Wednesday, February 1, 2012

US State Department Helps Ship Auction House Jobs to China

The time was that Sotheby's and Christies did a lot of auction business involving ancient and modern Chinese art. These started as historic UK companies, but now they have large establishments in NY. Now, however, Chinese auction houses have begun to dominate the trade in part due to the monopoly afforded them in sales of Chinese artifacts by both the Chinese and US Governments. See

Isn't this more evidence that the State Department's MOU with China has done little but helped Chinese auction houses monopolize the trade in ancient art?


Paul Barford said...

How awful, Chinese antiques and antiquities being bought and sold in China, to CHINESE collectors and dealers ! Doesn't it just make one's blood boil?

This is all due to the rapid modern growth of the Chinese economy. Tell me, if the USA had an ancient culture going back as long as the Chinese and even half as interesting, would not US "collectors' rights" lobbyists like your ACCG be lobbying the US government to do something to stop it all being siphoned off indiscriminately to outside (Asian) markets? Especially that part of it which was being unlawfully exported?

The fact is you do NOT have such a culture of your own and groups like ACCG are concerned to keep the flow of other people's antiquities flowing into the hands of US consumers.

Cultural Property Observer said...

So I guess its really not as you claim about protecting context by limiting sales of unprovenanced material which is sold in abundance in China?

I'm personally happy the Chinese are getting more in touch with their history (that will help avoid what happened to many artifacts during the Cultural Revolution), but It is hypocritical and discriminatory for the Chinese and their supporters in the archaeological community to bash Americans for collecting such stuff in order to justify restrictions, when Chinese are allowed to collect what they want.

And as I point out, the State Department's actions have just disadvantaged American buisiness and collectors.

Paul Barford said...

Well, let's let the Chinese sort out the regulation of the bit of the market in China, legal and illegal. That really is no US collector's or US dealer's business. What would help that along is not having a lot of unlawfully exported stuff floating around such a major market as the US one.

If cutting out UNLAWFULLY exported stuff (as per CCPIA MOU) is putting the US trade at a "disadvantage" that might indeed lead us to question just what is going on in the US market.

Cultural Property Observer said...

It certainly is our business if they want to make it difficult for us to buy what they can buy easily. It is relavant to several of the CPIA's provisions, most notably that relating to concerted international response.

Of course, the none of your business comment can easily be said about your critques from far off Poland as well.

Paul Barford said...

What they can buy easily IN China does not involve unlawful export FROM China, which is what the CCPIA regulates (defines in terms of US law). Chalk and cheese again.

Cultural Property Observer said...

So again, it's apparently not really about conservation as the archaeological community claims when it presses for restrictions, but control.