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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Stealing From Inside the Museum - Egyptian Artifacts Theft in Long Island Proves the Point

Loss prevention at a museum starts by examining internal practices. When pieces are missing from a museum, the first place to look for a suspect is inside. Fortunately, a museum's risk can be reduced by performing thorough background checks on prospective employees and by creating moderate institutional oversight practices.

While the vast majority of museum employees are honest and trustworthy, there are many unfortunate instances where missing objects turn up in the hands of museum workers. Last week the New York Post reported that a federal court sentenced the director of the Long Island University Hillwood Museum to a year and a day in prison plus a $5000 fine for stealing Egyptian artifacts from his own museum. Barry Stern admitted to exacting revenge on his employer when his contract as museum director was not renewed. He worked 22 years for the university.

The Post describes how Stern stole the artifacts from the museum, brought them to Christie's for auction, and claimed they came from the Barry Stern collection. Records of the objects' existence at the Hillwood Museum were wiped out. The pieces earned Stern $51,500.

(As a side note, one wonders how the auction house failed to conduct enough due diligence regarding the provenance of the objects, particularly where the pieces presumably had accession numbers associated with the objects.)

The International Foundation for Cultural Property Protection helps cultural institutions minimize the risk of theft. Any of our colleagues can assist museums with internal loss prevention. www.ifcpp.org


Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/li_museum_director_sentenced_for_m8ewK4q1OIOWlINeCC4BRN#ixzz13BvQpl1L

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

If You Want Your Art Back, Be Mindful of the Statute of Limitations

The First Circuit Court of Appeals decided the case of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston v. Seger-Thomschitz on October 14, 2010. Claudia Seger-Thomschitz, the heir of art collector Oskar Reichel, contacted the Museum of Fine Arts to reclaim Two Nudes by Oskar Kokoschka. Seger-Thomschitz argued that the painting left the hands Reichel because of Nazi coercion.

The Museum of Fine Arts spent 18 months researching the issue and concluded that Reichel sold the painting voluntarily. The Boston Globe published criticisms of this view in a May 2008 article. Nevertheless, the MFA sought an order from federal district court declaring that the museum legitimately owned the painting. The lower court ruled that the MFA rightfully owned the painting, and the court of appeals has now affirmed this decision.

The basis of the court of appeal's opinion is threefold. First, the district court's grant of a favorable judgment for the museum was proper on statute of limitations grounds because Seger-Thomschitz did not make a demand on the MFA within the three years statute of limitations under Massachusetts law. Second, the appeals court rejected Seger-Thomschitz's weak claim that the statute of limitations should bend in the wake of the non-profit section of the federal Internal Revenue Code [501(c)(3)]. Third, the court rejected her argument that the Massachusetts statute of limitations conflicted with America's foreign policy as expressed through the Holocaust Victims Redress Act of 1998, the Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art, the Vilnius Forum Declaration, and the Terezín Declaration on Holocaust Era Assets and Related Issues. These proclamations are aspirational and not law, the court essentially declared.

The message in this case is clear: Where a party believes that art is improperly in the hands of another, the claimant must be conscious of the statute of limitations clock and perform the necessary due diligence to start a cause of action.

Two Nudes can be seen at http://www.mfa.org/collections/search_art.asp?recview=true&id=34173&coll_keywords=&coll_accession=&coll_name=two+nudes&coll_artist=Kokoschka&coll_place=&coll_medium=&coll_culture=&coll_classification=&coll_credit=&coll_provenance=&coll_location=&coll_has_images=&coll_on_view=&coll_sort=2&coll_sort_order=0&coll_view=0&coll_package=0&coll_start=1

"Holocaust Historians Blast MFA Stance in Legal Dispute," The Boston Globe, May 28, 2008 at http://www.boston.com/ae/theater_arts/articles/2008/05/28/holocaust_historians_blast_mfa_stance_in_legal_dispute/

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Statute of Limitatons to Recover Stolen Culture Lengthened in California

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law California Assembly Bill 2765. This law allows an owner of a stolen or fraudulently taken cultural object to file a lawsuit to recover the piece within six years of finding the object. This new law is significant for three reasons.

