Preview

Restitution

Analysis
Africa

'Restitution is important but it is not essential': the African museums building a homegrown cultural revival

Though African institutions want looted artefacts to return home, they are more preoccupied with promoting living artists and treasures

Podcast

Is the future of museums in Africa?

We speak to museum experts András Szántó and Sonia Lawson. Plus, Dan Hicks on the legacy of colonial looting and National Gallery curator Christopher Riopelle on the Polish painter Jan Matejko

Analysis
The Year in Review 2020

Museums 2020: the year of crashing revenues and anti-racism disputes

Turbulent year draws to a close with sector wracked by pandemic lockdowns and Black Lives Matter challenges

News
Restitution

Chair of Dutch Nazi-loot committee resigns ahead of report on restitution policy

Alfred Hammerstein’s departure follows criticism of Dutch committee’s decisions

News
Repatriation

Artist discovers looted statue in Canadian museum and returns it to India

The 18th-century work was stolen by the museum's namesake from an active temple over 100 years ago

News
Looted art

Jewish collections looted by the Nazis to be examined and traced in new database

The Jewish Digital Cultural Recovery Project will begin with a pilot scheme focusing on the Old Masters collection of Adolphe Schloss, which was seized by the Gestapo

News
Restitution

French Senate votes unanimously for restitution to Benin and Senegal in 'act of friendship and trust'

Senate approves bill to return 27 colonial-era artefacts from museum collections to Africa within one year

News
Restitution

Australia pledges millions towards repatriation of Aboriginal artefacts from overseas collections

Government extends pilot project to return objects to Indigenous peoples—including those held by private collectors

News
Collectors

Congolese collector Sindika Dokolo reportedly dies in Dubai diving accident

Tributes pour in for “defender of African art”—who was also being investigated by Angolan authorities

News
Heritage

Historic Book of Lismore returns to Ireland from Britain

Medieval vellum manuscript has been donated to University College Cork by Chatsworth, seat of the Dukes of Devonshire

News
Art crime

Man tries to take artefact from Louvre—just two weeks after being charged for the same crime at Quai Branly

Congolese activist Emery Mwazulu Diyabanza, fined €1,000 earlier this month, will go to court again later today

News
Museums

Mondrian’s heirs file US suit to recover four paintings worth $200m from a German museum

The complaint also demands compensation for four further works by Mondrian no longer at the Krefeld museum

News
Restitution

Black Lives Matter movement is speeding up repatriation efforts, leading French art historian says

Bénédicte Savoy—co-author of the Sarr-Savoy report that recommends France return its African artefacts—warns of "collective amnesia" over restitution debates that happened 40 years ago

News
Restitution

Nazi-looted Dutch Old Master to be auctioned in settlement between heir and current holder

The Golden Age work by Aelbert Cuyp was looted from Jacques Goudstikker and acquired by Hermann Göring

News
France

Congolese activist fined €1,000 for trying to seize African funeral pole from Paris museum

Emery Mwazulu Diyabanza and the other activists who removed the object from display at the Musée du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac say their actions are a protest against colonial looting

News
Restitution

Dutch government committee recommends return of colonial-era artefacts

The report calls for a new panel to advise the minister on repatriations and a new provenance research centre

Interview
Book Club

‘The looting was a chaotic free-for-all’: Dan Hicks on the pillaging of the Benin Bronzes and how museums can address colonialism

The curator and University of Oxford professor tells us about his new book, The Brutish Museums, which details how museums themselves were “used as a unique type of weapon”

News
Restitution

France’s National Assembly votes to return colonial-era artefacts to Benin and Senegal

Accelerated bill enabling restitution of 27 objects from French museums passes first vote in parliament

News
Restitution

France ordered to return three Derain paintings to heirs of Jewish dealer René Gimpel

Ruling by Paris court of appeal sets an important precedent for pending restitution claim over 16 paintings in French museum collections

