Antiquities Trafficking Discussion at the SAA San Francisco, April 18


I’ll be presenting a short paper on the Ka-Nefer-Nefer forfeiture case at the Society for American Archaeology Annual meeting this Saturday morning. Our panel is scheduled from 8-10.15 A.M. in the Golden Gate 4 room of the Hilton San Francisco Union Square.

Here are the other scheduled papers:

Antiquities, drugs, guns, diamonds, wildlife: toward a theory of transnational criminal markets in illicit goods
Simon Mackenzie*

The Kapoor Case: International collaboration on antiquities provenance research
Jason Felch

Alternative Strategies in Confronting Looting and Trafficking in Defense of Peruvian Portable Heritage
Alvaro Higueras

The Ka Nefer Nefer and Federal Intervention in the Illicit Antiquities Trade
Derek Fincham

Geospatial strategies for mapping large scale archaeological site destruction: The case from Egypt
Sarah Parcak

Bones of Contention: Further Investigation into the Online Trade in Archaeological and Ethnographic Human Remains
Duncan Chappell & Damien Huffer

The ruin of the Maya heartland: successes, failures, and consequences of four decades of antiquities trafficking regulation
Donna Yates

Syria: Cultural Property Protection Policy Failure?
Neil Brodie

Morag Kersel will also be presenting a paper on her project Follow the Pots

Conference: The Fate of Cultural Property in Armed Conflict

The Lawyers’ Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation is sponsoring an interesting and timely event on cultural property during armed conflict:

Protecting the Past: The Fate of Cultural Property in times of Armed Conflict

April 24, 2008
1:30pm – 4:30pm Program
4:30pm – 5:30pm Reception

National Trust for Historic Preservation
Board Room, 2nd floor
1785 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20052

There isn’t a cost to attend this event, but pre-registration is required, as space is limited

Register Online to Attend “Protecting the Past”


Panel I – Looking Back: Lessons Learned from Past Conflicts
Individual presentations, followed by questions.

Lynn H. Nicholas, Independent researcher of Nazi era social and
cultural policy and author of “Rape of Europa,” will discuss Nazi and World
War II art looting, wartime preservation measures and post-War restitution.

Robert M. Edsel, Author of the non-fiction book, “Rescuing Da
Vinci,” co-producer of the documentary film, “The Rape of Europa,” and
Founder and President of the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation
of Art, will discuss the role of the WWII Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives
troops in protecting, preserving and restituting looted art.

András J. Riedlmayer, Harvard University, will discuss the
destruction of cultural property during the Balkan Wars of the 1990s.

Hays Parks, U.S. Department of Defense, will discuss the history of
and U.S. position toward the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of
Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.

Thomas R. Kline – Panel Chair, Attorney, Andrews Kurth LLP, and
Assistant Professorial Lecturer, GWU, Museum Studies Program.

Panel II – Looking Forward: Applying the Lessons Learned.
Round table discussion, followed by questions to members of both panels.

Corine Wegener, President, U.S. Committee of the Blue Shield;
Associate Curator, Architecture, Design, Decorative Arts, Craft, and
Sculpture at The Minneapolis Institute of Arts and Major (retired) in the
U.S. Army Reserve, will discuss looting and destruction of cultural property
at the Iraq National Museum and recovery efforts and also the role of the
Blue Shield in protecting cultural property in future conflicts.

John Russell, Professor, Massachusetts College of Art, and former
Senior Advisor to the Iraqi Ministry of Culture, Coalition Provisional
Authority, will discuss damage done to cultural heritage during the Iraq War
and efforts toward cooperation between the U.S. military and cultural
heritage professionals of different nationalities.

Richard Jackson, Special Assistant to the Judge Advocate General for
Law of War Matters and Army Colonel (Ret.), will discuss current attitudes
of the U.S. military toward the Hague Convention and obligations to preserve
cultural heritage during armed conflict.

Patty Gerstenblith – Panel Chair, Professor, DePaul College of Law,
and President, Lawyers’ Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation.

Questions or Comments? Email me at

Conference: Return of Cultural Property to its Country of Origin.