First, it doubles the time an aggrieved party can recover an object of "historical, interpretive,scientific, cultural, or artistic significance" that has been stolen or taken by fraud or duress

Second, the law enacts the "actual discovery" rule. That means that the six year clock only starts to run once the original owner actually discovers the wherabouts of the cultural object.

Third, the law is retrospective. The legislature specifically stated that the law "shall apply to all pending and future actions commenced on or before December 31, 2017, including any actions dismissed based on the expiration of statutes of limitation in effect prior to the date of enactment of this statute if the judgment in that action is not yet final or if the time for filing an appeal from a decision on that action has not
expired, provided that the action concerns a work of fine art that was taken within 100 years prior to the date of enactment of this statute." There is no doubt then that the new law may impact Marei Von Saher's effort to move forward on her claim to recover Lucas Cranach the Elder's diptych "Adam and Eve" from the Norton Simon Museum, originally looted by the Nazis.

Read the law at http://leginfo.ca.gov/pub/09-10/bill/asm/ab_2751-2800/ab_2765_bill_20100930_chaptered.html

Saturday, October 2, 2010

CPAC public sessions on Colombia and Greece cultural property agreements coming soon

The Cultural Property Advisory Committee will be holding public sessions on October 12 and October 14, 2010 to consider renewing the cultural property protection agreement with Colombia and to consider a new agreement with Greece.

More information can be found by reading the Federal Register at http://exchanges.state.gov/media/office-of-policy-and-evaluation/chc/pdfs/2010frncpacmtg10.pdf.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

CPAC to Discuss Request by Greece for Cultural Property MoU

The United States often helps other countries whose cultural heritage is in jeopardy through bilateral agreements. These agreements come about through the Cultural Property Implemenation Act (CPIA). This federal statute gives force to the 1970 UNESCO Convention that protects cultural heritage by allowing the United States to set up import barriers to block looted and stolen cultural property from passing through our borders. It gives Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement the ability to seize illicit antiquities when smugglers try to bring them to America.

The CPIA sets up an advisory committee called the Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC) to help the White House decide whether to enter into one of these bilateral agreements that creates import restrictions.

On October 12, 2010, CPAC will meet at the State Department in Washington, DC to consider adopting an agreement with Greece to protect its archaeological heritage from looters and smugglers. Greece is where the first building blocks of western democracy were laid, so it is important that its rich history is protected.

You can lend your voice America's commitment to Greece's archaeological treasures by submitting written comments to CPAC by  September 22, 2010.

To send comments to CPAC go to www.regulations.gov and a web page will appear. In the box titled "Enter Keyword or ID" type in "DOS–2010–0339-0001" and then click on "Search." Under the "Document Type" heading, click on the box that says "Notices." Then look toward the bottom of the page to see a link that says "Submit A Comment." Click it and start writing.

Useful comments submitted to CPAC are ones that describe how
a) how US import restrictions of objects looted from archaeological sites would help to deter the destructrion of these sites, or

b) how US import restrictions on looted and smuggled archaeological objects can promote the exchange of scientifically excavated cultural materials between the United States and Greece for scientific, cultural and educational purposes.

The information described here can be found in greater detail on the Archaeological Institute of America's special web site located at www.archaeological.org/cpac. It is worth a visit to learn more.

Help protect cultural heritage by contacting CPAC and telling its members how you support adopting a bilateral agreement with Greece.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Museums and Arts Organizations At Risk for Losing IRS Tax Exempt Recognition: Is Your Organization on the List?

The IRS recently published a long list of non-profits that have not filed appropriate forms for the last three years. Many museums, historical societies, and arts organizations are featured. These groups risk losing their tax-exempt status if action is not taken soon.

The IRS is giving organizations the opportunity to keep their tax-exempt recognition so long as paperwork is filed by October 15, 2010.

See if you are on the list at
http://www.irs.gov/charities/article/0,,id=225889,00.html?portlet=7.

The Display of Art - A Fiduciary Duty of the Museum

Recently Eli Broad, art collector and philanthropist, told the American Association of Museums about its members' duty to take art out of storage and put it on display. “If 90% of your work is in storage you need to begin lending it to other institutions. Get art out of the basements,” The Art Newspaper reported.

