The Badisches Landesmuseum in Karlsruhe returned two Cycladic objects, a figurine and a bowl, to Greece.
The marble Cycladic figurine is one of the biggest preserved ones and the bowl is a rare object made of chloritic schist. Both artifacts are dated to the Protocycladic culture of the 3rd millennium BC, belonging to an aesthetic art which deeply influenced the 20th century, but was also massively looted. The looters aimed at profit, museums and private collectors in Europe and the USA at enriching their collections.
The two masterpieces were purchased in 1975 from the Badisches Landesmuseum of Karlsruhe, where they remained and were exhibited for 38 years. In 2011 the Hellenic Ministry of Culture asked the Badisches LAndesmuseum to return the two pieces to Greece. The request was linked as a condition to the lending of Greek material to the German museum’s Cycladic exhibition, which had been planned for December 2011.
At that time the director of the German museum, Harald Siebenmorgen, had rejected the Greek request, saying that Greece had no legal claim to them, because of the moratorium on civil claims and that Germany had not signed a convention on restitution of art treasures until 1992. Siebenmorgen also characterized the linkage between restitution claims and loans “like extortion”.
The ceremony of the two artifacts’ repatriation finally took place last Friday, June 6, 2014 in the National Archaeological Museum of Greece.