Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Antiquities Market Kept Looking Licit by Silence on Collecting Histories?

Lynda Albertson in a recent post on the ARCA blog (IDs from the archives in the Michael Steinhardt and Phoenix Ancient Art seizures Posted: 16 Jan 2018) makes an interesting point about what really that  phrase the 'licit antiquities market' - much over-used in dealer and trade lobbyist circles - actually means in real terms:
It would be interesting to know, from the antiquities buyer's perspective, how many private investors of ancient art, having knowingly or unknowingly purchased illicit antiquities in the past only to later decide to facilitate a second round of laundering themselves, by culling the object from their collection and reselling the hot object on to another collector. By intentionally failing to disclose the name of a known tainted dealer these antiquities collectors avoid having to take any responsibility for the fact that they too have now become players in the game. While staying mum further facilitates the laundering of illicit antiquities, this option may be seen as far easier to collectors who have invested large sums into their collections than admitting they purchased something, unwisely or intentionally, with a less than pristine provenance pedigree. To admit to having bought something that potentially could be looted might bring about the loss of value to the asset. Furthermore by confirming that the antiquity has an illicit background as verified in these archives, would then render the object worthless on the licit art market.
Basically what that means is the pretence that a large part of the market in antiquities involves antiquities of licit origins involves a conspiracy of silence about those items where that status is in doubt.  

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