November 10, 2017

Auction Alert: Sotheby’s London and Henryk Siemiradzki's “The Sword Dance”

Image Credit: ARCA - Screen Capture 10 November 2017
Yesterday provenance scholar Yagna Yass-Alston, a specialist in the history of Jewish artists and collectors, alerted ARCA that a version of 19th century painter Henryk Siemiradzki's The Sword Dance," is currently up for sale in the November 28th Russian Pictures auction to be held at Sotheby’s in London. The painting appears to be on offer through a private German collector who acquired the painting through his parents circa 1960.

Yass-Alston noted that the painting is published in the Polish Database of the Division of Looted Art of the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, and provided a link to the painting's identification and details on the ministry’s database.  According to the lootedart.gov.pl website, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage has, since 1992, been responsible for gathering information regarding cultural property lost from within the post-1945 borders of Poland with an aim at their recovery.

Image Credit: ARCA - Screen Capture 10 November 2017
The Polish ministry of culture and national heritage has stated that it is in contact with the auction firm and will undertake efforts to have the painting withdrawn from the upcoming sale.

Henryk Hektor Siemiradzki (1843 - 1902) was born into a Polish noble family, the son of an officer of the Imperial Russian Army.  He studied art in Saint Petersburg at the Imperial Academy of Arts, and later in both Munich and Rome. His paintings are inspired by the life of Greek and Roman mythology and he is believed to be one of the major interpreters of the so-called Arte Accademica, also known as Academic art, or academicism or academism, a style of painting, sculpture, and architecture produced under the influence of European academies of art which reflected the aesthetic canons of the past.

In verifying the version of the painting in question, ARCA's own research identified three other distinct and original versions of the painting “The Sword Dance,” each with slight modifications by the artist in the composition. 

The master version, believed to have been completed in 1878 and catalogued as Schwertertanz in the catalog record of the Akademi der Künste zu Berlin, was acquired by Count Alexander Orlovsky.  The present whereabouts of this version are not known.  

Another version, commissioned by Moscow merchant and collector K.T. Soldatenkov, was given to the Rumyantsev Museum at his death and now is part of the State Tretyakov Gallery collection in Moscow. 

A third version of “The Sword Dance” was sold by Sotheby's on April 12, 2011 in New York.  Listed as “Property from the Slotkowski Collection,” this version of the artwork sold for a record price of 2,098,500 USD, making it one of the 10 most expensive auctioned artworks from Poland.  

At the time of this third version's sale, Sotheby's listed the artwork's provenance as follows:


Franz Otto Matthiessen, an American sugar mogol, died in 1901. Artworks from his extensive collection were sold shortly thereafter. William Schaus, Jr. was the son of Wilhelm, later William Schaus, Sr., a German-immigrant art collector and proprietor of Schaus Galleries in New York City.  It is not clear from the Sotheby's notation if they are referencing father or son, but the label on the frame of this painting reads "Schaus," making it clear that the painting passed through the Schaus Galleries, but leaving it vague as to who acquired the painting first, Matthiessen or Schaus, as Matthiessen often purchased from Schaus. This version of the painting reappears on the market in 1968 when Dr. Eugene L. Slotkowski, the founder of the Slotkowski Sausage Company in Chicago, acquired the work from an unnamed  private collector.

Estimating war losses incurred by Poland in the area of objects of art is difficult to assess, as the country suffers not only from a lack of complete archival materials but also changes in geographic territory, making establishing legal claims more difficult. What is certain is that scores of museum and private collections disappeared during the hostilities.  

While some quote Poland as having lost over 516,000 works of art (Archiwum Akt Nowych w Warszawie, zespól Ministerstwa Kultury i Sztuki), this estimate is likely quite low, as it only considers those claims established by former owners after the conclusion of the war.

October 27, 2017

Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports issue statement regarding claim on two Frieze Masters funerary vases

Image Credit:  Greek Ministry of Culture and Sport
On October 26, 2017 the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports issued a press release regarding the two flagged lekythoi identified at Frieze Masters art fair by Dr. Christos Tsirogiannis.  The two Greek Attic funerary vessels were brought to London earlier this Autumn on consignment by the Basel-based art firm of Jean-David Cahn AG, acting on behalf of the Swiss canton Basel-Stadt.  Tsirogiannis had identified the vessels as being present in the Gianfranco Becchina archive, despite the fact that this passage of provenance in the objects' history had been omitted from the provenance documentation for the marble vases on hand for potential buyers at the London art fair.  


