V&A Row: California museum insists seven-foot Frankenstein dummy was sold ‘without her consent’

V&A Row: California museum insists seven-foot Frankenstein dummy was sold ‘without her consent’

A dummy Frankenstein’s monster being held at the V&A has sparked a transatlantic ownership dispute after a US museum demanded its repatriation.

The wooden mannequin, which stands two meters tall, is based on actor Boris Karloff, who played the creature in films made in the 1930s and 1940s.

Dressed in the late English actor’s original costume, the doll is detailed with studs in the neck and metal attachments to the skull.

The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM) denies ownership of the monster, stating that it owns both the mannequin and her clothing.

In 1967, the doll and her original costume were reportedly destroyed, with the parts presumed lost

The wooden mannequin stands at seven feet Actor Boris Karloff played the creature in films made in the 1930s

The wooden mannequin (left), which stands two meters tall, is based on actor Boris Karloff (right), who played the creature in films made in the 1930s

She asked the V&A to bring the item back, arguing that the NHM “did not consent to the sale of these items,” reported The Telegraph.

However, the London-based museum has said the monster cannot be returned to the US under UK law and was legally acquired for its collection.

The National Heritage Act 1983 states that the museum “shall not dispose of any object…contained in its collections” unless specified criteria are met.

The mannequin was donated to the NHM in 1935 by Universal Studios, the production company of Bride of Frankenstein.

The V&A believes it was “probably” used as a prop in the horror sequel.

According to V&A research, it was loaned to the Academy of Motion Pictures in 1949.

In 1967, the doll and her original costume were reportedly destroyed, with the parts presumed lost.

A dummy Frankenstein's monster being held at the V&A has sparked a transatlantic row.  Pictured are two primary school children from Bethnal Green looking at the giant prop

A dummy Frankenstein’s monster being held at the V&A has sparked a transatlantic row. Pictured are two primary school children from Bethnal Green looking at the giant prop

Boris Karloff as Frankenstein's Monster, a role that built his fame as a horror actor

Boris Karloff as Frankenstein’s Monster, a role that built his fame as a horror actor

Boris Karloff as Frankenstein's monster and Elsa Lanchester as Frankenstein's mate in Bride of Frankenstein, 1935

Boris Karloff as Frankenstein’s monster and Elsa Lanchester as Frankenstein’s mate in Bride of Frankenstein, 1935

The screen legacy of horror actor Boris Karloff

Boris Karloff was an icon of horror cinema

Boris Karloff was an icon of horror cinema

Boris Karloff was born William Henry Pratt on November 23, 1887 in Camberwell, London.

He took the stage name Boris Karloff after immigrating to Canada and joining an Ontario-based touring company.

For more than a decade, he traveled the United States acting in low-budget theater before coming to Hollywood.

He was later recognized as a horror cinema icon after playing the monster in the 1931 film Frankenstein.

The role continued in Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Son of Frankenstein (1939) and The House of Frankenstein (1944).

In addition to the Mary Shelly adaptation, he acted in more than 170 films between 1919 and 1968, including Scarface.

The actor also spent time on stage and on television.

He married six times and had a daughter, Sara, with whom he shared his birthday.

During later adult life, the actor struggled with chronic back problems — a result of the heavy brace he wore as part of his Frankenstein monster costume.

He died of emphysema on February 2, 1969 in Midhurst, Sussex.

But 21 years later, both the mannequin and the ragged clothes were bought at an auction at the Museum of Moving Image in London in 1988.

Run by the British Film Institute, this museum then closed in 1999.

After 15 years, Frankenstein’s monster was moved to the V&A, and NHM’s California staff were stunned that both the doll and her costume were unharmed — and more than 5,000 miles away.

The NHM told The Telegraph that it “was not aware of and had not consented to the sale of these properties”.

However, when the monster was auctioned off in 1988, according to the V&A, there was no legal ownership claim.

UK law prevents the V&A from giving away items from its collection as it is a national museum.

The National Heritage Act of 1983 prohibits museums from selling items intended for the public.

