Showing posts with label stolen art objects. Show all posts
Showing posts with label stolen art objects. Show all posts

September 14, 2016

Should there be immunity for stolen art? Info Call on Bill S.3155 - the Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity Clarification Act

Tomorrow, September 15, 2016 the United States Senate Judiciary Committee will vote, or not, on S.3155, the Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity Clarification Act.

This bill on looted cultural artifacts in the US was first introduced by Senator Orrin Hatch [R-Utah] and subsequently cosponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein [D-CA], Sen. John Cornyn [R-TX], Sen. Christopher Coons [D-DE], Sen. Mike Lee [R-UT], Sen. Charles Schumer [D-NY], Sen. Thom Tillis [R-NC], Sen. Richard Blumenthal [D-CT], Sen. Richard Durbin [D-IL], Sen. Al Franken [D-MN], Sen. Lindsey Graham [R-SC], Sen. Tom Udall [D-NM], and Sen. Amy Klobuchar [D-MN]. 

The Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity Clarification Act would amend the federal judicial code with respect to denial of a foreign state's sovereign immunity from the jurisdiction of U.S. or state courts in commercial activity cases where rights in property taken in violation of international law are an issue and that property, or any property exchanged for it, is: 

(1) present in the United States in connection with a commercial activity carried on by the foreign state in the United States, 

or (2) owned by an agency or instrumentality of the foreign state and that agency or instrumentality is engaged in a commercial activity in the United States.

This bill would grant a foreign state or certain carriers immunity from federal or state court jurisdiction for any activity in the United States associated with a temporary exhibition or display of a work of art or other object of cultural significance if the work of art or other object of cultural significance is imported into the United States from any foreign country pursuant to an agreement for its temporary exhibition or display between a foreign state that is its owner or custodian and the United States or U.S. cultural or educational institutions; and
the President has determined that such work is culturally significant and its temporary exhibition or display is in the national interest.

If passed, this bill would grant many authoritarian regimes around the world the right to keep stolen art. Additionally the exception within the law for art stolen seized during World War II by the Nazi regime, has been narrowly interpreted, and if passed the bill would grant many of these looted works of art immunity from seizure. 

Ori Z. Soltes, Chair of the Holocaust Art Restitution Project ( “HARP”), expressed, through counsel, strong opposition to this bill via, the central registry of information on looted cultural property from the period of 1933 to 1945. 

For those who would like to know more about the impact of this proposed legislation, please consider dialing in to the following teleforum event today:


CALL-IN: 1-888-585-9008

CONFERENCE PIN: 881-121-039

The forum will be moderated by Marion Smith, a civil-society leader, expert in international affairs, and Executive Director of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation

On hand for the call will be:

Pierre Ciric, an attorney and founder of the Ciric Law Firm, PLLC, a firm which specializes in art law and cultural property advice.

Eric Sundby, President of the Holocaust Remembrance and Restitution Foundation, Inc., a foundation which fights to return stolen antiquities while also working to combat trade in illegal antiquities, advocate for and provide education on the crimes of Nazi and Communist regimes, and end anti-Semitism and prejudice around the world.

Marc Masurovsky co-founder of the Holocaust Art Restitution Project (HARP) and an expert on the question of assets looted during the Holocaust and World War II.

March 6, 2012

The Journal of Art Crime, Fall 2011: Diane Joy Charney reviews Nathaniel Herzberg

In the Fall 2011 issue of The Journal of Art Crime, Diane Joy Charney reviews Nathaniel Herzberg's Le Musée Invisible: Les Chefs-d'oeuvre volés (Nouvelle Edition, 2010):
This handsome edition by “Le Monde” journalist, Nathaniel Hertzberg, begins provocatively: 
“It’s the largest and richest museum in the world— works by Picasso, Renoir, Rembrandt, Monet, Matisse, Warhol, the great Italian Primitives, a whole range of Flemish masters with Vermeer at the top of the list. Also works of sculpture, furniture, rare books, musical instruments, precious timepieces. No period or important artist is unrepresented in this unique establishment, Le Musée Invisible—the greatest museum in the world, but no one can see it. Its collections, stolen over the course of centuries, pillaged from historic sites, taken from museums, churches, chateaux and private collectors, and never recovered.” 
In homage to these missing works, Herzberg has created this imaginary museum. As a backdrop to the works he has chosen for the collection, he paints the strangely diverse world of criminals responsible for the thefts, but especially a world where to steal a work of art is easier than to resell it. 
The above Introduction is actually preceded by an explanation of why a new edition was necessary so soon after the first appeared. As Herzberg explains, “...the May 2010 thefts of five masterpieces from the Paris Musée d’Art Moderne, the most important theft of a French museum in the past quarter century had occurred, and the book made no mention of it.” 
To no one’s surprise, there were other major thefts during the interval between the first and second editions: a Breughel stolen from an art fair in Brussels, an anonymous portrait from a Polish church, a Degas pastel from the Musée Cantini in Marseilles, an anonymous sculpture from a Venezuela museum, a lavishly decorated marble plaque from a Teheran mosque, and an antique statue stolen from a private collection in Copenhagen. In 2009 alone, 1751 works of art were reported stolen in France.
Diane Joy Charney teaches French Literature at Yale University, where she is also Tutor-in-Writing and the Mellon Forum Fellow of Timothy Dwight College.

