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March 30, 2011

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A New Exhibition at Rome's Palazzo Farnese and the Pope Behind the Art Collection

Titian's Pope Paul III and his Grandsons (Museo di Capodimonte)
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, Editor-in-Chief

Today published an article by Noah Charney, ARCA's founder, about a special exhibition at the French embassy in Rome, "Rome's Palazzo Farnese Opens Its Doors to Offer a Rare Glimpse of Renaissance Art Marvels"in the family's former Renaissance home.  The Farnese family piqued my interest in 2009 while visiting Napoli's Museo di Capodimonte where paintings by Titian and Raphael depict the life of Alessandro Farnese, cardinal, grandfather, and pope.

Alessandro Farnese, born in 1468, was elected as a cardinal at the age of 25 and fathered four illegitimate children before he was ordained a priest at the age of 51.  Reigning as Pope Paul III from 1534-1549, he opened the Council of Trent in 1545 to discuss church doctrine and correct abuses such as the selling of salvation to parishioners; urged a crusade against the Turks; befriended François I (Leonardo da Vinci's last patron); and was unable to resolve Henry VIII's break with Rome over his numerous divorces.

Napoli is a complex city where civilians honk at the carabinieri cars to drive faster, the trash piles up on the street, the archaeological museum displays erotic art from Pompeii, and art works by Caravaggio, on the run from a murder charge in Rome, decorate the chapel of one of the city's charitable institutions.  On the top of a hill overlooking the Bay of Naples, the Museo di Capodimonte, the former palazzo of Charles of Bourbon displays the Farnese art and antiquities collection inherited when his mother, Elizabeth Farnese, married King Philip II of Spain in 1715.  The second room of the Farnese Gallery has three paintings of Alessandro Farnese: Raphael's Portrait of Alessandro Farnese (1509-1511); Titian's Pope Paul III (1545-46); and Titian's Pope Paul II with his Grandsons (1545 circa).

Alessandro's sister, Giulia, was the mistress of Pope Alexander VI who made her brother cardinal of Santi Cosma e Damiano, an ancient church that included the Temple of Romulus, the best preserved pagan temple of Rome.  In 1513, after discontinuing his relationship with the mother of his children, Alessandro Farnese began the planning and construction of one of the grandest residences in Rome, Palazzo Farnese, built of huge blocks plundered from ancient monuments.  When he was elected pope, he appointed his teenage grandsons cardinals and employed Michelangelo to complete the third story of Palazzo Farnese.  As an art patron, Pope Paul III commissioned Michelangelo for the Last Judgement in the Sistine Chapel; the Conversion of St. Paul and The Crucifixion of St. Peter in his private chapel in the Vatican (the Cappella Paoline), and appointed him architect to the new Saint Peter's Basilica after the death of Antonio da Sangallo.  Titian visited Rome in 1545-6 and painted the family portraits.

Pope Paul III died after his son, the Duke of Parma, was murdered during a period of conflict regarding family control of the papal territories.  He was buried in St. Peter's Basilica in a tomb designed by Michelangelo.  His family continued to amass power and wealth, marrying into nobility and collecting art.  His grandson, Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, spent much of his wealth on artistic projects, including building up the largest collection of antiquities in Rome which today composes much of the archaeological museum in Napoli today.

March 29, 2011

Press Release Prepared by Lana Rushing on Behalf of the Governor of Marche Region, Italy: "Italy to Getty: We're Not Here to Declare War!"

Governor Spacca at the press conference in Century City
This is the press release prepared by Lana Rushing of Rushing PR on behalf of the Governor of Marche Region, Italy. You may find it as informative as I did.

Italy to Getty: We’re Not Here to Declare War!

Top Italian Official Offers Innovative Peace Treaty to Resolve Long-Raging Battle with World’s Richest Museum; Share Custody of Stolen “Victorious Youth” Bronze Statue - or Risk Losing it to Italy Forever

Governor of antiquities-rich Marche Region Implores Getty: “Act Like a World-Class Cultural Institution and Behave Ethically”

Los Angeles – A senior Italian government official today offered an innovative peace treaty in an historic antiquities battle with the J. Paul Getty Museum, imploring the world’s richest cultural institution to “behave ethically” by returning knowingly looted art to its homeland – or risk losing it forever.

“We have not come to declare war on the Getty,” said Gian Mario Spacca, the Governor of Italy’s Marche Region on the Adriatic Sea – one of the richest sources of archeological antiquities and Renaissance era works of art. “We are here to try to' resolve the dispute in a way that will benefit this great museum, the people of Italy – and, most important, art lovers around the world."

Speaking at a news conference in Los Angeles, the Governor unveiled a novel “cultural exchange” proposal to share custody of the 2,300-year-old bronze statue “Victorious Youth” (also known as the “Athlete of Fano”), a nearly five-foot antiquity sculpted by the Greek artist Lisippo. The antiquity mysteriously arrived at the Getty in 1974 and was displayed to great fanfare. It was showcased as “The Getty Bronze”.

The Bronze is one of several star attractions at the Getty, including the iconic seven-foot marble and limestone “Aphrodite” which Italian police escorted home last week following a long-raging legal fight with the museum. Italy says its rare antiquities had been buried for centuries and discovered by unsuspecting citizens who sold them at a fraction of their worth to art thieves - and then purchased by the prestigious Los Angeles-based museum without legitimate historical ownership credentials. The antiquities were showcased over the past several decades to build the Getty’s reputation as a global cultural force.

The Getty’s previous curator of antiquities, Marion True, was indicted in Italy in 2005 (along with famed art dealer Robert Hecht Jr.) on criminal charges of trafficking in stolen antiquities.

“The Italian people expect a museum as prestigious as the Getty should not be trafficking in illegal art. Further, the Getty should show the world it can act like a world-class cultural institution and behave ethically,” Governor Spacca told reporters today in unveiling his proposal.

Governor Spacca characterized his proposal as a significant proactive effort to break the deadlock in the Getty stolen-art conflict and speed a resolution after decades of failed negotiations and legal wrangling.

In a separate action, the legal dispute is expected to be decided by an Italian high court later this week following multiple failed appeals by the museum, which continues to assert its legal ownership of the “Victorious Youth”. A final ownership ruling favoring Italy, could subject the priceless Bronze to the same fate as “Aphrodite,” which was one of the leading attractions at the Getty until its confiscation by Italy earlier this month.

“The Victorious Youth” by Lisippo is a very important testimonial for the Italian culture. It is of great interest for Marche to have the statue returned to Fano, from where it disappeared years ago,” said Governor Spacca.

The “Victorious Youth” was discovered by fishermen in 1964 and sold for $1600 to an art dealer. The whereabouts of the statue were shrouded in mystery until the Getty purchased it for about $3.9 million and put it on display 37 years ago.

March 28, 2011

"The Getty Bronze" and the Region of Marche: In the shadow of a pending court case in Italy, officials from Marche visit Los Angeles, meet with the Getty, and hold a press conference to underscore their desire for a 'cultural relationship' between Los Angeles and Marche

by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, Editor

CENTURY CITY - 'Governor' Gian Mario Spacca, president of the Marche region of Italy, held a press conference this morning to discuss his proposal to the Getty Museum for a cultural relationship between the institution which owns the "Getty Bronze" and the region from which it was fished out of the ocean almost six decades ago, weeks before an Italian judge reaches a decision about the status of the 'Victorious Youth', known in the Adriatic region as 'Atleta di Fano.'

