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.

Operation Pandora fails to uncover conflict zone artefacts

A detailed investigation by the International Association of Dealers in Ancient Art (IADAA) into the findings of Operation Pandora has revealed some interesting results. Pre-eminent among these is that the authorities did not find a single artefact from a conflict zone – the primary purpose of this exercise – among the 3500-plus pieces seized across the 18 European countries taking part.

For the full report, go this link: Operation Pandora IADAA

Iraq Embassy list of items looted by ISIS from Mosul Museum

The Iraq Embassy in London has supplied the British Museum with a comprehensive list of items missing from the Mosul Museum as a result of looting by ISIS.

The Embassy has asked that the artefacts described be included on the Emergency Red List.

The ADA asks its members to study the list, attached here, and be alert to any of the items turning up on the UK market.

Mosul Museum – missing artefacts

Most Egyptian artefacts held abroad were exported legally, says former Antiquities Minister Mamdouh al-Damaty

Egyptologist professor says it is in his country’s interests to leave them where they are

Egypt’s former Antiquities Minister has said that retrieving Egyptian artefacts from abroad is not in Egypt’s interests, news sources from within the country report.

Prof. Mamdouh al-Damaty, an Egyptologist who was Minister from 2014-16 and believes that displaying his country’s heritage in other nations promotes Egypt across the world, also pointed out that the majority of Egyptian artefacts abroad were legally exported before laws were introduced to ban exports.

Vincent Geerling, chairman of the International Association of Dealers in Ancient Art (IADAA), has welcomed Damaty’s speech, and is calling on the authorities in Egypt to take note.

Geerling has also suggested that re-introducing licensed sales of minor artefacts might be a way of helping Egypt to finance the urgently needed protection of archaeological sites.

“At IADAA, we have been campaigning for years on the issue of what has and hasn’t been legally exported, while watching with dismay as international bodies introduce inappropriate policy to deal with perceived wrongs that, for the most part, do not exist,” said Geerling.

“So much of what Prof. Damaty is saying is exactly what we have been arguing for a long time now, but our views have been ignored or dismissed. Hopefully, now someone as distinguished and knowledgeable as Egypt’s former Antiquities Minister has put forward the same arguments, we will all be listened to.”

Those arguments acknowledge the fact that Egypt traded its artefacts legally over long periods, including in the 20th century, when the Cairo Museum had its own saleroom.

“In many other cases,” one news report quoted Damaty, “artefacts were presented by Egypt’s kings as gifts to foreign dignitaries, rulers and officials, before the development of the current laws to protect antiquities and ban this habit.”

Foreign archaeological missions were also allowed to take a percentage of the artefacts they discovered in Egypt, making it impossible for Egypt to recover these artefacts now, because they were legally exported, he said.

In fact, Damaty went as far as stating that the majority of Egyptian artefacts abroad had been legally exported.

His speech came as Egypt’s ongoing financial problems led to the suspension of 14 restoration projects and cutbacks in measures to protect archaeological sites, reports said.

Significantly, before the coup the Antiquities Ministry paid for all the projects itself and was a net contributor to government coffers, but now depends on central funding.

Until recently, Geerling said, “Egyptian embassies have challenged the sale of many artefacts, that had been in collections for decades and more, at fairs or auction, without providing any evidence at all to show that they were stolen.

“The current Egyptian authorities’ view is that unless collectors, dealers and auction houses can demonstrate an unbroken provenance from when an object was excavated, it should be deemed illicit – guilty until proved innocent, if you like. That is legally flawed.”

He argues that following the spirit of the former Antiquities Minister’s speech, such a policy needs to be replaced by something more positive.

“Egypt had a legal trade in antiquities up until around 40 years ago. Why not revive a properly licensed, self-sustaining legal trade in minor objects that are of no great importance to Egypt’s national heritage, so that the trade can help Egypt create a revenue stream to finance the necessary protection of archaeological sites, as it is obliged to do under Article 5 of the UNESCO 1970 convention,” he said.