Next week in Athens at the New Acropolis Museum, the Hellenic Ministry of Culture, in cooperation with UNESCO will sponsor a conference on “Return of Cultural Property to its Country of Origin”. Here is an excerpt of the press release by UNESCO:

The conference participants will reflect upon and exchange experiences on the issue of the return of cultural property, examining several successful return cases, including: the Axum Obelisk from Italy to Ethiopia, the return of the Stone Birds of Great Zimbabwe from Germany to Zimbabwe, the return of human remains to the Ngarrindjeri Aboriginal tribe of South Australia, the “Utimut” cooperation project for the return of cultural objects from Denmark to Greenland, the reunification of a Neo-Sumerian alabaster figure (cooperation project between the Louvre Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of New York) and the case of the ceremonial mask of the Kwakwaka’wakw people of Vancouver Island between the British Museum and Canada.

On the second day, four thematic workshops will debate:
• Ethical and Legal Aspects,
• Mediation and Cultural Diplomacy,
• Museums, Sites and Cultural Context
• International Cooperation and Research.

Discussions will also take place on ways to strengthen the action of the Intergovernmental Committee for Promoting the Return of Cultural Property to its Countries of Origin or its Restitution in case of Illicit Appropriation.

Established by UNESCO in 1978, the Intergovernmental Committee provides a framework for discussion and negotiation on the return or restitution of cultural property. The committee, composed of 22 elected member states, remains strictly advisory, establishing forums for debate and offering non-legally binding recommendations.

Proceedings will be published and made available for the 15th session of the Intergovernmental Committee, scheduled for June 2009. The return and restitution of cultural property will also be the theme of another meeting to be held in November this year in Seoul (Republic of Korea), where an extraordinary session of the Intergovernmental Committee will be held to mark its 30th anniversary.

* The New Acropolis Museum, 2-4 Makriyanni Str, 117 42, Athens Greece

A Program of the events is here, and an impressive cast of heritage thinkers and experts have been assembled, including at least two fellow bloggers, Lee Rosenbaum and David Gill who will hopefully share their thoughts when they return.

Questions or Comments? Email me at

Upcoming Events in the UK

The Institute of Art and Law is organizing two upcoming events in the UK in November. The first is on forgeries; while the second looks at the role of lex situs in cultural property disputes. This has had a lot of impact in recent months with the Iranian claims at the High Court.

I am pleased to be able to present a bit of my own work at the second conference. I’ll focus on the approach the US has taken to the lex situs rule. I’m excited to present my work, but perhaps more interested in hearing what Norman Palmer and Kevin Chamberlain have to say on the topic, two of the very best cultural heritage lawyers in the UK. Here are the details:

Fakes and Forgeries: International efforts to maintain the integrity of art and antiquities in association with Devonshires Solicitors on 23rd November in
central London.

Subjects to be examined include:
• the liability of auction houses in the sale of fake or forged artworks
• the criminal investigation and prosecution of those responsible for fakes and forged works
• liability in English civil law for fakes and forgeries
• the continued expansion of the criminal market for fakes and forgeries with emphasis on Russian and Aboriginal cases
• liability in French law for fakes and forgeries

Location, Location, Location: the role of the lex situs principle in modern claims for the return of cultural objects in association with Withers LLP on 30th
November in central London.

Recent cases emphasise that the role of private law in determining claims for art and antiquities is vital. This seminar will examine the workings of the ordinary law of title in a cross-border setting and ask whether private title claims are more effective than claims based on international treaties or other legal devices.

Full details of these seminars are available at or tel: 01982 560 666

Questions or Comments? Email me at

Upcoming Conferences

Next week in London the American Bar Association will be holding its fall international meeting. On Thursday, from 4-5.30 there will be a panel discussion on the International Movement of Art & Cultural Property:

Public International Law

Museums around the globe confront numerous obstacles in dealing with claims made on the art works and cultural objects in their collections. In some cases, works may have been placed on loan years ago and a museum may not know the current owner or may be presented with a claim to restore the works to the lender. Museums must also safeguard the ownership rights of victims of theft, including nations whose antiquities have been illegally excavated and removed and Holocaust victims and their heirs whose art properties were stolen during World War II. Finally, works on loan may be claimed to satisfy judgments received against the owner. In the United States, the ability of museums to remove art works from their collections through deaccessioning depends on laws that vary from state to state. The problem is more complicated in countries where museums are prohibited by law to remove any works from their collections. This panel will address issues of deaccessioning, long-term loans, and return guarantees for works on international loan and consider policies that may lead to greater cooperation in this complicated area of international law.

