Footnotes

“Le Marché” 

Questions or Comments? Email me at derek.fincham@gmail.com

ARCA Annual Conference June 23-24, Amelia Italy

I am very pleased to announce the call for presenters for ARCA’s Annual conference, to be held in Amelia in conjunction with the summer postgraduate certificate program. I hope you will consider attending or presenting at the event.Call for Presenters 2012 ARCA

Questions or Comments? Email me at derek.fincham@gmail.com

"Chasing Aphrodite" at the National Press Club

ARCA Alum 2011 Tanya Lervik has a summary of the Jason Felch and Ralph Frammolino event this week at the National Press Club:

The discussion covered a wide range of topics – from the basics of international law and the ethical responsibility of museums to the specifics of various transgressions that occurred at the Getty. Felch and Frammolino described the scope of the problem and how they came upon the antiquities story while researching the lavish spending of a Getty executive, Barry Munitz. In the course of their investigation, they were approached by a “Greek chorus of Deep Throats” who informed them that the executive’s indiscretions paled in comparison. Arthur Houghton commented on his experience at the Getty and recruited members of the audience (including yours truly) to illustrate the donation tax fraud scheme that he discovered was being perpetrated by one-time curator, Jiri Frel. Houghton was instrumental in putting an end to that practice, but he was also the author of the “smoking gun” memo often cited as evidence that the Getty Museum management was aware they were acquiring looted works in contravention of the 1970 UNESCO convention. Houghton also suffered some uncomfortable moments when the conversation turned to his role as the originator of the Getty’s controversial policy of “optical due diligence” wherein they would generally accept an antiquity’s provenance as provided by dealers without stringently investigating its validity.

continue reading 

Questions or Comments? Email me at derek.fincham@gmail.com

Hecht Trial Ends With a Whimper as Well

“I am not proud to say that Italian justice is slow. It is mortifying.”

So says Paolo Grigio Ferri, the prosecutor who helped build the case against Marion True and Robert Hecht, and also helped secure the return of many objects looted from Italy in recent decades. He was referencing the trial of antiquities dealer Hecht which has ended in Rome as a panel of three judges ruled the five-year statute of limitations expired. This was the same anticlimactic result which ended the trial of Marion. True and Hecht will not have the courtroom certainty of guilt or innocence attached to their names, though many of the important objects they acquired and exchanged have been returned to Italy.

From Elisabetta Povoledo’s report:

The court ruling, issued Monday, came in response to a request from Mr. Hecht’s lawyer to dismiss the case because the statute of limitations on the charges had elapsed in 2011. The lawyer, Alessandro Vannucci, said he had hoped the trial would fully exonerate his client, who has always maintained his innocence, “but it was cut short.” This decision “does not do Bob justice,” he said, using Mr. Hecht’s nickname. The judges did not express an opinion on culpability or innocence. But they ruled that a series of objects that had been confiscated from Mr. Hecht’s homes should return to their “rightful owner,” which was identified as the Italian state, a decision Mr. Vannucci said he would contest.

  1. Elisabetta Povoledo, Italian Trial of American Antiquities Dealer Comes to an End, ArtsBeat, January 18, 2012, http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/18/italian-trial-of-american-antiquities-dealer-comes-to-an-end/ (last visited Jan 18, 2012).
Questions or Comments? Email me at derek.fincham@gmail.com

Update on the Athens Theft

This Picasso was given to Greece in 1949, because the Greeks resisted the Nazis
The Ink Drawing by Caccia 

No recovery or arrests yet, but there has been a little new information to shed light on the recent theft from the Athens’ National Gallery. Police have said that one man entered the National Gallery through a small balcony door, after he had deliberately and repeatedly set off alarms the night before, which led to a guard disabling one of the alarms. There has been speculation that Greek austerity and budget cuts contributed to the theft, which seems overblown and a bit unfair to the Greeks. Whenever a security breach or theft takes place, the museum looks bad. And whether budget cuts and poorly paid security played a role remains to be seen.

Greek authorities have said that the theft was probably done to benefit a private collector. That seems at this point to be speculation, and is an attractive, if unlikely motive for the theft. There just aren’t that many real-life versions of Dr. Julius No.

But there is a good idea about what uses these stolen works may be put to:

A 20th Century landscape by Piet Mondrian

 Dick Ellis, director of Art Management Group in England, who set up the art theft division for Scotland Yard more than 20 years ago, said there’s a good chance they will be recovered and, if not, used as collateral to fund other criminal enterprises. “Government indemnity doesn’t cover theft. They [thieves] are looking for a ransom route that is not going to be forthcoming. We’ll have to see the caliber of the criminal,” he told SETimes. “It’s obviously an important Picasso, and it adds to its prominence that it was given by the artist himself,” said Ellis, who recovered in Serbia two Picassos stolen from a Swiss museum five years ago. 

