State agency criticizes Paris auction of Hawaiian artifacts
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs is speaking out against a French auction house that’s selling a large private collection of Hawaiian art in Paris.
The office’s board of trustees said it will ask the seller to stop or delay the sale while they negotiate a "morally appropriate resolution," The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported (http://bit.ly/2oQ6Dqg).
The board "objects to the commodification and sensationalism of the willful and wanton sale of such a large collection of the material history of the Native Hawaiian people as aesthetic art and curiosities," says a resolution approved Wednesday by the board’s Beneficiary Advocacy and Empowerment Committee.
Auction house Aguttes is auctioning off nearly 1,100 items in a sale that began Wednesday and is scheduled to run through Friday.
Some of the items include an estimated $80,000 spear that is said to have been acquired by Capt. James Cook during his third and final visit to Hawaii in 1779. A war helmet, fishhooks, a war drum and flag from the Kingdom of Hawaii are among the other artifacts being sold.
Auctioneer Claude Aguttes did not respond to an email request for comment Wednesday.
Rainer Warner "Jerry" Bock is the collector and has compiled Hawaiian items over two decades.
Democratic State Rep. Kaniela Ing has voiced his support for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs in stopping the auction. He said he would look into the possibility of setting up a fund in the state budget to return the items to Hawaii.
"These last vestiges of the Native Hawaiian material culture hold great and priceless meaning to the identity, heritage and cultural survival of the Native Hawaiian people," the office’s resolution states.