The fiduciary duties of care, loyalty, and obedience obligate art museums to display their works. Museums are generally institutions legally formed for the public good. They hold works in trust for the viewing public. When works are accessioned and not displayed, museum boards of directors may be putting themselves at risk of violating their fiduciary duties.

While these duties have not been traditionally enforced by state attorneys general, the rise in deaccessions by institutions to raise revenue for operating costs could prompt greater scrutiny of these fiduciary duties. Taking works out of the basement makes good legal sense.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Invest in Museum Risk Management - Don't Always Count on Someone Being There When Disaster Strikes

Back in June 2008 flooding damaged areas of Iowa. One place hit by the rising waters was the University of Iowa's (UI) art museum. The good news is that the Figge Museum in Davenport was able to house and protect some of UI's artwork after the flood. Just as when Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana and other nearby states, several art museums came to help out institutions affected by the disaster. However, long-term help cannot always be counted on. In UI's situation, Lloyd's of London will not insure a new museum building for UI if they construct it in the same spot. And the Federal Emergency Management Agency(FEMA) has just denied UI's request for funds to help build a new museum. The lesson is that an investment in risk planning can help a cultural institution mitigate or prevent problems later.

Operation Andromeda - Carabinieri Cultural Heritage Protection Command Press Release

CONDENSED PRESS STATEMENT (TRANSLATED FROM THE ITALIAN)
Unedited original available at
www.carabinieri.it/Internet/Cittadino/Informazioni/ComunicatiStampa/2010/Luglio/20100716_100000.htm

On July 16, 2010, the Carabinieri Cultural Heritage Protection Command presented to the press ... three hundred thirty seven exceptional archaeological finds, from Lazio, Puglia, Sardinia and Magna Graecia, dating between eighth century BC and fourth century AD, and returned from Geneva, Switzerland on June 25, 2010.

Among the many outstanding heritage items are ... loutrophoros, marble statues depicting the goddess Venus, Apulian and Attic volute craters, craters mask Canosa, kylix Chalkidiki, bronzes, frescoes from Pompeii, a basket and two nuraghic warriors, whose value is determined on the illicit market based on their size in centimeters (about ten thousand euros per centimeter).

The total asset value of the works exceeds fifteen million euros. The exhibits were seized earlier this year by the Swiss authorities and by the Carabinieri, as a result of an investigation commonly known as "Andromeda" in the free port of Geneva, where they were stored by an art dealer and a Japanese Swiss businessman ....

...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

No Prison Means No Deterrence

Crimes against culture rarely appear on the radar of law enforcement authorities. And when such crimes are investigated--oftentimes after years of time and effort--many prosecutors tend to let such cases fizzle. That is what happened again today when a plea bargain was accepted in a Utah courtroom. A federal district court judge sentenced Brent Bullock to five years of probation supervision and sentenced Tammy Shumway, widow of the infamous antiquities looter Earl Shumway, to three years of court ordered supervision after a half year of home confinement.

The over two year investigation into antiquities looting and trafficking in the Four Corners area of the United States is just the latest example of intense investigative efforts being rewarded with light sentences. Five defendants have now been convicted and sentenced to no time in prison. To be fair, one of today's defendants received a time-served sentence. But serving three weeks pre-trial time in jail is different from being sentenced to jail.

Prosecutors across the country took years to recognize that domestic violence was a legitimate crime. When it was acknowledged as a crime and jail sentences were pursued by the authorities, there came a marked increase in the detection and deterrence of the criminal activity. Crimes against culture require this same kind of recognition.

That is why crimes against culture must earn meaningful court sentences that include incarceration. Weighty sentence tell other law enforcement and prosecution agencies that this crime is serious. Moreover, meaningful sentences tell other would-be grave robbers and antiquities traffickers that the price of doing illegal business by erasing history includes losing one's liberty. If the cost of site looting is of no consequence, then there is little incentive to deter a looter or trafficker.

Organizations like the Archaeological Institute of America and others must continue to educate authorities about the damage done when archaeological material is ripped from its context. That is to say, the irreparable harm caused by removing evidence of our past from the ground without proper documentation.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Gang-style art theft: Caravaggio recovered from criminal group

Ukrainian and German police recovered a Caravaggio that had been stolen from a museum in Odessa in 2008. “The Taking of Christ” was found in the hands of a criminal group that deals with high value theft. Such reports reinforce our knowledge that organized criminal activity is involved with art crime. Authorities must aggressively uncover the relationships between criminal networks and art crime in order to combat this large, global problem that funds other crimes. Today's recovery by police is welcome news.

