The Museum Security Network: http://groups.google.com/group/museum-security-network?hl=en has highlighted a LA Times series on Roxanna Brown, an expert in Southeast Asian antiquities who died in federal custody in May. As Ton Cremers notes, "Her arrest was part of the federal investigation that led to museum raids in January. She led a fascinating and ultimately tragic life that gets at many of the troubling aspects of the antiquities trade."
The latest LA Times story can be found here: http://www.latimes.com/roxanna Cremers indicates the other stories will be archived there as well. While one should not condone smuggling or efforts to cheat the tax man, federal investigators have probably overreached on claiming that artifacts were "stolen" from Thailand from the start. See:http://www.accg.us/issues/news/old-pots-cops-paint-as-201chot201d-sold-openly-in-thailand/?searchterm=Thailand
As set forth in this link, the same types of artifacts that the government claims are "stolen" are openly available for sale in Thailand itself. Moreover, Thailand had not even bothered to sign the 1970 UNESCO Convention. See: http://exchanges.state.gov/culprop/unesco02.html Thus, Thailand even lacks standing to ask the United States to impose import restrictions on these artifacts in support of Thai export controls.
Under the circumstances, I find it troubling that the Government has pursued this matter in such a heavy-handed fashion. These tactics have already cost Ms. Brown her life. The lawsuit that her family has brought is also likely to cost the government dearly as well.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
LA Times Series on Roxanna Brown, an Expert in Southeast Asian Antiquities Who Died in Federal Custody
Posted by Cultural Property Observer at 7:32 AM
Labels: CPIA, NSPA, Roxanna Brown, stolen antiquities, Thailand, UNESCO Convention
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What a sad story--apparently intelligence can't figure out who has WMDs but investigators will go on a decade long fishing expedition to nab a little old lady for some antiquities infractions--what a joke. Well I hope the cultural properety crusaders are happy--there is one less 'evil-doer' around looting tombs and messing up there data points.
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