Thursday, April 20, 2017

ICE Sends Roman Coins From Middle East To Italy Because Roman Means Italian?

While Customs rightly repatriated manuscripts back to Italy in a ceremony today in Boston, as CPO pointed out back in 2015, Roman coins from Middle Eastern mints are an entirely different matter.  Hopefully, someone in the Trump Administration will catch onto this example of ICE overreach. This is yet another situation where the importer appears to have had a viable defense to forfeiture, but the cost of legal services greatly exceeds the value of the subject coins.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Pointing Fingers the Wrong Way?

A well known scholar who would like to remain anonymous asks if  fingers are being pointed the wrong way after the Cleveland Museum voluntarily repatriated a Roman portrait bust to Italy.

I suppose you have heard the story of this marble head in Cleveland, that either has been, or is in the process of being, returned to Italy because it turns out that it was stolen from the museum in Sessa Aurunca in 1944. The usual suspects are making rude remarks and pointing fingers about it, but, in fact, I think it might be a very good and exemplary story for you to tell on your blog.
The big thing is that it, and another piece, appeared at auction in Paris in 2004 - illustrated - but no one said peep about them. Apparently two Italian scholars wrote about the head around the time Cleveland acquired it, illustrating, FINALLY, record photos of a number of heads from Sessa that were discovered in excavations there in 1926. I want to stress the fact that despite there being record photos, taken in 1926, of some sculpture stolen in 1944, those photos were never publicly shown prior to 2011 or so!!! In any case, we can be sure that Cleveland actually did everything that was normally and humanly possible to do when they acquired the piece in 2012. The story they had: that the head was from a collection in France, brought there from Algeria in 1960 (when A was part of France), and previously in a collection in Algeria (they said since the 19th century), was by no means implausible. In any case, the possibility that the head had been looted in Sessa by French troops from Algeria in 1944 would go far to explain the head's supposed Algerian origins.

That the head should go back to Sessa is clear: it is modern war loot. But when does the story end? The way the usual suspects use the story to attack the "bad" American museum and the "bad" dealer, but say poo about the fact that a clear photograph, that was in existence by 1926 of an object that was stolen in 1944, remained unpublished until 2011/2013 or so is an even greater scandal!  

Thursday, April 6, 2017

District Court Rules in Government's Favor in Long Running Forfeiture Action

The ACCG will likely appeal Judge Blake's ruling largely favoring the government in the long running forfeiture case.  It's important to defend the principle that the government must make out every element of its prima facie case before it can take private property.  More here.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

President Putin Awards Russia's Highest Honor to Two American Archaeological Advocacy Groups

CPO republishes this post from "Patriotic Russia Today" and hopes the reader will draw their own conclusions.

President Putin Awards Russia's Highest Honor to Two American Archaeological Advocacy Groups

President Putin has designated two American Archaeological advocacy groups, "Saving Antiquities from Everyone" and the "Context Coalition,"  Heros of the Russian Federation for their efforts to spotlight Islamic State looting and destruction of Syrian cultural sites.

The groups' extensive media efforts-- funded with the generous support of the Geldman Sox investment bank-- have not only exposed the problem of greedy Western collectors and museums and their desire to own Syrian cultural patrimony.  In addition, their work has sown confusion and suspicion within terrorist ranks.  Patriotic Russia Today has learned from sources within our glorious military intelligence service, the GRU, that the groups' social media efforts have also directly led to the execution of some key Caliphate financiers who could not explain why they never turned over a reported  $7 billion in funds made from stolen antiquities to their brother terrorists.  A mission well done!

In a break with tradition, the award ceremony will take place not at the Kremlin, but at the posh headquarters of Geldman Sox in New York.  There, it is also expected to be announced that Geldman Sox will provide financing to the legitimate Assad government for restoring Aleppo, another victim of the destruction wrought by Islamic terrorists.  Yes, there will be much to celebrate.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Cultural Heritage Center Faces Budget Cuts

The State Department's Cultural Heritage Center (CHC) along with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) faces severe cuts in the Trump Administration's Budget proposal.  That proposal,

"Reduces funding for the Department of State's Educational and Cultural Exchange (ECE) Programs. ECE resources would focus on sustaining the flagship Fulbright Program, which forges lasting connections between Americans and emerging leaders around the globe.”

While the CHC's programs have been characterized as "soft power" diplomatic efforts, its MOUs have devolved into special interest programs that only benefit small numbers of archaeologists and foreign cultural bureaucracies that offer them excavation permits. Meanwhile, associated embargoes on cultural goods have thoroughly alienated large numbers of legitimate dealers and collectors both here and abroad. So, any supposed "soft power" benefits may in reality be deficits as far as the most of the general public is actually concerned.

It may be too much to hope for, but going forward the Trump State Department CHC should consider retooling to promote people to people cultural exchange that sees collecting as an asset and not an enemy.  Such an inclusive vision would increase CHC's popularity dramatically and help stave off any budget cuts going forward.  

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Short Comment Period for Proposed MOUs with Belize, Guatemala and Mali

Regulations.gov is now accepting public comments for the Cultural Property Advisory Committee's review of proposed renewals of MOUs with Belize, Guatemala and Mali.  Simply click on the above link, read the background information and then click on the blue "Comment Now" button to make your views known.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Antiquities Coalition Chief of Staff: "Dealers Don't Have Civil Rights!"

FROM TWITTER:

Katie A. Paul‏

@AnthroPaulicy

Katie A. Paul Retweeted Peter Tompa

What a shameful accusation to compare the plight of antiquities dealers to those fighting for civil rights. Dealers don't have civil rights!

Katie A. Paul added,
Peter Tompa @Aurelius161180
@AnthroPaulicy No, stance this is a drop in the bucket and does not justify efforts to undercut collectors' and dealers civil rights.


No wonder why the Antiquities Coalition apparently thinks the burden of proof should be shifted away from the government and onto collectors and dealers to prove their collections are "licit" under obscure foreign laws, many of which are the products of dictatorships like that of Egypt.