In the comments to his 'discussion' [I use the term loosely] of Neil Brodie's text on 'Trafficking out of Syria', the IAPN and PNG's lobbyist Peter Tompa, in amongst the insults and before announcing he was blocking me from replying there, says he "tends to disagree" with the point I made about the meaning of the word "illicit". He then appears to be suggesting that the coins Brodie was writing about could be from "Syrian refugees taking their collections abroad".
This is pretty astounding. I am truly glad that whatever led the Tompa family to leave Hungary and seek refuge in the US whenever-it-was did not mean Mr Tompa to this day has any clear vision of the hardships that they experienced. Nevertheless that does not excuse his lack of empathy for those who have not been so lucky. We have a number of accounts of "what refugees take with them" (here, here [nota bene], here and here to mention a few heart-rending stories). Try as I might to find one, "coin collection" is simply not there.
It is worth noting that there were (as far as I can see, apocryphal) reports two years back that among the flow of refugees was one of the means by which traffickers used to smuggle artefacts out of Syria. Any items removed from anywhere by illegal means are by nature illicit, that goes for guns, drugs, human organs and antiquities. If Syrians have legally-owned artefacts and take them out of Syria in accordance with the law, then there is nothing wrong with Mr Tompa buying them. If they have been removed circumventing the proper procedures, then no matter who they are, Mr Tompa cannot call them "licit" antiquities, because they are not,
Neither does any of us, except Mr Tompa and the people that employ him, believe for a moment that the antiquities which Brodie discusses all come from legally owned private collections brought with them by those fleeing from Hell. If an F15 flattens your home, Hamid's stamp album is the last thing you'd be scrabbling in the rubble to find.
Scandalous Mr Tompa, scandalous Bailey and Ehrenberg.