Tuesday 3 April 2012

Is it "time for President Obama and Hillary Clinton to "Put an end to Koroupas"?

Over on the  Huffington Post   the lobbyists for the no-questions asked dealing in recently "surfaced" antiquities from the ancient world are continuing their programme of misinformation. Veteran dealer and activist Wayne Sayles tries to raise support by playing the victim. He carefully avoids saying what he is actually lobbying for, he tries to give the general reader the impression that what he is talking about affects all coin collectors of world coins, rather than those which are archaeological artefacts. He also deliberately neglects to point out that the law he is complaining about implements a convention which 121 nations have also signed and implemented, trying to give the impression that it is only US buyers who are unable legally to purchase smuggled coins. This is just deceitful.

Huffington post's readers fortunately can check for themselves the texts of
1)the ‘Convention on Cultural property Implementation Act’ (CCPIA): 19 United States Code 2600 et seq. (look at 2606 in particular for the two types of documents importers have the choice of supplying within 90 days)
 http://exchanges.state.gov/heritage/culprop/laws/pdfs/2600.pdf and,

2) the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property

If readers look at these documents, they will quite clearly see for themselves that Sayles has omitted mention of the most important fact about them, they both refer only to restrictions on UNLAWFULLY EXPORTED (ie smuggled) artefacts.

Perusal of these documents shows the author of this text is describing restrictions on the import into the US of SMUGGLED archaeological artefacts and coins as in some way “unjust” to US dealers and collectors (presumably only those who actually want to buy smuggled and illicitly traded items of this type, I assume that there are some collectors and maybe even dealers who would instead like to be sure that ICE was doing its best to keep stuff like this off the US market).

Since 121 nations have become party to the 1970 Convention, it is of course totally untrue to say that only the US considers trade in such objects as illicit, that is the definition adopted by the 1970 Convention (Article 3). Many of the other countries have - where such measures were not already part of their legislative system - instituted implementation legislation like that of the US.

Huffington Post readers can find these laws online: http://www.ifar.org/art_law.php (the sections referring to Legislation of International Ownership and Export ). Examples might include  Japan’s Law Concerning Controls on the Illicit Export and Import of Cultural Property’ and the British ‘Dealing in Cultural property (Offences) Act’ which both (in different ways) go even further than the US requirements. Israel is also introducing new legislation of this type this month in order to cut down the illicit antiquity trade.

It is also totally untrue to say that US attention paid to export procedure dates from the Iraq emergency laws http://exchanges.state.gov/heritage/culprop/chart2.pdf

The accusations against Maria Kouroupas, alleging a "conspiracy" against the victimised collectors, apart from being slanderous, are a wholly inaccurate representation of the way the system works. But by the time the Huffington Post reader has compared the documents to which I link above with what Sayles says about them, I assume they will have got the measure of the man, and the degree to which they can rely on him to present reliable information about what the ACCG are fighting and why.

 Now why would a confederation of US dealers try to drum up support wherever they can (even from 12 Congressmen and at least one Senator) to prevent the US government implementing a cultural property preservation programme which attempts to keep smuggled ancient artefacts off the US market? Why, if they are engaged in such an activity can they not honestly present it for what it is, and not dress it up in the language of discrimination and victimisation, and dishonestly hiding from public opinion the true nature of the measures they are opposing ? I think the Huffington Post reader can work that one out for themselves, once given access to the facts.

Is it "time for President Obama and Hillary Clinton" to "Put an end to Koroupas", or is it time for the US Government to take decisive action against something else?

Vignette: Sayles once wrote a book on deception in the coin market. 

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