Thursday, November 5, 2009

Wealthy Source Country Collectors Change the Dynamics on the Ground

Bloomberg reports on wealthy Mainland Chinese collectors purchasing high quality Chinese artifacts at sales in London. See

Another related phenomenon is a growing class of wealthy collectors purchasing artifacts at home before they go into the international marketplace. The recent controversies surrounding Bulgaria's new cultural property law stem from the fact that increasingly wealthy Bulgarians can now afford to collect artifacts from Bulgaria's rich past.

This is a good thing. It will likely promote more balanced approaches to cultural heritage preservation. That is so because home grown collectors now have an interest in making their own voices heard when it comes to cultural property legislation. This has already happened in Bulgaria, and will likely also happen in other source countries where collecting is done quite openly, like in the People's Republic of China.

Whatever the impact of wealthy source country collectors on source country legislation, increasingly, the claim that "artifacts are looted so they can be smuggled abroad" strays even further away from the dynamics on the ground.

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