Sunday 13 November 2016

What is in those Freeports?

Since, through the art market's total non-transparency, we do not know what dealers and middlemen have stashed away anywhere, who can say this is not, in fact true (Cahal Milmo, 'Treasures worth billions 'hidden' in free ports to fund Isis' iNews November 13th 2016)?

It is more than likely that a group under pressure, as ISIL is, will be trying to siphon away and secure what assets it can, as will key individuals within it - as happened in the Second World War. And the freeports are as good a place as any for the storage of these assets. When are the Monuments Men going into Swiss vaults to find out?
One immediate concern is whether rules requiring disclosure of the “beneficial owner” of an antiquity will have the effect of disclosing the real owners of the offshore companies in whose name deposits are often made.
But then, if we accept that the cultural heritage is the heritage of us all, why should individual entities appropriating bits of it for private or corporate profit expect to be able to do so in secrecy? By what rights do they claim that we do not have a right to know about their activities with our heritage?

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