Opinion: Hopi and Navajo Masks Auction Precedent in France Is Too Dangerous

25 Jul 2014 6:05 PM | Anonymous

Opinion: Hopi and Navajo Masks Auction Precedent in France Is Too Dangerous   

The Holocaust Art Restitution Project (“HARP”), based in Washington, DC,¹ chaired by Ori Z. Soltes, recently denounced a “shameful” and “tragic” decision by the French “Conseil des Ventes” (Auction Houses Supervisory Board, hereinafter “Board”), an administrative agency in charge of regulating and supervising auction sales on the French market, which refused to suspend an auction sale of sacred masks owned by the Hopi and Navajo tribes.² The Board held that the Hopi tribe, in fact any indigenous peoples, have no legal capacity or standing to pursue any cultural claim in France, setting the stage for the Paris market to become a safe haven for any indigenous cultural property.

On June 22, 2014, HARP initiated a judicial proceeding in France by requesting from the Board an administrative suspension of an auction sale scheduled for Friday, June 27, 2014, which involved sacred objects of both the Hopi and the Navajo tribes. Following a special hearing held in Paris on June 25, 2014, the Board, an arm of the French Government, held that the Hopi tribe, in fact any Native American tribe, has no legal existence under French law, and therefore lacks the capacity or standing to pursue any cultural claim in France.³

http://news.artnet.com/art-world/opinion-hopi-and-navajo-masks-auction-precedent-in-france-is-too-dangerous-66975