Monday, June 21, 2010

FBI Art Program Presentation in NYC

Theft, Fraud, and Forgery: Cultural Property Crime in the U.S. and the FBI Art Theft Program

When: Thursday, July 22nd, 2010, 2:00 - 5:00 pm
Where: Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, 51 West 52nd Street, New York, New York 10019

Description:
Art crime is a multi-billion dollar endeavor that affects collectors, dealers, galleries, museums and artists world-wide. The FBI has investigated these crimes for many years, and five years ago established the Art Crime Team to develop a cadre of Special Agents trained specifically in art crime investigations. Although spectacular thefts from major museums capture the headlines, most art thefts in the U.S. are residential burglaries and art fraud is even more rampant. This talk will cover federal jurisdiction, elements of the U.S. criminal statutes, international treaties and conventions, as well as case studies of recent investigations. Basic strategies for protection of collections will also be covered.

Lecturer:
Bonnie Magness-Gardiner
Bonnie Magness-Gardiner is Manager of the Art Theft Program at the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the Art Theft Program was established after the looting of the Baghdad Museum in 2004. Dr. Magness-Gardiner coordinates the work of 13 special agents assigned to various geographic regions, and manages the National Stolen Art File. She received her Ph.D. in Near Eastern Archaeology from the University of Arizona. After teaching archaeology for five years, she entered government service as program manager for the Archaeology Program at the National Endowment for the Humanities then became a program manager for the American Memory Project at the Library of Congress. For eight years she was the Senior Cultural Property Analyst for the Department of State, implementing the 1970 UNESCO Convention against illicit traffic in cultural property. She also served as the program manager for cultural heritage restoration projects in Iraq. She has been with the FBI since 2005.

Registration Fees:

VLA Member Attorney or Arts Professional: $200
Non-Member Attorney or Arts Professional: $250

Attendees must register before July 20th and be on the security list to attend. Seating is limited to 30 people. (There is an additional $25 fee if you register after July 15th.)

*3.0 CLE credits, 1 Professional Practice, 1 Skills and 1 Ethics (Approved for Non-Transitional and Transitional Attorneys)


To register and for more information, please see this registration form, or register via phone at 212.319.2787 x1. For more information please contact VLA's Kathleen Mallaney at 212.319.2787 x12, or via e-mail at kmallaney@vlany.org.

This event is organized and sponsored by Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Art Law class in NYC

Thinking of starting a For-Profit Arts Business? Don't miss this class tomorrow!

Space is still available.

Forming Your For-Profit Arts Business

When: Thursday, June 10th, 2010, 4 - 6 p.m.
Where: VLA, 1 East 53rd Street, NY, NY 10022 (Auditorium)

(There is an additional $10 late fee if you register day of the class. Please fax your registration form in by 2:00 PM on Thursday.)

This class provides valuable information about starting an arts-related business. Covered issues also include: For vs. Non-Profit incorporation, fiscal sponsorship, selecting and protecting business names; the legal and tax characteristics of LLCs an publication requirements, partnerships, and type C and S corporations; choice of jurisdiction; financing your business; employees and independent contracts; and insurance.

This class will be taught by Elena M. Paul, Esq., VLA's Executive Director.

To register and for more information, please see this registration form.
_____________________________________________________________________
Since 1969, Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts has been the leading provider of pro bono legal services, mediation services, educational programs and publications, and advocacy to the arts community in New York. The first arts-related legal aid organization, VLA is the model for similar organizations around the world. For more information about Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, please see www.vlany.org.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Looted Cultural Objects Recovered in Iraq

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty today reports that Iraqi authorities seized ten ancient gold coins along with two paintings during a sting operation that broke up an antiquities smuggling ring.

http://www.rferl.org/content/Iraq_Says_Antiquities_Ring_Busted/2053617.html

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Major Art Theft in Paris

Several paintings were discovered stolen from the Paris Museum of Modern Art during the morning of May 20, 2010. They are of inestimable cultural and monetary value.

