Fiction and Biographies well worth reading for those interested in cultural heritage issues:
Arthur Houghton's "Dark Athena" is a thriller based on the author's own experiences as a curator, diplomat and collector.
Gary Vikan's "Sacred and Stolen" is a biography of a museum director who has served on the Cultural Property Advisory Committee and has been involved in repatriation efforts.
But both share a world view only those who have "been there" can have-- cultural heritage issues are at best gray. They are certainly not black and white. Read them both and see.
Saturday, October 8, 2016
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hi Peter,im half way through Vikans "sacred and stolen"interesting read,walters art museum paying out $20,000 bribes ect.Arthur Houghton actually did the forward for Vikans book in which he accuses antiquities dealers of lying,shocking,they dont do that,do they!!??
he adds that secretly most directors hope to find enough ambiguity in an objects collecting history that it can be bought.at least they are being honest.i wont spoil the book for readers but it is worth a read.
Hi Kyri, I don't think you can generalize. Also, practices have changed in the past decade. Dealers should get scrutiny, but the problem is that too often it is an excuse to let source countries and archaeologists off the hook. If source countries had laws that were fairer to their citizens and looked on cultural heritage as more than a way to project nationalism, we would all be better off. Archaeologists for their part have often been far to willing to jump on the trade and collectors and far too unwilling to criticize the countries where they excavate. The other issue is that all too often what is found is not published promptly or cared for well. Lots of blame to go around.
Antiquities dealers, like other businessmen, vary. Some are outstanding, very knowledgeable and strictly ethical. Others are also strictly ethical but not as knowledgeable. And as in every field of endeavor including archaeology, there are a few "bad apples" whose ethics are not strict but sometimes "flexible." Finally there are a very few who are outright crooks. Sadigh Gallery is an example of that.
The dealers I have known - professional numismatists who also in some cases deal in other types of antiquities - have all been very ethical, and most have also been very knowledgeable. On the whole I believe they are genuine assets to society, who can be extremely supportive of collectors new to their avocation. This latter role is a special interest of mine, which is reflected in the educational and reference content of the Classical Coins website.
Dave, I'm publishing this comment, but note I do not know anything myself about Sadigh Gallery, though you are entitled to your opinion. Best, Peter
High Dave,my comment was a bit tongue in cheek,ofcourse i myself know many ethical honest dealers but i would add that i disagree with peter that "practices have changed" .they may have for the major auction houses and dealers who are in the public eye but as we have seen with the recent arrests in greece smuggling rings are still very buisy supplying dealers and small auction houses all over europe, especially in Germany.
I would reserve judgment. Still hearing about ISIS stealing billions at this late date suggests some healty skepticism may be in order whenever a government makes unsupported claims about cultural heritage matters. In case you have not noticed, Germany has become a scape goat for Greek politicians and bureaucrats.
Regarding Sadigh Gallery, a great deal has been said on the AncientArtifacts list about this notorious fraudster. Nearly everything offered for sale in that gallery is, allegedly, a modern reproduction.
Your comments regarding what is happening in Europe and especially Germany may, or may not, have merit. I can't judge that from this distance. But I do not think that sort of activity is rampant in North America, or elsewhere in the English speaking world. It does sometimes regrettably occur, but is very far from being the norm.
In discussing unethical practices among antiquities dealers it is important to remember that criminal activity of a like nature is encountered in many other areas of commerce.
Authenticity is a quality that is often falsified for illicit gain, especially in the cases of luxury branded merchandise and "certified" repair parts for vehicles, including aircraft. It has, in the past, even been falsified for French wine.
The solution to controlling such illicit practices is not to ban the acquisition and sale of such goods, nor to impose heavy handed regulation upon those trading in them, but to define such practices as crimes and then to police the markets for these goods.
Put the crooks behind bars, and leave honest merchants and their customers free to carry on commerce without obstructive over-regulation.
"healty skepticism may be in order whenever a government makes unsupported claims about cultural heritage matters"
when a car is stoped at the border and the bumpers are stuffed with over 2000 ancient coins and antiquities i dont see where skepticism comes into it.add the fact that the car was regularly recorded as having been driven to Germany its not rocket science to assume that the pieces were headed there.these days with instant car recognition devices at every border its easy for border agencys to track a cars movements.add to this the utter stupidity of the looters,keeping meticulous records of find spots,taking photos and keeping details of where the looted pieces were sold [i would have thought that after medici these crooks would have known better]
Apparently the police know which auction houses have sold these pieces,im sure we have not heard the last of this.Germany is the hub of laundering antiquities and ancient coins in europe and has been for years.this is a well known fact.the due diligence done by most German auction houses is non existent.i know a few british dealers who often send pieces to Germany to sell because london auction houses wouldnt touch them.i myself have been a victim of this by buying a piece with a made up history.as for Greece blaming the Germans for everything well if you do a bit of research as to who is gaining from all this austerity imposed on the Greek people you will find that the EU [or Germany because it is their show] deserve all the derision they get,im just glad hear in the uk we voted to get out of the EU.
Let's wait and see then which auction houses. Now that Germany has tough laws, they will probably be prosecuted if there is anything really there. Not sure German taxpayers that happy about all the Euros that have been dumped into Greece either. Perhaps the real villain is Goldman Sachs who evidently helped the Greek government fudge the books so they could get into the Euro Zone. In retrospect, that was a major mistake that has led to lots of misery in Greece.
hi Peter,yes i fully agree about Goldman sachs,you can add to that a plethora of German companies in bending the rules to open credit lines for Greece, especially the German arms dealers.as for the Euros dumped into Greece,if you honestly believe that money is going to the Greek people your mistaken,%85 of the bailout money is going straight back out to German and french banks.even with this refinancing of their banks through the back door Deutsche bank and one or two others are on the brink but were going a bit off topic hear.
No disagreement. I personally think Greece should have never gone on a Euro standard and perhaps should go back to the Drachma. It would give the government lots more flexibility than it has had to deal with the crisis. But you are right, way off topic.
Off topic I know.
It's all very well for kyri to divert blame to Germany for Greeces's financial ills, but the truth is that had the Greeks paid their taxes (like the rest of us) and not turned tax dodging into a national pastime they would not be in the mess they are in now. Thier financial bail-out hinges on the fiscal conditions of those countries who have played the tax game and are having to pay for the Greeks' irresponsibility. As the Greeks sowed, so must the Greeks reap.
Thank God Britain is not in the Euro. Long live Brexit. The British taxpayer is sick and tired of bailing-out the sick and lazy men of Europe.
Hi john,in fact you couldnt be further from the truth,the EU commissioned think tank in 2013 said that the greeks work the longest hours of any other EU country and take the fewest holidays.one thing greeks are not is lazy.
im not sure if the link works but it is a BBC article but many more from other sources.sadly your right about the tax evasion.as for brexit im glad we agree on something.
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