On 13 January 1897, the British Empire launched a devastating punitive expedition
in Benin City, which was then capital of the Kingdom of Benin. In what the Times
of London reported as a ‘Disaster’ in Benin, modern-day Nigeria - the Benin King,
Oba Ovonramwen (who consistently defied the empire) was ousted and his
palace was stormed with the troops looted the royal treasures: delicate ivory
carvings and magnificent copper-alloy sculptures and plaques, known as the
Benin Bronzes. Around 700 of the 4,000 objects ended up in the British Museum,
and the rest were swept up by Germany, Austria, France, and then the US.
For decades, these culturally significant artworks have been kept out of their
home countries, leaving a gaping hole in Nigeria’s art history and denying citizens
of their rightful participation in its OWNERSHIP. Who gets to keep, exhibit and
reap the commercial benefits of ownership?
As prominent Nigerian artist, Victor Ehikhamenor puts it, generations of Africans
have already lost incalculable history and cultural reference points because of
the absence of some of the best artworks created on the continent. We shouldn’t
have to ask, over and over, to get back what is ours.
We are an anonymous team of artists, philosophers and future thinkers fast
forwarding digital restitution of looted artworks. Looty is the world's first digital
restitution project to the metaverse.
For the first time, the Blockchain and NFT Technology offers a way for
To challenge the museum institutions who refuse to return these looted works to
the rightful countries of ownership, we are launching NFTs of looted works and
returning the first edition to the Oba of Benin.
In doing so, we hope to answer the legal, philosophical and moral question of
what happens if the NFT version eclipses the value of that which is held in
museums? Will the works be given back then?
We will launch on 13th of January 2022, which makes it exactly 125 years since the