The Guardian: Newcastle museum to return Benin bronze stave. “A Benin bronze in the collection of a Newcastle museum is to be proactively returned to Nigeria, the latest in a number of repatriations that ratchet up pressure on the British Museum to follow suit. Bosses of the Great North Museum: Hancock announced that it had recently been established that a brass stave with a distinctive bird finial had been looted from Benin City by the British military in 1897.”
US Department of Justice: Major Collection Of Cambodian And Southeast Asian Antiquities Is Subject Of Forfeiture Action Filed In Manhattan Federal Court
US Department of Justice: Major Collection Of Cambodian And Southeast Asian Antiquities Is Subject Of Forfeiture Action Filed In Manhattan Federal Court. “Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Ricky J. Patel, the Acting Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Department of Homeland Security (‘HSI’), announced today the filing of a civil complaint seeking forfeiture of 35 Cambodian and Southeast Asian antiquities from a private American collection for the purpose of returning the antiquities to their countries of origin.”
This is from earlier in December but the video I saw for it is so astounding I feel I must include it. The Drum: Vice Media highlights disputed artifacts in British Museum with interactive campaign. “Vice Media has created a campaign to highlight the origin of 10 disputed artifacts that are currently in the British Museum. The campaign, called ‘The Unfiltered History Tour’ and conceptualized together with Dentsu Webchutney, is focused on artifacts including Summer Palace (China), Gweagal Shield (Australia) and Amaravati Marbles (India). The stories of these artifacts will be told through an interactive mobile site and a 10-episode podcast series featuring experts from the homelands of these objects.”
New York Times: Michael Steinhardt, Billionaire, Surrenders $70 Million in Stolen Relics. “Michael H. Steinhardt, the billionaire hedge fund pioneer and one of New York’s most prolific antiquities collectors, has surrendered 180 stolen objects valued at $70 million and been barred for life from acquiring any other relics, the Manhattan district attorney’s office said in a statement Monday.”
New York Times: Cambodia Says Looter Helping It Reclaim Stolen Artifacts Has Died. “Cambodian officials say a reformed looter who directed a ring that pillaged Khmer-era temples for two decades, ending in the late 1990s, has died, but that they will continue to use the testimony he provided as they work to reclaim more stolen artifacts. The man, Toek Tik, 62, spent the last two years informing officials of his activities as he sought to help them reclaim hundreds of statues and other relics he said he had personally looted, many of which, Cambodia says, are now in private hands and museum collections.”
Hyperallergic: A Portal Tracks Objects Acquired by German Institutions Through Colonialism. “Newly launched by the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek (German Digital Library), the Collections from Colonial Contexts (CCC) portal tracks artifacts in German institutions acquired under conditions of colonialism. So far, over 8,000 objects from 25 institutions have been listed.” This is separate from the Benin bronzes database.
New York Times: Citizen Activists Lead the Hunt for Antiquities Looted From Nepal. “Roshan Mishra recalls standing inside the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Australia, staring into the eyes of a wooden goddess that he believed was the same artifact that had disappeared nearly 50 years earlier from a local temple in Nepal’s Kathmandu Valley, where he lives. Mishra, director of the Taragaon Museum in Kathmandu, describes that encounter, in 2019, as the event that inspired him to create a digital archive of nearly 3,000 Nepalese artifacts that he believes are being held by museums outside the country.”
Wired: These historical artefacts are totally faked. “Nora Al-Badri was bored by deepfake porn. She thought the technology, best known for putting people’s faces into videos they weren’t actually in could be put to work doing something better. As an artist who regularly works with digital technology, Al-Badri had an idea for a more interesting project employing an AI technique known as a generative adversarial network (GAN), commonly used for deepfakes. That work, Babylonian Vision, used GANs to expand what we know about ancient history and question museums’ ownership of objects in the 21st century.”
Greek Reporter: Greek Antiquities Removed by Occupying Germany, US Archives Reveal. “A 47-page document in the US National Archives recently unearthed by an English historian reveals the damage caused to Greek antiquities during Germany’s occupation of the country in 1941-1944. The document, by the Directorate of Civil Affairs of the United States War Office was written between November 1944 and March 1945. It was discovered by Graham M. Simons, an English historian and author who has written well over sixty books on aviation history.”
INTERPOL: INTERPOL launches app to better protect cultural heritage . “An app launched by INTERPOL will help identify stolen cultural property, reduce illicit trafficking, and increase the chances of recovering stolen works and artefacts. INTERPOL’s ID-Art app enables users ranging from law enforcement to the general public to get mobile access to the INTERPOL database of stolen works of art, create an inventory of private art collections and report cultural sites potentially at risk.” The app is free and available in your local app store.
The Regulatory Review: The Regulation of Stolen Cultural Artifacts. “After the U.S. invasion of Iraq, looters stole thousands of Iraqi artifacts, which may now be purchased online for relatively low prices. Although the United States has returned many of these artifacts, thousands have slipped through the cracks…. A patchwork of laws and international agreements currently governs the transport and sale of illegally obtained cultural artifacts in the United States. The National Stolen Property Act (NSPA) makes it illegal to transport stolen artifacts across state lines but only covers items worth more than $5,000.”