Both vases remained unsold.


The Greek ministry of Culture and Sport statement reads:

Αθήνα, 26 Οκτωβρίου 2017
ΔΕΛΤΙΟ ΤΥΠΟΥΤΟ ΥΠΟΥΡΓΕΙΟ ΠΟΛΙΤΙΣΜΟΥ ΚΑΙ ΑΘΛΗΤΙΣΜΟΥ ΔΙΕΚΔΙΚΕΙ ΤΙΣ ΚΛΕΜΜΕΝΕΣ ΑΡΧΑΙΟΤΗΤΕΣ
Δύο μαρμάρινα επιτύμβια αγγεία, έργα αττικών εργαστηρίων Κλασικών χρόνων, τέθηκαν πρόσφατα προς πώληση στην έκθεση έργων τέχνης Frieze Masters, στο Λονδίνο. Πρόκειται για μια λήκυθο με ενεπίγραφη παράσταση αποχαιρετισμού του νεκρού και μία λουτροφόρο με ανάγλυφη διακόσμηση, που χρονολογούνται στον 4ο αιώνα π.Χ. Οι εν λόγω ελληνικές αρχαιότητες διεκδικούνται ήδη από το Υπουργείο Πολιτισμού και Αθλητισμού, το οποίο θα συνεχίσει τις προσπάθειες επαναπατρισμού τους αξιοποιώντας κάθε πρόσφορο μέσο.

Translated in English, the government statement reads as follows:

Athens, 26 October 2017

PRESS RELEASE

THE MINISTRY OF CULTURE AND SPORTS IS CLAIMING THE STOLEN ANTIQUITIES 

Two marble funerary vases, works of Attic workshops of the Classic period, were offered recently for sale at the art exhibition Frieze masters, in London. They are a lekythos with an inscription of farewell to the deceased and a loutrophoros, with relief decoration, dating back to the 4th century BC. These Greek antiquities are already under claim by the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports, which will continue the efforts to repatriate them using all appropriate means.

The press release, which is quite brief, does not specify when Greece filed their repatriation claim.


October 23, 2017

Further information on the flagged lekythoi identified at London's Frieze Masters art fair

Image Left:  Christos Tsirogiannis, Frieze Masters 2017
Image Right: Gianfranco Becchina Archive
On October 22, 2017, the Guardian newspaper reported on two ancient Greek marble lekythoi identified as having once passed through the hands of convicted antiquities dealer Gianfranco Becchina.   The identifications were made via forensic archaeologist Dr. Christos Tsirogiannis with the help of photographs obtained by a concerned individual in London.  Tsirogiannis notified the authorities of his findings on October 16, 2017.

Since 2007, Dr. Tsirogiannis has actively identified illicit antiquities as they have come up for sale on the art market, matching corresponding objects to material found in the confiscated Medici, Becchina, and Symes-Michaelides archives.

During this research, Tsirogiannis informed ARCA that he had found two photocopied images and two Polaroid images of a lekythos which depicts an image of a dead warrior with his relatives, which also has an inscription.  Reviewing copies of the images he sent in confirmation, the photographs of the lekythos show the object in pre-sale condition in two different spaces in storage depots. 

Tsirogiannis also identified a single photograph in the Becchina archive of the second lekythos mentioned in the Guardian article.  This photograph, unlike the others, was a professional black and white image and may have been used by the dealer for sale catalogue purposes.

ARCA has joined two of the archive photographs with their Frieze Masters counterpart to show that Tsirogiannis' identifications match perfectly.

Image Left:  Christos Tsirogiannis, Frieze Masters 2017
Image Right: Gianfranco Becchina Archive
In addition to the photographic evidence, the Becchina archive also contained written documentation from 1988 and 1990 which showed Becchina and George Ortiz as co-owners of the lekythos, with the image and inscription. One of those documents also referenced the object in an earlier 1977 Becchina list of antiquities.

