Thursday, June 7, 2012

"Blood Antiquities" or Stale Claim Against Legally Obtained Cultural Goods?

I am struck by the contrast between Sotheby's well-reasoned legal analysis of why the government's forfeiture action against its consigner's Cambodian statue should be dismissed and this well-written CNN opinion piece prepared by advocates for Cambodia.

Unfortunately, Sotheby's brief is not available on-line unless one has a "Pacer" account with the U.S. Court System.   However, "Cultural Heritage Lawyer" and former SAFE VP Rick St.  Hilaire has provided us with his own analysis.  Though St. Hilaire is also associated with the archaeological community, his summary does appear to convey most of Sotheby's arguments accurately.

It will be interesting to read the Government's response. But why has the U.S. Government taken sides at all?   Cambodia has plenty of friends in the archaeological community, including more than a few lawyers.   They should be pursuing any claims Cambodia may have rather than making the U.S. taxpayer foot the bill for such a stale claim that dates back at least to the 1970's (if you believe the Government) or perhaps far earlier (if you believe Sotheby's).

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