News
Restitution

Leading Australian activist accuses British Museum of downgrading provenance of Aboriginal shield to prevent restitution

New text accompanying object removes mention that it was collected by Captain James Cook but museum says it doesn't alter its significance

News
Restitution

Police search for Benin Bronze protestor—found guilty of 'threatening behaviour'

Isaiah Ogundele, who demonstrated outside the Museum of London, Docklands for the objects' repatriation, failed to appear at his court hearing earlier this month

News
Museums

Oxford museum removes 'racist' shrunken heads from display after 80 years

Exhibiting Tsantsas "reinforced racist and stereotypical thinking that goes against the museum’s core values,” says the Pitt Rivers Museum's director

News
Museums

Man arrested after protesting against Benin Bronzes display at London museum

Defendant was charged with using “threatening, abusive, insulting words or behaviour with intent to cause harassment, alarm or distress” during incident in January

News
Restitution

Berlin returns tattooed Maori heads to New Zealand

Human remains in museums have attracted widespread criticism

News
Law

US appeals court rules—with regret—that Thyssen-Bornemisza Foundation can keep Nazi-looted Pissarro

Judges noted the Spanish government, which signed the Washington Principles in 1998, “can preen as moralistic in its declarations”, yet not be bound by them

Analysis
Looting

How recent anti-racism protests have pushed a longstanding debate about colonial looting in Europe

As the Black Lives Matter movement goes global, museums face renewed demands to restitute artefacts plundered from Africa

News
Restitution

‘I had lost hope’: The story behind a Nazi-looted Madonna and long-delayed compensation to Jewish heirs

The 93-year-old heir Grete Unger Heinz recalls contemplating a Jacopo del Sellaio painting as a child in Vienna

News
Restitution

Turin museum pays settlement to Jewish heirs for Renaissance Madonna that was looted by Nazis

Family of Gustav Arens also receive French government compensation for a Tintoretto painting and a Dutch landscape

News
Restitution

France takes first legal step towards restitutions to Benin and Senegal as cabinet examines new law

Twenty-six objects looted from Abomey Palace to return to Benin, Omar Tall’s sword to be transferred to Senegal

News
Law

Heirs battle estate over $30m Monet painting from Emden collection sold during Nazi era

Le Palais Ducal is at the centre of an ownership dispute that has kept the work from coming to auction

News
Art market

Sotheby's to auction £4m restituted Bellotto painting that Jewish retail magnate was forced to sell to Hitler

The view of Dresden's Zwinger moat had been returned to the heirs of Max Emden and will now be offered for sale in London on 28 July

News
Restitution

US Supreme Court agrees to hear Berlin museums' appeal in lawsuit over restitution of medieval treasures to Jewish heirs

Panel will consider museums' argument that a trial over rightful ownership of the Guelph Treasure cannot be heard in American courts

News
Art market

American collector to sue France over restitution of $1.7m Pissarro painting

Real estate developer Bruce Toll claims compensation after French High court confirms return of Pissarro's Pea Harvest to heirs of collector Simon Bauer

News
Auctions

Waning market for African artefacts? Controversial Benin bronze fails to sell at Christie's

Academics challenge the provenance of the Edo plaque as well as two Igbo alusi figures that sold under estimate for €212,500

News
Restitution

National museum in Stockholm to return stolen 16th-century painting to Poland

Officials in Poland and Sweden piece together provenance of work by School of Lucas Cranach the Elder

News
Protests

Protestors seize African artefact from Paris's Quai Branly museum in bid to 'bring to Africa what was taken'

Five demonstrators will go to court on charges of theft

News
Museums

'Time to give back the swag, guys!' British Museum unleashes Twitter storm with statement on Black Lives Matter

London institution was criticised for proclaiming that it "stands in solidarity with the Black community" while continuing to resist calls to restitute colonial-era loot

