Thursday 13 February 2020

The "Self-Policing" of the Antiquities Market

Lottsa Looted Buddhas
Nineteen individuals on just one group, openly discussing buying looted 'art'...  (Lynda Albertson, 'Nineteen profiles, posting to just one thread, within one private group, on one social media site. How many more are out there just like this one?' ARCABlog Thursday, February 13, 2020). They were being sold in Hong Kong and had earlier arrived "on the same day" in two or three dealers' shops (there?) "in three batches of about 150 to 200 pieces each", allegedly from a single place in Shanxi. There is a lot of self-righteous discussion from members. The seller admits:
They came in batches of hundreds.... some poor temples raided. I had first pick, perks being good friend of dealer and selected the best ones. They were all gone within 2 weeks, a Korean bought the whole lot and shipped them to Korea. Any thoughts most welcomed!
My thought is to ask trade lobby groups (such as the American 'Committee for Cultural Policy, the Association for Collectiors and Dealers of Ancient and Ethnographic Art, Peter Tompa etc etc) to comment. This dealer, since the 1990s has contacts with a dealer that has many, many more, they held the items in storage over 20 years so the trail would go cold (a common practice), and are now releasing them in 'batches of hundreds' onto the international market. Group Member 1 is not a small scale one-off dealer operating from the back room of a suburban bungalow in Hollwood. Despite trade denials, this is the true public face of the collecting of portable antiquities today, and the state of its alleged "self policing", and they surely cannot deny it. This market needs better regulation, NOW.

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