Charitable organisation returns Hopi masks following controversial sale

A charitable organisation has returned a set of Hopi artefacts to the tribe following a controversial sale at the Eve Auction House in Paris.

The Anneberg Foundation paid a total of $530,000 for 24 Native American masks, which will be returned to the Hopi Nation in Arizona, and the San Carlos Apache.

The masks represent the spirits of tribal ancestors

The masks, which are considered sacred by the tribes, were taken in the early 20th century.

Under a UNESCO treaty ratified in 1970, the tribes have a right to determine ownership of cultural artefacts. 

The auction house contested the plea, arguing that banning the sale would have far-reaching implications for the indigenous art market.

The controversy began earlier this year, when another sale of Hopi artefacts in Paris realised $1.2m. A handful of buyers subsequently returned a number of the masks.

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