News
Second World War

The cultural consequences of the Second World War carry into today

From art restitutions to how museum adapted to wartime constraints, we continue to feel the fallout 75 years after the conflict’s end

News
British Museum

Mary Beard wades into restitution debate in her first blog post as a new British Museum trustee

"Museums have always been controversial. Who should be allowed in? And on what terms?" asks the celebrated classicist

News
Restitution

'We want to be part of the solution': UK museum says it is open to discussing fate of Benin bronze after prince demands its return

Bristol Museum & Art Gallery wants to work in tandem with the Benin Dialogue Group, which is made up of institutions that hold the majority of the pieces

News
Restitution

New guidelines for UK museums will kickstart nation's long-overdue restitution debate

Arts Council England will release a document that addresses the ethical and practical issues around restituting cultural objects, planned for autumn 2020

News
Collectors

Portuguese judge orders seizure of all assets owned by African art collector Isabel dos Santos in the country

Move is intended to stall the sales of stakes in multi-million-Euro companies based in Portugal

Comment
Law

The US Supreme Court’s silence on Nazi art theft fails Holocaust survivors

Last week’s decision to reject an appeal over the ownership of Picasso’s The Actor was a missed opportunity to clarify the limitations of the 2016 HEAR Act

News
Rhodesian Man

Zambia claims Rhodesian Man, the 250,000-year-old fossilised skull at London’s Natural History Museum

Negotiations are ongoing, but the Foreign Office says releasing 1972 documents on the claim “would harm UK relations with Zambia”

News
Fakes & copies

'Stolen' ancient sculpture returned to Nigeria is 'the kind of fake you could buy on eBay', African art expert says

Countries' rush to restitute objects is part of the problem, says Belgian lawyer

News
Restitution

Italy hands Nazi-looted Renaissance sculpture from the Uffizi to Germany

Andrea della Robbia’s Mary Magdalene was acquired by Hermann Göring in 1941

News
Parthenon marbles

Leaked draft of EU paper stirs Parthenon Marbles dispute

But the clause is unlikely to refer to the ancient Greek sculptures in the British Museum, expert says

News
Restitution

India asks Ashmolean Museum to return 15th-century bronze idol believed stolen from temple

Independent scholar uncovers questionable provenance for the sculpture that the Oxford institution bought from Sotheby's in 1967

News
Loot

Looted ancient temple sculpture—seized by UK police—will go home to Afghanistan

British Museum and Art Loss Register collaborate over recovery of ancient bull decoration that was consigned to an online auction

News
Nazi loot

German court rules in favour of Nazi-looted art database, although owners say a listing makes works unsellable

Lostart.de is caught between the conflicting demands of claimants and the holders of disputed art

News
Restitution

Three Nazi-looted works bought by Gurlitt return to Jewish collector’s heirs

Two paintings by Jean-Louis Forain were discovered in Cornelius Gurlitt’s trove; the third work, by Constantin Guys, was restituted by another family member

News
Restitution

Berlin restitutes painting to heirs of 'degenerate' artist for the first time

A portrayal of Lot by Hans Baldung Grien was sold to the Gemäldegalerie in 1937 by Hans Purrmann

News
Restitution

Arts Council England asks for help in returning looted artefacts held in UK museums

Tender opened for guidance around repatriation questions for items including those acquired from former colonies

News
Art market

Sotheby’s to auction three Nazi-looted works restituted to Jewish collector’s heirs

Two paintings by Signac and one by Pissarro are expected to fetch as much as £20m

News
Restitution

New evidence cited in restitution claim for Panama Papers Modigliani

Dealer Oscar Stettiner’s grandson says painting, now owned by David Nahmad, was looted by Nazis

News
Collectors

Angola freezes assets of billionaire and her art collector husband

Isabel dos Santos, Africa’s richest woman, is married to Sindika Dokolo who has been working for years on repatriating works to the African continent

