I have had five wonderful years serving ARCA (the Association for Research into Crimes Against Art), but in any professional endeavor, there comes a time to leave. For me that time is now. I have made the decision to resign due to differences regarding the management of the organization. Though I respect much of the work ARCA has done; share its passion for exposing heritage crime; and understand the struggles of small non-profits; as an advocate who urges transparency on the part of museums and auction houses, I must part ways when my concerns have not been addressed.
We have just returned from Amelia and the first five weeks of the ARCA program in Amelia. Last weekend ARCA held its fourth annual conference, and the event gets better every year, a fact evidenced I think by how many folks returned to Amelia for the conference again this year. The event brings together a diverse set of talents, which is necessary given the challenges facing heritage advocates. These dangers include theft, archaeological looting, the sale of illicit objects in the market, forgery, and destruction during armed conflict. And the challenge of course when one begins a conference is to ask what one little conversation can do in the face of this heritage crime. Our hope is to take the conversation and carry it back to our work. As we know, many of these conversations focus on the Mediterranean, and the return of illicit objects there (and even the claims for more returns).
This means of course that many other areas of the World are left under-considered. To open the conference I discussed the ongoing case of a looted statue from Koh Ker which has been seized by U.S. attorneys in a forfeiture proceeding from Sotheby’s. We were able to invite with His Royal Highness Ravivaddhana Sisowath, Prince of Cambodia to give some remarks. He spoke about the importance of these statues to the people of Cambodia, and the circumstances surrounding their removal in the conflict during the 1970s involving the Vietnam War and the Khmer Rouge. Later on Saturday we were able to present awards in person to three of the very best kinds of advocates in this field: Joris Kila, an expert in protecting cultural heritage during armed conflict who has visited Libya and other at risk sites; Jason Felch, a reporter for the L.A. Times who has continued important work in this field with ideas like Wikiloot; and finally George Abungu, the Vice-President of ICOM and a powerful advocate for heritage protection. His discussion of African rock art was one of the very best discussions of art and heritage protection I have seen.
There were many other highlights—the presentation from Dr. Laurie Rush on heritage protection as a force multiplier was outstanding, and of course the early career presentations were some of the best of the weekend.
Many many thanks to everyone at ARCA for such a terrific weekend, including Monica, Lynda, Catherine, Kirsten, Noah, and of course Joni. You can save the date already for our fifth conference, June 22-23, 2013 in Amelia again.
|Inside la banditaccia at the Etruscan Necropolis near Cerveteri|
Last Friday I finished teaching my art and cultural heritage law course here in Amelia as a part of ARCA’s masters certificate program. One of the highlights of my year is coming to Amelia for ARCA’s program, and the field class at Cerveteri captures so much of what makes cultural heritage policy a rich and interesting area to study—but there are frustrations as well.
First the good. There are beautiful vibrant works of art in the houses for the dead. We met Stefano Alessandrini who took us through the necropolis and the tombs. They now have names like ‘the tomb of the Grecian Urns’—where of course many Greek pieces of pottery were found. And the highlight is the ‘tomb of the reliefs’ with wonderful frescoes, bas-reliefs, and sculptures that portray a number of professions. The images are familiar and comfortable, except maybe for the image of Cerberus on the far wall. The burial complex was quite large, far larger in fact than the protected area of Cerveteri in the banded area. And outside of the protected world heritage site are tombs in need of conservation, some exposed tufo rock tombs, and also some vulnerable unexcavated tombs.
You can see the area from this google maps image. To the right of the white line is the unexcavated or non-conserved area. To the left is the well-kept World Heritage Site.
There was one Italian archaeological excavation of a tomb outside la Banditaccia:
What one wants is to be aware. If one looks at an Etruscan helmet, then it is better to be fully aware of that helmet, in its own setting, in its own complex of associations, than it is to ‘look over’ a thousand museums of stuff. Any one impression that goes really down into the soul, it is worth a million hasty impressions of a million important things.
In order to encourage continued awareness of the growing field of art crime and cultural heritage protection ARCA will host its fourth-annual conference in Amelia.
The interdisciplinary event brings together those who have an interest in the responsible stewardship of our collective cultural heritage. Presenters will discuss topics including:
- the display and sale of looted objects;
- strategies to combat the illicit trade in cultural property;
- current law enforcement investigations;
- and the problem of art fraud and forgery.
The conference will take place beside Amelia’s Archaeological Museum in Sala Boccarini. ARCA’s annual conference is held at the seat of our Postgraduate Certificate Program, in Amelia each summer.
Please find the conference flyer below the jump.
Vanja Stojanovic, a terrific student at the University of Guelph put together this short interview after the ARTHattack! conference where I talk a bit about ARCA, the current situation in Greece and the art market:
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
|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.
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”
|Hamilton, New Zealand|
I cannot recommend Judge Tompkins’s course highly enough, he covers art and war from ancient times in Greece and Rome up to the present Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.
Here are the details:
Continuing Education Flyer for Art Crime During Armed Conflict
|Neil Brodie, accepting his ARCA award|
This past weekend ARCA held its annual conference just off the medieval cloister here in Amelia, Italy. As part of the conference ARCA presents its awards to those whose research or work has made a contribution to the field of art and heritage protection. These are nominated by and voted on by ARCA’s Trustees and past award winners.
Two of our award winners were able to make it in person this year. Neil Brodie received an award for his scholarship. Neil joined ARCA for the first six weeks of the summer as a writer in residence, offering lectures to students and working on his next piece. But the highlight of the conference for me might have been the standing ovation the students gave him when he won his award. Neil has of course written extensively on the looting of antiquities and their eventual sale. He has conducted archaeological fieldwork and was the former director of the Illicit Antiquities Research Centre at the University of Cambridge. His terrific writing on the illicit trade in antiquities stands as a thoughtful and passionate cry for the preservation of a vanishing and finite resource.
