Tuesday, 18 September 2018

How Corrupt is the Antiques Trade?

BBC, 'How Corrupt is the Antiques Trade?' Business Daily Tue 18 Sep 2018
What is the true price of the world's looted art and antiques? Is art dealing a corrupt business and does some of it fund terrorism? What about the role of museums?

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Looted Art Retuns to Poland; Buyers Lose Out Through US Market Irrespomnsibility

Two responsible US collectors fell victim to the irresponsible practices on the international art market, dealers and auction houses routinely fail to check how the objects they handle came onto the market:
Deputy Prime Minister and Culture Minister Piotr Gliński (R),
US Ambassador to Poland Georgette Mosbacher (3L),
Craig Gilmore (2L) and David Crocker (L) during the handing-over ceremony at the National Museum
 in Warsaw, September 14th, 2018.  Radek Pietruszka/PAP
A 17th century painting looted by Nazi occupiers during WWII has been returned to the National Museum in Warsaw.
The painting, Portrait of a Lady by Flemish artist Melchior Geldorp, was recovered after it was found at the home of two men living in Los Angeles. Actor and opera singer Craig Gilmore and visual artist David Crocker unwittingly bought the artwork 12 years ago at an auction in New York. They took it home and there it stayed on their wall for nearly a decade, becoming ‘a spiritual member of the family.’ Then two years ago, following an investigation by the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and the USA’s Homeland Security, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, officials arrived saying that their favourite possession was actually an art-piece looted by Nazi Germany from Poland during WWII. Geldorp’s Portrait of a lady had been in public collections in Warsaw from 1935 until the outbreak of WWII. It had been purchased by the city together with a collection of 94 other paintings. Upon hearing the news stunned Gilmore and Crocker immediately agreed to hand the painting back.
Jacek Borowski, 'From LA dining room to Warsaw’s National Museum: Looted WWII art returned after more than 70 years' The firstNEWS, Sept 15, 2018

Polish culture suffered immense damage to its cultural property during WWII. Most of the valuable artworks – it is estimated that as much as 70 percent of what Poland used to possess before the war - were completely destroyed. Many of them as a result of deliberate action related to a campaign of ethnic cleansing. Thousands of masterpieces were looted by German troops and officials and taken out of Poland before the war ended. Many have never been found.

The Situation in Poland in a Nutshell

For those of you who wonder about what's happening to Poland at the moment (and why I have a vignette over at top left of the Polish flag being trampled), here's a short video which represents things as citizens on my side of the barriers (Poland's white rose movement) see it. Here's the blurb from the producers Vox:

Poland is pushing the EU into crisis   SHARE
It’s reaping the benefits while ignoring its rules.
By Sam Ellis and Liz Scheltens Sep 14, 2018, 8:50am EDT

Poland is changing. In 2015, PiS, a nationalist, right-wing party, won an absolute majority in both houses of the Polish parliament and the presidency. Since then, PiS has been systematically taking over the country’s judicial branch by packing the courts with loyalist judges and threatening judicial independence.

This has brought PiS into a confrontation with the European Union, of which Poland is a member; the EU has rules that require member countries have an independent court system. These rules were designed to protect countries from becoming authoritarian. But PiS has simply ignored the EU.

It’s a shocking turn for a country that, just a few years ago, was hailed as one of Europe’s most promising young democracies. PiS is putting Poland’s democracy at risk while also undermining the European Union.

Watch the video  to see how Poland is pushing the EU into a crisis [...] that could threaten Europe’s hard-won peace and prosperity following centuries of conflict.

For more detail on the 2017 Independence day march, read this excellent piece by Christian Davies in the Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/world/201...

HMS Victory to be Preserved, Treasure Hunters to Keep Away

Breaking: UK Government denies the Maritime Heritage Foundation and its contractor Odyssey Marine Exploration permission to salvage the 1744 wreck HMSVictory. The Maritime Heritage Foundation has ninety days from 5 September to withdraw marine licence application or have it terminated. In a blow to would be treasure hunters in UK waters, or hunting UK ships, the Government decides the HMSVictory 1744 wreck site will be preserved in situ in accordance with UNESCO Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage as per its stated policy.
More here: 'UK Government Denies Maritime Heritage Foundation/OMEX Permission to Slavage HMS Victory 1744'. The Pipelne September 16, 2018
This has been going on a long time. Here are a few of my earlier posts on HMS Victory: Monday, 2 February 2009Sunday, 6 May 2012Sunday, 27 October 2013 Monday, 2 February 2015,  Thursday, 5 March 2015Friday, 17 July 2015
Hat tip Andy Brockman

Detectival UK Rally 2018

A huge number of exploitative pockets descend
on the archaeological record 'somewhere in England'
Detectival UK Rally 2018
Up to 1000 acres of land, 400 acres brand new and undetected The site we will be searching for Detectival 2018 is located close to the Medieval Market towns of Burford and Charlbury on the Edge of the beautiful and historic Cotswolds. The Metal Detecting days will Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th September 2018. With support and sponsorship for Detectival 2018 from many of the main businesses from the world of metal detecting, we aim to bring you the ultimate Metal Detecting Rally and the best and most memorable Metal Detecting event of 2018.
You have to book first to 'Discover more about the area we are searching and the local history', so really responsible detectorists who, on reading it, decide this is not the sort of place best practice suggests should be the subject of exploitation in a commercial artefact grabfest. The PAS will be there as well, lending this ripping up of the past a false air of legitimacy. Shame on them.