You may read the full review by subscribing to The Journal of Art Crime.

October 17, 2011

The Collecting History of Stolen Art: Amelia’s Bronze Germanicus

by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

One of my reasons for writing about art crime is the history behind the objects stolen; artifacts in galleries and museums that physically tie us to the past. The collecting history of an object brings a historical context and a relevancy, a narrative from which we can differentiate some objects from the other hundreds or thousands on display. In this series on The Collecting History of Stolen Art, all of these objects can be found on display or in the collections of art or archaeological institutions. We can start with the bronze statue of Germanicus found in Amelia, the home of ARCA’s International Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection Studies program.

Amelia’s bronze Germanicus is the combination of different parts, according to scholar Giulia Rocco, author of La Statua Bronzea con Rittratto di Germanico da Ameria (Umbria) (Roma 2008, Bardi Editore Commerciale). Rocco’s book is a detailed examination of the restoration of the bronze statue found outside the historical center of Amelia in 1964 while workers were excavating a mill.

In the English translation of her abstract, Rocco writes:
The thorax belongs to the Hellenistic Age, around the beginning of the first century BC and can be attributed to a Greek, perhaps Pergamene workshop…. The statue, which the cuirassed torso belonged to could represent Mithradates VI, king of Pontus, because of the myth on the chest of the breastplate, which Achilles killing Troilus, perhaps an allegory of the wished destruction of the Romans as descendants from the Troians. It could be one of the numerous objects brought to Rome as booty in the age of the Mithridatic wars.
Adrienne Mayor, an independent scholar, published a new biography of Mithradates under the title, The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates, Rome’s Deadlinest Enemy (Princeton, 2011).

Mithradates the Great, of Greco-Macedonian-Persian descent and culture, objected to the Roman presence and subsequent onerous taxation policies in Asia Minor and Anatolia (now present day Turkey). In 88 BC, Mithradates organized the slaughter of 80,000 to 150,000 Romans and Italians living in the region. Then he established his headquarters in Pergamon, the kingdom bequeathed to the Romans in 133 BC and delivered a speech decrying his unification of the region against the Romans. Shortly thereafter, in the Theatre of Dionysus in Pergamon, he oversaw the execution of his Roman nemesis Aquillius, by melting gold and pouring it into the general’s mouth in front of an audience of 10,000 people.

It is probably at this time that the workshop in Pergamon made the cuirass that is now part of the Germanicus statue in Amelia. A cuirass is a piece of armor consisting of a breastplate and backplate fastened together.

Sulla, a ruthless Roman patrician commander dispatched to avenge Mithradates massacre of Romans and to recover Greece, according to Mayor in The Poison King, looted art from Greece to Asian Minor. It is possible that after the First Mithradatic War that he obtained the thorax that is now part of Amelia’s bronze Germanicas.

Rocco continues in her abstract:
It was subsequently transformed as an image of a Roman general speaking to his troops, probably one of the imperatores who fought against the king of Pontus. The provenance of the cuirassed bust and the chronology of the added parts, so as the fact that it has been found in Ameria, suggests that the bronze was transformed into a statue probably representing L. Cornelius Sulla, in whose honour monuments were erected in several municipia. 
Many years later, wishing to commemorate Germanicus, the monument was reused as iconic statue of the young prince, with a new head. This probably happened in the age of Caligula.
Germanicus was the father of the Roman Emperor Caligula.

The next post in this series will discuss more objects stolen by Sulla, including the krater on display in the archaeological museum in Amelia while Germanicus was displayed in Rome this year.