Thursday, 25 January 2018

Do you KNOW whose hands your ancient object has passed through? And do you Care?

Lynda Albertson, 'Murder, extortion, usury, drug trafficking, plus antiquities plunder. Do you whose hands your ancient object has passed through?' …
While a single, somewhat less than attractive not likely ancient artifact, recovered during a police raid in Italy, might not garner as much attention in the English media as say, an Etruscan vase seized from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, it still deserves a closer look. The bust, pictured above, deserves attention because if you dig a bit deeper than just reading a short headline of it being confiscated yesterday along with cocaine, a semiautomatic Beretta and a Colt revolver, you can begin to understand a sliver of the dynamics that sometimes come into play on the darker side of the illicit art market. A place where transactions can sometimes be furthered by violent criminals, in complete juxtaposition to the well-manicured, suit and tie wearing, art dealers who later launder illicit objects through some of the art market's finer art galleries.
 The seizure was made in connection with investigations into thirty-one individuals  arrested on suspicion of affiliation with the Spada organized crime family.  The links between antiquities smuggling networks and organized criminal groups have long seemed clear, and as more evidence comes to public knowledge, perhaps we should be asking all collectors, do you KNOW whose hands your ancient object has passed through? And do you care? We think you should.

Vignette: dead man probably involved in drug crime (Getty images)

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