Home Archives & Manuscripts Archive Contents HUMAN HEAD AUCTIONS (A160)


 /1    Press cuttings (photocopies)

  1    Daily Telegraph, 5 May 1988 – ‘Sale of head angers Maoris’; Observer, 8 May – ‘Maori head storm’

  2    Daily Telegraph, 9 May – ‘Sale of preserved head is offensive to Maoris’, letter from A.R. Spence; Daily Telegraph, 13 May – ‘Law threat to Maori head sale’

  3    Times, 13 June – ‘Maori head’, letter from Bernard Denvir; Basellandschaftliche Zeitung, 14 May – ‘Sache gits’ (in German)

  4    Observer, 15 May – ‘Vile trade’, letter from Judith Binney; Guardian, 18 May – ‘Head sale ban sought’

  5    Daily Telegraph, 18 May – ‘Maori head auction “justified”’; Independent, 19 May – ‘Maoris bid to block sale of warrior’s head’

  6    Independent, 19 May – ‘The sale of the Maori head’; Times, 19 May – ‘Move to stop sale of head’

  7    Independent, 19 May – ‘Maoris bid to block sale of warrior’s head’; Daily Telegraph, 19 May – ‘Maoris seek ban on sale of head’

  8    Scotsman, 20 May – ‘The trophy trade dealt double blow’; Times, 20 May – ‘Stuffed eagle lands Bonhams in court’

  9    Daily Telegraph, 20 May – ‘Bonhams halts sale of Maori head relic’; ‘Stuffed eagle back to haunt auctioneers’; Guardian, 20 May – cartoon

 10    Guardian, 20 May – ‘Head auction cancelled’; Times, 20 May – ‘£132,000 paid for fairground organ’

 11    Independent, 20 May – ‘Maori warrior’s head withdrawn from sale’; Washington Post, 20 May – ‘Controversy Comes to a Head’; ‘Maori Head Dispute’

 12    Independent, 21 May – ‘Swedes enticed by avant-garde glass’; Times, 24 May – ‘Maori case forces halt to sale of 28 heads’

 13    Independent – ‘Getty’s private deals for Old Masters’; Daily Telegraph, 25 May – ‘Keeping it strictly for the birds…’

 14    Antiques Bulletin, 28 May-3 June – ‘Maori head withdrawn from sale’; Times, 6 June – ‘Foul deeds of desecration’

A160/1/15    Wolverhampton Express & Star, 13 May – ‘Bid to sell head sparks protests’; South Wales Echo, 13 May – ‘Row over Auction of Man’s Head’; Liverpool Echo, 13 May – ‘Price on his head!’; Birmingham Evening Mail, 13 May – ‘Court threat over sale of head’; Aberdeen Press & Journal, 13 May – ‘Head sale injunction threat’; Shropshire Star, ‘Move to block sale of a head’; Belfast Telegraph, 13 May – ‘Fury over auction of human head’; Nottingham Evening Post, ‘Storm over head auction’; Worcester Evening News, 13 May – ‘Head sale under threat’; Oxford Mail, 13 May – ‘Heading for war!’; Swindon Evening Advertiser, 13 May – ‘Head sale protest’

 16    Aberdeen Evening Express, 18 May – ‘Head auction row’; Northampton Chronicle and Echo, 18 May – ‘Legal fight comes to a head’; Eastern Daily Press, 18 May – ‘Maori protest’; South Wales Argus – ‘Gwent campaigner leads fight to save tribal relic’; Hartlepool Mail, 18 May – ‘Comes to a head’; Liverpool Daily Post, 18 May – ‘Heading for court’; Birmingham Post, 18 May – ‘Legal fight on sale of head’

 17    Western Daily Press, 20 May – ‘Maori head sale halted by protests’; South Wales Argus, 19 May – ‘Head sale’; Brighton Evening Argus, 19 May – ‘Headed off’; The Journal, 20 May – ‘Sale of Maori head halted’; Birmingham Post, 20 May – ‘Auction–of Maori head shelved by Bonhams’; Bradford Telegraph & Argus, 19 May – ‘Head Sale off’; Portsmouth News, 19 May – ‘Head wrangle’; Irish Times, 20 May – ‘Head sale halted’

 18    Liverpool Daily Post, 20 May – ‘Owner calls halt to Maori relic auction’; Eastern Daily Press, 20 May – ‘Headed off’; Morning Star, 20 May – ‘Maori head sale blocked by court’; Lloyds List, 20 May – ‘Head auction off’; Belfast Telegraph, 20 May – ‘Maori head sale halted’; Eastern Daily Press, 21 May – ‘Maori head row ends with “no sale” pledge’; Yorkshire Post, 20 May – ‘Maori head-sale halted’; South Wales Echo, 19 May – ‘Court threat to head sale’; Daily Mirror, 20 May – ‘Fight to get a head’

