Jun. 26 - German artist Wolfgang von Schwarzenfeld is caught up in controversy as a Venezuelan tribe accuses him of stealing a sacred pink rock known to them as ''Grandmother''. Tara Cleary reports.
A storm is brewing around a rock in Berlin's Tiergarten Park. The pink boulder is part of the Global Stone project, meant to spread a message of peace and love. But Pemon Indians in Venezuela claim it is theirs and they want it back. A video circulated on Youtube has mobilised public opinion - even Venezuela's president, Hugo Chavez has called for the rock's return. The artist caught up in the controversy is Wolfgang von Schwarzenfeld. He acquired "Kueka", which means grandmother, in 1997 and he says he has papers to prove it was a gift to Berlin. SOUNDBITE: Wolfgang von Schwarzenfeld, artist, saying (German): "It is indeed terrible if people walk up to you saying 'you stole the stone.' But I didn't steal it. It was given to me but it's impossible to defend oneself against this disinformation on the Internet." German anthropologist Bruno Illius has studied the Pemon tribe for two decades. He says there is "no such thing" as a 'holy stone' for the Pemones. SOUNDBITE: Bruno Illius, German Anthropologist, saying (German): "I talked to a lot of people in the area and in the town closest to where the stone was found. I can say that 90 percent have never heard of the stone and those who did, seven out of ten knew about it from the Internet." And until an agreement is reached, the rock remains in Berlin's Tiergarten park. Tara Cleary, Reuters.