The issue is clearly a complex one but Mark Stephens, who believes that the British Government and the Royal Academy and by implication myself, are acting in a “morally reprehensible” way understands neither culture nor morality. He should rather choose to rejoice that certain quite minor legal problems were happily resolved between Russia and Great Britain in very good faith on both sides and that as a result much happiness and pleasure is being given to so many.
Since this is a matter of public interest I think it is fair comment to say that the above article is pathetic. It is a defence of the current British government’s craven capitulation to the current Russian administration’s demands for immunity from legal claims over the current show of art from Russian in London, some of which may have been looted by the Soviets during World War II.
Quite apart from anything else, paintings are autographic works and unique objects, non-fungible physical property. Play scripts are allographic mass-produced commodities, replaceable items. They do not compare, and any defense of theft of the former based on the spectre of privatisation of the latter is at best utterly flawed.
There’s more, but honestly. When the author’s house is next burgled I assume he will just put it behind him rather than denying the world access to the cultural wealth he has hoarded.