Saturday 22 January 2011

Dodgy Antiquity Sales a Crime

Art Crime is destroying the record of the past according to Lyon & Turnbull, Scotland's oldest firm of auctioneers in an interview with ARCA's Noah Charney.
As many as three-quarters of art crimes involve looted antiquities, ancient treasures dug up by locals all over the world and sold on with false provenances via members of criminal syndicates. Professor Colin Renfrew, one of the country’s leading archaeologists, speaking in a national newspaper, described looting as “a colossal problem (which is) destroying the record of the past”. Charney advises collectors of antiquities to take particular care, especially if they are considering buying on the Internet. “I would say, never buy anything you haven’t seen or handled in person. You should also be given a complete provenance and be given an opportunity to check it out independently. Beware sellers who [...] withhold information.

The rest here.


Damien Huffer said...

In my humble opinion, despite the possibility to very carefully and selectively collect legally exported antiquities with paper trails if one so desires, the fact that so few do, and that even proprietors of major auction houses admit this (but remain complacent in it) is just more proof that more outreach is needed to "turn off" new collectors/looters from the start. Until the entire "business" cleans itself up from top to bottom, this won't stop anytime soon.

Paul Barford said...

I'd prefer to see it as "bottom up", as the "top" is not going to do anything that undercuts its profits, unless it is forced to by their more responsible and demanding clients.

I think an interesting question is, why - when ('normal') people come into collecting from the start as beginners and start looking round - are they not 'turned off' by what they see from the outset, the secrecy, the question-dodging, the false arguments and special pleading?

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