When a major theft such as this one occurs, it is reasonable for investigators to presume that the crime is part of a broader plan. For instance, paintings can be used as collateral for weapons purchases or as payment for sizeable drug buys. Because it is more portable and discreet to carry a canvas worth millions through an airport rather than carrying the equivalent in cash, valuable artwork can be used to move large amounts of cash without being detected. It is also reasonable for the police to assume, in the first instance, that information or assistance may have been provided by someone on the inside of the institution. As evidence develops, the police can rule in or rule out these suspicions.

I have included a list below of the stolen paintings, and links to their images on the web. If you spot any of these artworks or have any information related to the theft, you can contact your local INTERPOL central bureau. In the United States you can report any information to the FBI via the internet at https://tips.fbi.gov.

1. "Pigeon with the Peas" by Pablo Picasso news.yahoo.com/nphotos/slideshow/photo//100520/ids_photos_wl/r2288127354.jpg/

2. "Pastoral" by Henri Matisse
www.the-artfile.nl/gallery/artists/matisse/pastorale.jpg

3. "Olive Tree near Estaque" by Georges Braque
http://d.yimg.com/a/p/rids/20100520/i/r3355612611.jpg

4. "Woman with a Fan" by Amedeo Modigliani
http://news.yahoo.com/nphotos/slideshow/photo//100520/ids_photos_wl/r2748639951.jpg/

5. "Still Life with Chandeliers" by Fernand Leger
no image found

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Renewed Memorandum of Understanding in the Context of US-Italian Foreign Relations

When we speak about the Cultural Property Advisory Committee (CPAC) process, we should acknowledge that it takes place in the context of broader American foreign policy objectives. Indeed, the process is spearheaded by the State Department, the international relations arm of government, with decisionmaking ultimately in the hands of the White House, which is constitutionally designated to carry out foreign affairs. This week it is expected that Washington will continue to demonstrate its awareness of foreign policy issues and consider the four determinations of the Cultural Property Implementation Act in the context of its foreign policy goals.

On May 6 and 7 the Cultural Property Advisory Committee will review the Memorandum of Understanding between the United States and Italy. Italy seeks to preserve its cultural heritage by renewing this MoU, which creates barriers to stop at-risk archaeoligical and ethnological objects from seeping through America's borders. The Archaeological Institute of America describes the upcoming CPAC hearings on its web site at
http://www.archaeological.org/webinfo.php?page=10573.

It is no secret that US-Italian relations have not been the strongest in recent years, so renewing the MoU could foster some degree of goodwill needed to embrace one of America's closest allies. Italy has provided some steps to support the US in the last several years that could merit some affirmation by the White House. These steps include, among others, the merger between Fiat and Chrysler that rescued the failing American automaker; the Italian troop commitment in Iraq, representing the fourth largest military contingent deployed to that country in support of US objectives; and Italy' willingness to receive some of the Guantanamo Bay detainees.

When issues such as the shooting death by US forces in 2005 of an Italian secret service agent--who was escorting a released Italian hostage in Baghdad--still loom large in the background of US-Italian relations; or when Italy remains unsettled by its unwilling demotion from prominent G-8 country to a lower-tiered G-20 nation, it may become important to strengthen US-Italian ties.  A renewed MoU between the US and Italy could therefore serve to refresh strained foreign relations.

Photo by NuclearVacuum.  CC license.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Auction House Due Diligence: What Diligence is Due?

Bonhams in London just removed a collection of Roman sculptures from its auction when Christos Tsirogiannis and Dr. David Gill questioned the provenance surrounding lot 137, a marble sculpture of a youth. Dr. Gill published a photograph persuasively suggesting that the stone figure was linked with a looted item once in Giacomo Medici's possession. Medici was the target of one of the largest modern day efforts by law enforcement to uncover illegal antiquities trafficking.

The statue's appearance at auction raises the question of due diligence. Why was not better diligence used by Bonhams?  Conducting a title history for a large number of objects appearing at auction is labor intensive, admittedly. However, due diligence to discover the provenance of an antiquity cannot be left to a simple search of the Art Loss Register. Such a register can never produce the history surrounding where an ancient object came from.

Attorneys (and few there are) who investigate provenance employ a systematic methodology to uncover irregularities and suspicions as best as possible. Auction houses should strive to do the same. Indeed, the diligence due must be meaningful, not superficial.