Governor Spaaca & "The Athlete of Fano"
Spacca said that the purpose of his trip was not to fight with the Getty Museum, but to establish cooperation 'on universal values such as culture', he said through an interpreter at a conference room in the Intercontinental Hotel in Century City on the westside of Los Angeles, just 12 miles from where the Greek statue resides today in Malibu as it has since 1977 after being purchased for nearly $4 million.

The ancient Greek bronze, the subject of a book by Carol C. Mattush published by the J. Paul Getty Museum, "is one of a very few life-size bronzes from ancient Greece known to exist in the world today," according to The Getty website. "It was found in the sea in international waters," The Getty explains here.

The 'Victorious Youth', which even has its own Facebook page, known as the 'Atleta di Fano', has been a subject of controversy for years. Governor Spacca, as he's identified by his press release, said that he hopes to avoid another ugly 'Morgantina experience" referring to last week's return of the Getty's $18 million Aphrodite to Sicily after years of dispute and revelations of illegal excavation and smuggling, as reported by Jason Felch in The Los Angeles Times ("Getty Ships Aphrodite Statue to Sicily"). You may read further about the Fano Athlete here, here, here, and here.

At the press conference today, Governor Spacca said that 'our goal' is to place it in one of the many museums in either Ancona or Fano in the region of Marche on the Adriatic, a place that was once the "Iron Curtain" between the ancient Roman and Greek cultures. 'Our goal is to give the people the possibility of admiring the statue and of knowing their great cultural heritage,' Governor Spacca said through an interpreter. "Having the statue back would be an extraordinary feeling and going back to ancient identity of the Adriatic culture."

Governor Spacca had met with the Getty Museum who had said that the institute would be waiting for the end of the legal proceedings in Italy before starting to deal with the Italian government. Jason Felch continued his in-depth coverage yesterday here.

"Our proposal is regardless of the judge's ruling," Governor Spacca told the media Monday. "We offer a region rich in cultural and Renaissance heritage."

You may see more about the Region of Marche through the website here.

March 23, 2011

Wednesday, March 23, 2011 - ,,, No comments

UNESCO 1970 Convention Today: Last week's conference

Dr. Jorge Sánchez-Cordero speaking at the public debate.
by Catherine Schofield, Editor

Home from Paris, I will continue coverage of the UNESCO meeting on the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the 1970 Convention, the still to be ratified by one-third of the signatories of an international effort to stop the illicit trafficking of cultural property, as does the looting of archaeological sites all over the world.

The 1970 Convention, formerly known as the Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property 1970, can be read here on UNESCO's website.

On March 15, in one of the auditoriums at the UNESCO building in the 7th arrondissement of Paris just a few minutes walk from Napoleon's Tomb, the meeting, "The 1970 Convention: Past and Future", began with a public debate moderated by journalist Louis Laforge. The speakers included Irina Bokova, Director-General, UNESCO; Bernd Rossbach, Director, Specialized Crimes and Analysis, INTERPOL; Dr. Jorge A. Sánchez Cordero, Director of the Mexican Center of Uniform Law; Stéphane Martin, President, Musée du Quai Branly; and Jane Levine, Worldwide Compliance Director and Senior Vice President, Sotheby's Auction House.

One of the scheduled speakers, Dr. Zahi Hawass, Egyptian's brief former Minister of Culture, was 'unable to leave Cairo' to attend the meeting. Instead, he sent a message that said he supported the fight against the illicit theft of cultural property and asked that people help Egypt find the items recently stolen from the Cairo museum.

"The art market is sometimes painted as the enemy," Jane Levine, a former American prosecutor said, after UNESCO's introductor remarks. Her job at Sotheby's, she said, is to train staff on how to ask questions about the provenance of objects. She works with a full-time department of lawyers and admits that her appointment is a change in the market's "new attitude" of focusing on the due diligence aspect of archaeological objects.

Mr. Rossbach told the audience that INTERPOL is a "crucial partner with UNESCO" in fighting the illicit trafficking in art and cultural objects. INTERPOL seeks the cooperation of specialized organizations like UNESCO and stressed the importance of training. INTERPOL released a summary of his statements on the group's website here.

Mr. Sanchez-Cordero said in Spanish, according to UNESCO's English translator, that the 1970 Convention 'has to play a prominent role in the new cultural order'. He said that the convention 'only protects objects placed on an inventory list, a problem in implementing the 'effectiveness' of tackling this problem and one that 'runs counter to archaeological sites and is a problem for countries of origin.' Another shortfall, he said, was that it was just not enough to adopt the international convention. "We shouldn't stop at that but follow-up and give countries of origin (of cultural objects) a system to follow up the convention and to take remedial action.'

Mr. Martin said in French, and I also paraphrase him through UNESCO's English translator, that French museums will not complete collections with objects that unlawfully entered the market. 'Most objects in museums haven't been created to be in a museum,' he said, 'so the wish to place them there doesn't fit in with all cultures, such as placing a religious object outside of a church. What is La Jaconde? Is it an Italian object because Leonardo da Vinci painted it? Or French because François I purchased it? Or is it Japanese because it's viewed by the Japanese?' It's a fascinating and complex issue. Everyone rejects a nationalistic view of the world. It's a cultural issue for everyone and counter to trade.'

UNESCO's Director-General, Madame Irina Bokova, said that she wanted to "ring the bell of the alarm" and find out how to "strengthen and implement" the 1970 Convention, mentioning that there was a "new conscience" in the past 40 years that supports cultural exchange, diversity, knowledge and art, but is against the "pillaging" of archaeological sites, the trafficking of illicit cultural objects which is "robbing" people of their identity, rights, and destroying archaeological sites and excavations. She commended the countries of Belgium, The Netherlands, and Switzerland who recently signed the convention. "Without international cooperation, it would be difficult to curb this trade."

Mr. Laforge asked INTERPOL's Rossbach if there are any major routes for illegal trafficking of cultural objects. "There is always a reaction and an action," Rossback said. "We cannot be fixed on one route. We are working with partners to identify those gaps."

Interpol has opened a new office in Singapore, Laforge asked as translated from French to English, is this indicative of a new market? "Yes," Rossbach answered. "Singapore is a sign."

According to UNESCO:
"The illicit trafficking of antiquities is estimated to be superior to US $6 billion per year, according to research conducted by the United Kingdom's House of Commons on July 2002.  Ten years later, the UN report on transnational crimes calculated that the world traffic in cocaine reached US $72 billion; arms, $52b; heroine, $33b; counterfeiting, $9.8B; and cybercrime, $1,253B.  Together with the trafficking in drugs and arms, the black market of antiquities and culture constitutes one of the most persistent illegal trades in the world."
We'll continue coverage of this UNESCO 1970 Convention meeting tomorrow.

Elizabeth Taylor and the Van Gogh Painting

Vincent Van Gogh's "View of the Asylum and Church at Saint-Remy/Sage Recovery
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, Editor

Elizabeth Taylor, actress, film star and the founder of the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, was also the owner of an 1889 painting by Vincent van Gogh, "View of the Asylum and Church at Saint-Remy", she had to assert legal ownership of in 2007 when the descendants of the former owners claimed that the painting had been stolen by the Nazis during World War II.

According to media reports here and here, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco affirmed Taylor's ownership of the painting that her father had purchased for her at Sotheby's in 1963. The heirs of the former owners had waited until 2004 to claim that the painting had been stolen although it had not been listed in any database for stolen or Holocaust-looted art database.  I was wondering about this case this morning so I made unofficial inquiries through my experts on Holocaust looted art to get their opinion: although the strict interpretation of Military Law 59 'any transaction is null and void between 1933 and 1945 and the onus is on the good faith purchaser to demonstrate his or her good faith' but that conditions around the sale of the painting may not have constituted a forced sale.  For me, this is the importance of using the courts to settle these disputes.

