by Ariadna Zierold
“War Throne,” by African artist Gonçalo Mabunda, was seized by U.S. Customs on September of 2015, which refuses to release it without a permit from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Mabunda is an artist from Mozambique who welds decommissioned weapons used during the 15-year civil war in Mozambique from 1977 to 1992. His chairs bristle with rifle parts, hand grenade casings, mortar shells, bullet shells, and the barrels of large-caliber artillery.
One of his chairs caught the eye of Adam Solow, a Philadelphia attorney who collects African art for its vibrant color and political messaging. Solow bought one of Mabunda’s “War Thrones” through an overseas dealer for $8,200. When it arrived at a Philadelphia port, it triggered red flags with U.S. Customs. Officials turned the chair over to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which told Solow that parts of the chair must be destroyed because they can be reconstituted as firearms.