Published on You Tube by Metal Detectives Group 10 sty 2018

Published on You Tube by

What are the real-world archaeological effects and 'benefits' from the kind of 'survey' we see in thse videos?

Friday, 14 September 2018

The Syrian War enters its Idlib Phase, Antiquities Take a Back Seat Now

Updated map of Syrian situation, the extent
of ISIL territory may be overstated here
Martin Chulov Syria conflict: why does Idlib matter and what could happen? Guardian Wed 12 Sep 2018.
Fears of a refugee crisis and ‘killbox’ as rebels prepare for likely last stand against Assad
Let us not forget the role (Obama's) America played in weaponising the internal civil conflict within Syria, encouraging the revolt against Assad, and then slinking away when things got out of hand and before attempting intervention in the form of fighting the '("terrorist") ISIL-problem', and again dropping out as the War got more complicated. Probably they'll soon be queuing up now for the contracts now for the reconstruction when the country has bled itself to death with Assad still in power. Then nobody will bat an eyelid much when the unpapered antiquities start to surface.

Within this region are a number of archaeological sites, a number of which had been looted already when I did my Google Earth search a while back (' Syria (3), Evidence of Looting from Google Earth as of 5th May 2013, Northern and Eastern Regions', PACHI Sunday, 26 May 2013) and most specifically Ebla [see here in particular - Ebla was never in ISIL hands].

Alia Chughtai's Al Jazeera article ('Syria's war: Who controls what?A map of the Syrian war showing who controls what after seven years of fighting', 07 Sep 2018) is a useful concise summary:
Since March 2011, fighting in Syria has killed an estimated 465,000 people, injured more than one million, and forced about 12 million people - or half the country's pre-war population - from their homes. Forces loyal to the Syrian government have retaken major rebel strongholds, as well as large swaths of territory in the country's south in recent months.[...] Air raids have pounded areas in Syria's last rebel-held province of Idlib, killing several civilians and raising further concerns that an all-out government offensive is only a matter of time. A full-scale military offensive would be devastating for the nearly three million people living in the province, including many rebels and civilians who were bussed out of other areas as they came back under government control. At least 24 raids - the first in three weeks - hit the area on Tuesday morning. There are an estimated 70,000 rebel fighters in and around the province. Idlib is strategically important as on one side it shares a border with the province of Latakia, home to the biggest Russian airbase in Syria, and on the other side, it borders Turkey. The strategic M5 highway - the main access road to the north - also passes through Idlib.
Meanwhile, this is what this is about:

Buddha statue pulled from Sotheby’s auction

Simone McCarthy,'Buddha statue pulled from Sotheby’s auction on suspicion it may be from China Unesco site', South China Morning Post, 14 September, 2018

Not very nicely mounted
70cm tall head
An intricately carved limestone Buddha head was removed from a Sotheby’s auction in New York this week, after evidence emerged that it may have originated from [...]  the ancient Buddhist Longmen Caves, a kilometre-long system of grottoes carved in limestone cliffs in central China’s Henan province The item was pulled from sale ahead of the auction on September 12, but not before it was included in the list of Chinese artefacts published in the catalogue. “Our attention was drawn to an image of a sculpture, very similar to the present work, published by a Japanese photographer who documented the Longmen Caves in the 1920s and 1930s,” Sotheby’s said on Friday. Items in the auction, all from a private collection, were valued between US$10,000 and US$2.5 million, according to the Sotheby’s website.
See also: Cao Zinan, 'Chinese Buddha statue in Sotheby's resembles lost relic' China Daily 14.09.2018
Sotheby's said that after a discussion with the sculpture's owner, the Junkunc family, the Buddha head would not be included in the sale on Sept 12 [...] According to the Sotheby's catalogue, the item once appeared in the auction catalogue of a French antique dealer that sells stolen Chinese relics in 1955, which was later collected by the US collector Stephen Junkunc [...] a large number of Buddha heads were stolen during the late Qing dynasty (1644-1911) and the Republic of China (1912-1949) period. According to estimates, 600 to 700 Buddha statues in the Longmen Grottoes have been damaged and stolen during the period.
The cost of the art market to heritage values, Longman Caves before and after
I do wonder, just where do dealers and collectors 'think' (I use the term loosely) that lopped-off statue heads like this come from?

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