Saturday, June 2, 2012

AIA Posts Pics from Posh Party

The Archaeological Institute of America has posted pictures of “the beautiful people” attending its posh gala in New York. See

Talk about “the One Percent!”

Certainly, the optics of such an event do not square very well with the rhetoric one sometimes hears at Cultural Property Advisory Committee meetings and elsewhere vilifying “wealthy collectors” and US business.  Or perhaps, it is just done for effect.


kyri said...

come on peter,archaeologists are not well paid and it is their dedication that drives them not money,especially when they are on an excavation,i once read that archaeologists dug through 2 tons of shit in pompey in search of knowledge not treasure.thats dedication.

Cultural Property Observer said...

I'm not sure I get your point. This blog is not about the dedication of archaeologists, what they may be paid or whether they have family money or not. It is about members of the AIA on one hand vilifying the wealthy before a government body while at the same time they seek money from the exact same sort of people. In fact, I have it on good authority that some wealthy collectors remain AIA supporters. I guess they are either oblivious to the AIA's stance or think what they say does not apply to them.

kyri said...

they dont "vilify" wealthy people,only those that deal and collect antiquities in an unethical manner.they are not some anti wealth communist a fundraiser what do you expect them to do,hire out a mcdonalds,of course they are going to try to woo the wealthy,everyone else does.they probably do have some wealthy collectors who are supporters,maybe these collectors feel they have nothing to fear from the AIA as they are not buying illicit antiquities or importing them illegally.

Cultural Property Observer said...

Well, how sure are you of what you state? Are you aware of the collector equals looter mantra? Are you aware that the AIA holds that any object without a verifiable provenance back to 1970 should be treated as stolen? That is how they define ethical. Is your own collecting ethical under their standards?

kyri said...

i dont tink ANY collection has verifiable provenance back to 1970 for every piece,including my own.i agree with you that there are alot of licit pieces that have simply lost their provenance but there is collecting [trying to do the right thing as best one can] and collecting, not giving a damn where the piece came from.
personaly i would not buy a piece without some kind of provenance.i wouldnt buy a greek helmet or vase without verifiable provenance going back at least 20-25 years[unfortunately thats as good as it gets most times],i know that this is not perfect in many archaeological circles,as we have a date of 1970 set in stone but if i stuck to the 1970 date i wouldnt be able to buy hardly anythng.most of my greek armour came from the axle guttman collection,its all publshed and has been displayd with a provenance going back to the midd 1980s at best,that for me is as good as it gets.having no provenance on pieces is inexcusible. you and i know there are still unscrupulous dealers buying stuff they know is illicit and selling it on to collectors,who in some cases also know the pieces are not talking about $10 coins,i wouldnt expect provenance for very minor pieces but anything i buy over £1.5k i want to know at least who ownd it before me and where they bought it from. unless these pieces materialised out of thin air, this information has to be available.
christian levette,the owner of the mougins museum,in my eyes is the ideal modern ethical collector,buying things with provenance[again most pieces dateing only back to the midd 80s but at least he knows they didnt come out of the ground yesterday]and than putting his private collection on display for all the world to see.this shows that one can collect ethicaly and still put a magnificent collection together.
as for the AIA i have never read or seen on their website the
"collector equals looter mantra"nor have i ever seen anything saying they want to ban collecting alltogether.

Cultural Property Observer said...

For more on the AIA's position, see

Cultural Property Observer said...

For more on the claim that collectors are the real looters, see

Paul Barford said...

So, no-questions-asked collecting of dugup archaeological artefacts is "history for everyman" or a way for the wealthy to display their wealth? It is "research" or trophies?

Kyri is right, the AIA do not "vilify the wealthy", they express disapproval of the no-questions-asked trade in dugup antiquities.

This they do for a very good reason, the one Renfrew and Elia point out.

Do the ANS not have "beautiful" people at their events?

Cultural Property Observer said...

Well, if the AIA thinks collecting anything without a provenance back to 1970 is unethical, then all collectors-- Kyri included (and presumably you too with your rare Japanese prints) are unethical, no? And before you say prints are not "from the ground", frankly UNESCO does not care.

And, I'm glad you think ANS "coineys" are "beautiful people." I'm not aware of the ANS vilifying wealthy collectors though as the AIA does, are you?