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89 Moche Archaeological Objects – Peru v. Johnson
After the discovery of the Moche site of Sipán (Peru) in the mid-eighties, many archaeological objects were looted and smuggled out of the country. In 1987, a smuggler who had been involved in the exportation of these objects to the United States contacted United States Customs agents and led to the eventual seizure of 89 Moche artifacts from Benjamin Johnson, a private collector. The government of Peru sued to retrieve the artifacts from Johnson. Peru’s claim was unsuccessful and the 89 archaeological objects remained in Johnson’s possession.
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Chasuble – Paraguay et Musée d’ethnographie de Neuchâtel et François Machon
En 1889, le Musée d’ethnographie de Neuchâtel (MEN) reçoit en don une chasuble probablement spoliée au Paraguay pendant la guerre de la Triple Alliance (1864-1870). En 1926, le médecin neuchâtelois François Machon, alors Consul du Paraguay à Lausanne, propose au MEN le retour de la chasuble en échange du don de sa collection ethnographique, ce que le MEN accepte.
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Hopi Masks – Hopi Tribe v. Néret-Minet and Estimations & Ventes aux Enchères
Between 2013 and 2014, dozens of Hopi’s sacred objects were sold at auctions in Paris despite strong protests and legal actions launched by the Hopi tribe. These actions were unsuccessful because French judicial authorities denied legal standing to the Hopis and considered that the sales did not violate French law.
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Le Grand Pont – Weinmann Heirs and Yale University Art Gallery
The painting “Le Grand Pont”, by Gustave Courbet, was owned by Josephine Weinmann and her family, but after they were forced to flee Germany from Nazi persecution, the painting was purchased by Herbert Schaefer, a Nazi militant. When Schaefer later loaned the painting to the Yale University Art Gallery, Weinmann’s heirs sued for its return.
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Bélier Malien – France, Jacques Chirac et Mali
En novembre 1996, le Président de la République Française Jacques Chirac reçoit en cadeau un quadrupède en terre cuite aux formes massives et stylisées. L’objet, qui provenait d’un site pillé au Mali, sera restitué sous forme de don après négociations en janvier 1998.
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Canon Tables – Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America and J. Paul Getty Museum
The Canon Tables of the Zeyt’un Gospels were illegally separated from the manuscript sometime between 1915-1923. Having discovered that the Tables had been stolen and were held at the J. Paul Getty Museum in California, the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church engaged in a legal battle with the Getty regarding the restitution of the Tables. After five years, the two sides reached a settlement in 2015.
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La Bergère – Meyer Heirs and Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
Raoul Meyer’s art collection, which included Camille Pissarro’s painting “La bergère rentrant des moutons”, was looted by Nazi troops during the occupation of France in early 1940s. Decades later, Meyer’s daughter and heir, Léone Meyer, discovered the painting at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma, and initiated a lawsuit in the United States seeking its return. After a three-year litigation, the two sides reached a settlement in 2016.
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Waurà Indians Collection – Museum der Kulturen Basel, Penteado Coelho Heirs and Museu de Arqueologia e Etnologia Universidade de São Paulo, Waurà Indians
Vera Penteado Coelho, a Brazilian ethnologist, bequeathed to the Museum der Kulturen Basel her collection of Waurà cultural objects. Following opposition from the Waurà Indians and the Museu de Arqueologia e Etnologia Universidade de São Paulo, the Basel Museum entered into negotiations to allow the collection to remain in Brazil. Eight years later, in 2008, the collection was donated to the São Paulo Museum.
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Buste d’un jeune garçon – Héritiers Gentili di Giuseppe et Art Institute de Chicago
En 1999, les héritiers de l’important collectionneur d’art de confession juive Federico Gentili di Giuseppe ont contacté l’Art Institute de Chicago afin d’obtenir la restitution d’un buste de Francesco Mochi (« Buste d’un jeune garçon »). Ce buste avait été vendu en France lors d’une vente par la suite annulée par les juges français car constitutive de spoliation.
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30 Vigango – Denver Museum of Nature and Science et Kenya
Le 19 février 2014, le Denver Museum of Nature and Science a remis 30 vigango – statues de bois gravées à la mémoire des ancêtres des Mijikenda – au gouvernement kenyan.
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