Those auction houses that employ compliance officers are to be commended for improving their due diligence. While there is still more to do with regard to developing an accepted framework that details the diligence that should be due, the introduction of functioning and competent compliance officers inside auction houses can help.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Blood Antiques - Watch online

Over the years, more books and documentary films have appeared to describe a once unreported problem--the looting of cultural heritage. Journeyman Pictures produced the documentary Blood Antiques, which is now airing online on Link TV.  Using hidden cameras inside the antiquities market in Belgium and Afghanistan, the filmmakers uncover raw evidence of the underground illegal antiquities trade and advance the important argument of its connection with terror funding.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Spring semester's Historic Preservation courses begin soon

Spring semester's Historic Preservation courses begin soon

Plymouth State University's Certificate in Historic Preservation program is offering four courses this spring semester, one in Plymouth and three at its Concord campus.

At a time when many adults are returning to the classroom to enhance their professional skills, this graduate-level program seeks to instill a fundamental understanding of preservation issues and challenges while providing basic skills and training for those who work for community preservation organizations and agencies, or in aligned fields such as planning, law or architecture.

Spring 2010's courses are:

Preservation Planning and Management: Now seen as integral to the definition and protection of cultural landscapes, historic preservation planning and cultural resource management (CRM) are accomplished through the identification, evaluation, documentation, registration, treatment and ongoing stewardship of historic properties. This course examines the tools of preservation planning and management and illustrates their application at the federal, state and local levels. Guest speakers share their real-world experiences. Includes one required field trip on March 20. Taught in Concord by Elizabeth H. Muzzey, State Historic Preservation Officer. 3 credits. Begins March 1.

Archaeological Methods: Students will be exposed to archaeological field and laboratory techniques, and will learn the types of research questions that archaeologists ask while reconstructing past cultures. The course draws upon prehistoric and historic examples, there will be many opportunities to handle artifacts in the classroom, and both terrestrial and underwater sites will be featured. There will be required field trip to archaeological sites to demonstrate equipment and techniques in the field. Taught in Plymouth by David Starbuck, associate professor of Anthropology/Sociology at PSU. 3 credits. Begins March 2.

Cultural Property Law: Antiquities Trafficking, War and Stolen Heritage: Archaeological site looting, transnational antiquities trafficking and armed conflicts threaten global cultural heritage. This course examines the international, national and state legal frameworks for the protection and movement of cultural property. Topics for discussion include the 1954 Hague Convention, the 1970 UNESCO Convention, the ICOM Code of Ethics, the National Stolen Property Act and the Cultural Property Implementation Act. The course also introduces students to important national heritage laws such as the Archaeological Resources Protection Act and the rules governing shipwrecks. State statutes and the common law regulating cultural property are also reviewed. Includes on required field trip on March 19. Taught in Concord by Ricardo A. St. Hilaire, Esq. 3 credits. Begins March 3.

Principles of Historic Preservation: This course provides a foundation to historic preservation, focusing on principles and theories pertaining to preservation and restoration practices; recognition of architectural periods, styles, and construction methods in context of the evolution of cultural landscapes; the definition of significance and integrity in buildings and districts; strategies by which buildings and their settings have been preserved and used; and methods of reading and interpreting the cultural environment. Three required field trips: March 6, April 10, May 1. Taught in Concord by Christopher W. Closs, planning/preservation consultant. 3 credits. Begins March 4.

For more information about the Certificate in Historic Preservation program, visit www.plymouth.edu/graduate/heritage/historic_preservation_certificate.html or contact Dr. Stacey Yap, program coordinator, 603-535-2333, staceyy@plymouth.edu.

New Hampshire's Division of Historical Resources, the “State Historic Preservation Office,” was established in 1974. The historical, archeological, architectural, engineering and cultural resources of New Hampshire are among the most important environmental assets of the state. Historic preservation promotes the use, understanding and conservation of such resources for the education, inspiration, pleasure and enrichment of New Hampshire’s citizens. For more information, visit us online at www.nh.gov/nhdhr or by calling (603) 271-3483.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Is the Art Market Gaining Traction?