Co-Sponsoring Committees:

Europe Committee International Commercial Transactions, Franchising, and Distribution Committee, International Intellectual Property Committee , Information Services, Technology, and Data Protection Committee, Immigration and Naturalization Law Committee, and Financial Products and Services Committee

Program Chair:
Cristian DeFrancia, Legal Adviser, Iran – United States Claims Tribunal, The Hague, Netherlands

Ricardo A. St. Hilaire, Chief Prosecutor, Grafton County, Concord, New Hampshire


Lawrence M. Shindell, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, ARIS Corporation, Milwaukee, WI
Norman Palmer, Rowe & Maw Professor of Commercial Law, Faculty of Laws, University College, London, England
Patty Gerstenblith, Professor, DePaul University College of Law, Chicago, IL
Bonnie Czegledi, Founder, Czegledi Art Law, Toronto, Canada

A likely topic for discussion may be the new consultation paper on Draft Regulations for the Museums and Galleries of Information for the Purposes of Immunity from Seizure Under Part 6 of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007.

Another conference will be taking place at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign April 24-25, 2008. It looks beyond the law at how heritage is constructed, and sounds fascinating. Here are the details:


Thursday and Friday, April 24-25, 2008
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Spurlock Museum and the Collaborative for Cultural Heritage and Museum Practices (CHAMP) have organized a major conference on “Contested Cultural Heritage” to be held at the Museum on Friday, April 25, 2008. Dr. Donny George Youkhanna, former Director of the Iraq National Museum and now Visiting Professor at the State University of New York-Stony Brook, will deliver the keynote address of the conference (“Mayhem in Mesopotamia” on April 24).

The conference brings together an international group of scholars to discuss how forces of religion and nationalism may act to heighten inter-group tension around heritage claims, even to the point of causing the destruction of ancient and historic sites. Among the cases to be considered are the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan; Christian and Muslim conflict resolution at a major mosque in Cordoba, Spain; different views and practices toward the indigenous past among Native Americans and the archaeologists who study their ancestors; the Parthenon/Elgin Marbles debate; Egypt’s demand for the return of the Bust of Nefertiti; heritage frictions implicated in the recent Balkans War; Peru’s attempt to repatriate the Machu Picchu collections from Yale University; and the aggressive marking of Protestant and Catholic identities in Belfast, Northern Ireland through wall art. A roundtable discussion at the end of the conference seeks to chart new directions for implementing policies that lessen the negative dimensions of cultural heritage and further awareness of its value for a larger public, thereby promoting site preservation as well as social/political harmony.

Questions or Comments? Email me at

Upcoming Antiquities Conference at SMU

There looks to be an excellent conference coming up at Southern Methodist University called the Future of the Past: Ethical Implications of Collecting Antiquities in the 21st Century. It aims to “explore the ethically complex and challenging world of collecting ancient cultural objects.” It will be held October 18-19, 2007 in Dallas , Texas at SMU. I’m disappointed I will not be able to attend as I will be preparing for the AALS Faculty Recruitment Conference instead.

There certainly looks to be an impressive array of cultural policy scholars:

Michael Adler, Ph.D.
Executive Director, SMU-in-Taos
Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology
Southern Methodist University

Alex Barker, Ph.D
Director, Museum of Art and Archaeology
University of Missouri-Columbia

Susan B. Bruning, J.D.
Adjunct Lecturer in Law
Southern Methodist University

Emma C. Bunker
Research Consultant, Denver Art Museum
Associate/Adjunct Member of Art History,
University of Pittsburgh

Donald Forsyth Craib III, Esq.
Attorney at Law
Craib Law Office, PLC

Torkom Demirjian
Ariadne Gallery
New York, New York

David Freidel, Ph.D.
University Distinguished Professor of Anthropology
Southern Methodist University

Patty Gerstenblith, J.D., Ph.D.
Professor of Law
DePaul University College of Law

Jay I. Kislak
Founder and President, Jay I. Kislak Foundation
Chair, Cultural Property Advisory Committee

Leigh Kuwanwisiwma
Hopi Cultural Preservation Office

Lee Wayne Lomayestewa
Hopi Cultural Preservation Office

John Henry Merriman, J.D, L.L.M, J.S.D
Sweitzer Professor of Law and Affiliated Professor of Art Emeritus
Stanford University

Phyllis Mauch Messenger
Director, Wesley Center
Hamline University

Timothy Potts, Ph.D.
Kimbell Museum of Art

Gary Vikan, Ph.D.
The Walters Art Museum

P. Gregory Warden, Ph.D.
Professor of Art History
Southern Methodist University
Director, Mugello Valley Archaeological Project