The photo for this painting was obtained from the website for Sage Recovery, which helps to recover objects looted during the Nazi era.  Their review of the case can be found here.

March 22, 2011

Tuesday, March 22, 2011 - ,, No comments

UNESCO 1970 Convention Today: Turkey's statement to the 40th anniversary commemoration meeting last week

 Reconstructed Temple of Trajan, Pergamum, Turkey
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, Editor

By marriage, Turkey is my adopted country, so I approached one of the Turkish attendees at last week's UNESCO meeting to ask for the statement from the Turkish delegate.  Mr. Murat Suslu, Director General of Cultural Assets and Museums for the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism, delivered a prepared statement in English to UNESCO last week at the 40th anniversary commemoration of the 1970 Convention, the international agreement signed by 193 and ratified by 120 countries that promotes cooperation between states to stop the looting of archaeological sites and the trafficking of illicit cultural property. His short statement was one of many delivered by delegates on the second day. The ARCA blog invites other state delegates to also send us a copy of their statement for distribution. Many delegates stressed the importance of creating awareness of this problem on a global scale, and ARCA, a non-profit organization for research into crimes against art, can help facilitate.

According to UNESCO, at least 17,500 investigations were opened in Turkey for looting of art from 1993 to 1995.

Mr. Suslu addressed the international group in English and it was translated audibly in French and Spanish to the audience. The meeting was chaired by Dr. Davidson L. Hepburn, Chairman of the Antiquities, Monuments, and Museums Corporation of The Bahamas.
"Mr. Chairman, Turkey as a source country has had to fight very hard; both to prevent illegal trafficking of its cultural property and also for the return of its stolen objects. In fact, this struggle goes back as far as the 19th Century.

All our diplomatic efforts for return are under the framework established by the 1970 convention. We have several bilateral agreements with neighboring and market countries in line with the 1970 Convention. Last year we returned four objects to Iraq that were captured at the border from traffickers. We will continue to cooperate further with Iraq.

We show goodwill by lending cultural objects for exhibitions in other countries. We expect similar goodwill to be shown by market countries in return.

We are stıll expectıng the return of thousands of objects that were illegally exported from Turkey, rangıng from the tiles of Sultan's tombs and library to the stele of Samsat, many of you will be familiar with the case of the Boğazköy Sphinx.

There are countries ın our region which show exemplary cooperation. I would like to thank the authorities of the Republic of Serbia for returning to Turkey last month almost 2,000 archaeological objects seized at the border.

Mr. Chairman, the 1970 Convention has been of help. However, it has not fully solved outstanding issues of stolen, illegally excavated and illicitly exported properties of the past.

The convention does not cover the objects coming from clandestine excavations. So an entire sector is not covered by the convention as already mentioned by Mexico and other source country representatives.

It also does not cover those artifacts which come from regular excavations; which are stolen before they are registered and then illicitly exported.

Under the 1970 Convention, the burden of proving ownership is placed on the claiming state and not the present possessor. Thus it becomes almost impossible for the source country to obtaın the return of its cultural objects that were illicitly excavated or illegally trafficked right after excavation before being registered.

Another important issue is the application of the convention. The legal regulations of some states parties do not support the return of cultural properties to their country of origin.

Besides the ICPRCP [Intergovernmental Committee for Promoting the Return of Cultural Property to its Countries of Origin or its Restitution in Case of Illicit Appropriation], a body to facilitate returns within the framework of the 1970 Convention is also needed.

Of course, in the end, it all depends on the states parties.  Thank you."
If you would like to read more about UNESCO's 1970 Convention, you may read the column, The Secret History of Art, on by Noah Charney, founder of ARCA, the Association for Research into Crimes against Art.

March 20, 2011

Sunday, March 20, 2011 - , No comments

Art Theft History: Judge Arthur Tompkins Writes about Veronese's "The Wedding at Cana"

by Judge Arthur Tompkins

The recent reference in the ARCA Blog to the oft-overlooked Wedding at Cana, hanging opposite the Mona Lisa in the Louvre, triggered the recollection that this monumental painting, the largest hanging in the Louvre, is also the largest plundered painting on public display, either in the Louvre, or, probably, anywhere.

Veronese, The Wedding at Cana,_The_Wedding_at_Cana.JPG

Originally painted, over about 15 months beginning in 1562, by the late-Renaissance Italian mannerist Paolo Veronese, it was completed in 1563 when the artist was aged 35. It was specifically painted for, and hung in, the refectory of the Benedictine Monastery of San Giorgio Maggiore, on a small island off the entrance to Venice’s Grand Canal. It was so famous, in its original location, that at the beginning of the 18th century, the monks of the Monastery began restricting entry to visitors who wished to see it . There it hung for 235 years.

The Refectory, Monastery of San Giorgio Maggiore

In the early summer of 1797 Napoleon, fresh from the looting (by forced treaty) of Modena, Parma, Milan and the “incomparable treasure house” of Rome, turned his attention to Venice. He did not stage a frontal attack, but rather engineered the rebellion of a number of the city-state’s vassal states and then, following a year of negotiations, on Friday 12 May 1797, the Venetian Grand Council voted itself into extinction. Thus ended an unbroken 1070 years of proud independence.

Four days later the Treaty of Milan was signed, which allowed the French to remove Venice’s artistic treasures. The Treaty of Campo Formio in October 1797 ultimately divided Venice and its territories between France and Austria. But the Austrians were slow to arrive to take control of their prize, and did not arrive until January 1798. In the intervening period, the French plundered the city, including the Four Horses of San Marco (returned in 1815 after a short spell adorning the Tuileries), and the Veronese.

The painting is vast. It measures 33’6” across, and is 22’ high. In its elaborate frame, it weighs over 1 ½ tons. It was cut into pieces to allow for transportation to Paris, and there reassembled. The Louvre website simply states that the painting “Entered the Louvre in 1798”, and gives no further clue as to the manner of its arrival.

Although the Venetians claimed the painting after the Congress of Vienna in 1815, in the end the French were able to send a substitute - Charles Le Brun’s “Feast in the House of Simon” – back to Venice in its place.

Its long sojourn in Paris has not been without incident. Napoleon married Marie-Louise of Austria in the Louvre’s refurbished Great Gallery in 1810. About 6,000 guests were expected to attend the wedding, and one commentator described the preparations:
“ … there was a tremendous scurry to rearrange pictures and furniture in order to accommodate the 6000 people expected. The size of the Marriage at Cana was an embarrassment. ‘Since it cannot be moved – burn it’, was Napoleon’s soldierly decision – one which, fortunately, [Baron Dominique Vivant] Denon ignored.”
During the Franco-Prussian War in 1870-1871, it was stored in a box in Brest, and during World War II it was rolled and trucked around France to avoid capture by the Nazis. Then at the end of a controversial three-year cleaning in begun in the late 1980s, it was, in the space of a few days, sprayed by water from a leak during a rainstorm, and then dropped. The canvas was ripped in five places, including one tear four feet long.

In late summer 2007, after a meticulous process conducted under strenuous conditions over about 18 months , a full size digitally copied replica was reinstalled back into the refectory at San Giorgio Maggiore – salving but not healing the wound left by Napoleon 210 years before.

So, Veronese’s masterpiece hangs still across from La Joconde – bruised, battered, dismembered, stolen, drenched, torn, displaced, far from home, and, as 9 million visitors a year jostle for a view of the painting across the floor, often overlooked.

It deserves better.

