Friday 4 May 2012

Left Wondering in Washington

Over in a lawyer's office in Washington  questions are being asked about a rug. Shock-horror:
It's also interesting to note that the AIA auctioned off an antique Turkish kilim during the event [...] Again, one wonders given all the rhetoric about due dilligence whether the item was imported into the United States consistently with Turkish export controls
Note that instead of any legal source, the link the lawyer lazily supplies is to a commercial site "Turkey Travel Planner .com". Well, it seems to me that a lobbyist for the old-things-trade instead of posing tricky questions calling into question the reputation of another US old-things-dealer, might consider dropping the guy an email asking whether he has followed export procedure. I did last night and this morning received a very pleasant and full reply and can report that this dealer assures me that his stock is indeed composed entirely of items that have passed the two inspections to satisfy export procedure from Turkey. Indeed, this dealer can actually document that. Now, how many of the coin dealers that Tompa represents could say that with a clear conscience? How many of them deal in dugup antiquities from Turkey only in cases where they have the full export documentation available to show the client?

Peter Davies (who has a wonderful website: adds:
I  have carefully avoided  throughout my career in getting involved with the Turkish  mafia controlled smuggling of antique kilims and carpets  (often at great cost to my business).  Not true of many of my competitors.  
He therefore would like to know "on what basis this person made such an  irresponsible charge" against his business. My guess is no basis whatsoever.

How many ancient coin collectors in the US are at this moment buying dugup antiquities which have been brought out of countries such as Turkey by organized criminal groups? How many no-questions-asking dealers can actually demonstrate that they have actively avoided involvement in this part of the trade? How can they if they are not at all bothered in their everyday dealings by not being in any way able to ascertain where the coins they profit from actually came from and came to be on the international market? 

Tompa falsely accuses the Archaeological Institute of America of peddling "anti-business rhetoric". The accusation that the AIA is "anti-business" seems like another of those straw man arguments which is the stock-in-trade of the coiney lobbyists. In reality the kind of antiquity "business" which the AIA opposes is the one which does not involve transparency about sources allowing claims of legitimacy to be verified. This means that - as seems wholly reasonable - it opposes the carefree opacity and secrecy of the major international antiquity markets which the culture criminals exploit to shift their dodgy goods.  In other words the AIA opposes what the ACCG and (through paying for Tompa's lobbying) other international dealers' associations like the PNG are it seems, all-too-clearly, fighting to retain.

Thanks are due to honest dealers like Peter Davies for supporting the AIA.

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