They can only be removed from a museum’s collection by trustees if they are duplicates or permanently damaged.

Similar problems with the repatriation of museum collections were also addressed in this law.

The mannequin is to be displayed at the V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green, which is currently undergoing a £13million refurbishment.

The Los Angeles Museum said it would like to have an “open dialogue” with the V&A about a possible “cultural exchange” that would benefit visitors of both museums.

A V&A spokesman told Web: “The Bride of Frankenstein Costume and Dummy was purchased at auction in 1988 by the Museum of Moving Image, which acquired a good title.

“The object was donated to the V&A in 2014 and added to the collection.

“The V&A has contacted representatives of the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles regarding the object’s history and provenance and has proposed a number of partnership opportunities.

“We welcome the opportunity for further discussions.”

Boris Karloff was a horror cinema icon, having played the monster in the 1931 film Frankenstein.

The role continued in Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Son of Frankenstein (1939) and The House of Frankenstein (1944).

The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County was contacted for comment.

The V&A (pictured) said when the monster was auctioned in 1988 there were no legal claims of ownership

The V&A (pictured) said when the monster was auctioned in 1988 there were no legal claims of ownership

Elgin Marbles could return to Greece as part of a new ‘Parthenon partnership’ to establish greater ‘cultural exchange’, says the British Museum’s deputy director

It was revealed last month that after more than 200 years, the Elgin Marbles could be returned to Greece as part of a “Parthenon partnership” proposed by the British Museum’s deputy director.

Composed of 17 marble figures, the marbles are part of a frieze that adorned the 2,500-year-old Parthenon temple on the Acropolis, created by the sculptor Phidias.

The sculptures were taken by Lord Elgin in the early 19th century when he was British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire and have since been the subject of a long-running dispute over where to display them.

The Elgin Marbles are currently on display in the British Museum, but the Greek government has been demanding their return for years.

The UK government has agreed to Unesco-backed talks on the repatriation of the Elgin Marbles pictured at the British Museum, which could see the artefacts being brought back to Greece and solve the long-standing problem

The UK government has agreed to Unesco-backed talks on the repatriation of the Elgin Marbles pictured at the British Museum, which could see the artefacts being brought back to Greece and solve the long-standing problem

However, in an interview with the Sunday Times culture magazine, Deputy Director Jonathan Williams said the British Museum wanted to “change the temperature of the debate” surrounding the marble artworks.

Mr Williams said: “What we are calling for is an active ‘Parthenon partnership’ with our friends and colleagues in Greece.

‘I truly believe that there is room for a truly dynamic and positive conversation where new ways of working together can be found.’

The British Museum has not said it will be returning the sculptures, with Mr Williams arguing they are an “absolutely essential part” of the collection.

He added: “There are many wonderful things that we would like to borrow and lend. That’s what we do.”

The Elgin Marbles (pictured) are a 17-figure collection of classical Greek marble sculptures by the architect and sculptor Phidias, a Greek sculptor whose statue of Zeus, god of the sky in ancient Greek mythology, was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world

The Elgin Marbles (pictured) are a 17-figure collection of classical Greek marble sculptures by the architect and sculptor Phidias, a Greek sculptor whose statue of Zeus, god of the sky in ancient Greek mythology, was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world

The Greek Prime Minister has on many occasions called for the Parthenon Marbles to be returned to Greece and even offered to loan some of his country’s other treasures to the British Museum in exchange.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis has reiterated that Greece is open to negotiations but said that “small steps are not enough. We want big steps.”

The director of the Acropolis Museum, Nikolaos Stampolidis, also said that with the offer of the “positive Parthenon partnership” there could be a “basis for constructive discussions”.

He added: “In the difficult days we live in, a return would be an act of history.

“It would be as if the British themselves were restoring democracy.”

The Elgin Marbles were taken from the Parthenon in Athens by the then British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, Lord Elgin, between 1801 and 1812 and are now on display in the British Museum (pictured).

The Elgin Marbles were taken from the Parthenon in Athens by the then British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, Lord Elgin, between 1801 and 1812 and are now on display in the British Museum (pictured).