Friday 17 January 2014

The Art Newspaper: Italy Threatens to Sue UK Firm Over Antiquities

Maurizio Fiorilli (Scoop)

Italy’s state legal counsel on the Symes case, Maurizio Fiorilli, was planning to send this month a final warning to the liquidator (BDO) responsible for some antiquities  currently stored in London which it is claimed left Italy illegally. If Italy does not receive information about the status of the collection within 30 days, Fiorilli reportedly will notify the public prosecutor at the Criminal Tribunal in Rome and the decision might be taken to sue the firm.
The prosecutor would then evaluate the situation and could choose to sue BDO in the UK under the Dealing in Cultural Offences Act, passed in 2003. This introduced the criminal offence of dealing in cultural objects that are “tainted” if the person or firm doing so knows the status of the artefacts in question. The maximum penalty is seven years in prison and an unlimited fine.
That would be interesting to see. The law is a piece of junk legislation and has so far basically not been used. 'Tainted' objects are daily sold off on the London and other UK markets right under everyone's noses with nobody lifting a finger. Good luck to you Italy, getting the UK to do ANYTHING at all about dodgy antiquities. Especially as in this case, it's Her Majesty's Government that wants the money raised by selling them. British archaeologists will watch on, shrugging shoulders and twiddling their fingers and then go off disinterestedly to pat an artefact collector on the head.

Actually though, Italy might do well to actually read the text of the legislation before they threaten anyone with it. Like Section 2, subsection 2 for example.  I think Britain is another one of those countries that needs to revise the legislation intended to deal with illcit antiquities within its borders. That is, if they really are sincere when they say they want to do something about this problem - which actually I personally doubt.

Cristina Ruiz and Javier Pes, 'Italy threatens to sue UK firm over ancient ‘loot’...' [note scare quotes] The Art Newspaper, 16 January 2014

1 comment:

Elina Moustaira said...

I totally agree with your comments.

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