Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Benin Mask Withdrawn from Sale

Last week I drew attention to the sale of a Benin mask at auction in London. It has now been announced that the mask will be withdrawn (Rob Sharp, "Sotheby's cancels sale of 'looted' Benin mask", Independent December 29, 2010).

Protests against the sale emerged on social networking sites last week. An online petition was organised by the Nigeria Liberty Forum, which describes itself as a "UK-based Nigerian pro-democracy group".
"They should seek good counsel and refrain from selling the mask," Orobosa Omo-Ojo, an official in the state government of Edo, which contains the modern city of Benin, told the press in Nigeria. "Anything that makes them ignore this call [from] the Edo state government will [make us] use this as a starting point to protect our intellectual properties."

This demonstrates that Sotheby's is responsive to concerns over long-standing cultural property issues. 


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