Monday, September 9, 2013

No Answer

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.


Paul Barford said...

I was out this morning. So, if the ongoing investigation brings one or more US coin dealers to court, you will defend them (if asked) using that defence?

This really is getting rather repetive, you seem unable to take new facts on board.

Last time we discussed this, I gave you the link to the updated law. Did you read it? Here is is again:
[ ]Promulgated, SG, No. 19/13.03.2009,[...] amended and supplemented, SG No. 82/26.10.2012, effective

Look at Art. 1, 2, 7(4), 93-5, collections: 97(6), 98(3), 108-110 etc.

It seems to me you are wrong to suggest that a Bulgarian collector can operate in the same way as a US one. You see they need much more documentation to make their items licit, pieces of paper documenting collecting history.

Cultural Property Observer said...

To support a claim of theft, under US law the foreign law must vest clear title in the State and that law must be actively enforced. I don't view the provisions you cite as doing that and there remains a free trade in such coins in Bulgaria, so the point stands.

Paul Barford said...

The point *does not 'stand'* because it seems to me that you have not actually read the act with any thoroughness:
"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?"

They are only legally on sale under the specific conditions set out in Bulgarian law, which you seem to wilfully be ignoring.

I really cannot see how you determine that Bulgarian law does not "vest clear title in the State". It quite clearly does. Read it again. Look for example at the section on "archaeological survey". Look at Art 93(3) if in any doubt.

Cultural Property Observer said...

You need to re-read the Second Circuit's decision in the Schultz case. Contrast Egypt's approach to antiquities with Bulgaria's. They are fundamentally different, particularly when you compare Egypt's approach to antiquities and Bulgaria's approach to coins. I see no indication Bulgaria vests title in all coins in the State-- possession and ownership by individuals is allowed. The fact that there may be some conditions is irrelevant to the legal analysis.