Judge Arthur Tompkins of New Zealand is a graduate of Cambridge University and teaches "Art and War"at ARCA's program in Amelia.

March 19, 2011

Saturday, March 19, 2011 - ,, No comments

Paris Diary: Replica of Stolen Art at Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel

by Catherine Schofield Sezgin

Paris - The statue above the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel in front of the Louvre is a replica of the original "The Triamphal Quadriga" more commonly known as "Horses of Saint Mark". The original bronzes, analyzed to be more likely copper supporting the theory that they are more Roman than Greek, sat on top of a column in the Hippodrome in Constantinople until the Venetians took a detour during the Fourth Crusade in the 13th century to loot the Christian city of its wealth, including slicing off the horses' heads to ship back to San Marcos Square in Venice. Napoleon stole them in the early 19th century before they were returned to Venice. The horses outside of St. Mark's Basilica are also a copy; the originals reside inside the cathedral.

Saturday, March 19, 2011 - , No comments

A Post in the Memory of Donny George, the former Director of the Iraq Museum

Donny George, the former director of the Iraq Nation Museum who tried to stop the looting in 2003, died on March 12 in Canada. You may read about his life and his work at the following links:

"Human Rights and Cultural Heritage: from the Holocaust to the Haitian Earthquake" Scheduled for March 31 at Cardozo Law School in New York

The Cardozo Art Law Society is conducting a one-day seminar, "Human Rights and Cultural Heritage: from the Holocaust to the Haitian Earthquake", from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on March 31, 2011 at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University in New York.

Other organizers include the American Society of International Law, Lawyers' Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation, and the Hofstra Law School Art and Cultural Heritage Club.

You may read the day's schedule and register here.

Those speakers who have appeared in previous posts on the blog include: Marc Masurovsky, Co-Founder of the Holocaust Art Restitution Project; Howard N. Spiegler, Partner and Co-Chair of the Art Law Group, Herrick, Feinstein LLP; Patricia K. Grimsted, Senior Research Associate, Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute and International Institute of Social History; and Jennifer A. Kreder, Professor of Law, Salmon P. Chase College of Law.

March 18, 2011

Paris Diary: Mexico's Plea for UNESCO to Provide International Leadership on the 1970 Convention for Countries to Work Together to Stop the Trafficking of Illicit Cultural Objects and the Destruction of Archaeological Sites... and Revisiting Paris' Most Celebrated Stolen Art, the Mona Lisa

PARIS - Thursday morning I walked to Les Deux Magots for breakfast before heading to Le Carrousel du Louvre to purchase a 4-day museum pass. Upon arrival at the St. Germain café, I recognized Dr. Jorge Antonio Sánchez Cordero Davila, director of the Mexican Center for Uniform Law, engaged in serious conversation with two distinguished men. After indulging in a Provançal omelette, I passed them again, still talking, but this time I re-introduced myself. Dr. Sánchez-Cordero, an expert on the panels at the two-day UNESCO meeting on the 1970 Convention anniversary, immediately stood as did his companions and after his customary warm greeting and introduction to his companions (in French), then returned to English to emphasize that Mexico had been impassioned in it's plea to UNESCO to establish a leadership role on the 1970 convention. Further posts here will elaborate on his specific intent but one of the points made at the conference by another expert was that UNESCO's staff of one on the 1970 convention could not be effective by itself. Participants had almost all agreed that communication between countries, the ratification of the agreement by another 73 countries (only 120 of 193 signatories have ratified it), and subsequent awareness and training on the ways to implement ways to stop the trafficking and looting of cultural objects would require more than one UNESCO staff member.

While not everyone ignores Veronese's The Wedding at Cana, many people are just waiting to see The Mona Lisa

The crowd in front of Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa is continuous and slow as so many people want to be photographed with this centuries old celebrity.

Three paintings by Titien are on the other side of the wall of 'La Joconde'
In 1911, a former workman walked out of the Louvre with Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona Lisa, an artwork that had been owned by France since François I had purchased it after the artist had died at his court. The two-year search for the painting resulted in the fame the painting now has today. Even in March, hordes of visitors cram into one room to view 'La Jaconde' even while paintings by Titien on the other side of the wall and a wall-seize canvas of The Wedding at Cana by Veronese remain relatively ignored.

March 17, 2011

Thursday, March 17, 2011 - No comments

ARCA is Hiring A Program Assistant and Two Onsite Interns

ARCA needs 2 resident interns and a program assistant to join us in Amelia this summer. Details are below:

Program Assistant Job Announcement

Resident Intern Job Announcement

Thursday, March 17, 2011 - ,, No comments

Samuel Sidibé, Director of the National Museum of Mali, Spoke Wednesday at UNESCO in Paris about the 1970 Convention and How the Severe Problem of Looting of Archaeological Sites Was Exacerbated By Demand in the Art Market for Wooden and Ceramic Masks

Samuel Sidibé of Mali posed for photograph
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, editor

PARIS - Samuel Sidibé, the director of the National Museum of Mali, the last speaker scheduled on Tuesday, actually opened the second day of the 40th commemoration meeting at UNESCO on the 1970 Convention when time ran out on on the panel, "Illicit trafficking of archaeological objects". Attendance appeared to have thinned out and the cameras had disappeared, but when I mentioned this to Mr. Sidibé at the lunchbreak, he said, "I don't need any cameras." But I thought what he said was important enough to mention here. As one of the other delegates mentioned, Mr. Sidibé was one of the few experts from the continent of Africa to speak at the meeting, and the only one from outside of Egypt and Tunisia.

Mali, Mr. Sidibé began, perhaps because the Niger River runs across it, has many archaeological sites. He said that problems of looting and illicit excavations peaked in the 1970s and 1980s due to the publicity of the discovery of legitimate archaeological sites and the popularity of traditional wooden masks prized on the international market. Some unscrupulous people were falsifying the wooden masks, he said through an English interpreter as he spoke in French, the discovery of ceramic masks 'sparked interest as people lost faith in wooden masks'. This led to looting in ceramic masks. 'Originally looting occurred near the site by the Niger river where the ceramic masks were discovered but demand grew and spread to an interest in pottery in prehistoric sites,' Mr. Sidibé explained. 'It is a serious problem unique to Africa because although written manuscripts have been found in the Sahil region, they are lacking for other centers so artifacts are prized. It is an unacceptable moral situation to deprive people knowledge of their history.'

'What has Mali been doing to protect it's cultural heritage?' he posed. In 1985, he said, Mali adopted strict legislation that objects from archaeological sites cannot be traded commercially or exported for sale. 'All our archeological objects found in Europe are in violation of the law in Mali,' he said.

Mali ratified the 1970 Convention as a tool for international cooperation, he said. 'Mali signed an agreement with the United States to forbid the import of objects from Mali's archaeological sites and we are in partnership with the Swiss to set up an agreement to protect our heritage.'

They have other agreements with various countries and are in consultation with France, a significant art market, he said. 'Sixteen terra cotta statutes seized by the French government were returned to the Mali museum.'

In addition to working with the International Conference of Museums and the 'red list' for stolen items, they have had training programs at the professional and technical level in the field. To create awareness of the problem, they examined 'severely looted sites' of what remained to remained to better understand their context and spoke to communities throughout Mali.

'Communities have traditionally had the concept that sites are income,' he said, 'and we have been educating them that archaeological sites are culture.' He said that they will continue with research and training programs because 'too much looting is going on the African continent.'