The two lekythoi were brought to London this Autumn on consignment – price “upon request” by the Basel-based art firm Jean-David Cahn AG, a gallery which specializes in ancient Greek and Roman art. 

They were exhibited in Regent's Park during Frieze Masters, a Frieze London spin-off art fair that features hundreds of leading modern and historical galleries from around the world, many with pricey, museum quality objects.  Both objects did not sell. 

According to Guardian journalist, Howard Swains, the consignor of the two lekythoi is the Swiss canton of Basel-Stadt.  Each canton in Switzerland has its own constitution, legislature, government, and courts and in this case it appears that the Basel-Stadt judiciary had greenlighted the brokering of the objects through the Swiss intermediary as part of their liquidation of Becchina's remaining unclaimed art assets from his business dealings in Basel.

Sixteen years earlier, Italian authorities had requested assistance from Swiss law enforcement in their longstanding investigation into Gianfranco Becchina's operations.  As a result of the joint Italian-Swiss operation, an international illicit trafficking ring was dismantled and 5,800 objects were seized from three Becchina warehouses under suspicion of having been plundered.

The largest portion of these ancient objects were repatriated to Italy after a lengthy identification process.  Unfortunately, hundreds of orphaned objects, whose countries of origin were not verified, remained in limbo, under the jurisdiction of the Swiss authorities.

It is important to note that in agreeing to broker the sale of the lekythoi in London, Jean-David Cahn AG elected to omit the Becchina and Ortiz passages in the object documentation published for the Frieze Masters event.  That literature can be seen in the photos below.  While each carries a lengthy description of the object, there is only spartan mention of their provenance, stating only “Formerly Swiss art market, October 1977.”



As Dr. David Gill points out, "These two items are objects that were created in Attica for display in Attic cemeteries. They are from Greek, not Italian, soil."

While it remains unclear if the Greek authorities know about these two particular antiquities, and if they somehow failed to file a claim at the time of their seizure,  the absence of any documentable provenance is a strong indicator that both artifacts, orphaned or not, were acquired through individuals connected with Becchina's trafficking network.

The fact that antiquities dealers continue to market antiquities, selectively omitting problematic passages in an object's provenance is a longstanding issue.  In cases like these, it also underscores why many heritage protection experts — who monitor the antiquities trade and antiquities trafficking — believe the art market is unwilling or incapable of policing itself, especially if the seller believes that sharing the object's complete history might diminish its chances of finding a buyer.

Also worthy of note:

In 2006, Jean-David Cahn voluntarily returned a marble male head from its stock which had been stolen from the Temple of Eshmun in Lebanon.

Excerpt from the State of New York Application for Turnover - Bulls-Head-Case
In 2007, Jean-David Cahn returned a marble statue of the Lykeios Apollo that had been stolen from the archaeological site of Gortyna in Crete in 1991. 


Then in 2008, after a series of negotiations, Jean-David Cahn returned a different Attic marble funerary lekythos, also identified by Christos Tsirogiannis, to Greece as part of an out-of-court settlement.  That object had been pinpointed during the TEFAF Maastrict art fair in March 2007.

  
While the heritage community continues to advocate strongly for responsible collecting and informed due diligence from collectors before they make purchases as a means of curbing the trade in looted artifacts, one has to also ask what the ethical responsibility of dealers and governments is, who knowingly place questionable origin objects up for sale, intentionally misleading potential buyers by not giving them all the collecting history information at their disposal.

Hypothetically Speaking...

What if a buyer had been interested in purchasing either of these antiquities?

Somewhere down the road, said buyer might find themselves in the awkward position of not being able to donate, or sell, or recoup their previous investment because the potentially illicit origin of the object was not made clear to them at the time of purchase.

Food for thought.

By: Lynda Albertson

October 22, 2017

Recovered - 200 undocumented ancient objects in Grosseto, Italy

Image Credit:  Guardia di Finanza

Four antiquities collectors in Grosseto stand accused of illicit detention and possession of property belonging to the state after officers from Italy's Guardia di Finanza seized more than 200 undocumented ancient objects uncovered during asset controls in the garden of a villa.  The search and seizure warrant was issued by the Public Prosecutor of Rome.  