When a theft like this takes place, security is front and center, and the Greeks are noting that security was robust at the museum:

Niki Katsantonis, a spokeswoman for the culture ministry, told SETimes that “The National Gallery, as well as all the other museums and archaeological sites, are equipped with modern security systems,” and pointed out that there have been thefts at many other museums around the world. She said the gallery will build a 46.5m-euro extension this year with EU funds, an addition that “won’t just improve the grounds, but it will fortify them as well”. Police spokesman Athanassios Kokkalakis said, “These were no amateurs. Their moves and operation together were very well calculated. With the publicity this heist has received, it’s unlikely these works will ever make their way into the black market.” 

 Robert Wittman noted, “You can’t judge art only on the dollar value, but what it means to civilisation. Your biggest agony is if it is destroyed or damaged. . . . About 99.99% of the time they are not stolen to order, but on the ability of the thieves to go in and get them. Most of the time they will take what’s easy to get and carry. . . . If they get caught in an armed robbery or something else, they can use it to negotiate.”

  1. Andy Dabilis, Greek investigators search for missing masterpiece, January 13, 2012, http://setimes.com/cocoon/setimes/xhtml/en_GB/features/setimes/features/2012/01/13/feature-03 (last visited Jan 18, 2012).
Questions or Comments? Email me at derek.fincham@gmail.com

"Cultural Heritage and African Art" at the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford

This Saturday January 21, from 9.30-4.30 the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University will present the Ruth K. Franklin Symposium on the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. Our topic will be “Cultural Heritage and African Art: Negotiating the Rise of Ethical and Legal Collecting Concerns.” More details and background are available here.

 The speakers are:

  •  George Okello Abungu, Ph.D., founding director, Okello Abungu Heritage Consultants, Nairobi, Kenya 
  • Derek Fincham, J.D., Ph.D., assistant professor, South Texas College of Law, Houston 
  • Kate Fitz Gibbon, J.D., attorney, Kate Fitz Gibbon Law Office, Santa Fe, N.M. 
  • Barbaro Martinez-Ruiz, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Art and Art History, Stanford University 
  • John Henry Merryman, J.D., LL.M., professor of law emeritus and affiliated professor emeritus in the Department of Art, Stanford University 
  • Sylvester Okwunodo Ogbechie, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of the History of Art and Architecture, University of California, Santa Barbara
I hope to post a few thoughts on the conference early next week, and if you are in the Bay Area I hope you’ll consider attending.
Questions or Comments? Email me at derek.fincham@gmail.com

Applications Still Open for ARCA’s Postgraduate program

Amelia, Italy, home to ARCA’s summer program

If you are interested in learning why art theft happens (as occurred earlier this week in Athens) or understanding why antiquities are looted, or a host of other related questions, please consider ARCA’s program.

We have a terrific group of folks already signed on for 2012. Each year our group of applicants gets stronger and more varied. But there is still room for a few more if you are thinking of applying. The program is an investment in time and money, but we’ve done our very best to keep our tuition low, and our past students say their time in Amelia helps usher them into a new career path, establishes strong friendships, and is a terrific way to spend a summer.

The interdisciplinary program offers substantive study for a whole host of related fields from art police and security professionals, to lawyers, insurers, curators, conservators, members of the art trade.

In its fourth year, this program provides students with in-depth, master’s level instruction in a wide variety of theoretical and practical courses examining art and heritage crime: its history, its nature, its impact, and what is currently being done to mitigate it. Students completing the program earn a professional certificate under the guidance of scholars and professionals.

Here is our tentative schedule:

Courses 1&2 – June 04 -16
Noah Charney, Founding Director of ARCA, Adjunct Professor of Art History, American University of Rome – Art Crime and Its History

Dr. Derek Fincham, Academic Director of ARCA, Assistant Professor of Law, South Texas College of Law – Art and Cultural Heritage Law

Course 3 – June 18 – 22
Dorit Straus, Vice President and Worldwide Specialty Fine Art Manager for Chubb & Son, a division of Federal Insurance Company – Investigation, Insurance and the Art Trade

Course 4 – June 25- 29
Dr. Edgar Tijhuis, lawyer and assistant-professor of Criminology at the VU University in Amsterdam – Criminology, Art, and Transnational Organized Crime

Courses 5&6 – July 2-14
Richard Ellis, former Detective Sergeant Richard Ellis, founder of Scotland Yard’s Art and Antiquities Squad, Art Management Group Director, – Art Policing and InvestigationJudge Arthur Tompkins, District Court Judge in New Zealand – Art in War

Courses 7&8 – July 16-27
Dr. Tom Flynn, London-based writer and art historian –  Art History and the Art World

Dick Drent, Director of Security, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam – Museums, Security, and Art Protection

Courses 9&10 – July 30 – Aug. 10
Dr. Valerie Higgins, Associate Professor and Chair of Archaeology and Classics at The American University of Rome – Archaeology and Antiquities 

Dr. Erik Nemeth, Adjunct Staff at RAND Corporation, Founder and Researcher at Cultural Security – “Cultural Security: Interrelations of art crime, foreign policy, and perceptions of security”

It is a special program, and a really exciting opportunity for folks interested in preventing art and heritage crime. A prospectus and application may be obtained by writing to Admissions at education@artcrimeresearch.org. If you have any questions at all please contact me at derek.fincham “at” gmail.com.

Questions or Comments? Email me at derek.fincham@gmail.com