In Washington, DC: Marc Masurovsky, (00) 1 202 255 1602 , firstname.lastname@example.org
In New York, NY: Pierre Ciric (00) 1 212 260 6090, email@example.com
For Immediate Release
Washington, DC, USA – June 27, 2014 - The Holocaust Art Restitution Project ( “HARP”), based in Washington, DC, chaired by Ori Z. Soltes, is denouncing a “shameful” and “tragic” decision by the French “Conseil des Ventes” (“Board of Auction Sales”), an administrative body in charge of regulating and supervising auction sales on the French market, which is refusing to suspend an auction sale of sacred masks owned by the Hopi and Navajo tribes, scheduled for Friday, June 27, 2014.
On June 22, 2014, HARP, through its President, Ori Z. Soltes, wrote to the Conseil des Ventes, to request an administrative suspension of an auction sale scheduled for Friday, June 27, 2014, which involved sacred objects of both the Hopi and the Navajo tribes, and for which title never vested with subsequent possessors due to the sacred nature of these objects. Following a special hearing held in Paris on June 25, 2014, the Conseil des Ventes, which has the power to suspend such sales, just issued its decision, refusing to impose a suspension.
“The decision by the Conseil des Ventes is both tragic and shameful. The Conseil has refused to consider the provenance information for these objects in its decision, when everyone agrees in the United States that title for these sacred masks could have never vested with subsequent possessors. Furthermore, adding insult to injury, the Conseil held that the Hopi tribe, in fact ANY Indian tribe, has no legal existence or standing to pursue any cultural claim in France. This dismissive denial of access to justice flies in the face of the progress made in international law by all tribes and indigenous peoples, as the French government had expressed its support for the legal status of indigenous peoples by its endorsement in the UN General Assembly in support of the 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP),” said Soltes.
HARP is a not-for-profit group based in Washington, DC, and chaired by Ori Z. Soltes, dedicated to the identification and restitution of looted artworks require detailed research and analysis of public and private archives in North America. HARP has worked for 16 years on the restitution of artworks looted by the Nazi regime.