Friday, January 7, 2011

Anything wrong with this picture?


"On 17th February 2011, Sotheby’s will sell a rare, newly re-discovered, 16th century ivory pendant mask depicting the head of the Queen mother from the Edo peoples, Kingdom of Benin in Nigeria along with five other rare works from Benin collected at the same time."

Notice the word "collected" in there? Replace that with "looted" and were still not even close to the real picture.

Supposedly, the mask was not known of until the descendants of Lieutenant Colonel Sir Henry Lionel Gallwey contacted the auction house a short while ago. Gallwey wrote the master plan to burn and loot Benin in 1897, and helped provide the 'legal basis' to destroy the entire civilization. He wrote the master plan! And, of course, he was given a title and a promotion for his efforts.

Now, it is only right that the family make money (estimate: £3,500,000 - 4,500,000) off the art he so succesfully stole a century ago, right?

Is this really happening?

I love this quote from

"Jean Fritts, director of African and Oceanic art at Sotheby’s, said: “It has an amazing, untouched surface which collectors love. Its honey colour attests to years of rubbing with palm oil.”

I suppose we ought to applaud them for taking care of such a treasure that surely no Beniner could ever appreciate. Hah!

Here's a thought, why not use the proceeds of the sale to help rebuild the civilization that England destroyed (and continues to destroy in this manner)?

Not bloody likely is it?

Well, there is an international convention, signed in the 1970's, that prevents this very thing from happening. It makes me wonder if this will actually go down. You better believe there would be a reaction against an auction if it were, say, a Polish artifact stolen by a Nazi and put up for auction in Germany...

Henry Galway: a capable murderer and thief


HT: Bombastic Elements

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