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UNESCO Urges Provenance Research

Published on , by Vincent Noce

A Unesco conference has drawn attention to the need for the art market to fight trafficking in cultural goods.

“Long-necked” Mbumba (Tsogho, Gabon, 19th century, h. 38.5 cm/15.15 in) restituted... UNESCO Urges Provenance Research

“Long-necked” Mbumba (Tsogho, Gabon, 19th century, h. 38.5 cm/15.15 in) restituted to the musée du quai Branly by the Bernard Dulon gallery. Abbot Walker had given it to the musée du Trocadéro in 1934.
© Courtesy Galerie Bernard Dulon, Photo Hughes Dubois

Long neglected, provenance research is emphatically in fashion. After a task force report and the symposium organized by the Institut national de l'histoire de l'art (INHA), the Sales Council and Drouot, Unesco held a conference on December 5 in partnership with Drouot, giving national officials an opportunity to forge closer ties with the art market. Colonel Hubert Percie du Sert, head of the Office central de lutte contre le trafic des biens culturels (Central Office for the Fight Against Illegal Trafficking in Cultural Goods, OCBC), recalled its basic mission. “The lack of vigilance necessarily makes criminal and terrorist organizations accomplices,” he said, stressing the trade’s devastating impact on “interstate relations”, a transparent allusion to the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s acquisitions…
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