Thursday, 18 October 2012

Procopi Engages New Lawyer

It is being widely reported in the US press that Eric Procopi, fossil importer, has now engaged Georges Lederman (specializing in the representation of international art law clients) to conduct his case in New York.

 See (for example): Ben Rooney, 'Feds bust black market in dinosaur fossils', CNNMoney, October 17, 2012.  

This text (and its clones) cites what purport to be the dealer's words, voicing a typical mantra of the collectables milieu: 
Prokopi sounded defiant in an email sent when Mongolian authorities made an attempt to reclaim the Tyrannosaurus skeleton before it was sold by Heritage Auctions in May. "If [the Mongolian president] only wants to take the skeleton and try to put an end to the black market, he will have a fight and will only drive the black market deeper underground," Prokopi allegedly wrote.
I am not sure what the difference would be in conservation terms between a "deep underground" black market from any market in illicitly-obtained goods right out in the open which nobody does anything about.  Maybe somebody would like to explain that.

Now look where else this story is:
Ben Rooney, 'Feds bust black market in dinosaur fossils', Houston Style Magazine, 17th October 2012. 
Style? Surely "commercial palaeontologists" sell specimens to other palaeontologists, not as home-decoration geegaw trophies?  But then we might take a look at the gentleman's website: ("the little boy, now a man, continued to travel the world digging up fossils and diving for them") and facebook page]. Lots of mentions on both of how "cool" everything is, not a peep about the ethics and legal aspects - not even the coral (CITES). Why? Do they consider this is not a major concern of potential customers over in the US?

Then we have a local newspaper: Morgan Watkins, 'Gainesville dinosaur fossil dealer arrested on federal charges', Ocala (Star-Banner) 17th October 2012. [based largely on the ICE press release - but just look at the depth of ignorance displayed by the comments, including MORE comments on Creationism...].

Mr Procopi was reportedly released from custody with the bail set at 100 000 dollars.

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