Saturday, December 20, 2008

Will the club slip from our fingers?

As the midnight hour beckons, a Victoria art dealer named Howard Roloff is quietly preparing his export papers, to send off a 4,000 year old artifact from Northern BC to an American collector.

The club which has been the subject of much interest from the Museum of Northern British Columbia, could be cleared to be moved out of the country within days of the Saturday night deadline.

As of Friday, the Globe and Mail was reporting that the Museum of Northern BC was still in the process of seeking out a purchase of the club, reportedly at a price of 250,000 dollars, but no further details were outlined as to the success or lack of for that attempt to retrieve some Northwest History.

It was back in June that the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board had ordered that the rare sculpted aboriginal club, be held in Canada for six months to allow Canadian institutions the opportunity to make a bid on it. Those six months come to an end tonight and without a cash offer on the table, Mr. Roloff will be free to expedite the exodus of the artifact from Canadian hands.

We will have a good idea if the Museum of Northern BC was successful in their quest hopefully by Monday, if not, another small piece of Canadian history will slip across the border forever lost from its 4,000 years of historical significance.

Club's fate depends on last-minute offer
From Saturday's Globe and Mail
December 20, 2008 at 12:30 AM EST

A stone club from British Columbia estimated by some experts to be nearly 4,000 years old could be leaving Canada within days once a government restriction on its export expires late Saturday night.

However, it appears last-minute negotiations are under way to keep the club in Canada, possibly as part of the Museum of Northern British Columbia's collection in Prince Rupert.
Late Friday afternoon, Canadian Heritage would neither confirm nor deny that it had received a request for funding from the museum to help buy the club, valued at $250,000 (U.S.). On Thursday, Susan Marsden, curator of the B.C. museum, would say only “our application is still in process.”

In June, the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board, an independent tribunal of Canadian Heritage, ordered that the rare sculpted aboriginal club, excavated in the 1960s in B.C.'s northern Interior, be kept in Canada for six months to give a Canadian museum or gallery time to assemble a cash offer.

This aboriginal stone club, estimated to be about 4,000 years old, is valued at $250,000 (U.S.).
The board ruled that the club – for which Victoria art dealer Howard Roloff claims to have an out-of-country purchaser, likely an American – is of sufficient national importance that it needed to be held here until the end of today: Dec. 20, 11:59 p.m. ET.

Barring a last-minute cash offer, Mr. Roloff will be free after Saturday night to ask that the board approve the export permit for which he applied earlier this year. If no offer is received, the board is expected to direct the Canada Border Services Agency to issue the permit as soon as possible.

So far, it appears no Canadian institution has been able to come up with sufficient funds. According to the application for the export permit, the club's value is $250,000 (U.S.). Mr. Roloff said Thursday his client already has given “a substantial deposit on its purchase price. We're just awaiting word from the government.”

Canadian institutions, individually or collectively, had until Nov. 20 to present an offer to Mr. Roloff to buy the club. If the amount they offered wasn't accepted, the board could have been asked to determine “a fair cash offer” for its purchase. Regulations say that if the ostensible owner refuses a purchase price equal to or greater than this “fair cash offer,” the board can forbid a contested object from leaving Canada for the next two years.

Canadian museums generally have modest acquisition budgets. However, Canadian Heritage has a program that can grant a museum or a consortium of museums up to 50 per cent of an artifact's purchase price if the museum or consortium has come up with the balance.

According to Mr. Roloff, the Prince Rupert museum did present an “application [to] the Review Board to acquire the piece and that the negotiation with that museum has taken place over a long period of time … I also informed [the review board] that if the grant application was approved, I would hold off exporting the object.”

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