Monday, 4 August 2014

Dealers in Denial: Read, can you?

Sue McGovern Huffman has a text on her Facebook page, referring to Erin Thompson's NYT opinion piece 'Egypt’s Looted Antiquities' (May 30th 2014). She writes:
I am getting so tired of this type of article, with sweeping accusations of Americans fueling a "multimillion-dollar black market in antiquities" without providing any substantive evidence of same. This article fails to point out that the $10m. of Egyptian antiquities imported into the US last year were recorded by customs, were checked by customs to ensure the provenance was not questionable and then released by customs because the objects had solid collection history.
Well, I do not think they were all "stopped" and then "released" after being analysed, these numbers come from the analysis of trade figures. Anyhow Ms McGovern, a dealer, is twisting what Thompson said (what's new?). What was actually written is:
In response [to a clear increase in looting of antiquities], the Egyptian government has attempted to stanch (sic) the flow of antiquities to the United States, which has some of the highest demand for these artifacts. In 2013, America imported more than $10 million worth of Egyptian antiquities — a 105 percent increase from 2012.
Do you see the dealer's sleight of hand?

 Ms McGovern tells her readers that "Erin Thompson has apparently written a book on collectors that is forthcoming. Doesn't this suggest is some great, free advertising courtesy of the NY Times. Whatever happened to unbiased journalism?". Whether journalism is this or that is beside the point if people simply are unable to read a discussion without putting into it things that simply are not there.

 The majority of the Egyptian items offered by the dealer (Sands of Time) do not have any collecting history more "solid" than "last owner" - usually vaguely listed by US state - occasionally named, never any supporting documentation mentioned - and occasionally anecdotal embellishments. It seems there are many differing notions in the antiquities business about what "solid collecting histories" actually are (note on Ms McGovern's website "solid collecting history" is not one of the search terms).

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