Wednesday, December 26, 2012

SAFE No More?

A reliable source indicates that Saving Antiquities for Everyone (SAFE) is effectively dead.  While SAFE's website remains online, it has not really been updated for some time.

Certainly, SAFE has not been very active in the past year or so. And despite rumors that SAFE was planning a major conference on Turkish antiquities that was to be funded by Turkey’s U.S. lawyers, nothing ever came of it.

It does appear that a related group called "Antiquity Now" is forming on Facebook. It will be interesting to see if it becomes more active as time goes by.

I for one will not mourn the demise of SAFE.   From the start, it was highly confrontational, and brought far more heat than light to cultural property issues.


Cultural Property Observer said...

Arthur Houghton asked me to post this:

Peter, it is difficult to believe that SAFE did not bring this on itself. It was badly conceived, badly managed, badly financed, with bad ideas (lickspittle tributes to Matthew Bogdanos, the Chasing Aphrodite people and a few other strutting self-promoters, a proposed conference that was to showcase the NY law firm on contract to Turkey) and a membership seems to have drifted away. Are we surprised?

Warm best wishes for the New Year.


Cultural Property Observer said...

A Paul Kunkel called saying he was a Board Member of SAFE. He says SAFE has up to date legal filings, but when pressed, he danced around the question of whether SAFE was still an active organization. I asked him to clarify on this blog, but he refused. If anyone else can clarify the status of SAFE it would be appreciated.

Unknown said...

I am so glad you've taken notice of AntiquityNOW! I am the Social Media Director and will be handling much of the communication for the organization, so I thought I should reply to your post. We have much more planned, and we will be doing a full website launch in January. Our focus will be on exploring the links between antiquity and our present, and how antiquity still inspires us today. Through this, we hope to show how important it is to preserve cultural heritage worldwide for ourselves and future generations. We have 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsorship through Fractured Atlas. For an idea of what we're working on, please visit our temporary website at and check out our other social media accounts on Twitter (@_AntiquityNOW), Tumblr (, and Pinterest (

Cultural Property Observer said...

From your Facebook page, it seems that you are taking a very positive rather than negative tact. If so, I wish you all the bsst on your endeavor. Sadly, there has been far too much negativity in this field.

Cultural Property Observer said...

Arthur Houghton asked me to post this note:

Peter, AntiquityNow promises to be a new and prospectively positive force in the forum of ideas about the relationship of present to past, and should be encouraged. We can all agree that the study of ancient history is important; that material history should be preserved; and that antiquity sites should be protected against looting. One would hope that AntiquityNow, which seems to have a strong accent on education, will avoid polemicizing the continuing debate about who owns the past, a pitfall that SAFE fell into and almost certainly contributed to its implosion. For the moment, bravo to AntiquityNow.

David Ian said...

Wow! Thanks for this enlightening post; such useful, consequential information about cultural property issues we can't live without, fact-checked and free from innuendo, delivered with such positive tact! Ms. Goldfinger, if you mean business about "preserving cultural heritage worldwide", indeed you have found true mentors right here in the ancient coin lobby! For one. they'll show you how to win lawsuits against the government. Congratulations everybody!

Cultural Property Observer said...

While I have published David Ian's post, it represents what is wrong with elements within the archaeological lobby.

David Ian said...

Archaeological lobby? What's that? Truth is, I often agree with your viewpoints and even like reading some of your posts it's a real shame they are so often buried under all these antics you seem to feel the need to throw around from time to time. Please take this as a sincere and friendly (yes, friends do tell you what they don't like too) attempt to "talk".

Proof is in the pudding. Anyone who takes a look at SAFE's web site will see a wealth of content that is unmatched by any other organization of this sort (Trafficking Culture seems to be doing this too, which is encouraging). Is their "tact" negative and confrontational? Anyone who can read will agree that the answer is no. Was (Is) SAFE "badly conceived, badly managed, badly financed, with bad ideas and a membership [that] seems to have drifted away"? Who knows? And frankly, who cares? For me, if a bad organization has this much to show for I wish they would keep up the "bad" work. Do I like everything SAFE does? Do I always agree with them? No!!! But still, hurling empty accusations without evidence only makes you look bad.

And I'm sorry, your endorsement of burgeoning effort that has yet to show its point and prove its purpose is equally meaningless, and can only be conceived as another cheap at SAFE.

What is puzzling is that if SAFE is so worthless, why do you even talk about them? Why care? It looks to me you are miffed because they never appear to even mention you or this blog. Finally, I see that the only time your blog gets a number of comments is when you hurl these laughable attacks. See what I mean?

These antics make you look desperate for attention.

In the truest spirit of the holidays, stop it, please. If you reject this comment, you will have proven me right that are that predictable.

Cultural Property Observer said...

I'm not sure if this is directed at Arthur Houghton or me. We are not the same people. I've posted his comment because he has trouble getting past the comment moderation software.

Anyway, here is a response. SAFE and AIA and CAARI are advocacy organizations. They have all lobbied decision makers though SAFE and CAARI have tried to suggest the IRS rules that don't count lobbying the administration for purposes of determining tax exempt status means they are not lobbying at all. That is just plain silly.

SAFE and Trafficing Culture come to the table with agendas, which means they traffic in one sided coverage of issues. Take the Treasure Act and PAS for example. Each seem hostile to it so they don't cover its successes.

SAFE certainly has been confrontational at CPAC meetings, going so far to claim that anyone who buys an unprovenanced antiquity (which includes most coins) is supporting terrorism. Just crazy.

Finally, if a blog that puts forth a point of view is "self-promotion," then I guess my blog is self-promotion, but I certainly have not benefitted from it financially or professionally as far as I can tell. If anything, it has taken away time from other "more profitable" things.

David Ian said...

Gosh, this is hopeless. Here's my last comment: As I said before, you need to substantiate your claims. I'd ask you to show me where SAFE "claims that anyone who buys an unprovenanced antiquity (which includes most coins) is supporting terrorism" but don't bother as I'm not coming back to this blog, I can read their statements online.

Nonprofits exist because of agendas. They're called missions, successful nonprofits articulate them clearly. So "coming to the table (which table?) with an agenda" is absolutely correct. If "putting forth a point of view" is what you do, should I then call you hostile, confrontational? Or does that only apply to those who don't agree with you?

"Self[-]promotion" is not the same as desperate for attention. I said you looked like the latter, and never mentioned or even thought of financial gains or money. Really, if you want to benefit from these antics, I'd strongly recommend you consider other options. Perhaps put your fertile imagination to better use? Just kidding...

Sadly, you keep digging yourself deeper in your hole by muddling things up further. You've lost me. Good luck and God bless!

Cultural Property Observer said...

For evidence of SAFE and claims collectors support terrorism, see

I could make a far more direct link between archaeologists and terrorist regimes like Saddam's Iraq, which archaeologists supported against international sanctions.

I won't bother to respond to your other comments.