While museums debate returning objects that may have been acquired through theft, war, or colonization, one digital entrepreneur is taking matters into their own hands. Chidi Nwaubani has come up with the virtual restitution project Looty, which produces NFTs of looted objects in major institutions and sells them, with 20 percent of the proceeds going to grants for young African artists.
Looty uses an entirely legal process that sends representatives into institutions to digitally capture looted artifacts, render them in 3-D, and create NFTs from them. Named after a dog taken from China and given to Queen Victoria as a gift, the project contributes to the charged conversations around restitution in a witty and anarchic way.
“Before the British were looting artifacts in Africa, they had already made a fortune from the things they stole from China. In choosing the name ‘Looty,’ I am referencing that, but also referencing the dog that was given to Queen Victoria,” Nwaubani told the BBC. “Even though we are called Looty, we are doing it in a nonviolent way, and also a legal way.”
A High-Tech Heist at the British Museum