Friday, October 26, 2007

Iran objects to Christie's plans to auction Persepolis bas relief

"Following Christie's announcement regarding its intention to sell a Persepolis artifact, the [Iranian] embassy voiced its objection in an official letter.

The letter says the bas-relief is a part of Iran's cultural heritage, and was stolen from Persepolis 30 years before the Islamic Revolution.

All Persepolis artifacts are part of the national cultural heritage of Iran; international conventions have banned stealing or illegally transferring items of a country's cultural heritage to other nations, the letter adds.

The Iranian embassy in London called on Christie's managers not to auction the Achaemenid bas-relief and to negotiate with Iran on the subject.

A stone carving of the head of a soldier belonging to ancient Persia's Apadana palace in Persepolis was scheduled to be auctioned in London on October 25th with the estimated value of 800,000 British pounds."


Initial investigations revealed that the relief is part of the stairway of Apadana Palace in Persepolis complex which was sold in 1974 in an auction in New York and was bought by a private owner and kept for 30 years in her private collection in France. Later Iran was asked to provide the Court with the mold of the exact location of the Achamenid soldier bas-relief of Persepolis.

Yet in its latest session, the Court of London was not convinced by the documents presented by Iran and referred the case to the Appeal Court for a final verdict. " - Persian Journal

I think the refusal of the British court to recognize Iran's claim to the artifact is quite inappropriate. I guess I should have expected as much since the British are steadfastly refusing to return the Elgin Marbles to the Greeks either. The Persepolis relief is very much a part of Iran's cultural heritage and I would hate to see it sold again to another wealthy private collector to be used only to impress their friends!