The sudden cancellation of Sotheby’s sale of a Nigerian mask was caused by the Nigerian Liberty Forum, according to the Independent:
Sotheby’s has scrapped its February sale of a controversial £4.5m mask believed to have been looted by British forces from 19th-century West Africa.
A number of private individuals contacted the auction house last week to complain about the sale of the 16th-century ivory mask, once thought to have belonged to an ancient Nigerian king. Local government officials in Nigeria have publicly condemned the sale and criticised the object’s current owners, the descendants of a former British government official involved in an 1897 British invasion of Benin, a city-state in what is now Nigeria.
The mask, one of the last great masterpieces of Benin sculpture remaining in private hands, is believed to have been worn by the “Oba” or king of Benin on ceremonial occasions.
It was due to be sold by the descendants of Lt-Col Sir Henry Lionel Galway, who took part in 1897’s punitive expedition in southern Nigeria.
Sotheby’s Cancels Sale of ‘Looted’ Benin Mask (The Independent)