News
Restitution

How a Nazi-looted painting entered an Israeli museum

Tel Aviv Museum of Art reveals surprising provenance of 19th-century work by Jozef Israëls, which will be restituted to Jewish owner’s heirs in October

News
Restitution

France promises to return 26 looted Benin artefacts by 2021 and opens talks on 'wider set of works'

But full restitution depends on changes to French law and the construction of new Benin museum

News
The Year in Review 2019

From a Paris inferno to the Leonardo tussle: the art world's top stories of 2019

We look back at the major events that made the headlines this year

News
Restitution

Archaeologist launches private bid to retrieve priceless Egyptian treasures from European museums

Zahi Hawass, former Egyptian minister of antiquities, corrals international team of experts to press institutions for return of important artefacts

News
Restitution

Germany returns indigenous remains of 45 ancestors to Australia in 'long overdue step'

Saxon government acknowledges “years of disregard for their dignity and importance to their communities of origin”

News
Restitution

Cambridge college returns Benin bronze to Nigeria

Statue of a cockerel was looted by the British in 1897 from the Court of Benin

News
Restitution

German museum acquires Heinrich Campendonk painting after restitution to Jewish collector’s heir

Work once belonged to the shoe manufacturer Alfred Hess, whose family was forced to flee Nazi Germany

News
Restitution

Dr Oetker returns painting to heirs of Jewish tobacco dealer murdered by the Nazis

Leo Bendel was killed at Buchenwald three years after he sold the painting by Carl Spitzweg to fund his escape from Nazi Germany

News
Restitution

France returns a historic sword to Senegal

The gesture is intended as a symbol of France’s commitment to repatriating African heritage

News
Restitution

George Soros's Open Society Foundations pledges $15m to help Africa recover looted heritage

Paid over four years, it will support efforts made by museums, grassroots-organisations and governments

Comment
Savoy/Sarr Report

One year after the Sarr-Savoy report, France has lost its momentum in the restitution debate

It recommended the restitution of African artefacts in French museums, but the country has not returned a single item to Africa

News
Restitution

Bern museum sells $4m Manet painting from Gurlitt art hoard

National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo agrees to buy the painting, Ships at Sea in Stormy Weather

News
Law

Who really owns this Schiele watercolour Portrait of the Artist's Wife?

A three-way battle is brewing in New York courts as the heirs of two Holocaust victims take on the work’s current owner

News
Restitution

FBI recovers painting suspected as Nazi loot from US museum

Gari Melchers's painting of a winter landscape, which was in the Arkell Museum in the state of New York, belonged to the media mogul Rudolf Mosse

News
Restitution

Namibian artefacts travel home in Berlin museum research project

But return of the objects permanently to Namibia is not the immediate goal, says Hermann Parzinger, president of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation

Comment
Restitution

Icom Kyoto 2019 conference: key takeaways from the decolonisation and restitution panel

Discussion argued for community empowerment, new skillsets, and focus on contemporary colonialism

News
Restitution

Trump opens door to restitution claims on art seized by Cuba

While the president is the first to allow Title III of Helms-Burton Act to be used, some whose collections were taken doubt it will have an impact

News
Loans

Greece in talks with Louvre to borrow Parthenon frieze as part of 'temporary exchange'

Move reignites debate over British Museum’s position on sculptures brought to Britain by Lord Elgin

News
Restitution

German Nazi loot panel divided on Max Stern painting—but returns it to his heirs anyway

For first time, advisory team stipulates that work must not be sold for ten years in case evidence emerges that contradicts its ruling

News
Restitution

Growing pressure on the British Museum as Jamaica is latest government seeking return of objects

Spokeswoman for the London museum says it has not been officially approached by the country over the return of the two objects made by the Taíno people in its collection

Comment
Law

Why this Cézanne painting could hold the key to solving thorny heritage disputes

Innovative agreement to share contested work from Gurlitt trove provides a roadmap for similar legal cases