March 16, 2011

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 - ,, No comments

Mexico and Canada at UNESCO's meeting on the 40th anniversary of the 1970 Convention

Ambassador Carlos de Icaza and Jorge Sánchez-Cordero
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin

PARIS - I have two-days of notes on the more than 11 hours of panels and discussions that occurred over the past two days at UNESCO as attendees and experts discussed the 1970 Convention, the first international agreement that recognized that the smuggling and trade of art, antiquity objects, and the illegal excavations of archaeological sites was a global problem best attacked with international cooperation. But it is a beautiful spring evening in Paris and the Louvre is open tonight so this post features the delegates from Mexico and the anecdote of how I purchased a great cup of decaffeinated coffee as I walked away from the conference.

Carlos de Icaza, Ambassador of Mexico in France (and former Ambassador to the United States, spoke at the public debate today, moderated by the distinguished Dr. Davidson L. Hepburn, Chairman of the Antiquities, Monuments and Museums Corporation of The Bahamas. Ambassador de Icaza spoke about Mexico's history with the 1970 convention -- it was actively involved in the formulation and the eight country to ratify it. A national inventory identifies archaeological artifacts in public and private collections in Mexico. However, he said, "We are in a situation that we cannot tolerate. Many countries are being plundered through clandestine excavations. Despite all our efforts, criminals operate on sites and in the trafficking of cultural and archeological objects."

He went on to ask that UNESCO consider finding solutions to the gaps in the 1970 convention. "It is practically impossible to prove ownership from illicit excavations or from underwater sites. There is a huge illicit market today."

The Canadian delegate, Kathryn Zedde, Senior Policy Analyst for Canadian Heritage, later responded that "gaps" are in the interpreting and implementing the 1970 convention. "Canada has returned objects to ten other states including multiple groups of objects and none have been on any inventory list and almost all of them have been archaeological artifacts. Canada's legislation has prohibited the importing of any cultural property from other countries. We don't require objects to be listed as stolen from any museum."

Hours of discussion followed this subject so I'll write more about it later.

Antoine Netien and Tom Clark at Coutume
On my way home, I noticed a clean and crisp shop with a well-displayed list of coffee drinks. Approaching the bar I ordered a "latte" and was immediately busted as English-speaking by Tom Clark, who with Antoine Netien, operates Coutume (47, Rue de Babylone), a cafe specializing in high quality coffee and espresso drinks. Upon inquiry, Tom, an Australian brought up on great coffee, told me about how he graduated from law school then decided to help introduce fine coffee beans to Paris. In the back of the restaurant, Antoine was roasting beans, something he says he does from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. each day, roasting small batches at a time. The store has only been open a week, so grateful for their hospitality, I told them I'd let our readers know about a great place in the 7th arrondisement in Paris for coffee on the level of Intelligensia... and with no disrespect to our guys in Chicago and Los Angeles, I think Coutume may have a few more machines imported from Japan -- such as a 24 hour extraction that with its slow drip enhances the caffeine in the coffee. Well, I'm off to the Louvre to admire the objects Napoleon was able to keep after he plundered the best of Europe in the early 19th century. Ah the ironies...

March 15, 2011

Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - , 1 comment

Passing out "Save Egypt" buttons at UNESCO's 40th Anniversary of the 1970 Convention

Gihane Zaki, Director General, Nubia Fund, Ministry of Culture for Egypt wearing SAFE's button

by Catherine Schofield Sezgin

ARCA Alum (Class 2009) Julia Brennan arranged with Saving Antiquities for Everyone (SAFE) to ship some buttons to me to promote cultural heritage protection in Egypt at the 40th commemoration meeting of UNESCO in Paris today. The gesture appeared worthwhile as one of the themes of today's discussions was promoting awareness of the importance of protecting the artifacts of culture. Although Zahi Hawass was unable to attend the meeting as scheduled, Egypt's representative from the Ministry of Culture was Gihane Zaki, Director General of the Nubia Fund. She put on the button, "Say Yes to Egypt's Heritage" and gamely posed for the photo promised Cindy Ho at SAFE. Ms. Zaki took additional buttons for her staff to wear at tomorrow's meeting. Dr. Zahi Hawass did post his 'address' to UNESCO on his site here. More reports here on the blog will follow regarding the meeting in the next few days.

March 14, 2011

"The Louvre: A Golden Prison" produced by Lucy Jarvis and NBC News in the 1960s hints at the plain sight hiding location of a large painting during the Nazi Occupation of Paris

Lucy Jarvis (Paley Center)
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin

During my almost sleepless flight to Paris last night, I watched again a charming video downloaded for free from iTunes: an NBC News produced one-hour show on the Louvre, narrated by Charles Boyer and produced by Lucy Jarvis titled "The Louvre: A Golden Prison" (1964). The Paley Center for Media writes this about the film:
"Jarvis next produced a dual tour of the Louvre in Paris and the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., Museum Without Walls, which aired on NBC in 1963. The logistically complex project—among the first to utilize telecommunications satellite technology—served as a forerunner to a more detailed exploration of the Louvre that Jarvis had in mind. The previous year she had accompanied Kennedy on a state visit to Paris and it was there, during a social event, that she had first broached the idea of a documentary about the hallowed institution to French President Charles de Gaulle and Minister of Culture André Malraux. In a feat comparable to getting approval to shoot inside the Kremlin, Jarvis finagled permission to bring a camera crew into the Louvre; when the museum’s curators expressed concern that the intense lights required to gain a proper exposure (for the sake of aesthetic, the film was shot in color on 35mm rather than the customary black and white 16mm) might damage their treasured paintings, Jarvis reassured them by saying, “If Khrushchev trusted me, why can’t you?” The color cinematography was an important element for Jarvis; indeed, General Sarnoff, chairman of NBC, the parent company of RCA, credited her programs on the Kremlin and the Louvre with helping to sell four million color television sets. The Louvre: A Golden Prison, airing in 1964, was recognized with a staggering number of awards, among them six Emmys, a Peabody, and a Radio-TV Critics Award. In 1968, Jarvis became the first woman—and one of the few Americans—ever to receive the French government’s prestigious Chevalière de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres."
In her introduction, Madame Jarvis speaks about how the curators emptied the Louvre prior to Nazi occupation of Paris. Yet one large painting, too big to move outside of the city, hung from the ceiling of a restaurant while Nazis dined below until the end of the war. What is the painting she is referring to? I would tell you but I don't recall in the video that they ever named the painting. I am wondering if one of our readers knows the answer.

Monday, March 14, 2011 - No comments

Museums and Nazi-looted Art: Provenance research departments and registeries

by Emily Blyze, ARCA Alum 2009
The last post of a five-part weekend series

In September 2009, the Indianapolis Museum of Art built an Object Registry for the AAMD devoted to the Resolution of Claims for Nazi-Era Cultural Assets. This registry provides information on the resolution of formal claims made to AAMD member museums regarding works of art stolen by the Nazis between 1933-1945. It lists objects restituted and settlements made since June 4, 1998, the date the Report of the AAMD Task Force on the Spoliation of Art during the Nazi/World War II Era (1933-1945) was adopted. The registry encourages openness regarding works nationally and internationally, a source for information on resolved claims for AAMD member museums, as well as supplement information provided by the AAM.

Guidelines and Procedures for World War II Provenance Issues created in September 2009 by The Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery is a 136-page document that breaks down the mechanics of how to conduct provenance research. The Freer/Sackler guidelines and procedures address their protocol on handling works, but also offer an ample resource for museums needing assistance. How to conduct provenance research was mentioned before in this paper. The AAM Guide to Provenance Research does achieve this goal and provides a sample for recording provenance, as well as specific case studies of how detail oriented a provenance researcher’s job is. However, the Freer/Sackler expands on the process of how to handle acquisition policies, loan agreements, suggested procedures and questionnaires for donors, vendors, curators who help in acquiring research information. A provenance research checklist and a provenance display procedure and guidelines section is available to reference as well.

