Saturday, 28 February 2009

Fincham on Good Faith

I really cannot agree with Derek Fincham’s earlier ideas on the Portable Antiquities Scheme, but was intrigued by his latest offering, a draft paper Fraud on Our Heritage: Towards a Rigorous Standard for the Good Faith Acquisition of Antiquities in which he discusses the theoretical underpinning for "a new and rigorous standard for the acquisition of art and antiquities". I bet that will not make him too popular with the no-questions-asked portable antiquities dealers. Although he begins with an example from the UK, the paper quickly focuses on US law and US legalese, perhaps the title should reflect that. Some of the legalese was a bit above my head but I gather this good faith business is a little more complex than US portable antiquity dealers like to pretend. His conclusion is:

No presumption as to good faith should be tolerated any longer. Rather increased scrutiny of the antiquities trade is needed in which objective evidence of a purchaser's investigation of the legitimate title of the object in question must be the bare minimum for the acquisition of good faith in a given transfer.
With which I wholeheartedly agree.
Photo: Swiss Tony, used car dealer. He has a nice suit and a way with words, but would you trust him enough to buy undocumented goods from him?

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