Footnotes 2.8.2010

  • The Woolworth’s lunch counter sit-in site becomes a Civil Rights Museum in Greensboro, N.C.
  • 1909 murder-suicide in the UK’s National Portrait Gallery published in their Archive Catalogue.
  • The Jewish heir to a Nazi looted Klimt landscape has agreed to split the $45.4 million proceeds from the Sotheby’s auction with the current owner, who bought it in good faith.
  • Shaun Greenhalgh, the extremely talented forger who sold fake masterpieces to British museums and auction houses, was recently sentenced to prison, along with his octogenarian accomplice parents.
  • Since the FBI’s Art Crime Unit’s inception in 2004, $142 million worth of art has been recovered, yet an estimated $8 billion is lost each year in art and cultural property crimes.
  • An agreement has been reached between the United States Government, private corporations and preservation societies that will protect carvings on Utah’s Nine Mile Canyon.
  • East Asian remains were found in a 1 CE Roman necropolis, which suggest that there could have been East Asians in Italy before a formal delegation from the Han dynasty made it’s “First Contact.”
  • More deaccessioning thoughts from Judith H. Dobrzynski since her January 2nd article “The Art of the Deal” in the New York Times.
  • Mark Durney points looks at whether art theft is seasonal.
  • Slate looks at the power of civil asset forfeiture, a tool often used by prosecutors in art and antiquities regulation.    
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Footnotes 2/2/2010

  • UNESCO wisely calls for a ban in the trade of Haitian artifacts to prevent looting.
  • A Korean civic group will appeal a French Court’s decision holding looted Korean royal texts to be French public material because they have been in France for over 140 years.
  • Over 3,000 people have signed a petition to cease the break up of a musical instrument collection at the V&A Museum in London.
  • Funding for the Arts will hold steady under Obama’s budget.
  • The FBI has paid Ted Gardiner, the Utah antiquities dealer and undercover operative in a federal bust of artifact trading, a total of $224,000 for his cooperation in the investigation.
  • The Egyptian Parliament amended Egypt’s antiquities law, which forbids trade in antiquities but allows possession of antiquities with some individuals.
  • Seven people, including a pastor, were held in Chennai, India for smuggling antique idols.
  • According to Noah Charney, stolen art is the 3rd most illegally trafficked item after drugs and guns, and is used by organized criminals for bargaining.
  • Author of Among Thieves, David Hosp is interviewed and discusses what being an art thief must be like.
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  • A surprising judgment was handed down by a German Court, ruling that a rare poster collection stolen by the Nazi Gestapo, although legally owned by the Jewish heir of the original owner Hans Sachs, could remain in a museum because the heir has no legal remedy to possess the collection.
  • Suzanne Glass, the great granddaughter of Hans Sachs, has written a more intimate take on the story behind the aforementioned rare poster collection.
  • The First Circuit Court of Appeals hands down major victory for artists and rules in favor of Christoph Buchel, holding Mass MoCA to be in violation of Buchel’s right to artistic integtrity.
  • Beginning in 1473 with the earliest documented instance of art theft, numerous works of art have been stolen by a variety of criminals, but the multiple thefts of Munch’s The Scream trumps them all.
  • Following an international precedent of returning looted cultural heritage, the Bolivian government will return four colonial oil paintings to Argentina after they were stolen two years ago.
  • Is archaeological discovery a good thing when it leads to destruction? The reactivation of interest in archaeology from new discoveries and subsequent television programs about antiquities could be cause of recent tomb looting in China.
  • A panel discussion titled Collectors, Dealers, Museums & the Law, with the purpose of increasing awareness of cultural property laws as well as the legal responsibilities of collectors, dealers, and museums, will take place February 11th, at noon Pacific, in San Rafael, California.
  • Perhaps the only way to decrease the illicit removal of cultural objects in India is if protective measures are professionalized and creative partnerships developed with local communities.
  • Although speculation as to the authenticity of the Archaic Mark (Gospel of Mark) codex has been rife for more than 60 years, US scholars and scientists have proven that one of the jewels of the University of Chicago’s manuscript collection is a skilled late 19th- or early 20th-century forgery.
  • New Trend Alert: Museums and Gallery’s exhibiting forgeries, the artists who create these fakes, and skilled tactics used to detect forged art, like the two week exhibition at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum.
  • 2009 proved to be a horrendous year for the Museum world, but 2010 brings a mood of cautious optimism.
  • David Gill discusses the issue of the looting on archaeological sites to provide material for the market and to fund organized crime, and Christina Ruiz discusses funding terrorism, specifically 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta’s attempted sale of Afghan loot to a German archaeologist.
  • A Defense attorney in the four-corners antiquities investigation is raising questions about the unnamed informant.  The sources was integral to the Government’s 2½-year multistate investigation into illegal artifact trafficking of objects from Pueblan civilizations.
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Footnotes, Jan. 28

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