Some stolen artifacts from Nigeria, yesterday go for auction in Paris, despite opposition by Nigeria.
The National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM), a parastatal under the Ministry of Information and Culture, as well as some art scholars in the diaspora, had raised the alarm over the auction house’s (Christie’s Gallery) legitimacy to sell the relics.
According to Christie’s Gallery, they stated that the artworks were legitimately acquired.
But, In the letter addressed to the Head of Sale, African and Oceanic Art Department, Christie’s Gallery, Victor Teodorescu, and copied to the European Head of the African and Oceanic Art Department, Bruno Claessens, the Acting Director-General of the NCMM, Aliyu Abdu, had noted: “We are surprised to discover the advertisement of the under-listed artifacts on your website for a planned auction scheduled to hold on June 29, 2020, by 3 pm, at 9 Avenue Matignon, Paris, France.
“These artifacts, as you have stated, are from Nigeria, and they lack the proper providence. We thus, request that you suspend the auction, and provide us with the provenance of these artifacts because we are of the opinion that they belong to classes of antiquities that Nigeria will object to their exchange or transfer.
Listed among the lot in the online catalogue of Christie’s website for the event are
- Belt Mask Edo and Edo Hip Mask, Kingdom of Benin, selling for EUR 10,000-EUR 15,000
- Edo Bronze Plate, estimated for EUR 30,000-EUR 50,000
- Pair of Igbo Statues Attributed To The Master Of Awka Couple, Nri-Awka Region, Nigeria, going for EUR 250,000-EUR 350,000;
- Urhobo- Meeting-House Posts, worth EUR 80,000-EUR 120,000(USD 89,973-USD 134,959);
- Urhobo Figure, put up for between EUR 600,000 and EUR 900,000 (USD 674,797-USD 1,012,195).