french gallery owners are returning stolen art
By Awa Gueye
March 5, 2020
Finally! As we wait for France to deliver on its promise to return art stolen from Benin before the end of the year, we can find joy in private galleries who are accelerating the process.
In 2017, French President Emmanual Macaron announced that France would return colonial-era treasures to their rightful homes. Well, this pledge seems to be taking longer than most had thought. Instead of waiting any longer, a group of gallery owners in France have come together with a goal to put right what has long needed correction. This circle of antique dealers has already bought and returned 27 items looted from Benin. This is more than the French government has achieved thus far — since Macaron’s initial pledge, not much has changed.
Nevertheless, on January 17th 2020 these collected pieces — recades, sabers, and Fon objects of worship — were returned by Robert Vallois, leader of the Collectif des antiquaires in Saint-Germain-des-Prés. The pieces now live in a small museum next to Cotonou called the Petit Musée de la Récade.
We hope more individuals in the global art community understand that the effects of colonialism are everyone’s problem and take it upon themselves to help rectify the atrocities from that era. Perhaps these efforts will help put pressure on France’s government (and other European countries) to expedite the process of returning art stolen from all over Africa.
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