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17 Tasmanian Human Remains – Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre and Natural History Museum London

17 Tasmanian Human Remains –  Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre and Natural History Museum London

Since the 1980s, the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre has made several requests to the Londoner Natural History Museum for the return of 17 Aboriginal human remains held in the collection of the Museum. When their dispute was brought to the Londoner High Court, the court’s judge suggested proceeding by mediation. The dispute was ultimately settled by a mediated agreement, which provided for the dismissal of the legal proceedings and for the repatriation of the remains to Tasmania.

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Beneventan Missal – Metropolitan Chapter of the Cathedral City of Benevento and British Library

Beneventan Missal – Metropolitan Chapter of the Cathedral City of Benevento and British Library

On 11 November 2010, a 12th Century manuscript, also known as the “Beneventan Missal”, was returned to the Metropolitan Chapter of the Cathedral City of Benevento, in Italy. The Missal disappeared in 1943 when the city was occupied by the Allied forces during World War II.

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Biccherna Panel – Anonymous Heirs and British Library

Biccherna Panel – Anonymous Heirs and British Library

In 2013, the British Library was contacted by the heirs of A.S. Drey, a Munich firm whose assets were sold off by Nazis in 1936. The heirs requested the return of the “Biccherna Panel” and lodged a claim with the UK Spoliation Advisory Panel, which found in favour of the claimants. However, following negotiations, the heirs accepted compensation in lieu of return, allowing the Biccherna Panel to remain in the British Library.

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Dancing Shiva Statue – India and National Gallery of Australia

Dancing Shiva Statue – India and National Gallery of Australia

In 2006, New York art dealer Subhash Kapoor arranged the theft and illegal exportation of a 900-year old bronze statue of the Dancing Shiva from a small temple in Southern India. In 2008, the National Gallery of Australia bought the statue for AUD$5.6 million.

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Four Old Master Drawings – Feldmann Heirs and the British Museum

Four Old Master Drawings – Feldmann Heirs and the British Museum

In May of 2002, the British Museum was confronted with a restitution claim by the heirs of the Second World War victim, Arthur Feldmann, regarding four Old Master drawings. The Commission of Looted Art Europe, who represented the claimant, and the British Museum, jointly sought guidance from the Spoliation Advisory Panel. After deferral of the Attorney General, the High Court held that under the British Museum Act the Museum could not restitute an object in order to meet a moral obligation without an Act of Parliament. Eventually, the British Museum followed the recommendation of the Spoliation Advisory Panel and compensated the family with an ex gratia payment.

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Gravures Dja Dja Wurrung – Musée de Melbourne c. Dja Dja Wurrung

Gravures Dja Dja Wurrung – Musée de Melbourne c. Dja Dja Wurrung

Au printemps 2004, le Musée de Melbourne organise une exposition d’œuvres sur écorces aborigènes. Parmi les biens présentés figurent deux anciennes gravures sur écorces prêtées par le British Museum et les Kew Royal Botanic Gardens. La tribu australienne Dja Dja Wurrung bloque le retour de ces objets en Angleterre. Après des négociations et une médiation infructueuses avec les représentants Dja Dja Wurrung, le Musée de Melbourne intente une action judiciaire.

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Inakayal Human Remains – Argentina, Museo de La Plata and Tehuelche People

Inakayal Human Remains – Argentina, Museo de La Plata and Tehuelche People

Inakayal was a leader of the Tehuelche people, a native tribe of Patagonia (Argentina). In 1884, he was captured by the Argentinian army. After his death in 1888 his remains became part of the collection of the Museo de La Plata.

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Nedjemankh and His Gilded Coffin – Metropolitan Museum of Art and Egypt

Nedjemankh and His Gilded Coffin – Metropolitan Museum of Art and Egypt

The gilded Coffin of Nedjemankh, a priest of the ram-god Heryshef, was purchased in 2017 and exhibited in 2018 by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Following an investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, the Met learned that the Coffin had been looted in 2011, during the Egyptian revolution. It also learned that it had received upon its purchase a false ownership history, fraudulent statements and fake documentation, including a forged 1971 Egyptian export license for the coffin. As such, the Met unconditionally returned the coffin to the Government of Egypt.

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Pâté de Jambon – Anonymous German Heirs and Glasgow City Council

Pâté de Jambon – Anonymous German Heirs and Glasgow City Council

“Pâté de Jambon”, a painting by Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin, was the object of a forced sale in 1936. The owners, the Jewish shareholders of an art gallery, were forced to sell the artwork to meet an unfair Nazi tax demand.

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Portrait of Greta Moll – Moll Heirs v. National Gallery of London

Portrait of Greta Moll – Moll Heirs v. National Gallery of London

The “Portrait of Greta Moll” has been subject to a claim for return. The heirs of the painting’s subject argued the painting was stolen in the aftermath of the Second World War and claimed that the National Gallery of London did not purchase the work in good faith. The case has been heard in two courts of the United States.

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Sarah Baartman – France and South Africa

Sarah Baartman – France and South Africa

Sarah Baartman, a South African woman of Khoisan origin, also known as the “Hottentot Venus”, was exhibited as a freak show attraction in London and Paris in the 19th century. When she died, her body was dissected and her remains were exposed at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris.

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Tête du roi Badu Bonsu II – Ghana et Pays-Bas

Tête du roi Badu Bonsu II – Ghana et Pays-Bas

En 1838, Badu Bonsu II, roi des Ahanta du Ghana, est condamné à mort par les autorités coloniales néerlandaises. Il sera pendu et décapité. Sa tête sera transportée aux Pays-Bas. Par la suite, un accord de restitution de cette tête sera signé à La Haye entre les gouvernements néerlandais et ghanéen ainsi qu’un représentant de la tribu Ahanta.

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Venus of Cyrene – Italy and Libya

Venus of Cyrene – Italy and Libya

In 1913, Italian soldiers deployed at Cyrene, Libya, found a headless marble sculpture, commonly known today as the “Venus of Cyrene”. In 1915, the statue was shipped to Italy, where it was placed on display in the Museo Nazionale delle Terme of Rome.

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Weary Herakles – Turkey and Museum of Fine Arts Boston

Weary Herakles – Turkey and Museum of Fine Arts Boston

The “Weary Herakles” is a Roman marble statue that was excavated in 1980 in Perge, Turkey. In 1981, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston acquired a half-interest in the upper part of the sculpture, while the other half-interest was owned by collectors Leon Levy and Shelby White.

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Young Couple in a Landscape – Feldmann Heirs and British Museum

Young Couple in a Landscape – Feldmann Heirs and British Museum

Czech-Jewish Arthur Feldmann’s collection of drawings, including “Young Couple in a Landscape”, was illegally seized and liquidated by the Gestapo in 1939. The painting was later acquired by the collector Edmund Schilling in the 1960s, who donated it to the British Museum in 1997. Uri Peled, Feldmann’s grandson, made a claim to the drawing a few years later.

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