With regard to making effective and economical steps towards correctly addressing their collection with proper provenance research, some museums have established provenance research websites. In accordance with the AAMD and AAM guidelines, institutions such as The Getty, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Art Institute of Chicago have a designated space on their website addressing provenance research. The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art stated that through a significant gift from the Chase family of Connecticut, the Atheneum was able to conduct an in-depth provenance research project on its museum’s collection of approximately 50,000 objects of art. Their findings are posted on their website, stating if a work has clear or questionable provenance.

Museums have made strides towards compliance with the AAMD and AAM guidelines. But there is always room for strategic and effective growth. A recommendation for the future is to create a Nazi-Era Provenance Researchers Association (NEPRA). Alongside the WG Looted Art recommendation 7, the aim would be to establish an association where provenance researchers have a peer group not only to help each other, but develop the profession as well. NEPRA would need to be initiated by the Terezin Declaration, under the arm of the Terezin Institute. The Terezin Institute would be the umbrella for operation, but the association would maintain its own entity. That way it would have the support of the Terezin Declaration goals and objectives, but be able and nimble enough to create its own mission statement, purpose and bylaws. As with other associations, a Board of Governors or Council would need to be identified. From there, the founding principles would be drawn up by the Council. Nazi-era provenance researchers are a small, but powerful group of individuals. The goals of the association would be to educate and spread awareness with a concrete set of identified persons in the field; adhere to unified standards that will bring cohesiveness to the profession; bring together these individuals to disseminate information and resources; create a database of all affiliated personnel and institutions – a central location will help to alleviate time of contacting those in the field and promote more time towards research of the artwork.

All individuals and establishments involved with provenance research would be encouraged to join, adhering to the non-binding regulations of the Terezin Declaration. An act of “requirement” of participation would not be feasible. It is only when the Terezin Declaration becomes binding that the guidelines and recommendations falling under it will be followed. Establishments such as auction houses should be encouraged to join.

Auction houses, such as Sotheby’s, have established Nazi-era provenance research departments. Since 1997, Sotheby’s has run a due diligence program targeted at identifying possible WWII provenance issues amongst the artworks brought to them to value or sell. The program maintains a specialized international team of provenance researchers within Sotheby’s whose role is to support Sotheby’s specialists throughout the world in dealing with provenance research and spoliation issues. The team is staffed with art historians and lawyers in New York and London and calls on the services of a network of independent art historians based in Europe and North America. If auction houses join then there will be an economic and commercial incentive for doing so. By completing provenance research, it obviates the possibility of the auction house being litigated against for selling Nazi-era work. Their research will also often lead to the discovery of works that end up coming under the hammer as part of a settlement. Museums would be persuaded to join the association where they are forced to complete provenance research anyways for moral reasons.

As many as 70,000 artworks remain scattered in museums and private collections or simply lost around the world. There is a feeling that the process has stalled in some countries, thanks to a combination of political will and sheer ignorance of the provenance of artwork. In tackling the problem of Nazi-era looted works of art in public collections, provenance research has now shifted to the forefront of concern to many persons inside and outside the museum profession.

The very need to establish the Terezin project in addition to, and so soon after, the Washington Principles demonstrates that the issue is still an urgent and important one in international museum culture and is expected to remain so for the foreseeable future.

March 13, 2011

Museums and Nazi-looted Art: Washington Principles vs. Terezin Declaration

by Emily Blyze, ARCA Alum 2009
Part four of a five-part weekend series

Principles 3, 4, and 5 of the Washington Principles are worthy of attention compared to the equivalent recommendations in the Terezin Declaration Looted Art Working Group (which happen to be 3, 4, and 5 as well). The Washington Principles address the issue of resources and personnel being available to facilitate identification of a Nazi confiscated work not restituted (3). If established that a work was confiscated and not restituted, consideration should be given to unavoidable gaps or ambiguities in the provenance in light of the passage of time (4). Efforts should also be made to publicize the work of art in order to locate its pre-War owners or heirs (5). By contrast, the WG recommendations state that export, citizenship, inheritance and cultural heritage laws should not be used to prevent the restitution of cultural property to claimants. The Principles make no mention of legal issues, whereas the recommendations from the WG that the 46 states modify restitution legislation and establish national claims procedures create a stronger point to be considered.

The WG Looted Art recommendation 7 asserts that Participating States should actively support the establishment and operation of an international association of all provenance researchers. The association should encourage cooperation between researchers, the exchange of information, the setting of standards, and education. The proposal to create an association is the first of its kind. It begs the question of why this has not been done before now.

A notable difference between the Washington Principles and the Terezin Declaration is the availability of information via the Internet. Relevant records and archives should be open and accessible to researchers, in accordance with the guidelines of the International Council of Archives, reads Principle 2 of the Washington Principles. Keep in mind the technology of 1998 was very sparse and the material that was recommended to be open and accessible was primarily documents and books. However, the openness and accessibility of the Internet today has offered up a whole new dimension. This is particularly significant with regard to Principle 6, which states that efforts should be made to establish a central registry. This conjures the questions of how it would be accomplished and by whom.

The guidelines that have been created are an initiative to address and bring awareness to the Nazi World War II era plundering of art. A practical mind would ask whether these guidelines are achievable. Museums have asked how effective and economical steps might be made towards correctly addressing their collections with proper provenance research. Specifically stated, the AAMD Commission recognizes that provenance research is difficult, expensive and time-consuming, often involving access to records that are hard or impossible to obtain, and that most museums lack the resources to accomplish this. The Washington Principles recommended that art confiscated by the Nazis and not subsequently restituted be identified. Terms in the Principles such as “should,” “encouraged,” and “fair and just solution” can be ambiguous and leave room for interpretation. Language with such vagueness is hard to define and leads to the question, how to proceed with the principles presented. Furthermore, the mechanics of conducting provenance research is a topic that has been mostly neglected in both art-historical literature and in academic programs, especially at a time when the museum profession is being required to draw increasingly upon a variety of disciplines in order to adapt and survive. Legal proficiency can surely occupy no lower a priority than the more general skills of economic literacy, resource management and commercial enterprise that have become so substantial a part of contemporary museum and gallery administration.

Museum professionals today are in need of a transferable and interdisciplinary skill set. Knowledge of art history, politics, the history of collections, and the locations of archival materials that document the movement of art, in addition to provenance research, (a fairly specialized methodology in its own right), are all essential.

From 1998 to 2009, the recognized guidelines have plotted out scenery of what provenance research should look like. However, has this been accomplished? Have museums taken a direction that is suitable? On September 3, 2003 the AAM created a website aptly named the Nazi-Era Provenance Internet Portal (NEPIP). The Internet Portal provides a searchable online registry of objects in U.S. museum collections that changed hands in Continental Europe during the Nazi Era (1933-1945). Since the website was established, more than 28,000 objects have been posted by 165 U.S. art museums.

In 2001, The AAM Guide to Provenance Research was written by Nancy Yeide. The comprehensive AAM Guide is divided into two parts. Part One is an overview of basic provenance research and principles. Instruction is given on how to gather information from the work itself and how to use primary and secondary sources. It also has a template on how to write a provenance record used by several major museums such as the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Part Two discusses Holocaust-Era provenance research and how research should be prioritized. A significant aspect of the AAM Guide is the appendix and a list of selected bibliographies on the history of collecting, research resources, dealer archives and locations, resources for auction sales and exhibitions. “Red-flag” names from The Art Looting Investigation Unit (ALIU) are present, as well as a list of consolidated and detailed interrogation reports and Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR) codes. The ERR was the Nazi organization that carried out confiscations of Jewish property in occupied countries. Confiscations by the ERR in France alone total almost 17,000 objects from more than 200 families. The meticulous cataloguing of the collections confiscated was organized by codes assigned to the families from whom the objects were looted.

