I asked anti-American, anti-collector Paul Barford a simple question in the comments section to a recent post where he quotes a US Customs official as suggesting that exporting coins from Bulgaria constituted "cultural theft." He's chosen not to post my question on his blog (despite claiming he posts all comments) or answer my simple question so I'll ask it here.
How can a Bulgarian coin imported into the US be considered "stolen" cultural property of Bulgaria when the exact same types of coins are legally available for sale there?
This, of course, is more a question for US Customs than for Mr. Barford. If the US Customs official in question believes that any illegal export from Bulgaria constitutes a theft, that would be contrary to the US law he has sworn to uphold. While Bulgaria has asked the US to impose import restrictions on cultural goods, that request has not yet been acted upon by the US State Department and US Customs. And even if import restrictions are imposed, illegal import does not constitute theft under any application of US law. Rather, import without the appropriate documentation would constitute a violation of the import controls of the Cultural Property Implementation Act. There is a difference between illegal export, illegal export and theft, despite what some archaeologists (and apparently some US Customs officials) believe.