Some of the pieces recovered date back to the Roman imperial age and depict various inscriptions and scenes of Mithraism. 

Image Credit:  Guardia di Finanza

In addition to these, law enforcement officers seized marble heads and busts, including the one of Jupiter pictured in the header of this article, and another of Faustina Maggiore.

Image Credit:  Guardia di Finanza

Also seized was an ancient sarcophagus, unfortunately converted into a utilitarian planter, a full-body statue of a female, attic pottery, columns, and pedestals. Many are in poor condition, perhaps due to exposure to the elements. 

Image Credit:  Guardia di Finanza

As part of this investigation, Italy's finance police raided 22 residences in three regions: Lazio, Sicily, and Tuscany. Eleven suspects have been placed under investigation.  

Image Credit:  Guardia di Finanza
Image Credit:  Guardia di Finanza

October 17, 2017

Rome: A lab which will help the force to detect and unmask fakes and forgeries.


Given the growing phenomenon in counterfeit cultural heritage, Italy's Comando Carabinieri Tutela Patrimonio Culturale and Rome's Roma Tre University have signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the establishment a “Laboratorio del Falso,” a lab which will help the force to detect and unmask fakes and forgeries and aimed at teaching and scientific research related to cultural heritage. 

In 2017 the Carabinieri seized, 783 fake objects compared to only 57 fabrications in 2016. As ever-more-elaborate forgeries hit the market, more research is needed to differentiate between what is genuine and what is counterfeit.

Signed by Brigadier General Fabrizio Parrulli, Commander of the Carabinieri for the Protection of the World Cultural and Prof. Mario De Nonno, Director of the Department of Humanities of the University of Roma Tre the goal of the agreement and the laboratory's development is to help enhance scholarly insight and in so doing, work to alleviate the proliferation of inauthentic works in the art market. 

Motivated by the ease with which historical and visual evidence is manipulated by con artists preying on collectors, the adopted partnership will carry out studies on the artists most prone to counterfeiting and will examine and develop techniques, procedures, and systems to allow better identification of the genuine thereby helping to shine the spotlight on what is real, rather than what is a deception.

In conjunction with this initiative Italy's MiBact and the Ministry of Economic Development will present 15 lectures in different Italian cities on the problem and recognition of art forgeries, titled "L'arte non vera non può essere arte" (Art that is not authentic, isn't art".  The events will be held in the cities where the Carabinieri TPC have their regional offices and will conclude with a special event at the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna, (National Gallery of Modern Art --GNAM where there will be an exhibition of copies of counterfeit works of art previously confiscated by law enforcement agencies throughout the country.

The dates and locations of these events include:

Ancona - October 4, 2017, 9:00 am 
Auditorium della Mole Vanvitelliana
For information: tel. 071.201322
email: tpcannu@carabinieri.it

Perugia - October 11, 2017, 5:30 pm
Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria
For information: tel. 0754.4194
email: tpcpgnu@carabinieri.it

Palermo - October 18, 2017, 9:00 am
Palazzo Belmonte Riso of the  Museo Regionale d’Arte Contemporanea
For information: tel. 091.422825
email: tpcpanu@carabinieri.it

Udine - October 27, 2017, 6:00 pm
Palazzo Garzolini Toppo Wassermann at the Scuola Superiore dell’Universita' di Udine
For information: tel. 0432.504904
email: tpcudnu@carabinieri.it

Cosenza - November 8, 2017, 10:00 am
Palazzo Arnone, Giorgio Leone Hall at the Polo Museale della Abria
For information: tel. 0984.795540
email: tpccsnu@carabinieri.it

Turin - November 10, 2017, 9:30 am
Vivaldi Auditorium at the Biblioteca Nazionale
For information: tel. 011.5217715
email: tpctonu@carabinieri.it

Cagliari - November 15-16, 2017, 9:30 am
Pinacoteca Nazionale di Cagliari
For information: tel. 070.307808
email: tpccanu@carabinieri.it

Genoa - November 16, 2017, 11:00 am
Archivio di Stato di Genova
For information: tel. 010.5955488
email: tpcgenu@carabinieri.it