Nazi-looted Art Provenance: Emily Blyze on Museum Guidelines

by Emily Blyze, ARCA Alum 2009
Part three of a five-part weekend series

The crucial purpose of the European Shoah Legacy Institute in Terezin (Terezin Institute) is to follow up on the work of the Prague Conference and the Terezin Declaration. Initiated by the Czech Government, the Terezin Institute is a voluntary forum that facilitates an intergovernmental effort to develop non-binding guidelines and best practices for restitution and compensation of wrongfully seized immovable property. The priorities of the Terezin Institute will be to publish regular reports on activities related to the Terezin Declaration, develop websites to facilitate sharing of information, particularly in the fields of art provenance, as well as maintain and post lists of websites useful for Participating States, organizations representing Holocaust (Shoah) survivors and Nazi victims, and other non-governmental organizations (NGO).

Working Groups (WG) are composed of representatives of institutions with fundamental activities, field experience and research results related to the principal topics of the WG agenda. Each WG has two Co-Chairs (one from the Czech Republic and one from abroad) who are responsible for the overall planning and management of the agenda and schedule. The WGs established are Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research, Immovable Property (Private and Communal), Looted Art, Judaica and Jewish Cultural Property, and a Special Session – Caring for Victims of Nazism and Their Legacy. Responsibilities of a WG are to prepare the agenda of the expert portion of the Prague conference, discuss the important focal points of their agenda, suggest the framework for presentations at the Prague conference, and draft recommendation for the final declaration.

The Looted Art Working Group prepared expert conclusions that acknowledges the Washington Principles, but “affirms the urgent needs to broaden, deepen and sustain these (Washington Principles) efforts in order to ensure just and fair solutions regarding cultural property looted during the Holocaust era and its aftermath."

March 12, 2011

Continued Discussion on Museum Guidelines for the Provenance of Nazi-Looted Art

Edgar Degas' "Landscape with Smokestacks" (Chicago Art Institute)
by Emily Blyze
ARCA Alum 2009

Part Two of Five in a special weekend series
Three major cases in the late 1990s shed light on the need for museums to have guidelines and policies on how to review their collections for Nazi-looted art.

Gutmann vs Searle: In 1995, Daniel Searle, a Board member of the Art Institute of Chicago, and then owner of the monotype pastel by Edgar Degas, Landscape with Smokestacks, received a claim from the family of Friedrich and Louise Gutmann, Dutch art collectors, who had owned the work prior to World War II. The case was settled in 1998. Searle, who purchased the work in good faith from a New York collector in 1987 on the Art Institute’s advice, had displayed the work on several occasions before receiving notice of the claim. Searle ceded a fifty percent (50%) ownership to the Art Institute and the other fifty percent (50%) was given to the Gutmann heirs, Lili Gutmann and her nephews, the Goodmans, who claimed the painting. As part of the settlement, the Art Institute purchased the Gutmanns’ half interest based on the current appraised value of the work.

Rosenberg vs Seattle Art Museum: The Seattle Art Museum (SAM) received a claim in 1997 from the Paul Rosenberg Family for the Henry Matisse painting, Odalisque. The SAM asked the Holocaust Art Restitution Project (HARP), a Washington, D.C.-based independent research organization, to conduct a thorough, scholarly and impartial investigation of the painting's provenance. Upon the HARP findings, the SAM returned the painting to the Rosenberg heirs.

The Leopold Schiele case: The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York received claims in 1997 for two paintings, Dead City III and Portrait of Wally, by Egon Schiele on loan from the Leopold Museum in Austria. The U.S. government confiscated the paintings under the National Stolen Property Act when it was on loan from the Leopold, claiming that the museum knew the Nazis had stolen the painting in 1939 from its Jewish owner, Lea Bondi. Dead City III was returned to the Leopold Museum because its former owner had no heirs. The Portrait of Wally case was settled in July 2010: the Leopold Museum paid $19 million to the estate of pre-war owner.

The American Association of Museum Directors (AAMD) established the Task Force on the Spoliation of Art during the Nazi/World War II era (1933-1945) on June 4, 1998. The Task Force recommended that museums review the provenance of their collections. The report's topics include a section entitled Statement of Principles, a section on Guidelines with subcategories that addressed Research Regarding Existing Collections, Future Gifts, Bequests, and Purchases, Access to Museum Records, Discovery of Unlawfully works of Art, Response to Claims Against the Museum, Incoming Loans, and a section with Database Recommendations. An Addendum was released April 30, 2001.

In 1998, the U.S. Federal Government held a series of congressional hearings, forming a Presidential Advisory Commission on Holocaust Assets in the U.S. (PCHA) and hosted the Washington Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets. In connection with the conference, the “Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art” was released on December 3, 1998. Forty-four governments participated in developing a consensus of the 11 non-binding principles to assist in resolving Nazi-confiscated art issues.

The American Association of Museums (AAM) drafted their guidelines, Unlawful Appropriation of Objects during the Nazi Era, issued in 1999. In 2001, the AAM and AAMD, along with the PCHA, issued their reports defining the standards for disclosure of information and the creation of a searchable central registry of museum object information, as detailed in the AAM Recommended Procedures for Providing Information to the Public about Objects Transferred in Europe during the Nazi Era, adopted in May 2001.

On June 30, 2009, the European Union held a Holocaust Era Assets Conference in Prague and established the Terezin Declaration. The 46 participating nations endorsed the Terezin Declaration that strengthened and reaffirmed the Washington Principles and reinforced the need for continued provenance research. The Terezin Declaration maintains the non-binding nature of the Washington Principles, but also promotes an urgent need to strengthen and sustain the efforts of the principles. The sense of urgency is noted, but why the need for the Terezin Declaration? What can be accomplished with the Terezin Declaration that could not with the Washington Principles? A letter from the Ambassador Miloš Pojar, Chairman of the Organizing Committee states, “It is our moral and political responsibility to support the Holocaust remembrance and education in national, as well as international, frameworks and to fight against all forms of intolerance and hatred.”

The Terezin Declaration conveys a sense of urgency that was much less noticeable within the Washington Principles. Due to the advanced age of those persecuted, the education, remembrance, and the social welfare needs of Holocaust (Shoah) survivors and other victims of Nazi persecution require a time of reflection on the need for tribute. The Terezin Declaration addresses the need to review current practices regarding provenance research and restitution and, where needed, to define new effective instruments to improve these efforts. The term “instrument” can be interpreted several different ways, including her, a working body constructed to carry out the mission of the Holocaust Era Assets Conference.

Part three will be posted tomorrow.

A Primer on Nazi-Looted Art Provenance: Emily Blyze on the Guidelines Established by Museums

by Emily Blyze, ARCA Alum, Class of 2009

Legal claims by heirs of Holocaust victims whose art works were looted by the Nazis, and claims by foreign “source” countries for objects they believe were exported in violation of patrimony or export laws, have raised awareness of the need for provenance research in regard to due diligence in acquiring works of art. Provenance research has now become the concern of many persons inside and outside the museum profession. This article will discuss the doctrines that have been created and established as common practice to guide museums to the proper handling and protocol for Nazi-looted art. The focus is on the guidelines of Nazi-Era provenance research, specifically addressing the 1998 Washington Principles and the more recent Terezin Declaration, as well as concentrating on the steps museums have taken as a result of the established guidelines. This is the first of a five part series.