Paolo Ferri was also presented an award for policing and recovery. Dr. Ferri has been a prominent figure in the return of many looted antiquities from North American public and private collections. He now serves as an expert in international relations and recovery of works of art for the Italian Culture Ministry. This was Ferri’s first award for all of his work. The man who played such a large role in the return of so many beautiful antiquities to Italy had a quiet and direct manner and throughout the weekend was quick with a smile. He offered some interesting suggestions for future policy, including an International Art Court, but what struck me more than anything was his almost polite insistence for obeying legal and ethical principles.
The other award winners who were unable to attend were Lord Colin Renfrew, and Prof. John Henry Merryman.
|Joni on the left, during a break on Saturday|
It was a terrific conference thanks in large part to Joni’s terrific planning, and I hope she’ll forgive me for dragging her into this undertaking. Thanks as well go to the ARCA staff who worked very hard to make things run smoothly, all of the presenters, students and attendees. These folks made for a super weekend.
Many of these issues can quickly get contentious, but the weekend allowed for plenty of opportunities for discussion, polite disagreement, and conversation. Next year’s conference will likely be a few weeks earlier, in June, and I’m very much looking forward to it.
7:00 pm Welcome Event: Cocktails at Palazzo Farratini
Saturday, July 9th (Sala Boccarrini)
8:00 am – Conference Registration
8:30 am – Opening Remarks
9:00 am – 10:30 am Harmonising Police Cooperation and Returns
9:00 am – 9:20 am Arthur Tompkins, “Paying a Ransom: The Theft of 96 Rare Medals and the Reward Payments”
9:20 am – 9:40 am Ludo Block, “European Police Cooperation on Art Crime”
9:40 am – 10:00 am Saskia Hufnagel, “Harmonising Police Cooperation in the Field of Art Crime in Australia and the European Union”
10:00 am – 10:20 am Panel Discussion and Questions from the Audience
10:20 am – 10:40 am Coffee Break
10:40 am – 12:00 pm Perspectives on Forgery and the Local Impact of Heritage Crime
10:40 am – 11:00 am Laurie Rush, “Art Crime; Effects of a Global Issue at the Community Level”
11:00 am – 11:20 am Duncan Chappell, “Forgery of Australian Aboriginal Art”
11:40 am – 12:00 pm Panel Discussion and Questions from the Audience
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm Lunch Break and Snacks in the Cloister
1:00 pm – 2:40 pm Historical Perspectives on Looting and Recovery
1:00 pm – 1:20 pm Maria Elena Versari, “Iconoclasm by (Legal) Proxy: Restoration, Legislation and the Ideological Decay of Fascist Ruins”
1:20 pm – 1:40 pm Annika Kuhn, “The Looting of Cultural Property: A View from Classical Antiquity”
1:40 pm – 2:00 pm Elena Franchi, “Under the Protection of the Holy See: The Florentine Works of Art and Their Moving to Alto Adige in 1944”
2:00 pm – 2:20 pm Charlotte Woodhead, “Assessing the Moral Strength of Holocaust Art Restitution Claims”
2:20 pm – 2:40 pm Panel Discussion and Questions from the Audience
2:40 pm – 3:00 pm Coffee Break
3:00 pm – 4:30 pm ARCA Annual Awards
Awards in absentia to Lord Colin Renfrew and John Henry Merryman
4:30 pm – 6:30 Writers of Art Crime
4:30 pm – 5:00 pm Vernon Silver
5:00 pm – 5:30 pm Fabio Isman
5:30 pm – 6:00 pm Peter Watson
6:00 pm – 6:30 pm Panel Discussion and Questions from the Audience
8:00 pm Gala Dinner at Locanda
Sunday, July 10th
8:30 am – 10:10 am Fresh Perspectives on Art and Heritage Crime
8:30 am – 8:50 am Leila Amineddoleh, “The Pillaging of the Abandoned Spanish Countryside”
8:50 am – 9:10 am Courtney McWhorter, “Perception of Forgery According to the Role of Art”
9:10 am – 9:30 am Michelle D’Ippolito, “Discrepancies in Data: The Role of Museums in Recovering Stolen Works of Art”
9:30 am – 9:50 am Sarah Zimmer, “The Investigation of Object TH 1988.18: Rembrandt’s 100 Guilder Print”
9:50 am – 10:10 am Panel Discussions and Questions from the Audience
10:10 am – 10:30 am Coffee Break
10:30 am – 11:30 am Cultural Heritage and Armed Conflict
10:30 pm – 10:50 pm Mark Durney
10:50 pm – 11:10 pm Larry Rothfield
11:10 pm – 11:30 pm Katharyn Hanson
11:30 pm – 11:50 pm Panel Discussion and Questions from the Audience
11:50 am – 12:10 pm Coffee Break
12:10 pm – 1:30 pm 40-year Anniversary of the 1970 UNESCO Panel
12:10 pm – 12:30 pm Catherine Sezgin
12:30 pm – 1 pm Chris Marinello
1:00 pm – 1:20 pm Panel Discussion and Questions from the Audience
1:30 pm End of the Conference
Presenters who were unable to attend:
Richard Altman, “Christie’s Failure to Accurately Attribute a Leonardo da Vinci Painting in 1997”
Ruth Redmond-Cooper, “Limitation of Actions to Recover Cultural Objects”
Norman Palmer 2009 ARCA Award Recipient
Phyllis Callina, “Historic Forgeries”