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Let’s be clear about the provenance of these sculptures you want to sell. While between 500,000 and three million civilians, including babies like me, were dying of kwashiorkor and starvation inside Biafra; and while young French doctors were in the war zone establishing what we now know as Doctors Without Borders, their compatriot, Mr. Kerchache, went there to buy up my people’s cultural heritage, including the two sculptures you are now offering for sale. I write this so no one, including Christie's and any potential buyer of these loots from Biafra can claim ignorance of their true provenance. These artworks are stained with the blood of Biafra’s children.
The Igbo couple (lot 47) to be offered for sale was acquired by Jacques Kerchache from an African dealer in either 1968–1969. The provenance regarding this lot have been published several times and validated by well-respected scholars, collectors and dealers. It is known that Jacques Kerchache never travelled to Nigeria. There is no legal reason not to proceed with this sale,
We do appreciate the catalogue terminology ‘in situ’ is confusing; it has a different connotation in the African art category. We are removing it from the provenance information as it does not refer to precise information of the actual place of acquisition. In this field, it is used as a term to designate the fact that the object was collected by an African dealer before being sold to a foreign collector outside of the African continent.
There is a legitimate market for these statues and this sale falls within our compliance and due diligence process. These objects are being sold as part of a transparent, legitimate and legally compliant public sale process.