Sunday, February 17, 2013

Cultural Security News (Feb. 10 - Feb. 16)

Christie’s and Sotheby’s report gains, while Mali and Syria suffer loses
In politics, in Washington D.C. the Chinese Embassy, which, established in 179, represented a time of developing Sino-American relations, was razed to make way for a new building. A decision by the French Ministry of Culture to return artworks to Jewish families has implication for the return of objects from museums in the UK as the Arts Council of England prepares to consider new claims. At the same time, Nigeria’s National Commission for Museums and Monuments hosted representatives of foreign museums that hold looted pre-19th century cultural objects of Nigerian heritage. Cambodia requested that a Sotheby’s executive who is on the Cultural Property Advisory Committee recuse herself from the case of the mythic warrior statue.
a crossover of politics and economics, in Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince Salman Bin Abdul Aziz, Deputy Premier and Minister of Defense, chaired a session in which the Council of Ministers facilitated a government stake in a private company that will develop state-owned heritage buildings. In Canada, if the Cultural Property Export Review Board certifies an artwork as a national treasure, then the artwork can qualify as a cultural gift, which avoids capital gains tax, when gifted to designated instructions.
In a crossover of politics and security, Raul Grioni, president of Venezuela's Cultural Patrimony Institute, expected to engage the U.S. Department of State over the return of a stolen painting, which is by Henri Matisse, to the Caracas Museum of Contemporary Art. The return of the Buddha statues that were stolen from Japan and found in South Korea is pending an investigation of the circumstances under which the statues came to be in Japan. Asmaa al-Ghoul reported on how “pillaging” of artifacts from the Gaza strip by Israeli authorities has erased Palestinian history, and Palestinian officials criticized the transfer of objects from the West Bank for an exhibit of Herod the Great in Israel’s national museum. A report on a document from an al-Qaida leader indicated an interest in preserving cultural heritage in Mali and criticized destruction of monuments and manuscripts.
In economics, an article in Forbes shed light on record prices for artworks by women artists against the backdrop record prices in the art market. The fifth India Art Fair caused some controversies over misleading information about the number of installations and entry hours, but the quality of the available art and the sales demonstrated a viable market. In New York, auctions at Christie’s and Sotheby’s had record sales for individual works and generated about $170 million in total sales, and in London, a Sotheby’s auction achieved a second-highest ever total of $116.4 million. Speculation continued over a correction in China’s top rank in the art market. The Nigerian market for artworks and artifacts continued to show promise in 2012.
In security, Syria's Antiquities Directorate reported on continued destruction and threats to cultural heritage, and UNESCO's Assistant Director-General for Culture, Francesco Bandarin, made a statement about the illicit market for artifacts from Syria. UNESCO also convened a meeting of international experts to provide insight into the damage to cultural heritage, and to promote protection thereof, in Mali. In Jordan, UNESCO provided regional training for awareness of trafficking in antiquities. Jordanian police seized a large cache of Syrian artifacts in Amman. A article out of Sri Lanka reported on well organized plundering of cultural artifacts by gangs across the island.
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