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Commentary

commentaryIn depth discussion of important cultural policy and arts issues affecting museums, collectors, the art trade and the public.

Commentary: Public Monuments – Beyond Charlottesville

Posted by on Sep 25, 2017 in Commentary | Comments Off on Commentary: Public Monuments – Beyond Charlottesville

Commentary: Public Monuments – Beyond Charlottesville

September 25, 2017. By Mariam Hale* Since the startling events of August 12th in Charlottesville, VA, the future of public monuments to the Confederacy has become a matter of national debate in the United States. Cities across America have recently removed or covered over statues commemorating Confederate leaders and soldiers, as well as controversial figures such as Justice Roger Taney, who authored the 1857 decision in the Dredd Scott case. Some city leaders have cited concerns over the potential for clashes of the kind that took place in Charlottesville to support their decision to take down these statues and memorials. Certain monuments have even been removed in the early hours of the morning, by work crews wearing masks and protective…

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Commentary: Hobby Lobby, the Antiquities Mess and the Need for Reform

Posted by on Aug 30, 2017 in Commentary | Comments Off on Commentary: Hobby Lobby, the Antiquities Mess and the Need for Reform

Commentary: Hobby Lobby, the Antiquities Mess and the Need for Reform

by Michael McCullough, William Pearlstein* Hobby Lobby’s settlement of charges stemming from its purchase of Near-Eastern antiquities has once again cast a harsh light on the antiquities trade and called into question the legitimacy of the entire field of antiquities collecting. Our law firm represented Hobby Lobby in the settlement. Over the last 20 years, we have extensive experience representing clients in the art world generally and the antiquities field in particular. In our view, criticism of the Hobby Lobby settlement misses certain important points while underscoring the urgent need for legal and market reform. First, we view the prospective compliance regime adopted by Hobby Lobby as progressive. For the first time, future acquisitions by a major private collector must…

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Celebrating 15 Years of Import Restrictions?

Posted by on Aug 30, 2016 in Commentary | Comments Off on Celebrating 15 Years of Import Restrictions?

Celebrating 15 Years of Import Restrictions?

August 30, 2016. It is shocking to see the website of the Department of State’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs announce a “celebration” of the 15th anniversary of the the bilateral agreement banning the importation of ancient art from Italy. Since when are continuing restrictions on the free flow of art into the US regarded as cause for celebration? Congress recognized that import restrictions are a loss to the US public’s interest in a free trade in art. Under the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act (CCPIA), signed into law in 1983, agreements with foreign nations restricting the importation of antique and ethnological material are a special and drastic remedy to be applied in situations of looting that place…

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Collecting ancient art, an old tradition under attack.

Posted by on Jul 30, 2016 in ArtNews, Commentary | Comments Off on Collecting ancient art, an old tradition under attack.

Collecting ancient art, an old tradition under attack.

Updated, July 30, 2016.  Vincent Geerling, Chairman of the Board of the International Association of Dealers in Ancient Art (IADAA), granted CCP permission to print his text (below) and link to the video of his presentation, “Collecting ancient art, an old tradition under attack.“  Mr. Geerling lectured at the ArtConnoisseurs 2016 series, held in conjunction with Cultures – The World Arts Fair in Brussels in June 2016. The presentation sheds new light on the history of the legal antiquities trade, the actual size of the antiquities market, and the supposed ISIS/antiquities connection.  Mr. Geerling began collecting ancient art 40 years ago. In 1995, he made his personal hobby his career and founded Archea Ancient Art in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Mr. Geerling…

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Transcript “Rethinking Antiquities: Restitution and Collecting in the Time of ISIS”

Posted by on Mar 10, 2016 in Commentary, Events & Publications | Comments Off on Transcript “Rethinking Antiquities: Restitution and Collecting in the Time of ISIS”

Transcript “Rethinking Antiquities: Restitution and Collecting in the Time of ISIS”

Transcription of Rethinking Antiquities: Restitution and Collecting in the Time of ISIS, Tuesday, March 1st, 2016. Sponsored by the Cardozo Law FAME Center and the Committee for Cultural Policy, Inc. The program was moderated by Judith H. Dobrzynski, an independent journalist who writes for many publications including the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times; formerly a reporter and editor at The New York Times; senior editor and writer for Business Week; and a former executive editor of CNBC. Panelists were Randall Hixenbaugh, owner of Hixenbaugh Ancient Art New York-based antiquities dealer and member of the International Association of Dealers in Ancient Art, James McAndrew, Forensic Specialist, Grunfeld, Desiderio, Lebowitz, Silverman & Klestadt LLP; Former Head of the U.S….

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Commentary: Sarah Parcak’s TED Prize – Can International Crowdsourcing Replace Source Country Commitment?

Posted by on Feb 24, 2016 in ArtNews, Commentary, Science & Discoveries | Comments Off on Commentary: Sarah Parcak’s TED Prize – Can International Crowdsourcing Replace Source Country Commitment?

