PARIS (AP) – A Nigerian commission has called for the cancellation of an auction month of sacred Nigerian statues in Paris, which it says has been stolen.
Christie’s auction house has defended the sale by saying that the artworks were acquired legitimately and that the sale continues.
In recent years, French courts have consistently favored auction houses whose sales of sacred objects, such as Hopi tribe masks, have been contested by rights organizations and tribal representatives.
A Princeton scholar, Professor Chika Okeke-Agulu, along with the National Commission for Museums and Monuments of Nigeria, raised the alarm earlier this month that the objects were looted during the Biafran War in the late 1960s.
Christie’s wrote to the Nigerian commission earlier this month that sales would continue.
Okeke-Agulu, who is a member of the Igbo tribe, said that the objects were taken from his home state of Anambra by “an act of violence” and that they should not be sold. An online petition with more than 2,000 signatures demands that the auction be stopped.
The petition said: “as the world becomes aware of the reality of systemic racial injustice and inequality, thanks to the # BlackLivesMatter movement, we must not forget that not only the black body, but also the black culture, identity and most of all art is darkened. “
It claims that between 1967 and 1970, when the Biafran civil war raged in Nigeria and while over 3 million civilians died, a famous European treasure hunter in Biafra was “on the hunt for our cultural heritage”.
On Monday, Christie’s was not immediately available for comment.
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