WCO report reveals the true picture about antiquities trafficking

For some time now, anti-trade campaigners, NGOs, politicians and even international law enforcement agencies have stated that trafficked antiquities are the third largest source of terrorist financing after trafficked drugs and weapons. These claims have always been unsubstantiated and although Interpol quotes a similar claim on its Art Crime page (“The black market in works of art is becoming as lucrative as those for drugs, weapons and counterfeit goods”), it then contradicts this in detail in the Frequently Asked Questions on the same page.

Now, however, the World Customs Organisation has included figures for trafficked cultural property, including antiquities, in its annual report for the first time and this gives us a clearer picture of what the situation really is. In summary, this is what it says:

Number of Seizures

Drugs: c.45,000

Weapons and ammunition: c.4500

Cultural property: 146

Of which antiquities (mostly coins, seals and jewels): c.70

So in terms of the number of seizures across these three areas, drugs account for 90.6% of seizures, weapons and ammunition 9.1%, cultural property 0.3%, of which antiquities account for 0.14%.

Volumes

Although there is no direct correlation between the three areas in terms of volumes seized, summary totals give some indication of comparative scale:

Drugs: c.1.5 million kilos

Weapons and ammunition: c.2.5 million pieces

Cultural property: 8483 items

Of which Antiquities: c.6600 items (including coins)

Details:

  • Drugs: 1 million kilos of cannabis, 180,773 kilos of cocaine, 99,000 kilos of khat, approx. 200,000 kilos of opiates, psychotropic and other substances. Total c.1.5 million kilos. Number of seizures: c.45,000.
  • Weapons & ammunition: number of pieces seized c.2.5 million. Number of seizures: c.4500.
  • Cultural Property: 8483 objects seized (Of which Antiquities c.6600). Number of seizures: 146. (Of which Antiquities c.70)

Also included in the report are figures for seizures linked to environmental (i.e. animal and plant) products. Again, exact comparisons are not easy, but the number of seized items alone rises towards the 750,000 mark, while the total number of seizures reported was 2225.

Art businesses ill-prepared for GDPR, new EU data protection law

ADA adviser Ivan Macquisten has written a detailed analysis on the upcoming changes in data protection regulations for the EU for The Art Newspaper. This includes the Information Commissioner’s Office advice on what steps for businesses to take now. These changes will affect all businesses operating in the market to some degree. You can read Ivan’s article at this link.

STOLEN ALERT IN BRUSSELS

Gallery Drees in Brussels has reported the theft of this collection of Egyptian gold pieces from the gallery between December and January.

Please report any sightings or other relevant information to the police.

Theft of Viking Treasure Devastates Norwegian Museum

The Committee For Cultural Policy has highlighted the devastating theft of Viking material from the University Museum of Bergen. The burglary took place on the weekend of August 11-13 when the thieves climbed scaffolding to a seventh-floor window, broke in and stole 400 artefacts that were in temporary storage.

Full details available from the Committee For Cultural Policy website.

 

Further theft alert

This Egyptian stele, pictured right has been stolen from the Musée de Marseille. It is 24cm x 17.5cm x 7cm. Please contact the police if you see it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

European Commission to legislate over terrorist antiquities despite lack of evidence

The European Commission’s 199-page Deloitte report into tackling cultural property trafficking now confirms that there is no evidence at all that terrorism-related cultural goods are entering the EU, or that an illicit market in cultural property run by organised crime exists.

Despite this, the European Commission plans to press ahead with more restrictive import/export legislation from January 2019 to tackle a problem it has identified does not exist, even though the Deloitte report acknowledges this will damage the international art market.

Read Ivan Macquisten’s latest blog summarising the issues at hand.

How the European Commission is riding roughshod over the antiquities trade

The European Commission has announced that it will press ahead with controversial proposals for restricting the import of cultural property to members states. The news comes on the back of a survey of stakeholders across the European Union, including the art and antiques trade, to gauge the impact of such changes. As Ivan Macquisten’s latest blog explains, submissions by the ADA, IADAA and others appears to have been ignored in favour of poorly researched and inaccurate evidence.

The International Association of Dealers in Ancient Art, supported by CINOA and the ADA, has written to the Regulatory Scrutiny Board (RSB) that assessed the impact assessment for this exercise and found it seriously wanting yet ultimately passed the measures. The letter asks the RSB to reconsider its position and re-evaluate the evidence in order to avoid a damaging outcome.