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Nataraja Idol – India and the Norton Simon Foundation
In 1956, an ancient bronze statue of the Lord Siva (Lord of the Cosmic Dance or Sivapuram Nataraja) was removed from a temple in India for restoration purposes, subsequently held by an Indian private collector and ultimately sent to the United States with false export documents. In 1973, the Nataraja idol was sold by a New York dealer to the Norton Simon Foundation.
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Madonna and Child in a Landscape – Philipp von Gomperz Heirs and North Carolina Museum of Art
In 2000, the North Carolina Museum of Art handed over the painting “Madonna and Child in a Landscape” to Philipp von Gomperz’s heirs after being presented with evidence that it had been looted by the Nazis. The heirs rewarded the Museum’s response by selling the painting to it at a price substantially below its market value.
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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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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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Lydian Hoard – Turkey and Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Lydian Hoard is a sixth-century B.C. collection of gold and silver objects which was clandestinely excavated in Turkey in the 1960s. It was purchased by the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) of New York. A formal demand for its return was made by Turkey in 1986.
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Jiroft Collection – Iran v. Barakat Galleries
The Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran sued the London-based Barakat Galleries seeking the restitution of a collection of eighteen carved jars, bowls and cups which had been illicitly excavated in the Jiroft region, in Southeast Iran, and subsequently exported abroad. The Court of Appeal, overruling the trial court decision, held that the relevant laws of Iran were sufficiently clear to vest ownership title and an immediate right of possession of the relics in the Iranian State.
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Icklingham Bronzes – John Browning and Leon Levy and Shelby White
A group of antiquities known as the “Icklingham Bronzes” were illicitly excavated from the farm of John Browning sometime in the early 1980s. By 1989 they were on sale in New York. John Browning formally demanded the restitution of the Bronzes from Leon Levy and Shelby White, the good faith purchasers, but the request was rejected.
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Egyptian Archaeological Objects – United States v. Frederick Schultz
On 16 July 2001, Frederick Schultz, a New York antiquities dealer, was indicted on one count of conspiring to receive stolen Egyptian antiquities in violation of the National Stolen Property Act (NSPA). Under the NSPA, it is a crime to deal in property that has been “stolen, unlawfully converted or taken, knowing the same to be stolen”.
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Bogazköy Sphinx – Turkey and Germany
In 2011, Germany decided to conclude the long running dispute concerning the “Boğazköy Sphinx” by voluntarily transferring to the Turkish Government the title of the sculpture.
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Three Nok and Sokoto Sculptures – Nigeria and France
The French government bought three Nok and Sokoto sculptures from a private dealer in 1998. Soon after it obtained the consent of Nigeria on the acquisition, two of these sculptures were exhibited in the newly opened Pavillon des Sessions of the Louvre Museum.
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