Monza - November 16, 2017, 9:30 am
Villa Reale
For information: tel. 039.2303997
email: tpcmznu@carabinieri.it

Naples - November 20, 2017, 10:00 am
Palazzo Reale
For information: tel. 081.5568291
email: tpcnanu@carabinieri.it

Venice - November 22, 2017, 10:00 am
Universita' degli Studi Ca’ Foscari - "Mario Baratto Conference Hall"
For information: tel. 041.5222054
email: tpcvenu@carabinieri.it

Bari - November 22, 9:00 am
Castello Svevo
For information: tel. 080.5213038
email: tpcbanu@carabinieri.it

Florence - November 28, 2017, 9:30 am
the Teatro del Rondo' di Bacco  of the Palazzo Pitti
For information and accreditation: tel. 055.295330
email: tpcfinu@carabinieri.it

Bologna - November 29, 2017, 10:00 am
Monticelli Hall at the Comando Legione Carabinieri “Emilia Romagna” 
For information and accreditation: tel. 051.261385
email: tpcbonu@carabinieri.it

Rome - December 5, 2017, 
Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna
Details Forthcoming

October 16, 2017

Monday, October 16, 2017 - ,,, No comments

UPDATE: The two Philaeni bronzes in Libya are reported as safe.


Earlier today, alerted by news reports from Libyan environmental activist Saleh Drayagh, ARCA posted a blog report that two reclining bronze statues of the Philaeni brothers had been stolen from an archaeological site in Sultan, Libya, 60 km east of Sirte by factions loyal to the Islamic State group.

Tourist illustration
of the Arch of the Philaeni
Image Credit: Khalifa Abo Khraisse
The bronzes were all that was left of the 100 foot tall,  Marble Arch, also known as the Arch of the Philaeni (Italian: Arco dei Fileni),  which was erected during the period of the Italian occupation and officially unveiled by Mussolini in 1937.  During that time, occupying forces built the Via Litoranea, the first tarmac road around the Gulf of Sidra, and constructed the rather out of place monumental arch at the point which marked the border between the two provinces of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica at Ras Lanuf and Al Uqaylah. 

While the arch survived the Second World War it was later blown up under the orders of  Muammar Gaddafi in 1970. Gaddafi, the deposed leader of Libya, was captured and himself killed on 20 October 2011 during the Battle of Sirte.

When first erected, the arch paid tribute to a story from long ago, when Libya was divided by still another war, the fight between the Carthaginian in the West and the Greek Cyrenaica in the East.  Legend had it that the two nations agreed to define their border with an unusual method. 

Each opposing force is said to have treated by selecting runners who were to start out running towards one another at the same time on the same day. When the runners converged, the spot would then mark the border between the two opposing nations.

Carthage chose the two Philaeni brothers, who it is said proved faster than the squad from Cyrene.  Arriving ahead of their adversaries, rumors began floating  about that the Carthaginians had cheated by allowing their runners to start earlier than the prescribed time.  As a result, the Cyrenaica refused to accept the results and honor the deal. 

Seizing the runners, the two Philaeni brothers were given a difficult choice, most likely to provoke a confession for duplicity.  The pair could either agree to be buried alive, right there on the spot and marking the new border with their tombs, or they could allow the Cyrenaica to continue to advance at their convenience to the west.


The brothers patriotically accepted the first option and the Carthaginians built two commemorative altars at their gravesite to honor their sacrifice.  On the ruins of the altars Mussolini's forces later erected the marble arch. 

But as more and more corpses pile up in Libya's modern war, specifically in the battle in Sirte against the Islamic State, the bronze bodies of corpses have luckily not become a casualty.  Instead, they have been dismounted and moved to a safe place.



October 13, 2017

Seizure - archaic marble torso of a calf bearer from the collection of Michael Steinhardt

In further identifications connected to the recent seizure and pending repatriation of a Lebanese marble bull's head, Assistant District Attorney Matthew Bogdanos through the New York authorities has issued another warrant on October 10, 2017 requesting the seizure of a second antiquity also believed to have been plundered from Lebanon during its civil war.

This object, an archaic marble torso of a calf bearer, was also acquired by William and Lynda Beierwaltes and then sold to New York collector Michael H. Steinhardt, in 2015. 

