno Rivetti , Melanie Gerlis  |  2 June 2015

    It is now 20 years since a trove of Polaroids, documents and antiquities that passed through the hands of the convicted dealer Giacomo Medici were discovered in a Geneva Freeport, seized by the Italian police and presented as evidence in a high-profile looting case in Italy. Six years later, in 2001, the more detailed archives of another convicted antiquities dealer, Gianfranco Becchina, were retrieved by the Swiss authorities and then transferred to Italy.

    This led to a number of court cases surrounding illegally-excavated antiquities and resulted in some convictions, but no jail time, due in part to statutes of limitations expiring in Italy (see below). They have also embroiled Medici and Becchina’s suppliers and buyers—notoriously including the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles—with the Becchina archive’s contents leading to police investigations of 10,000 people’s affairs in Italy alone.

  • 01 Jun 2015 1:11 PM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Swiss return ancient cultural objects to Egypt 


    Jun 1, 2015 - 12:32

    Switzerland has returned 32 cultural treasures dating from the Pharaonic and Roman periods to the Egyptian Embassy in Bern, the Federal Office of Culture announced on Monday. The objects had been involved in a cantonal criminal procedure.

    Four of the pieces are of exceptional rarity, cultural significance and aesthetic quality. These include a bust of a pharaoh wearing a crown, a fragmented stone slab (known as a stele) depicting the patron goddess of Thebes from the era of the New Kingdom (circa 1500−1000 BC), and two architectural fragments with cult scenes from the Roman period (circa 753 BC to 476 AD).

  • 01 Jun 2015 11:33 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Acceptance by South Africa of the Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (Paris, 2 November 2001)

    On 12 May 2015, South Africa deposited with the Director-General its instrument of acceptance of the Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage.

    In accordance with the terms of its Article 27, the aforementioned Convention will enter into force with respect to South Africa three months after the date of the deposit of this instrument, that is to say on 12 August 2015. 

  • 01 Jun 2015 7:45 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Islamic State sets up 'ministry of antiquities' to reap the profits of pillaging

    Looting priceless artefacts has raised tens of millions of dollars for Isil – a sum comparable to the profit the terrorists have made by the kidnap and ransom of Western hostages

    By Louisa Loveluck, Cairo

    3:34PM BST 30 May 2015

    Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) has established a "ministry of antiquities" to maximise the profits from looting priceless artefacts across the territory it controls.

    The trade has raised tens of millions of dollars for Isil – a sum comparable to the profit the terrorists have made by the kidnap and ransom of Western hostages.

  • 01 Jun 2015 7:31 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)



    General Assembly: Statement by State Minister Dr. Maria Böhmer on Saving the Cultural Heritage of Iraq


    Mr. President,

    It is a privilege for Germany to introduce the draft resolution “Saving the Cultural Heritage of Iraq”, which we drafted together with our Iraqi partners.

    I would like to thank Deputy Secretary-General Eliasson for his vivid description of the situation.

    All of us have been profoundly shocked by the barbaric attacks on Iraq’s cultural heritage perpetrated by the terrorist organization ISIL, or Da’esh. We all remember our feelings of anger and impotence at the videos showing militants destroying the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hatra, ravaging Mosul’s museum or the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud, using sledgehammers and caterpillars to put an abrupt and violent end to thousands of years of history.

  • 01 Jun 2015 7:28 AM | Gary Nurkin (Administrator)

    Syria: Europeans block it from UN culture protection measure 

    By CARA ANNA May 28, 2015 6:06 PM


    UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Syria's U.N. ambassador said Thursday that a newly adopted General Assembly resolution on the Islamic State group's threat to Iraqi cultural heritage doesn't address the same threat to his country because member states threatened to reject the measure.
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