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article imageBritain demands the return of Joan of Arc ring over licensing

By Karen Graham     Mar 23, 2016 in World
Paris - After a triumphant return to France earlier this month, Joan of Arc's ring is in the news once again. It seems British authorities are alleging the French failed to obtain an export license and are demanding the ring be returned.
On March 7, a ring believed to have belonged to Joan of Arc, the young French heroine who led the armies of France to victory against the English and their allies at the Battle of Orléans, was returned to France after 600 years.
On Sunday, the ring of the martyr was triumphantly unveiled at a lavish ceremony attended by 5,000 guests at the history-themed amusement park Le Puy du Fou in France's Vendee region.
“It’s a little bit of France that has returned. The ring has come back to France and will stay here,” Philippe de Villiers, the park’s founder, told guests before the playing of a rousing rendition of the Marseillaise.
But de Villiers dropped a bombshell on the gathering by revealing the British wanted their ring back. “The British government has sent our lawyer an unprecedented demand: the return of the ring to London,” Mr de Villers told the shocked throng, reports the Telegraph.
“We are told that the National Arts Council considers this ring part of those objects with, and I quote ‘high national symbolic value’ and as such should have part of a special legislation," he added.
According to the demand, after purchasing the ring at auction, Puy de Fou park should have obtained a special export license under European regulations. The UK does have strict rules for exporting items of national or historic importance. A license is needed for any items valued at more than £39,219 and has been in the country for more than 50 years.
The whole process takes about a month and is the responsibility of the exporter and not the auction house. If the license is deferred or in other words, not obtained, then a UK buyer has the opportunity to buy the item back.
Brett Hammond, Timeline Auction House managing director told Art Newspaper: “We handed over the ring to the buyer’s solicitors in London on 3 March. We also gave them a letter, which they signed for, advising them that the ring would need a UK export license.”
Additionally, a spokesperson for Art Council England, which oversees the export regulations, said, “The application process is confidential; however, given the age and price of the item, its export would require an individual license." Mr. De Villiers claims he checked the regulations and they only apply if an item is taken out of the European Union.
In any case, the French have no intention of letting the English have their patron Saint's ring back. De Villiers says, "The ring has returned to France and here it will stay…even if the European Commission orders it back."
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