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Two Souza paintings – Kurtha v. Marks
In 1982, Dr Aziz Kurtha purchased two paintings from the Indian artist Francis Souza. They were stolen years later and their ownership changed a number of times, before Michael Marks purchased them on 10 January 2006.
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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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Vallée de la Stour – Héritiers Jaffé et La Chaux-de-Fonds
En 2006, la Ville de La Chaux-de-Fonds reçoit une demande de restitution pour le tableau « La Vallée de la Stour » de John Constable exposé au Musée des beaux-arts de La Chaux-de-Fonds. Le requérant représente les ayants droit héritiers de John et Anna Jaffé, dont les biens, y compris ce tableau, ont été spoliés par les Nazis durant la Deuxième Guerre mondiale. Après avoir d’abord refusé, la Ville accepte de restituer le tableau à l’automne 2017 suite à une procédure de conciliation judiciaire. Le Tableau est restitué aux héritiers le 12 mars 2018.
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Masque Makondé – Tanzanie et Musée Barbier-Mueller
En 2010, le Musée Barbier-Mueller fait don du Masque Makondé à la Tanzanie, et met ainsi fin à un litige qui aura duré plus de 20 ans. Le litige fut porté devant le Comité intergouvernemental de l’UNESCO. L’Office fédéral suisse de la culture (OFC) est aussi intervenu.
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Khmer Statue – Cambodia and Sotheby’s and the United States
In March 2011, Sotheby’s offered at auction in New York a Khmer statue. The statue was pulled out of the sale as a result of Cambodia’s request for its restitution. Cambodia claimed that it was illegally removed from the site Koh Ker during the 1970s and should be returned to them.
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Two Bronze Animal Heads – China and Pierre Bergé
In February of 2009, Christie’s offered at auction two 18th-century bronze fountainheads – a rabbit and a rat – owned by the estate of Yves Saint Laurent and his longtime-partner Pierre Bergé. Stolen from the Old Summer Palace by British and French forces during the Second Opium War in 1860, the two heads’ sale provoked controversial international debate, inspiring a Chinese national to bid upon the bronzes at auction and refuse payment. In June of 2013, François-Henri Pinault, owner of Christie’s, returned to China the fountainheads in an effort to strengthen diplomatic and trade relations between France and China.
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Afo-A-Kom – Furman Gallery and Kom people
The Afo-A-Kom is a wooden sculpture sacred to the Kom people, a tribal population of Cameroon. In 1966, it was stolen and subsequently sold to a New York art dealer.
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Liberation of Saint Peter from Prison – Feldmann Heirs and Private Person
In 2002, an American professor spontaneously contacted the International Foundation for Art Research (IFAR) as she suspected that the drawing she had inherited, “The Liberation of Saint Peter from Prison”, was looted from Arthur Feldmann during WWII. IFAR established evidence which confirmed her suspicions and acted as a facilitator, together with the Commission for Looted Art in Europe, in the negotiations between the professor and the Feldmann heirs. In 2004, the professor agreed on the unconditional restitution of the drawing to the Feldmann heirs.
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Machu Picchu Collection – Peru and Yale University
Between 1912 and 1916, Hiram Bingham, a history professor at Yale University, shipped to the United States several artefacts that had been excavated at the Machu Picchu site with the authorization of the Peruvian Government. Peru formally requested restitution in 1918 and 1920, but to no avail. In 2001, negotiations between Peru and Yale University resumed. However, the resulting accord discontented the Peruvian Government. As a result, Peru filed suit in the United States against Yale University seeking the return of the collection and damages.
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Ancient Manuscripts and Globe – Saint-Gall and Zurich
Thanks to the Swiss Confederation who acted as a mediator, the dispute between the Cantons of Zurich and Saint-Gall over cultural objects displaced during the religious wars of 1712 was ultimately settled in 2006 by an inventive agreement.
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