Commentary: Sarah Parcak’s TED Prize – Can International Crowdsourcing Replace Source Country Commitment?

February 24, 2016.  By Kate Fitz Gibbon.   Speaking in Vancouver on February 16, Dr. Sarah Parcak proposed using her $1 million TED Prize to build an online “interactive citizen science program” to engage the public in monitoring archaeological sites and to share the information gathered with archaeologists and local authorities. Parcak, an Egyptologist, is known as a “space archaeologist” because she uses infra-red imaging techniques on NASA and commercial satellite images to identify potential archaeological sites on the ground. Chemical changes on the ground surfaces that are visible at infra-red light levels show that there are man-made objects and structures buried underground. Dr. Parcak now wishes to share the millions of global satellite images available with the public and to use…

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2015’s Top 5 Questionable Claims on ISIS and Syrian Antiquities: To Hopes for More Accuracy and Less Hype in 2016

Posted by on Jan 10, 2016 in Commentary | Comments Off on 2015’s Top 5 Questionable Claims on ISIS and Syrian Antiquities: To Hopes for More Accuracy and Less Hype in 2016

2015’s Top 5 Questionable Claims on ISIS and Syrian Antiquities: To Hopes for More Accuracy and Less Hype in 2016

By Peter K. Tompa Reprinted with permission of the author from the Cultural Property Observer (CPO), published January 6, 2016. Knowledgeable cultural property observers have been frustrated that questionable claims about Syria, ISIS and antiquities trade continue to be actively promoted as part of the archaeological lobby’s campaign in support of H.R. 1493/S. 1887,  problematic legislation that purports to address protecting cultural property in times of war and civil strife. In honor of the New Year, CPO counts down the top five (5) dubious claims made in 2015 in support of this legislation that would create a new State Department coordination and enforcement bureaucracy and place what amounts to permanent import restrictions on Syrian cultural goods. Hopefully, questions about the accuracy…

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Debunking the ISIS Antiquities Funding Myth

Posted by on Dec 6, 2015 in ArtNews, Commentary | Comments Off on Debunking the ISIS Antiquities Funding Myth

Debunking the ISIS Antiquities Funding Myth

Commentary by Kate Fitz Gibbon, December 6, 2015.  Ben Taub’s New Yorker article, The Real Value of the ISIS Antiquities Trade, blows apart the State Department, Department of Justice, and Antiquities Coalition claims that ISIS is raking in tens and even hundreds of millions of dollars from the sale of antiquities. Some archaeologists and cultural heritage specialists have spoken out to agree with Taub: Neil Brodie and Derek Fincham have disowned the ludicrously exaggerated numbers claimed by federal agencies and appear ready to abandon the claim that ISIS is receiving significant funding from looted antiquities. Why promote this phony story in the first place? One obvious answer is that much ISIS funding is coming from illegal oil sales from captured…

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Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act, H.R. 1493/S.1887: Saving Syrian Antiquities or Crushing the Legitimate Art Trade?

Posted by on Nov 30, 2015 in ArtNews, Commentary | Comments Off on Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act, H.R. 1493/S.1887: Saving Syrian Antiquities or Crushing the Legitimate Art Trade?

Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act, H.R. 1493/S.1887:  Saving Syrian Antiquities or Crushing the Legitimate Art Trade?

Commentary by Peter Tompa and Kate Fitz Gibbon November 30, 2015. The Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act, which purports to “protect and preserve” antiquities in regions of crises, needs serious reworking before the Senate takes up the measure. As it is written, the bill does not have a firm factual basis for its assumptions – and without the real facts it will never be able to achieve its worthy goals. In short, by accepting without question the media hyperbole and discredited, phony numbers for ISIS’ trade in looted art – Congress will let slip the opportunity to focus on the true funding sources for terrorism. H.R. 1493/S.1887 opens the door to a one-sided US policy that ignores the…

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ISIS and Antiquities Sales: Fact or Fantasy?

Posted by on Nov 13, 2015 in ArtNews, Commentary | Comments Off on ISIS and Antiquities Sales: Fact or Fantasy?

ISIS and Antiquities Sales: Fact or Fantasy?

November 13, 2015  By Peter K. Tompa*. The archaeological lobby and the media, particularly CBS News, have pushed the story that antiquities provide a major funding source for ISIS. While ISIS is probably making at least some income from either antiquities sales or from taxing looters, the amounts that it has derived from these sources probably amount to no more than 1-2% of its estimated total funding of from $1-2 billion dollars. A CBS News Report, “ISIS Cashing In on Selling Plundered Antiquities to Fund Terror,” CBS News, September 29, 2015, has been a major source for these claims, but the report is deeply flawed. The report is purportedly based on documents seized from ISIS financier, Abu Sayyaf, who was…

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