Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Art trade amendments to looted art bill rejected in parliament

Those poor antiquities dealers are claiming they are hard-done by and being victimised again (Laura Chesters, ' Art trade amendments to looted art bill rejected in parliament Antiques Trade Gazette   21 Feb 2017).   

The UK government has passed the third reading of the Cultural Property (Armed Conflicts) Bill,   designed to tackle the looting and destruction of cultural heritage in conflict zones. In the debates leading up to this, Kensington MP and the British Antique Dealers Association  president Victoria Borwick had implored ministers to “consider the views of the art and antiques industry”. Parliament however it roundly opposed amendments to the draft bill called for by the art and antiques trade.
Among those calling for amendments to the bill, were members of the art trade who had called for changes including clarification of the definition of “cultural property” and the meaning of the phrase “having reason to suspect” in the wording of the clause relating to “dealing in unlawfully exported cultural property” [clause 17.1 of the bill]. [...] However Tracey Crouch MP, the under-secretary of state for Culture, Media and Sport, who steered the bill through parliament, said: “Dealers should always be concerned to ensure that any objects they deal in have good and lawful provenance.” She said issues in the art market around provenance “will not be solved by watering down this bill”. She added that after consulting with the art trade there was "no clear evidence... this bill would create an insurmountable problem for the art market or increase the amount of due diligence that the dealers need to take. It will however provide a deterrent for those unscrupulous dealers who might be tempted to deal in unlawfully exported cultural property". 
So once again, antiquities dealers were trying to stall a cleaning up of the market by raising (US lobbyist style) pretended difficulties which in fact do not exist in any licit business. In fact the Bill cites the seminal definition of ‘cultural property’, as defined in The Hague Convention 1954 (so antiquities dealers have had ample time to consider, and challenge if they see fit, this notion - but then these atavistic milieu tends not to prioritise any form of forward looking considerations).

Rebecca Davies, chief executive of LAPADA, said [...] As things stand, and without clear guidance on this, art market professionals will face the choice of ignoring the unsubstantiated claim [on an object they were handling] and risk prosecution or accept that any claim, regardless of merit, would create grounds for suspicion under the terms of the act and effectively taint the object while exposing them to the risk of prosecution if they ignored the claim.” 
Absolutely, that is how it should be. When will dealers realise that the outside world expects would-be respectable dealers to handle only material which can be shown on the basis of proper business documentation not to be potentially tainted  - and in the British situation that means complying in full with the terms of the 2003 'Dealing in cultural property ((offences) Act'  - also in force long enough now for the dealers concerned to know its wording and act accordingly in filling their stock rooms.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Assumptions in Question in New Times

When voters feel democracy is not serving their interests, freedom starts to falter (Gideon Rachman, 'The authoritarian wave reaches the west' Financial Times, 20th Feb 2017): 
[...] This authoritarian wave threatens to undermine comfortable assumptions about how politics works. The belief that the politics of the rich, established democracies of the west are fundamentally different from those of Latin America or Asia may need to be rethought. The idea that the middle-class and the young will always be the most stalwart supporters of democracy is also looking increasingly rocky.
It seems not to be being noticed that the assumptions concerning 'western' attitudes to cultural heritage may be yet another casualty of the new times we seem to be entering.

Vignette: Financial Times

The UK 'Cultural Property Bill' has been Passed

In the UK, the the Cultural Property Bill has been passed
A Bill to enable the United Kingdom to implement the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict of 1954 and the Protocols to that Convention of 1954 and 1999
definitely not before time...

Vitaly Churkin has died

The Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin, has passed away, he was 65. The ambassador has figured on this blog in connection with certain pronouncements on the trade in antiquities from the Middle East.

Thieving metal detectorist Cop Sacked

A policeman who found £15,000 of gold coins with his metal detector has been sacked for cheating the landowner out of a share of the treasure. PC David Cockle last month admitted theft and keeping the proceeds of the sale of coins found in a Norfolk field. A misconduct hearing was told Cockle had agreed to a 50:50 split with the famer of anything valuable he found. Norfolk Chief Constable Simon Bailey, who dismissed Cockle, said it "was one of the grossest breaches of trust" [...]  Cockle, 51, who now lives in Leigh, Lancashire, will be sentenced at Ipswich Crown Court next month after criminal proceedings were brought against him by the Norfolk force. As well as pleading guilty to theft, Cockle faced three counts of handling criminal property. 
BBC 'Policeman sacked for keeping metal detecting gold coin proceeds' 20th Feb 2017.

Beats me why anyone would 'trust' a metal detectorist in the first place, the farmer was not cheated out of a 'share' in the value of the property taken from his land, he owns all of it.

Train Spotting as Archaeology?

We've got a packed programme of archaeological activities coming up on Sat - from flint-knapping to metal detecting ow.ly/Jg15308L4xI
IUn what way is flint knapping, a manual dexterity and hand-eye-coordination activity an 'archaeological' one? Rubbish. and 'metal detecting'? That's what they do in airport checkins, isn't it? Wjhy is that 'archaeological'? How about enrolling for a course advertised by clueless morons?

Sunday, 19 February 2017

That Recurrent 'Smolensk Lie'

General Piotr Pytel informs public opinion about the true views expressed on the Smolensk aircraft crash behind closed doors by one of the main PL government mystical conspiracy theorists

He was dismissed. The plane hit trees in fog as it was trying to land 10th April 2010 killing nearly a hundred VIPs on board. But claims to an alternative truth which the present government says it aims to 'uncover' are one of the main props to the populists' claim to power.

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