Steinhardt's collecting has come under scrutiny in the past.

The seizure warrant states that the described property constitutes evidence, and tends to demonstrate the crime of Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Second Degree.  

Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in Second Degree – NY Penal Law 165.52

A person is found guilty of criminal possession of stolen property in the second degree when he knowingly possesses stolen property, with intent to benefit himself or a person other than an owner thereof or to impede the recovery by an owner thereof, and when the value of the property exceeds fifty thousand dollars.

Criminal possession of stolen property in the second degree is a class C non violent felony in New York.  

The warrant document further authorises law enforcement personnel to videotape and photograph the interior of Michael H. Steinhardt's 5th avenue apartment as well as grants them permission to review stored electronic communications, data, information, and images contained in computer disks, CD Roms, and hard drives. 

A copies of the public domain record filed with New York County on this case can be found in the case review files on ARCA's website here



Lynda and William Beierwaltes against Directorate General of Antiquities of the Lebanese Republic and the District Attorney of New York County - Notice of Voluntary Dismissal


Pursuant to F.R.C.P. 41(a)(1)(A)(i) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, 
the case involving plaintiffs William and Lynda Beierwaltes and a Marble Head of a Bull (ca 500-460 BCE) filed with the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York has been voluntarily dismissed with prejudice.

Copies of the public domain records on this case, including this Notice of Voluntary Dismissal written on October 11, 2017, can be found in the case review files on ARCA's website here. 


The United States Withdraws From UNESCO - Statements from the US State Department and UNESCO DG

Issued by the United States Department of State on 10/12/2017 09:10 AM EDT.

Press Statement
Heather Nauert 
Department Spokesperson
Washington, DC

On October 12, 2017, the Department of State notified UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova of the U.S. decision to withdraw from the organization and to seek to establish a permanent observer mission to UNESCO. This decision was not taken lightly, and reflects U.S. concerns with mounting arrears at UNESCO, the need for fundamental reform in the organization, and continuing anti-Israel bias at UNESCO.

The United States indicated to the Director General its desire to remain engaged with UNESCO as a non-member observer state in order to contribute U.S. views, perspectives and expertise on some of the important issues undertaken by the organization, including the protection of world heritage, advocating for press freedoms, and promoting scientific collaboration and education.

Pursuant to Article II(6) of the UNESCO Constitution, U.S. withdrawal will take effect on December 31, 2018. The United States will remain a full member of UNESCO until that time.



After receiving official notification by the United States Secretary of State, Mr Rex Tillerson, as UNESCO Director-General, I wish to express profound regret at the decision of the United States of America to withdraw from UNESCO.

Universality is critical to UNESCO’s mission to strengthen international peace and security in the face of hatred and violence, to defend human rights and dignity.

In 2011, when payment of membership contributions was suspended at the 36th session of the UNESCO General Conference, I said I was convinced UNESCO had never mattered as much for the United States, or the United States for UNESCO.

This is all the more true today, when the rise of violent extremism and terrorism calls for new long-term responses for peace and security, to counter racism and antisemitism, to fight ignorance and discrimination.

I believe UNESCO’s work to advance literacy and quality education is shared by the American people.

I believe UNESCO’s action to harness new technologies to enhance learning is shared by the American people.

I believe UNESCO’s action to enhance scientific cooperation, for ocean sustainability, is shared by the American people.

I believe UNESCO’s action to promote freedom of expression, to defend the safety of journalists, is shared by the American people.

I believe UNESCO’s action to empower girls and women as change-makers, as peacebuilders, is shared by the American people.

I believe UNESCO’s action to bolster societies facing emergencies, disasters and conflicts is shared by the American people.

Despite the withholding of funding, since 2011, we have deepened the partnership between the United States and UNESCO, which has never been so meaningful.

Together, we have worked to protect humanity’s shared cultural heritage in the face of terrorist attacks and to prevent violent extremism through education and media literacy.

Together, we worked with the late Samuel Pisar, Honorary Ambassador and Special Envoy for Holocaust Education, to promote education for remembrance of the Holocaust across the world as the means to fight antisemitism and genocide today, including with, amongst others, the UNESCO Chair for Genocide Education at the University of Southern California and the UNESCO Chair on Literacy and Learning at the University of Pennsylvania.

