By Nairaland Forum The antique dealer has refused to hand the bronze head back to Nigerian officials insisting on being paid for a certain amount of money but Nigeria insists that it will not pay for what is originally hers.
By Chiamaka Okafor
British police have continued to hold on to a stolen Nigerian artefact as Nigerian officials and a Belgian antique dealer fail to reach an agreement on its return.
The Ife Head is a bronze cast head from the old Ife kingdom which is believed to be about 700 years old. There are only about 20 of them still in existence, the BBC reports.
According to a BBC report, a local Belgian antique dealer acquired the artefact on November 14, 2007, at an auction for confiscated art items organised by Belgian authorities.
He did not know at that time that the artefact was stolen from Nigeria, especially as it was sold by the Belgian government.
The antique dealer has refused to authorise the transfer of the bronze head back to Nigeria, insisting on being paid but Nigeria insists that she will not pay for what is originally hers.
According to the BBC, in 2019, a Nigerian delegation met the dealer in a cordial atmosphere.
“I told him he could be an international hero. He said he wanted money, not people saying nice things about him,” BBC quoted Babatunde Adebiyi, a National museum official as saying.
“The Nigerians say that at times the dealer has asked for €5m, but has brought his price down. British officials tell me he is now asking for €39,000 (£33,500),” the BBC reported.
How did the artefact get to the British police?
In 2017, the dealer tried to sell the head through Woolley and Wallis, who passed it on to the British police.
In 2019, the police took the head to the British Museum, where curators confirmed its authenticity by comparing it with a cast that was made in the late 1940s. “I feel confident it’s genuine,” said an expert who saw it.
Despite confirming its origin, the British police insist they are neutral.
“Whatever our private preference, we can’t take property from an individual,” BBC quoted an official as saying, adding that “this has to be resolved between the Nigerian government and the dealer.”
“Everyone agrees this piece was stolen,” said another British official, “but has the Belgian dealer, in legal terms, done anything wrong? He bought it at a government sale.”
The UK has suggested that the Belgian government, having made Read More
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