Thursday, 5 March 2015

Museum Gets Cash Back from NY Dealer

In a move that might well give antiquities dealers pause for thought before selling dugup artefacts without the full documentation of licit collecting and handling history (Michaela Boland, 'National Gallery of Australia gets refund as Buddha goes home', The Australian March 06, 201):
In a landmark deal for an Australian museum that has inter­national ramifications, the National Gallery of Australia has successfully negotiated a dealer’s refund of $US1.08 million ($1.38m), the sum it paid for the Buddha eight years ago. New guidelines released last year by the Attorney-General’s Department in the wake of the scandal involving a Dancing Shiva acquired from disgraced India­n dealer Subhash Kap­oor require an export certificate from the Indian government to accompany artworks, which the Kushan Buddha did not have. NGA director Gerard Vaughan said the statue had been deaccessioned and owner­ship would revert to the dealer, pending a handover to India. “It is not unusual that a purchasing institution might receive a warranty guaranteeing authenticity and clear, uninhibited title,” he said. “I am not aware of any precedence of calling in the warranty in this country, but I am sure it has happened from time to time overseas.”
I am not sure that it has in such circumstances, but this case certainly sets a good precedent for the correct way for a responsible antiquities trade to go about things (see: 'Buyer, Check those Docs: Documentation Verification Fail = Kushan Buddha Problems', PACHI Sunday, 1 February 2015 and 'Australia: NGA to Return Kushan Sculpture to India' PACHI Saturday, 3 January 2015).

There is a good piece on this on the Chasing Aphrodite blog, with a picture of the dealer's warranty.

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