Monday 12 May 2014

US Collectors: "OUR Spoils from Egypt"

Modern US Monuments Men in Action, Baghdad 2003

Cultural Property Observer is getting very agitated that nobody much has responded to his call to oppose imposition of US customs controls over smuggling of Egyptian artefacts. Note the language he uses here: ' Trophy Room Readied for Spoils from Egyptian MOU?'. What he terms "spoils" would however be objects which US dealers and collectors had tried to import but were found lacking in legitimacy (by US law). "Spoils" and "trophies" is the language of conquest and domination, collectors and dealers of Tompa's circle evidently see this as some kind of competition, they seem to see this as Americans against the rest of the world. Tompa and friends apparently see the CCPIA as some kind of threat to US dominance and entitlement. They fail to see the damage the constant emergence of statements like this from their circle is doing to the image of the USA abroad.

Let us hope that any future (hypothetical) "spoils room" containing the results of failed attempts at smuggling artefacts remains empty, not because collectors' resistance prevented the application of legislation helpful in fighting it, but because collectors and dealers finally got around to cleaning up their act and only imported items documented in a manner to remove doubts about their licit origins at the point of entry to the US market.

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