Together, we work with the OSCE to produce new tools for educators against all forms of antisemitism, as we have done to fight anti-Muslim racism in schools.

Together, we launched the Global Partnership for Girls’ and Women’s Education in 2011.

Together, with the American academic community, including 17 UNESCO University Chairs, we have worked to advance literacy, to promote sciences for sustainability, to teach respect for all in schools.

This partnership has been embodied in our interaction with the United States Geological Survey, with the US Army Corps of Engineers, with United States professional societies, to advance research for the sustainable management of water resources, agriculture.

It has been embodied in the celebration of World Press Freedom Day in Washington D.C in 2011, with the National Endowment for Democracy.

It has been embodied in our cooperation with major private sector companies, with Microsoft, Cisco, Procter & Gamble, Intel, to retain girls in school, to nurture technologies for quality learning.

It has been embodied in the promotion of International Jazz Day, including at the White House in 2016, to celebrate human rights and cultural diversity on the basis of tolerance and respect.

It has been embodied in 23 World Heritage sites, reflecting the universal value of the cultural heritage of the United States, in 30 Biosphere Reserves, embodying the country’s vast and rich biodiversity, in 6 Creative Cities, as a source of innovation and job creation.

The partnership between UNESCO and the United States has been deep, because it has drawn on shared values.

The American poet, diplomat and Librarian of Congress, Archibald MacLeish penned the lines that open UNESCO’s 1945 Constitution: “Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed.” This vision has never been more relevant.

The United States helped inspire the 1972 UNESCO World Heritage Convention.

In 2002, one year after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the late Russell Train, former Head of the US Environmental Protection Agency and founder of the World Wildlife Fund, who did so much to launch the World Heritage Convention, said: “At this time in history, as the fabric of human society seems increasingly under attack by forces that deny the very existence of a shared heritage, forces that strike at the very heart of our sense of community, I am convinced that World Heritage holds out a contrary and positive vision of human society and our human future.”

UNESCO’s work is key to strengthen the bonds of humanity’s common heritage in the face of forces of hatred and division.

The Statue of Liberty is a World Heritage site because it is a defining symbol of the United States of America, and also because of what it says for people across the world.

Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed, is a World Heritage site, because its message speaks to policy-makers and activists across the globe.

Yosemite, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon are World Heritage sites, because they are marvels for everyone, in all countries.

This is not just about World Heritage.

UNESCO in itself holds out this “positive vision of human society.”

At the time when the fight against violent extremism calls for renewed investment in education, in dialogue among cultures to prevent hatred, it is deeply regrettable that the United States should withdraw from the United Nations agency leading these issues.

At the time when conflicts continue to tear apart societies across the world, it is deeply regrettable for the United States to withdraw from the United Nations agency promoting education for peace and protecting culture under attack.

This is why I regret the withdrawal of the United States.

This is a loss to UNESCO.

This is a loss to the United Nations family.

This is a loss for multilateralism.

UNESCO’s task is not over, and we will continue taking it forward, to build a 21st century that is more just, peaceful, equitable, and, for this, UNESCO needs the leadership of all States.

UNESCO will continue to work for the universality of this Organization, for the values we share, for the objectives we hold in common, to strengthen a more effective multilateral order and a more peaceful, more just world.

October 12, 2017

Recovered: Doric, Ionic, Corinthian....Stolen


Thirteen Roman-era marble columns, two pedestals, a funerary stele, architectural capitals, amphorae and vases have reportedly been recovered by Italian authorities from INSIDE a private residence in the Santa Teresa area of Anzio, approximately 50 km from Rome. 


Given their large size, many of the objects have been temporarily transported to the Museum Villa Adele at Anzio where the larger of them remain outside the museum near its entrance.

No indications, in initial public reports, state when this seizure occurred or in whose private villa the ancient objects were initially sequestered. The large size of the artifacts, which required heavy transport vehicles to deposit them at the entrance of the museum, leave more questions unanswered than answered.   how could objects this large be stolen and transported inside a private home without raising any alarm bells along the way?