News
Restitution

Benin gets €20m loan for new museum to show restituted heritage

France’s president pledged to return 26 items seized in the 19th century by the French military

News
Restitution

Austria promises to return ancient artefacts to Russia that were taken as war trophies

An Austrian army officer took the 2,000-year-old objects from a war-damaged museum in the port of Temryuk at the end of the Second World War

News
Restitution

France retreats from report recommending automatic restitutions of looted African artefacts

Suggestions from controversial Savoy-Sarr report were all-but buried at a conference held in Paris

News
Restitution

Uffizi recovers Nazi-looted painting from Germany

The Dutch still life heads back to the Florence museum after bold campaign by director

News
Nazi loot

Berlin museums appeal to US Supreme Court in dispute over €200m Guelph Treasure

The case 'shouldn't be heard in a US court', argues the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation

News
Nazi loot

Mass theft of art from East German citizens revealed in new report

Study reveals that up to 8% of museum acquisitions were looted from private citizens

Comment
Restitution

British Museum must recognise its own powers in matters of restitution

Case of Ethiopian tabots shows that trustees' hands are not tied when it comes to the disposal of certain items from the collection

Comment
Restitution

Polish government must stop dragging its heels on restitution

Serious roadblocks remain for claimants looking to reclaim works looted by Nazis

News
Restitution

Netherlands to restitute two paintings sold by Jewish businessman in Nazi era

Restitutions Committee recommends return of two Golden Age works to heirs of Jacob Lierens

News
Restitution

British Museum considers loan of ‘invisible’ objects back to Ethiopia

Country has requested return of 11 tabots held in sealed storeroom that the Ethiopian Orthodox Church believes should only be viewed by its priests

News
Restitution

Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection can keep a painting that the Nazis stole, US judge rules

The judge says the work should have raised suspicions, but that he must apply Spanish law

News
Restitution

Italian prosecutor claims Medieval missal in Morgan Library was stolen from parish church

Official argues that its return could help boost tourism in an area that has suffered economically from earthquake damage

News
Art market

Bonn library recovers 600 books missing since the Second World War

Sotheby's assisted the return of the books, including 11 medieval manuscripts, which were found in Belgium

News
Restitution

FBI launches campaign to return haul of Native and South American works

Thousands of illegally removed items—including human bones—were discovered on collector’s farm

News
Restitution

Indigenous human remains returned to Australia by five German institutions

Australia is pursuing further repatriations from Germany, ambassador says

Comment
Museums in the changing world order

Museums in the changing world order: Restitution to Africa reaches tipping point

In the second part of a new series, Adrian Ellis examines the issue of post-colonial restitution

News
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

Norwegian foundation bought $22m Kirchner that the Guggenheim restituted last year

Painting acquired for Oslo's National Gallery was bought at auction from heirs of Jewish dealer persecuted by the Nazis

News
Looting

A 'missed opportunity'? US seeks to return painting looted by Nazis to Ukraine

Questions are being raised about how the work ended up in the US and why such a public seizure is being pursued now

News
Restitution

Panel urges return of Hitler’s Bellotto paintings to heirs of Jewish retail magnate

German advisory commission on Nazi-looted art says paintings in government collection should be restituted to the descendants of Max James Emden

News
Restitution

Italy and China team up to fight looting

During president Xi Jinping's visit to Rome, Italy announced that it will return 796 artefacts to China

Comment
Leaders

What’s in a title? It’s time to reframe the Parthenon Marbles debate

The British Museum's ownership of the statues is only guaranteed within the UK—things get more complicated on an international level

News
Restitution

London museum returns emperor's hair—taken by a British officer as a war trophy—to Ethiopia

The two locks will be buried at the monastery where emperor Tewodros' body was interred

News
Nazi loot

German cathedral returns Nazi-looted Dutch Old Master to heirs

Dutch Square is one of many paintings Bavaria returned to the families of the looters instead of the original Jewish owners after the war