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