Randall White, Ph.D.
Department of Anthropology
New York University

Henry Wright, Ph.D.
Professor of Anthropology
University of Michigan

Donny George Youkhanna, Ph.D.
Iraqi Scholar
Visiting Professor
Stony Brook University

Questions or Comments? Email me at

International Law and Trade Conference in Istanbul

Last week I had the good fortune to present my work at the ILTC Conference in Istanbul. The title of my talk was “New Strategies for Source and Market Regulation of the International Trade in Cultural Property”. It went well, and we really enjoyed our time in Istanbul, the highlight of which was a dinner cruise on the Bosphorus. Here’s a quick summary of my presentation, in which I talked about the suitability of increased criminal penalties, antiquities leasing, and electronic databases as tools for decreasing the illicit trade:

Cultural property has a universal appeal. Objects of artistic, cultural, archaeological, and historical importance are rapidly escalating in price. As demand for these cultural items increases, the theft and looting of cultural property escalates as well. A number of legal measures have been created to attempt to limit the illicit market in cultural property. With notable exceptions, these restrictions have proved largely unsuccessful in limiting the trade in illicit cultural property, which has been estimated as the third largest black market behind illegal narcotics and firearms. Regulation of the illicit trade in cultural property has been difficult for two reasons. First, many of the current regulatory measures, such as export controls and national patrimony laws, have the unintended consequence of increasing demand for these objects on the black market. Second, the flow of cultural items is international. Many of the World’s most important and historic antiquities are located in the developing world. This international character requires an international regulatory framework. It requires the cooperation of authorities from the industrialized and the developed world. Regrettably, effective cooperation has not yet taken place.

Nearly every nation, especially those rich in art and antiquities, has some form of restriction on the transfer of cultural property. The restrictions at the source of these objects take various forms, and include: export restrictions, a pre-emptive right to buy some objects, or a declaration of national ownership. The United States and the UK have both recently affirmed the notion that their criminal justice system will recognize as stolen objects taken in contravention of a national ownership declaration. This stands as an important step, but only marks the very pinnacle of the regulatory framework, intended only for the most egregious transgressions.

A truly effective regulatory scheme must work in concert with the art and antiquities trade to push the movement of cultural items, and the profits derived from their sale, in beneficial directions. To accomplish this end, I advocate a strong and vibrant arts and antiquities market. However it must be closely regulated to prevent illicit transactions. To accomplish this, I propose a system of regulation and investment which would require arts and antiquities transactions to be conducted openly, with records of transactions, provenance, find-spots, and export permits. Regardless of the other intricate regulatory frameworks we might endorse, the illicit trade will almost certainly continue to flourish without a fundamental shift in the way art and antiquities are bought and sold.

In recent years, the cultural property debate has focused on the extent to which the criminal law can impact the illicit trade. This has unfortunately shifted the discussion away from cultural property policy. Museum curators are forced to acquire objects, not based on their artistic or historical value, but rather on the criminal advice of their counsel. Connoisseur ship has been displaced by other considerations. We should be looking at how best to safeguard archaeological sites, museums, and other historic sites to prevent theft and destruction. A criminal response, in isolation, can never hope to achieve success without overwhelming law enforcement resources or draconian legal measures.

Questions or Comments? Email me at

New Legal Issues in Museum Administration Course

Rachelle Browne, Associate General Counsel for the Smithsonian Institution, has asked if I would post information on the following course, sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution with the
American Law Institute-American Bar Association and the American Association of Museums.

It sounds like an interesting and timely event, and I’m happy to oblige:

The 2007 “Legal Issues in Museum Administration” Course will be held
from March 14, 2007, through March 16, 2007, in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania, at the Sheraton Philadelphia City Center Hotel. This
annual course is sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution with the
American Law Institute-American Bar Association and the American
Association of Museums. In addition to receiving two and one-half days
of instruction on the legal and ethical issues arising from museum
management from a broad array of legal scholars and private
practitioners, museum counsel, and administrators from the museum and
academic communities, registrants will have an opportunity to visit the
Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
and, as optional trips, the Barnes Foundation and the “King Tutankhamun
and the Golden Age of Pharaohs” exhibit at the Franklin Institute.

A full program description and information on registration and hotels may
be obtained from the online brochure at:

Questions or Comments? Email me at