Friday, 21 August 2009

Viktor Bout and the Antiquities Trade

The Americans are furious that a Thai court (apparently pressured by Russia) has refused to allow extradition of Tajik-born Victor Bout (that’s Виктор Анатольевич Бут when he’s at home). Douglas Farah, , Foreign Policy Aug. 11th, 2009. The Americans are after him for selling arms and various other things and are calling him all sorts of names. Douglas Farah together with Stephen Braun wrote a book calling him “Merchant of Death” (Merchant of Death: Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible). On the other hand as Farah said in an interview "It is important to note, as we do in the book, that much of what Viktor Bout does is, while reprehensible, not illegal" (Douglas Farah, "Meet Viktor Bout, the Real-Life 'Lord of War'" - MotherJones, September 13, 2007).

In the same way the Merchants of Destruction, those who sell no-questions-asked collectors their little “pieces of the past” which are collectable geegaws ripped without record from the archaeological sites across the world say that they (themselves) by buying material in their own countries coming from looting of sites in other ones are doing nothing which is technically illegal. Maybe someone should write a book about the no-questions-asked trade, Merchants of Destruction: Money, Internet sales, Collectors and the Men Who Make The Destruction of the World’s Unwritten History Possible.

Vignette: "Hello Kałasnikov"


Eftis Paraskevaides said...

Interesting article.

I am a very busy antiquities dealer and collector.

I hear what you say but I find difficulty believing you from my own experience. Even if I was to seek the "dubious provenance" material that you are describing, it is unlikely I would have much success. Far easier to buy from old collections and auction houses in the UK, Germany, or US...In fact if anything I am finding that more and more of my antiquities are now coming from Northn America!

Paul Barford said...

Hmm, so how does it get into those "collections" and "auction houses" then? And how is stuff from ancient sites in Europe, Asia and Africa getting to "North America"?

Simply saying "Sotheby's": or "A private German collection", or "property of Mrs. B"[sic] as you do on your website is by no means proper provenance...

Creative Commons License
Ten utwór jest dostępny na licencji Creative Commons Uznanie autorstwa-Bez utworów zależnych 3.0 Unported.