Breaking the record for the sale of art at an auction, an unidentified buyer purchased "Walking Man 1" by Alberto Giacometti (see image at http://www.suite101.com/view_image.cfm/499373) at a Sotheby's auction in London on February 3rd. It sold for $104,327,006. At the same auction a Klimt landscape sold for $43,208,606. The total auction yielded a record high $235.7 million. Add to that a a hearty return from Sotheby's Old Master and 19th Century European Art sale in New York last week and Christie's London sale of impressionist and surreal art totaling $149,607,659 and you have signs that the art market may be gaining traction.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Art and Dance at the Falls

If you are near the southeastern part of New Hampshire on February 4 from 6 to 9 pm, make sure you check out First Thursday at the Falls, a vibrant collection of the arts to make you dance and stir your soul. See them at firstthursdayatthefalls.com or by going to Rollinsford, NH at the Lower Mill at Salmon Falls and on Front Street.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Antiquities traffickers deal with ancient coins

There is much controversy today about the inclusion of ancient coins under the auspices of laws that protect archaeological objects. Some say the laws should not regulate ancient coins at all. Consider two items in the news, nevertheless, that show how ancient coins are part of the traffickers' loot.

Yahoo! News reported today via the Associate Press that Cypriot authorities rounded up antiquities traffickers in the largest case of its kind in terms of the amount. The traffickers apparently had an undisclosed buyer and planned to move the pieces for %15.5 million (US) dollars--which means the items together were likely worth even more. Among the urns, gold, and other cultural objects were ancient coins.
See news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100125/ap_on_re_eu/eu_cyprus_antiquities_theft

In another unrelated story, ancient coins were discovered when a man was arrested in the United Kingdom. UKPA reported that a "large volume of items of 'considerable antiquity' were seized at a house by officers who executed a search warrant in Barnham, near Chichester, West Sussex. Police said some of the artefacts were suspected of being stolen by "nighthawking" from an undisclosed site in the Chichester area and elsewhere recently. The items found so far include medieval and Roman coins, ivory and silver, and one gold Iron Age coin, brooches, buttons and horse equipment of similar ages."
See www.google.com/hostednews/ukpress/article/ALeqM5hNTZxAlDE31CnLZq_488cVR_XO2w

In the same way that drug traffickers deal with quantities of a variety of illegal drugs, antiquities traffickers deal with a variety of looted archaeological objects--including coins.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Old Masters Week at Sotheby's NY

Old Masters Week is currently going on at Sotheby's in New York. You can see the events going on at

http://www.sothebys.com/minisite/omp/2010/newyork/winter/event.html

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Fakes on the Market, Looting on the Decline...

MSN posted an insightful piece of interest to collectors, dealers, and archaeologists. It is reported that the production of fakes is easier than looting authentic archaeoligical objects, thereby reducing looting from archaeological sites.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Ebay & Looting


Peruvian archaeology has found an unusual ally in the battle against looting in the internet and websites such as eBay. This is according to Charles Stanish, a UCLA archaeologist, writing in the June 2009 issue of Archaeology. Stanish has excavated for 25 years at fragile archaeological sites in Peru. It was feared that online auction sites would increase looting as the looter could sell directly to the buyer eliminating costly middlemen. In fact, online auction websites have actually helped reduce looting as the average looter or craftsman can now make more money selling cheap fakes online rather than spend weeks digging for the real thing and running the risk of not finding anything. It is less costly to transport a fake and the risk of arrest is removed. Moreover, workshops churning out cheap fakes and replicas can also produce elaborately detailed fakes which can be so authentic even experts are deceived. Locals can use original ancient moulds, often found during excavations but of no real value themselves, to create exact replicas using clay from original sources and local minerals to make paint fordecorating the pottery. The only way to know for sure if a piece is genuine is through thermo-luminescence dating which calculates when the pottery has been fired. But this is expensive for the buyer and many sellers will not offer refunds on pottery that has undergone “destructive” analysis. Ten years ago the ratio of real to fake Peruvian artefacts for sale online was roughly 50:50. It is now thought that only 5% of items are authentic, 30% are fakes and the rest are too difficult to judge from online photographs. This turnaround emphasises how paradoxically online auction sites have helped to combat the trade in illicit antiquities. Also, its not just Peruvian fakes that are flooding the illicit antiquities online market; Chinese, Bulgarian, Egyptian and Mexican workshops are also producing fakes at a frenetic pace.

