Sunday, January 13, 2013

Cultural Security News (Jan. 06 - Jan. 12)

Continued repatriation, destruction, and rising prices
In politics, a repatriation case of treasures from Cyprus raises the question of compensation for the returned cultural patrimony even in the case of smuggled objects. Nigeria called for the return of Benin Bronzes that the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston recently received as a donation and claimed to meet legal standards. Controversy continued over the authenticity of a 4th century papyrus fragment, which reportedly provides evidence that Jesus was married.
In a crossover of politics and economics, developers in South Korea voiced frustration not only over regulations to halt construction for the sake of protecting cultural property but also over requirements to pay for the cost of excavation.
AleppoIn a crossover of politics and security, in India, a trend in construction of Hindu structures near Muslims shrines carries the risk of reprisals. The Toledo Museum of Art returned a smuggled 6th century B.C. vase to Italy following an extensive investigation by U.S. ICE and HSI. The Getty Museum returned a terracotta head of the Greek god Hades to Sicily. In Syria, the continued destruction of cultural heritage sites incited questions of the cost of democracy.
In economics, readers weighed in on The New York Times discussion about the perceived value of art in light of skyrocketing prices in the market. Despite rising prices, questions arose over “promises” that Damien Hirst’s works would not decline in value in the aftermath of Hirst’s split from Larry Gagosian. Meanwhile, sales of works by Andy Warhol in 2012 surpassed those of Pablo Picasso. A report by Skate’s qualified the rising prices as being concentrated in, and skewed by, the 5000 most expensive artworks. A comparison of the price for contemporary art and Old Masters further qualified art-market statistics. Overall, however, the art market performed surprisingly well in comparison to general economic conditions in 2012.
In security, a painting by Henri Matisse was recovered in Essex and returned to the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm. In Norway, 23 rare Chinese artifacts were stolen from the Bergens Industrial Arts Museum.
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