Sunday 18 December 2016

Like a Scratched record: Dealers' Lobbyist on 'Virtual Due Diligence'

The way the lobbyists for the dealers in such a specific commodity as dug up antiquities drag out the same time-worn arguments to justify lack of responsibility is pretty wearing. Here is Bailey and Ehrenberg's Peter Tompa again dodging the question on the thread of Abu Sayyaf II on the Chasing Aphrodite blog.
Paul Barford
Mr Tompa, you have not answered the question. HOW can we prevent items like those coins being sold under the conditions which exist in the market in the situation you describe where (you say) since the writing of the 1970 Convention, the majority of dealers handling imported dugup material have refused to keep any of the documentation for anything and people say not to bother about due diligence if ‘common sense’ says its not worth bothering about because carefree collectors will buy the lot regardless?
Can you tell us how to define a “reputable source’ and how that actually would help not buying the other things Mr Lal knows about on Abu Sayyaf’s hard drive which are NOT in this lawsuit? How would the average US dealer getting coins from (say) Munich, know a picture of that item is not on that hard drive? What kind of due diligence, not requiring any existing paperwork, could actually be done?
The reply, without the clownish ad personam arguments which serve only as a smokescreen
  • Peter Tompa
    [...]  Best advice. Buy from trusted sources. Buying from dealers who are members of trade associations with ethics rules good idea for collectors. Dealers need to assess the source of their own purchases. Levels of due dilligence will depend on the source. Obviously, buying from a collector you have known for decades different than buying from someone you don’t personally know. It will depend on the facts and circumstances of the individual transaction.

So, Mr T. is claiming that no dealer who handles smuggled stuff can be a member of "trade associations with ethics rules". I think that shows the value of this man's powers of "observation" and depth of his memory about the details of recent cases against dealers...

It is not enough for "dealers to assess the source of their own purchases" based on "feelings"  [' You've Got to Get That Feeling: Allegedly, the "Right Way" to Collect "Artefacts with Limited Provenance" ' PACHI Tuesday, 6 September 2016]. That cannot be passed on to purchasers who will need to pass it on to those who come after them.

"Knowing somebody personally" is not enough . Mr Hecht was known personally to a lot of collectors, dealers and museum curators. As is Mr Malter, Schulz , Mousa (Morris) Khouli  and a few others who have been considered by all of them to be "reputable". So, I ask again just what is a "reputable source" of dugup antiquities when it is clear that the dealer concerned cannot show a shred of hard evidence to uphold his claims? On what is trust to be based, and what do you do with an artefact that you bought on trust from a dealer who is subsequently arrested for dodgy dealing? What is that trust worth? And who will be next behind bars? 

Yes, it 'depends on the facts and circumstances of the individual transaction', in buying antiquities licitness depends on establishing the facts and circumstances of the individual transaction. A dealer who cannot facilitate that can only have a 'reputation' for selling stuff one can only guess at how it came onto the market.

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