Culture & Civic Life
Mémorial de la Shoah
Located in Paris, the Holocaust museum honors and memorializes the millions of lives lost during the genocide of Jews during World War II.
In 2003, more than 100 sacred Native American objects were set to be sold at a Paris auction house, including 24 objects belonging to the Hopi tribe in Arizona and three objects belonging to the Apache tribe in New Mexico and Arizona. Both tribes, as well as the U.S. Embassy in France, argued that the sacred objects — which they regarded as living entities with divine spirits, rather than artifacts for display — had been illegally obtained and the auction house had no authority to sell them. However, their legal efforts were foiled when the French courts ruled against the tribes, determining that the sellers had legally obtained the objects and therefore had the right to auction them off to the highest bidder.
While living in Paris, Gregory Annenberg Weingarten followed the case and upon learning the unfortunate outcome, he decided to work with the staff at the Annenberg Foundation in Los Angeles on a creative — and clandestine — intervention. At Gregory's request, staff members anonymously entered the auction, monitored the transactions online, and placed bids over the phone. When the gavel had pounded for the final time, Gregory had purchased 24 out of the 27 items — for a sum of $530,000.
After the auction, Gregory repatriated all 24 objects to the Hopi and Apache tribes, who had been unaware of the Annenberg Foundation's role in the auction. This act of stealth philanthropy encouraged other individuals to repatriate objects that they had purchased in auctions, which led to a broader awareness and discussion of Native American artifacts that are often wrongly acquired and sold.
In 2016, Gregory traveled to Arizona to meet with members of the Hopi tribe and to learn more about the spiritual and cultural significance of the repatriated items. Later that year, the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian awarded Gregory the Innovative Partnership in Repatriation Award in recognition of this work.
Hopi Health Care Center - COVID-19 Emergency Response
Repatriation of Sacred Objects