Sunday 19 January 2014

Tompa Versus Elkins on the Bulgarian Antiquities Market

On sale openly, but still illegal,
two wrongs do not make a right, pretty
Bulgarian woman on Polish roadside
(from a post on the same topic
, some
in the dugup antiquities trade
just love repeating themselves
and arguing round and round in circles)
Self-styled "Cultural Property Observer", lawyer Peter Tompa (Bailey and Ehrenburg) challenges Nathan Elkins (January 15, 2014 at 5:03 PM): 
You forgot to mention [...] that there is a huge legal internal market in the exact same coins within Bulgaria itself [...].

Elkins replies, quite reasonably (January 15, 2014 at 5:40 PM)
As to collecting in Bulgaria, I had the opportunity to speak to some Bulgarian law enforcers at a conference last year. As such, they are very familiar with Bulgarian law. They said Bulgarian law requires all private collections to have been registered by a deadline that has already passed. All other undocumented collections are considered illicit in the eyes of Bulgarian authorities.
Tompa ignores that presentation of the legal situation, without thanking Elkins for the information, he adds (January 15, 2014 at 6:16 PM)
As set forth in an official US Government report of which you are well aware [no link given - PMB], there are a huge number of collectors that have not registered because they are afraid of being robbed by dirty cops. And you are confusing registration with restrictions on purchase and sale. The fact is Bulgarians can buy import what they want (there are no internal import controls in the EU) and stuff goes out easily too.
It is less than clear how Tompa imagines a market regulated by registration being supplied with internally-circulating unregistered coins which are nevertheless "legal". He is of course making a false generalisation when he asserts baldly "there are no internal import controls in the EU". Neither is it true that "stuff goes out (legally) easily too". I wrote here about the Bulgarian coin dealer who showed me his stock and the extensive documentation concerning its movement from one EU country (Bulgaria) to another (Poland) at the Warsaw Coin Fair in September. Maybe next time he is at a coin fair, Mr Tompa can ask a visiting dealer to see what proper export docuumentation for coins and antiquities from Bulgaria looks like. Until then, perhaps he'd be wise not to tell us what he "imagines" to be the case.

Elkins' answer is to the point (January 15, 2014 at 6:46 PM)
whatever the reason Bulgarian collectors have not registered, according to Bulgarian law, there is not a licit market. Furthermore, I don't know about you, but I do not believe that I should participate in theft by rationalizing that other people participate in theft.
 But coin collectors commonly believe in a two wrongs make a right, and furthermore see no ethical conflict there at all. We see them applying precisely that class of justification time and time again.



Cultural Property Observer said...

As for the Bulgarian internal market, it's my understanding based on reading of newspaper reports and Bulgarian sources, under a Bulgarian constitutional court ruling an invoice is all that is necessary to provide proof of legal ownership for purposes of registration, but as noted in the Center for Democracy report (don't be coy about this), most of Bulgaria's collectors don't register, likely for fear of then being robbed by dirty Bulgarian cops. Another friend of mine who has a friend in Bulgaria also notes that recently excavated coins are openly available for sale in at least one of Bulgaria's major towns. And as far as I know, there are no effective restrictions on Bulgarians importing what they like. Why should the US impose burdens on its own citizens when Bulgaria does not really enforce its own laws at home? US import restrictions won't solve Bulgaria's major corruption problem or its failure to pass and enforce reasonable laws on metal detecting like the Treasure Act and PAS.

Paul Barford said...

I really am wasting my time posting and answering this, aren't I? You are simply not a BIT interested in listening to what other people say, obviously.

You are happy publishing your mate's insulting comments about other guests on your blog, but when it comes down to conducting a civilised discussion, you are a lost cause. This is why I write about collectors, not for them.

Mr Tompa, WE HAVE BEEN THROUGH THE BULGARIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT RULING BEFORE. It was overturned, I wrote about it the last time you cited it, I GAVE you the link to the CURRENT law. Twice. You obviously did not read it, or if you did, you've forgotten it. QED.

You are obviously happy going round and round in circles, getting nowhere and absorbing nothing. I am not.

Furthermore, it obviously is not I who is the one "coy" about saying what source YOU were quoting.

What is openly on offer does not equate with what is legal. There are forests near here on the main road to the border where you can have your pick of all sorts of exotic prostitutes, if you come to Warsaw, I'll take you there. The fact that they are standing there openly by the road in salacious attire makes human trafficking or prostitution neither legal or moral. Whatever coin collectors think, two wrongs do not make a right.

If you know of "no effective restrictions....", then you've obviously not read properly the report you yourself cite , because there they are listed. Pp. 189-90 and ff.

I am sure others would argue in the same way as you, "why should the US fight human trafficking when it is obvious that these people are where they are because the country they come from did not prevent them being taken out..."? Answer that one yourself. And you are right, why should the US care about ANYTHING at all? My guess is that the US is (despite Guantanamo, NSA, CIA black sites, the drone assassinations and a few other things) on the whole a civilised country and concerned about what is happening in the world. Sometimes even altruistically - like the rest of us.

I think the US probably has interests at home too, fighting organized criminal groups which move all sorts of things across US borders. Note the subject of the report you yourself cited, and then think what that MEANS for your country. Join the dots Mr Tompa, don't just blinker up and think only of yourself. Can you do that?

Or will you be dropping Arthur Houghton III a line urging him to use your blog to denigrate and insult me some more on your behalf?

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