Tuesday, December 09, 2008

It's On

Peru has finally gone ahead and filed a lawsuit against Yale seeking the return of the school's Machu Picchu artifacts. Paul Needham has the story in the Yale Daily News:

"Peru's 31-page complaint ... was lodged in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia on Friday by the Washington law firm that has represented Peru since last fall. In that time, Peru and Yale came close to signing an agreement that would have kept the parties out of court by sending some — but not all — of the artifacts excavated by Yale explorer Hiram Bingham III back to Machu Picchu, but ultimately were unable to finalize those plans. Instead, according to the complaint, Peru now seeks 'the immediate return of all such property as well as damages that it has suffered on account of Yale's persistent breach of its obligations and profit at the expense of the people of Peru.'"

Illicit Cultural Property blogger Derek Fincham has some initial thoughts on the complaint, but confesses that he has "more questions than answers at this point," including:

"I wonder to what extent Peru may be seeking a public shaming of Yale in the hopes of punishing them or forcing them to apologize for taking these objects away. It should be noted that the objects themselves are primarily interesting for their intellectual value. They are not prized for their inherent beauty or value. Their primary purpose would seem to be to assist in research and other pursuits. One wonders if Peru would be able to perform this research function as well as Yale University? Or, if those intellectual pursuits might have been best advanced if Peru had been able to reach an agreement with Yale which would have resulted in the construction of a research center in Peru."