A sale of Islamic art at Sotheby’s sold roughly $20M in 282 lots, smashing the previous records for a similar sale. It’s a good bet that most of the lots, including a very expensive and revered 12th Century key to Mecca’s most holy pilgrimage site, are going to the area of their origin. There’s so much wealth focused in the Middle East these days, I’m actually surprised that those items on the block didn’t go for much much more.
This, though, hearkens to the same discussion I’ve been having – with myself, that it – over countries reclaiming cultural heritage. I don’t know that the pieces of Islamic art that Sotheby’s sold didn’t come from a seller in the region already, but it also wouldn’t surprise me if they were Colonial spoils from centuries and exploits past.