No Quick Answers in Fights Over ArtMuseums’ Property Claims

02 Jul 2013 7:58 AM | Anonymous

No Quick Answers in Fights Over Art

The decision by the Metropolitan Museum of Art to return two ancient Khmer statues to Cambodia last month, less than a year after their ownership was challenged, shows how quickly museums can act on cultural property claims in an era when source countries are far more demanding.

But given the implications of surrendering an item, speedy decisions remain rare.

More typical are disputes like one between Turkey and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles over a fifth-century bronze bed known as a Lydian kline, which has been an item of contention since 1995.

Last year two scholars, whose research was supported by the Getty, found that the bed was likely looted from Turkey in the 1970s. The Getty has called the findings intriguing but “circumstantial” and said it hopes to continue talks with Turkey while awaiting “more secure and compelling evidence.”


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