 19    Portsmouth News, 20[?] May – ‘Grisly curios’; Sunderland Echo, 20 May – ‘Knocked on head’; Birmingham Daily News, 20 May – ‘Sale stalled’; Southern Evening Echo, 19 May – ‘Head sale’; Birmingham Evening Mail, 20 May – Sale of head is halted’; Jersey Evening Post, 19 May – ‘Head rethink’; Wolverhampton Express & Star, 19 May – ‘Maori sale’; Wolverhampton Express & Star, 18 May – ‘Head sale ban bid’; Dundee Courier & Advertiser – ‘Maori head sale is halted after court bid threat’

A160/1/20    East Anglian Daily Times, 20 May – ‘Plan to auction Maori head halted after court protest’; Western Morning News, 20 May – ‘Gory sale headed off’; Belfast Newsletter, 20 May – ‘Stuffed head not for sale’; The Press & Journal, 20 May – ‘Auction of Maori head halted’; Nottingham Evening Post, 20 May – ‘“Maori head” sale off’; West Lancashire Evening Gazette, 20 May – ‘That’s Life’; South Wales Argus, 20 May – ‘Maori’s head not for sale’

 21    Western Mail, 20 May – ‘Sale of a Maori head is halted’; Sandwell Mail, 20 May – ‘Sale of head is halted’; Leicester Mercury, 20 May – ‘Maori head sale halted’; Edinburgh Evening News, 20 May – ‘Head not for sale’; Reading Evening Post, 20 May – ‘Human head sale’; Portsmouth News, 20 May – ‘Head sale halted’

 22    Western Mail, 26[?] May – ‘Man’s inhumanity to man’, letter from J.C.C. Williams; Ipswich Citizen, 26 May – ‘Court stops macabre sale’; Antiques Trade Gazette – ‘Maori head withdrawn from sale’; Hansard, 25 May – ‘Maori Warrior’s Head (Sale)’; The Voice, 24 May – ‘This Savage Art’

 23    East Anglian Daily Times, 2 June – ‘Legal talks over future of tattooed Maori head’; Ipswich Evening Star, 2 June – ‘Talks on future of Maori head’

 /2    Correspondence

  1    Jonathan Benthall, RAI Director, to Hermione Waterfield, Christie’s, 19 May 1988 – refers to report in the Times about the sale of a human head at Bonhams; believes that Christie’s also has plans for such a sale; RAI is not in favour of such sales; on a sale of skulls which was called off (tp.)

  2    Hermione Waterfield, Tribal Art Department, to Jonathan Benthall, 26 May – refers to his letter of 19 May; the Chairman thought it prudent to remove the heads from the catalogue; asks for ideas ‘distilled’ at the Council meeting about heads; on the Sotheby heads referred to in his letter (tp. with autogr. notes by Jonathan Benthall added)

  3    Jonathan Benthall to Hermione Waterfield, 31 May – Council considered the question of the heads on 4 May; was not aware of any opposition to the sale; read about the objections later; on the Sotheby’s incident; cannot comment on her planned sale; thinks sale of human remains could well excite controversy; offers to put her in touch with experts on the various cultures concerned (tp.)

A160/2/4        Hermione Waterfield to Jonathan Benthall, 20 June – refers to his letter of 31 May; would be interested to have the names of experts, so long as they are serious scholars; is aghast that he wrote without finding out what she had in her sale (tp.)

  5    Jonathan Benthall to Hermione Waterfield, 21 June – his offer to put her in touch with experts stands but he needs a list of the various categories of human remains which she is thinking of selling; in the sale of human heads the key issue is whether or not a particular community objects; asks her to retract a sentence in her letter (tp.)

  6    Ibid., 22 June – on the people of Vanuatu (photocopy)

  7    Hermione Waterfield to Jonathan Benthall, 4 July – refers to his two letters; retracts the sentence in her letter; did not have a Maori head in her sale; mentions Virambat (tp.)

  8    Jonathan Benthall to Hermione Waterfield, 5 July – refers to her letter of 20 June; if she retracts the sentence he will not take the matter further; on an editorial which he is writing for ‘Anthropology Today’; asks if she would like to make clear Christie’s position; on the line he is proposing to take (tp.)

  9    Ibid., ibid. – refers to her letter of 4 July; thinks they may be cousins; on an editorial which he is writing for ‘Anthropology Today’; asks if she would like to make clear Christie’s position; on the line he is proposing to take (tp.)

 10    Draft for ‘Anthropology Today’ on the ‘Bonham’s head affair’ (photocopy of printed text, with autogr. corrections)

 11    Survival International, 5 July – Press Release – ‘Mokomakai (Maori Head) to be returned to New Zealand’. 2 leaves (tp.)

 12    Hermione Waterfield to Jonathan Benthall, 13 July – refers to his letter of 5 July; wishes she could speak for Christie’s about the heads; on having a meeting with Survival International people; has no wish to offer heads to which groups have valid objections; is cynical about the aims of the protests; will telephone him if there is anything positive to report (tp.)

 13    Jonathan Benthall to Hermione Waterfield, 14 July – refers to her letter of 13 July; on cataloguing in the Tribal Art Department; it is only recently that curators have removed human heads from display (tpc.)