Wednesday 5 June 2013

Problems with Lack of Documentation of Eugene Private Collection

Oregon collector Anthony Shaia has been checking antique shops, art shows and online classified adverts
for any sign of the textiles, statues and other artwork that he says he spent three decades collecting during many trips to Southeast Asia. He’s offering a $10,000 reward for information that leads to the return of the artifacts — which he believes are worth many times that amount". 
The objects were stolen from his home in Eugene’s College Hill region in November 2011 but he'd:
never insured his collection and didn’t provide investigators with sufficient documentation to show he had owned all of the items that were reportedly stolen from his home, police spokeswoman Melinda McLaughlin said. “We’re at a standstill, as far as being able to determine ownership,” McLaughlin said. “Police have to be able to prove that somebody owns (a reportedly stolen item). They can’t just go in and seize something.” Shaia, who in the 1980s operated a pair of art galleries in downtown Eugene [...] questions the amount of effort that detectives put into the case after he provided them with receipts, photographs and other proof to show the types of unique items that were stolen from his home. 
It's pretty laughable that among this documentation was reportedly "receipts were from the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, whose website includes a photograph of glazed stoneware that Shaia donated to the museum".  So he can tell officers the "type" of objects stolen, but cannot document  that he came by them legitimately (export licences?) nor provide any detailed documentation of the contents of his collection at all. This seems to be a serious problem with many US private collectors, it seems they do not even create a proper inventory of their holdings, let alone any documentation on where they came from.

Mr Shia is in the news because, frustrated with the lack of progress on the case, he reportedly went for another man with a gun, attempting to threaten him  to tell him what he knows about the burglary.

Jack Moran, 'Man whose art was stolen admits coercion', The Register-Guard June 4 2013.

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