In 2009, a Roman newspaper reported that two fingers and a tooth removed from the corpse of Galileo Galilei had been found and would be displayed in an Italian museum.  In 1737, three fingers, a vertebra, and a tooth had been removed from the astronomer’s body 95 years after his death as his corpse was being moved to a monumental tomb opposite that of Michelangelo in Santa Croce Basilica in Florence. One of the fingers recovered is part of the collection of the Institute and Museum of the History of Science (IMSS), in Florence. The vertebra is kept at the University of Padua where Galileo taught -- until the Vatican branded him a heretic for proposing that the Earth revolved around the sun. The tooth and the other two fingers from the scientist's right hand (the thumb and a middle finger) were coveted by an Italian marquis, enclosed in a container, and passed down from generation-to-generation, until it turned up at auction and was purchased by a private collector, intrigued by the contents but not sure they were Galileo’s relics. The relics were inside an 18th-century blown-glass vase within a wooden case topped with a wooden bust of Galileo. The buyer eventually contacted Paoloa Galluzzi, Director of the IMSS, and other Florence culture officials. Using detailed historical documents, as well as documentation from the family who had owned the body parts, they concluded the fingers and tooth had belonged to Galileo.

This story is an example of how the use of detailed documents from the museum and the family helped identify the ownership history of Galileo’s literal travel through time. The technical museum term for ownership history is “provenance.” When associated with a painting or other work of art, provenance means the history of ownership. Tracing the provenance of a painting traditionally has been a responsibility of museum curators. But that has changed in recent years, with the growth of the Internet, the availability of records from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, and publicity surrounding high profile cases of Jewish-owned art stolen by Nazi officials. Legal claims by heirs of Holocaust victims whose art works were looted or otherwise misappropriated by the Nazis, and claims by foreign “source” countries for objects they believe were exported in violation of patrimony or export laws, have raised awareness of the need for provenance research in regard to due diligence in acquiring works of art. Provenance research has now become the concern of many persons inside and outside the museum profession.

Doctrines have been created and established as common practice to guide museums in the proper handling and protocol for Nazi-looted art from 1933 to 1945. The museum community has met over recent years to provide guidelines for Nazi-Era provenance research include the 1998 Washington Principles and the more recent Terezin Declaration. Why now? Awareness through articles, books and conferences during the early 1990s focused attention on this topic. The reunification of Germany, collapse of the Soviet Union, and the declassification of archival documents in the United States, together brought about a major resurgence of interest in Nazi looted art. Books such as Lynn H. Nicholas’s The Rape of Europa published in 1994 and Jonathan Petropoulous’s, Art as Politics in the Third Reich (1996) and The Faustian Bargain (2000) left readers with in-depth research of details and unflinching accounts of the art world during World War II.

A conference on January 19-21, 1995, “The Spoils of War – World War II and Its Aftermath: The Loss, Reappearance, and Recovery of Cultural Property,” organized by the Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, provided the first forum on the subject. The conference dealt with the art and other cultural property that was looted, damaged, and destroyed in vast quantities by the Nazi armed forces and confiscation agencies and the consequences that ensued. Approximately 70 speakers and guest participants representing more than 15 countries discussed publicly their concerns about World War II recovery and restitution. The outcome was the 1997 publication of The Spoils of War by Elizabeth Simpson which reproduces the papers presented at the conference. Seventeen key legal documents that are often referred to, but rarely reproduced, have been added as appendices. The appendices contain relevant provisions of all major international treaties, laws, conventions, protocols, and official statements relating to wartime plunder, restitution, and repatriation.

Part two will be posted later today.

March 11, 2011

Friday, March 11, 2011 - ,, No comments

ARCA Alum Profile: Catching up with Emily Blyze, Class of 2009

Emily Blyze, ARCA Class 2009
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, Editor

Emily Blyze graduated from ARCA’s Master’s Program in Art Crime Studies in 2009. She completed her undergraduate work at Indiana University with an Art History major and a Communications and Business minor. After college, she worked for the Indianapolis Museum of Art in the Development department where she worked towards securing gifts for the Membership and Annual Fund programs. Currently, she works at The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. She manages all aspects of the Center’s Endowment Campaign including working with and managing key volunteers, execution of prospective donor strategies including interacting with high end donors, and developing proposals for philanthropic support.

We caught up with her recently to ask about her professional experience in fundraising and development. Although her job is not directly involved in studying art crime, she has been informally advising ARCA on seeking donors and supports to assist in spreading the word about art crime.
ARCA blog:     Emily, you were an art historian and a museum employee when you entered the Art Crime Studies program.  How much did you know about art crime when you began the program and did your perspective change?
Ms. Blyze: As an Art Historian, the saying "to the victor go the spoils", was always a caveat. But honestly, I had never thought of art crime in the context of a “crime” before the program. I took away a very different perspective of the actual repercussions of an art crime and its effects on those harmed. Art is a reflection of one’s culture - socially, politically, economically - and the fact that when a work is stolen, so is ones sense of who they are and what they represent. 
ARCA blog: I entered the ARCA program with an interest in museum theft then learned a lot about stolen antiquities, but left the program skeptical about the value of the secondary art market. Did you have the same concerns?

Ms. Blyze: Yes, I think that when dealing with the secondary market, the best way to approach it is "buyer be aware". Not all works are stolen, but as a buyer, you are at risk for enabling black market antiquities to continue to prosper if not taken with caution.

ARCA blog: How can a buyer know that the Raphael up for sale is really a Raphael? Or that it will still be one in 30 years and not just another painting by his master, Perugino? 
Ms. Blyze: As a responsible buyer, make sure the work you are buying has proper documentation and is purchased from a legit dealer and or an auction house. Involving a third party to do due diligence on the work is another action step to curb improper trafficking of stolen goods. 
With a high level name such as Raphael, ownership history or provenance should typically accompany the work. As a well-known and respected artist, Raphael had financially strong benefactors that would allow his work to be properly documented. That might help ease your conscience knowing that the work is truly by Raphael and not by the hand of his teacher, Perugino. However, over time there could be an important discovery depicting otherwise and you now become the proud owner of a Perugino. To me, that is still fantastic. 
ARCA blog: You work in the development end of nonprofit fundraising. What do you think organizations like ARCA can do to raise money to support research into crimes against art? 
Ms. Blyze: The concept of raising money can be a daunting and very overwhelming task. A great place to start is to create a money plan. Writing down financially realistic goals can help drive resources, such as time, staff, volunteers, etc. in the right direction. I am going to stick with Individual support at this time. To create this plan of attack, write down who your players are – identify your network. Code these individuals as either a prospective donor, volunteer, or link (someone to connect you to your prospective donor). From there, you will naturally start to form a pipeline. This pipeline will be a visual reference of who you can engage and cultivate for securing impactful, organizational changing gifts. 
There are plenty of other ways to raise money and I will use ARCA as an example. They have already taken several significant steps in securing gifts by establishing membership dues, tuition costs for the academic program, and honorariums for lectures. 
Ultimately, an organization needs to seek out others that have the same passion, cause and story to share as the institution and support will follow through financial and personal involvement.
Emily’s thesis, “Nazi-Era Provenance Research: Moral Responsibility has Established a Common Practice”, covered the conventions and policies that American museums have tried to adopt and institute in identifying Nazi-looted art and subsequent restitution. The ARCA blog will publish an article by Ms. Blyze on this topic this weekend.