an auctioneer who does check all the data bases available [...] is jumped on by the police for having a supposedly stolen item. He is told that he has not done due diligence as he should have; to which he replies that he HAS done all the due diligence he was able to do, since the only evidence to the contrary was unavailable to him as it was kept secret by the police.It remains unclear how long it will take those in the collecting world to understand that the evidence an item has been obtained licitly does not consist of it not being on this or that "stolen art database". Due diligence is not merely shooting a letter off to Mr Radcliffe. Mr Finch forgets that (unless we believe in coin fairies and coin elves) there are and have been many dealers shifting stuff from criminal diggers and smugglers onto the market without their business archives (if they even have such a thing) falling serendipitously into police hands. In all cases, the onus on the seller (not 'auction house' which is just a channel) is to demonstrate the clean history of the items they have acquired for resale. If those physically involved in the chain of ownership cannot, nobody can. In the twenty-first century, and rising public awareness, dealers and collectors have no business buying goods where the licit origins cannot be demonstrated, it is as simple as that. Such items have no place in the legitimate market of licit goods handled by responsible and accountable dealers and collectors in the twenty-first century. Why is that so difficult for collectors to comprehend?
Even the ADCAEA in the first draft of their mega-superficial apology for Guidelines (as yet still awaiting revision) consider the concept of Due Diligence to be more than just checking the most accessible database or two. In law the concept involves a defendant found in breach of the law proving that on balance they did everything possible to prevent the act from happening. It is not enough that they took the normal standard of care in their industry – they must show that they took every reasonable precaution. That means requesting to see documentation proving licitness, not merely ascertaining the absence of a claim ('they can't touch you for it Due Diligence').
As for the previous discussion of the issue ("no visible means of support") one really wonders about the abilities of any of these people to focus on an issue and discuss it sensibly. Pretty pathetic. The IAPN is paying good money for supporting this crap.