The war in Ukraine

The war in Ukraine

ADA Members are aware and deeply saddened by the devastating consequences of the unfolding human tragedy in Ukraine. It is a country with a rich history from the earliest times and while Ukrainian origin antiquities are not so commonly found in our market, ADA members are on the alert to any cultural property which may have originated from that region. This follows on from the ADA’s existing vigilance over antiquities possibly originating from the Crimea, in place since that region was annexed by Russia in 2014.
The Code of Conduct of the Antiquities Dealers’ Association provides specific guidance to Members on the dangers to cultural property in war-torn countries, under the heading ‘Conflict Zones’.


CINOA, IADAA and others call for major review and propose five-point plan for future

Trade and cultural heritage groups including global trade federation CINOA and international antiquities association IADAA have called for a major international review of policy and legislation as it applies to the art market.

The call comes in a letter after the US Treasury review of anti-money laundering proposals found the art market to be low risk, with Congress turning its attention to shell companies and the real estate industry instead for the moment.

CINOA secretary general Erika Bochereau and IADAA chairman Vincent Geerling pointed out that all of the numerous recent studies researching possible links between the art market, money laundering and terrorism financing found no justification for clamping down on the market on this basis.

They argued that the lack of hard evidence produced by any of the reports meant that authorities should stop targeting “dealers, collectors and auction houses with wave after wave of damaging and unjust legislation.” Policy making is “being driven by assumptions and false claims,” they argued in their open letter.

Why false claims and bogus data abound

It is thought that one of the reasons so much misinformation is so widely spread is the interests of drawing attention to the pet issues of international NGOs, law enforcement and others all vying for attention and funding as they push their agendas.

The trade and cultural heritage groups singled out UNESCO’s claim that the annual value of trade in illicit cultural goods is $10 billion, a claim that is demonstrably false and not supported by the source that UNESCO gave for it. Despite being informed of this in November 2020, and despite numerous public clarifications on this point by the trade, UNESCO continues to promote the figure and it is still quoted in the media.

The trade and cultural heritage groups have now set out a five-point plan for better policy, listed in the Art Newspaper as follows:

  1. “Policy makers, including governments, when discussing the development of and drafting any policy or legislation which impacts cultural property and the art market, should ensure that recognised representatives from the relevant sector of the art market are co-opted on to any relevant panel or consulting body.
  2. Regulatory review boards or panels assessing the impact of government proposals should focus on how far they have actively addressed concerns and suggestions raised by recognised market representatives, while all proposals should be tested against clear standards of evidence and proportionality.
  3. A designated contact person at the decision-making level of government should be named, whose role is to follow any on-going laws or regulations affecting the art and antiques market, and they should act as a sector contact, with whom the trade can open a dialogue to ensure that the conservation of art or cultural heritage objects is not being unintentionally demoted or ignored.
  4. All relevant active and pending cultural property legislation should be reviewed to take account of the facts and data currently available, particularly if those facts are at odds with the assumptions on which legislation was predicated.
  5. Legislators, particularly in the EU, should commission an independent review to analyse the way in which significant public resources, supposedly dedicated to combating illicit trade in cultural goods, have been wasted as a result of relying on misinformation. Clear guidance should be produced to prevent legislation affecting the art market from misdirecting resources in the future.”

As well as CINOA, signatories of the letter include: the ACPCP (American Council for the Preservation of Cultural Property), the ATADA (Authentic Tribal Art Dealers’ Association), the Committee for Cultural Policy (Cultural policy think tank and information source), Drouot Patrimoine auction house, the EFA (European Federation of Auctioneers), the Global Heritage Alliance advocacy group and the IADAA (International Association of Dealers in Ancient Art).