Blue Shield Statement on Haiti

The Blue Shield has posted a statement concerning the tragedy in Haiti


Haiti. Blue Shield Statement. 14th January 2010

The Blue Shield expresses its sorrow and solidarity with the population of Haiti for the loss of lives and the destructions caused by the earthquake which occurred on 12th January. Culture is a basic need, and cultural heritage a symbolic necessity that gives meaning to human lives connecting past, present and future. Cultural heritage is a reference full of values helping to restore a sense of normality and enabling people to move forward. Cultural Heritage is fundamental in rebuilding the identity, the dignity and the hope of the communities after a catastrophe. The Blue Shield Mission is “to work to protect the world’s cultural heritage threatened by armed conflict, natural and man‐made disasters”. While it appreciates that the immediate priority is to find the missing, and to help the injured and homeless, it places the expertise and network of its member organisations at the disposal of their Haitian colleagues to support their work in assessing the damage to th
e cultural heritage of their countries including libraries, archives, museums and monuments and sites, and subsequent recovery, restoration and repair measures.

The Blue Shield calls on the international community, responsible authorities and local population to give the fullest possible support to the efforts, official and voluntary, underway to protect/rescue the rich and unique heritage of Haiti. The member organisations of the Blue Shield are currently liaising with Haitian colleagues, to obtain further information on both the situation in the area and on the possible needs and types of help required so as to mobilise our networks accordingly. A more complete report on damages, needs and actions will be published subsequently, to facilitate coordination.

The Blue Shield
The Blue Shield is the protective emblem of the 1954 Hague Convention which is the basic international treaty formulating rules to protect cultural heritage during armed conflicts. The Blue Shield network consists of organisations dealing with museums, archives, audiovisual supports, libraries, monuments and sites. The International Committee of the Blue Shield (ICBS), founded in 1996, comprises representatives of the five Non‐Governmental Organisations (NGOs) working in this field:
- The International Council on Archives (www.ica.org),
- The International Council of Museums (www.icom.museum),
- The International Council on Monuments and Sites (www.icomos.org), and
- The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (www.ifla.org)
- The Co‐ordinating Council of Audiovisual Archives Associations (www.ccaaa.org)

National Blue Shield Committees have been founded in a number of countries (18 established and 18 under construction). The Association of National Committees of the Blue Shield (ANCBS), founded in December 2008, will coordinate and strengthen international efforts to protect cultural property at risk of destruction in armed conflicts or natural disasters. The ANCBS has its headquarters in The Hague. Contact Information: secretariat.ICBS@blueshield.museum

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Lender Collector

NPR has an insightful story on a recent trend: lending an art collection.
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122619567

Monday, January 18, 2010

Art thief sentenced for stealing works by Chagall and Picasso

Last week a federal district court sentenced Marcus Patmon, 38, to 23 months in prison after he pled guilty to mail fraud, attempted wire fraud, and the interstate transport of stolen goods. See http://www.delawareonline.com/article/20100114/NEWS01/1140346/1006/NEWS for details.

Patmon stole a Chagall lithograph and a Picasso etching from Galerie Lareuse in Washington, DC in 2007. He sold them for approximately $63,000. He also stole two other Picasso etchings from Gallery Biba in Palm Beach, FL in 2008. State authorities prosecuted Patmon for the Florida theft.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Fakes and Forgeries

The Associated Press reported in today's NY Times that Italian authorities last year recovered thousands of looted art and antiquities valued at close to $240 million US dollars. The story said: "Police figures show the number of illegal archaeological excavations discovered in 2009 decreased dramatically, from 238 in 2008 to just 58 in 2009. But at the same time, the number of people charged with falsifying artwork rose more than 400 percent."

The fact is that forged art exists in the marketplace, and this newspaper report serves as a caution to stay alert. Authenticating artwork is an essential component to ethical collecting. One should take time to ensure that a piece is not just looted or illegally exported, but that it is genuine.

Legal Tools for Artists

The Carving Studio in Vermont is holding a workshop in July. It is titled Legal Tools for Artists. Go to the link at carvingstudio.org/workshops/courses.asp