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Benin demands return of looted art from France

1 August 2016

Benin demands restitution of artefacts from France | Benin’s Council of Ministers has decided to demand the restitution of art and artefacts looted in the colonial era and now housed in public and private collections in France, reports Le Monde (French language article). ‘The minister for culture and tourism has opened negotiations with French authorities and UNESCO to discuss the return of these cultural assets to Benin,’ said a spokesman for President Patrice Talon. The French government has long claimed that it would ‘not be against’ restitution, but only in the event of a formal request from the government of Benin. For more background on the subject, see elsewhere in today’s issue of the same paper here (£, French language article).

Turkish artist detained in the wake of attempted coup | Artist and journalist Zehra Doğan is among around 15,000 individuals in Turkey arrested since the failure of a military coup in the country two weeks ago, reports The Art Newspaper. Doğan, an editor at the JINHA news agency, was reportedly apprehended on 27 July while sitting in a cafe. According to Doğan’s partner Onur Erem, her paintings were used as evidence against her by the Turkish judiciary, which charged her with being a ‘member of an illegal organisation’ – namely the PKK, a Kurdish militant group.

‘Mysterious’ scratches on works by Moroni and Ortolano at National Gallery | Curatorial staff at London’s National Gallery have discovered what the Guardian describes as ‘mysterious’ scratch marks on two Italian Renaissance paintings in the museum’s permanent collection. The same paper links the appearance of the scratches to a reduced security presence, which supposedly makes the collection more vulnerable. Small marks apparently caused by ‘fingernails or rings’ were discovered on the surface of Ortolano’s Saints Sebastian, Roch and Demetrius and Giovanni Battista Moroni’s Canon Ludovico di Terzi. The National Gallery has confirmed the marks but dismissed them as ‘minor’.

Fortnum & Mason to exhibit Frank Cohen collection | London department store Fortnum & Mason is to display more than 60 works of art owned by Modern British art collector and Dairy Art Centre founder Frank Cohen, including paintings by Frank Auerbach and Howard Hodgkin. The works will be exhibited across the floors of the shop in what a press release describes as a ‘provocative installation’. ‘I am delighted to be collaborating with Fortnum’s on this exciting project,’ Cohen says. ‘I am very pleased that new audiences will have the opportunity to see works from my collection in such a wonderful setting.’

National Museum of Oman opens doors in Muscat | The National Museum of Oman opened its doors to the public on Saturday, presenting highlights from a permanent collection of some 12,500 objects. The 14,000 sq m institution, formally established by royal decree in 2013, was partially opened to the public. According to The Art Newspaper, the museum is looking to double its employees despite the current ‘austerity budget’ in the Gulf state, and that 90 per cent of the institution’s funding will come from the government.