Thursday, 15 March 2012

Tompa Has A Point

This could be a first folks. I do not - as readers might have guessed - generally agree with Peter Tompa, not out of principle so much as the fact that I think that what he writes is simply wrong. To be fair then I should place on record at least one occasion when I think he is right. In his post 'Questions About Provenance of WikiLoot Documents “Silly”?' he discusses Jason Felch's reply (actually non-reply) to a pertinent question which had occurred to me also. Tompa writes:

I asked Mr. Felch on his “Chasing Aphrodite” blog:
“[...] What is the source of these documents? Were they released legally or leaked unofficially? There would be some considerable irony if you are going to hunt looted material with “looted” documents. If the latter, shouldn't the NSPA apply?”
While I am not as au fait as Mr Tompa presumably is, I am not sure that the National Stolen Property Act is applicable to "illicitly obtained Italian and Greek government documents" as Tompa put it. I am assuming Felch has not obtained the documents illicitly (I do wonder whether, under the circumstances under which he obtained it, he really does have the entire relevant material resulting from the ongoing investigations - and how he could check that this was so). Their use is however an entirely different matter. Tompa's question about the ownership of certain rights to those images is not a "silly" one, and deserves an answer.

But just for accuracy, let us compare what Jason Felch actually responded with Tompa's rendering of that... spot the difference, and then guess why Tompa redacted it - just for brevity, or was a point about coin collectors made that might be uncomfortable in the context of Mr Tompa's job as dealers' lobbyist? Decide for yourselves.
Peter, thanks for your comment. Ancient coin collectors should have a keen interest in seeing this project succeed, and we would appreciate their support and expertise. I’ve addressed Elizabeth’s question. Re: journalism, I’ll tell you what: I’ll keep my advice about lobbying to myself if you do the same about journalism, whose most basic function is bringing hidden information to light. Your crack about nspa and “looted” documents is silly. I know you’re used to fighting for your cause in the trenches, but hope you have more constructive thoughts to contribute about WikiLoot soon. We’re open to them.
But what, precisely is the source of the documents which will be the originating core of Wikiloot?

UPDATE 16.3.12:
Ton Cremers writes on MSN:
Jason Felch is right: that question is VERY silly, and not relevant.
The source of the documents - I advise Peter Barford finally reads The Medici Conspiracy - is of very little importance compared to the information they contain.
I am not sure why Ton thinks I have not read the Medici Conspiracy, haven't we all? Nobody is calling into question in any way the value (but also limitations) of the information these photos and other documents contain. What is being questioned is the rights the journalist(s) obtained with those documents. I fear Mr Cremers has not understood what is being questioned.

Photo: In the Barford household, even the cats have read 'The Medici Cospiracy' (fellow cat owners, no need to write; she 16 and IS seriously ill and under treatment which is why she is not looking her best today).


kyri said...

this is a first,you and peter actually agreeing on something.
i left a comment on his post saying that i dont care where they got the documents ,
publish and be damned i say,
but i can see that there may be legal issues involved as well as moral ones if they have been stolen.personally i would just love to have a look at these photos.
david gill on his blog thinks that publishing the archives wouldnt make much difference and he states some examples where museums are holding on to pieces that are in the archives [one of the examples is a museum in greece.its a bit hypocritical of the greeks in refusing to return it to italy]
anyway,it is an intresting point david makes.

Dorothy King said...

There's a very good claim of Nazi looting, one of the few well documented, but the heirs can do nothing about it as the El Greco is in Heraklion Museum - and was covered by a law protecting it when it was on loan to the US as the property of a foreign government.

I guess I'm trying to make the point that there are exceptions to everything.

The Polaroids are available at Kent to anyone who wishes to see them.

Yes, we've all read The Medici Conspiracy. My puppy even devoured it. But isn't Chasing Aphrodite a completely seperate book about the same material? Written by different authors, and not Peter Watson?

Your cat looks in very good shape for 16

Paul Barford said...

well, I could not work out what on earth Ton Cremers was on about...

Dorothy King said...

Oh, I'm not blaming you - just not sure why people are behaving as if Chasing Aphrodite and the Medici Conspiracy are the same book ...

Peter Watson's information is available at Kent, and my guess would be that the authors of Chasing Aphrodite used that. No proof - just a guess. Ditto guessing David Gill used the same source. Ditto ... you get the point.

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