Sunday 3 January 2021

More on the "American Council for the Preservation of Cultural Property"


The "American Council for the Preservation of Cultural Property" was set up on 16th March 2017, but has kept pretty quiet for most of the time. We note that in Non-Profit light is is listed as having three executives, all unsalaried and none of them Peter Tompa. Hmmm.   Anyway what we find in that source is that in 2018 there was in that office at 537a West 23rd Street, New York, NY 10011 the support staff of a "Council" that claimed total revenue of $20,000, but total expenses of $36,553, and net assets of $10,531. According to this source, the executives are: Randall Hixenbaugh who works as 'President' two hours a week and earns - $0. There's a Robert O'Donnell who as Treasurer can get through all the organization's paperwork and accounts in half-an-hour a week, but as such earns... $0. And then there is the Secretary, Lillian Bartlett Stoner, who is listed as working 0 hours a week, and earning.... 0$ (which is an improvement, as in Dec 2017 she was working a whole hour a week, and earning ... nothing). Now Dr Stoner is a Swiss archaaeologist who currently can be found working in Basle for Jean-David Cahn AG, where she's been since August 2018. It is not clear what Dr Stoner's qualifications for being employed as a secretary, even if nominal, of a one-man "Council" in an office in New York, when presumably more locally there are other secretaries available (though maybe not for that salary). 

Open 990 gives similar and more up-to-date information, but this time under a different address (Hixenbaugh Ancient Art, 235 E 60th St, New York City, NY 10022-1447). There, its 'primary [tax] exempt purpose' is listed as:

To promote social welfare within the meaning of section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code by means including but not limited to advancing public understanding of public policy, legal administrative issues affecting the protection and preservation of ancient art and cultural property. To represent and defend those who cherish, possess, collect, inherit, sell, study, acquire and exhibit objects of cultural property.
So to promote the social welfare of rich people, like the clients of Jean-David Cahn and Randal Hixenbaugh? Nice.

The "Council" lists as its activities "participating in public and private forums regarding cultural property" and lists its expenses for doing so: Dec 2017, $0; Dec 2018, $19,753; Dec 2019, $0.  But then in Dec 2017 we see from the same source that they had general expenses of $64 133 and 2018 they were $36,553 and in Dec 2019 the cite: $2766. Odd. Their revenue in the same period is listed as 2017: $91,217, 2018: $20,000, and 2019: $0. They received grants in 2017 ($0), 2018 ($12,000) and 2019 ($0). Assets are listed  as 2017: $7,765, 2018: $10,531, and 2019: $27,084. Now, I am no accountant, but these figures don't make a lot of sense. Something else is happening other than participating in a few forums... especially as the Internet shows few traces of participation in public ones, and no sign of any publications that would be costing that sort of money. 

Interestingly, an earlier iteration of this "American Council for the Preservation of Cultural Property" is referred to in an article in Homeland Security Today (probably to take attention off the caging of migrant children at the US border) ('Report that Antiquities Sales is Major ISIS Funding Source Disputed by Authorities' January 8, 2017 Homeland Security Today [reposted here by IADAA]):
[...] recent Homeland Security Today article [...] is refuted by Joseph Coplin, co-owner of New York antiquities dealer Antiquarium on behalf of the American Council for the Preservation of Cultural Property, and James McAndrew, the former head of the Department of Homeland Security’s International Art and Antiquity Theft Investigations Program.
(It's repeated here). Mr McAndrew's involvement with ACPCP is unclear, he's listed as their "spokesman" and on LinkdIn listed as 'Member, Board Of Directors, Company Name

American Council for the Preservation of Cultural Property' starting from Jan 2017. There the aims of ACPCP is different:

Protect and Promote dealers of ancient art and antiquity. Provide expert advice and analysis to public and private officials to combat archaeological site destruction, looting, and the illicit traffic in antiquities from foreign nations.

So is the ACPCP there to preserve American and foreign cultural property, or preserve American dealers?  

Here (United States report (Global Art and Heritage Law series) May 2020 p23), we have some more information:
Another advocacy group, the American Council for the Preservation of Cultural Property120 (ACPCP) was founded by retired U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agent James McAndrew, former head of the DHS International Art and Antiquity Theft Investigations Program. The ACPCP describes its role as representing all individuals who have a stake in the preservation of personal property rights as they relate to collecting ancient artwork. The ACPCP has been active in countering the inaccurate data on supposed links between terrorists and the antiquities trade in its advocacy work with government officials, based on its specialized experience in area of cultural property law enforcement.
Now of course there is a huge difference between "preservation of cultural property" and the preservation of personal property rights to other people's cultural property (!). I would also say the preservation of cultural property is a far wider field than merely arguing about whether "terrorists" are among those who lead to damage being done to it or not. 

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