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François Hollande urged to return ‘colonial treasures’ to Benin

Plus: Wentworth Woodhouse sold to preservation trust | Giant coin stolen from German museum | Banksy mural accidentally erased in Jamaica | and Matt Packer appointed director of EVA International

28 March 2017

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Benin requests return of ‘colonial treasures’ from France | An open letter signed by prominent lawmakers and civil society groups from Benin has been sent to President François Hollande, requesting the return of ‘colonial treasures’ that were taken from west Africa and are now housed in public and private collections in France. The letter follows previous demands made last year, including a formal request from the government of Benin. The latest letter urges Hollande to take action ahead of next month’s presidential elections.

Wentworth Woodhouse sold to preservation trust | Wentworth Woodhouse, a Grade I listed Georgian mansion in South Yorkshire, has been sold to a trust dedicated to renovating the property, reports the Guardian. The £7m sale was completed on 24 March and confirmed on Monday. Marcus Binney, executive president of Save Britain’s Heritage, called the sale ‘a triumph against all the odds. It is a deal which the lawyers advised was so complicated it could never normally be done’. The acquisition was partly funded by a £3.5m grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund.

Giant coin stolen from German museum | A giant, solid gold coin bearing the profile of Elizabeth II has been stolen from Berlin’s Bode Museum. The coin, which was produced by the Royal Canadian Mint in 2007, weighs 100kg (220lb) and has a face value of $1m, though it is thought to be worth around £3.2m in current gold bullion prices. It is as yet unclear how the theft was made, but police believe that the object was too heavy to have been removed by a single burgler.

Banksy murals accidentally erased in Jamaica | A series of Banksy stencils on the walls of a hotel in Jamaica have been erased after caretakers mistook them for normal graffiti. According to Le Figaro (French language article), the stencils, created in 2006, were thought to be worth €4.6m. ‘Maintenance teams came to clean up the place, and did not recognise the mural as the work of Banksy’, said an employee at the hotel, where the mysterious artist is believed to have stayed in the past.

Matt Packer appointed director of EVA International | Matt Packer, currently director of the CCA Centre for Contemporary Art Derry ~ Londonderry has been appointed to lead Limerick’s EVA International biennial. Packer, who joined CCA in 2014, will oversee the 2018 and 2020 editions of the exhibition. ‘I am very proud to be entrusted with the job of developing EVA over the coming years, strengthening its voice and deepening its impact at local, national and international levels’, he said in a statement.

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