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Latest Archaeological and Cultural News of Iran and the Iranian World


Louvre denies promising to loan the Iranian artefacts to Iran

Iran has cut ties with the French institution


24 April 2011



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LONDON, (CAIS) -- Accusation made by Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organisation (ICHHTO) that the Louvre reneging on a promise to send part of its collection of ancient Iranian artefacts to an to the National Museum of Iran (NMI) for a major exhibition, are strongly denied by the Paris museum, and claimed that the agreement was never finalised.


ICHHTO severed links with the Louvre last month when Hamid Baqaee the director of the organisation issued an statement: “this organisation, as of today [early April] will cease its co-operation with the Louvre for violating its commitment.”

Baqaee referred to a 2004 cultural co-operation agreement signed between the Louvre and ICHHTO, which according to a Louvre spokesman, involved “a number of possible initiatives including research and training programmes along with [joint] exhibitions in Paris and Tehran”.

But the contract to host a show in Iran never materialised, said the Louvre spokesman, adding: “The exhibitions to be held in both capital cities centred around the subsequent signing of separate agreements, and no specific commitment had been made to organise an exhibition in Tehran.”

The spokesman acknowledged, however, some partnership successes such as “The Song of the World: Art of Safavid Iran, 1501-1736” show held at the French institution in late 2007, which was backed by ICHHTO. Iranian representatives also attended research seminars held in Paris while the Louvre screened a documentary on the Royal Mosque (Masjed-e Shah) at Esfahan.

Baqaee is adamant nonetheless that the Louvre has reneged on the deal. “Based on our [2004] agreement, this museum should have sent us some artefacts in order to set up an exhibition here but for unknown reasons they have not,” he reportedly said. The agreement officially ends in June; discussions to renew it are not in the pipeline, says the Louvre.


It seems the Louvre's reluctancy in honouring the agreement in loaning the artefacts could be due to the fear of their confiscation, as large number of the Louvre's Iranian collection were obtained illegally.


Most likely, the Louvre has the same agreement as the British Museum had with Iranians in loaning the  Cyrus Cylinder, which was loaned to the National Museum of Iran in September 2010 and after seven months of exhibition was retuned to London earlier last week. Although the Cyrus Cylinder is an Iranian artefact, since it was discovered in what is today known as Iraq, Iran therefore, has no legal right to lay any claim on the artefact, which is different to Paris's Iranian collection.


In the course of the last century, the foreign missions were exceptionally active, expanding their plundering of Iran. The last known batch of Iranian artefacts consisted of 500 pieces of Lorestan Bronze purchased by the Louvre was taken out of Iran by Jacques Coiffard, the former French Ambassador to Tehran.


Recently, ICHHTO has assembled a team of lawyers and experts to repatriate the stolen Iranian loot taken out of Iran since early 19h century.





Extracted From/Source:  The Art Newspaper rectified and edited by CAIS [*]




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