Apr 21, 2009

"What fools the curator also fools the collector"

[image]Charles Stanish, Anthropology professor at UCLA makes some great arguments in the May/June issue of Archaeology magazine about the intersection of eBay and antiquities manufacturing. The piece, "Forging Ahead: Or how I learned to stop worrying and love eBay" argues the popular auction site is not as big a problem for the looting of ancient sites as many of us might believe. Instead, a number of forgeries have begun to flood the market. It is a terrific, and frightening article. It echoes an argument I've been trying to make in recent months: that the lack of transparency in the antiquities trade is defrauding our cultural heritage. Without an accurate and impartial accounting of an object's history, how can we know for sure if an object is forged?

Pictured here is an image from the piece of a forged Moche portrait vessel. What about other potentially forged antiquities? Stanish argues in the piece:

The wealthier collector who up to now has been laughing about the naive folks who buy on eBay is in for a surprise, too: those dealers that provide private sales are some of the forgers' best customers, knowingly or otherwise. In fact, the workshops reserve their "finest" pieces for collectors using the same backdoor channels as before, but now with a much higher profit margin because they are selling fakes. As a former curator myself, I know that an embarrassingly high percentage of objects in our museums are forgeries. What fools the curator also fools the collector.
From the professional's point of view, there are really three kinds of "antiquities" on eBay. About 30 percent are obvious fakes or tourist art that can be detected by looking at the pictures, even the fuzzy ones. These are easy to pick out because they are not intentional reproductions, but simple pieces manufactured for tourists and sold as such. The creators of these pieces mix up iconography and choose colors and shapes for visual effect. Such objects are clearly not ancient. Another five percent or so are probably real, while the rest are in the ambiguous category of "I would have to hold it in my hand to be able to make an informed decision." This latter category has grown fast.
This isn't an isolated problem. Consider the Getty Kouros, the Bolton forgers, and the others we do not yet know about.

One intriguing idea which struck me as I read the piece is how perhaps the demand for antiquities can be appropriately shifted to purchasing modern recreations. Rather than insist on buying an authentic "antiquity" a better model perhaps would be if buyers purchase modern recreations—which might be considered unique works of art in their own right. Many of these forgeries are similar in many respects to the "real" thing. As Stanish argues "I know . . . of one fellow who makes grass-tempered reproductions of a 2,000-year-old pottery style. Having worked on archaeological projects for years, he learned to get the grass for his fakes from ancient middens near his house. If fired properly, and if the organic residue in one of his pots were carbon dated, it would appear to be a very old piece indeed."
Post a Comment

Labels

"Bronze Statue of a Victorious Youth" (17) 1954 Hague Convention (12) 1972 World Heritage Convention (1) Aboriginal Heritage (1) Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988 (SA) (2) act of state doctrine (1) Admiralty Law (11) Afghanistan (10) Africa (4) Albright-Knox Gallery (3) Aleppo (2) Alfred Stieglitz (2) Alternative Dispute Resolution (1) Angkor (1) Anti-Seizure Legislation (1) antiquites (3) antiquities (337) Antiquities Act 1906 (2) Antiquities leasing (10) antiquities looting (4) antiquities smuggling (3) antiquities theft (6) ARCA (8) ARCA Annual Conference (10) ARCA MA Program (6) Archaeological Resources Protection Act (5) Archival Recovery Team (ART) (3) Archives (1) Armed Conflict (22) Arrests (79) Art and Cultural Heritage Law (1) Art Beat Constables (9) Art Crime Statistics (1) art fraud (9) art history (1) Art Institute Chicago (3) art law (1) Art Loans (9) Art Loss Register (19) Art Market (10) Art Theft (262) Artist Resale Right (1) arts funding (1) Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) (8) Athens (3) Auction (99) austerity (2) Australia (7) Austria (3) Authentication (3) Babylon (3) Banksy (1) Big Bend National Park (1) bilateral agreements (2) Black Hills (1) Bolton Forgers (4) Book Theft (3) Brazil (5) British Museum (13) Bronze (5) Bronze Statue of a Victorious Youth (1) Brueghel (1) Bruno Lohse (3) Brussels (1) Bührle Collection Theft (4) Bulgaria (4) Burke and Wills (2) Burns Mummies (1) Byzantine Artifacts (4) Cairo (1) Cairo art theft (2) California Raids (6) Caligula (1) Cambodia (11) Camille Pissarro (7) Carabinieri (6) Caravaggio (1) catalogue raisonné (1) Cellini Salt Cellar (2) Central Park (1) Cerveteri (1) Chance Finds (3) Charles Goldie (1) Chihuly Glass (1) China (15) Christie's (14) Church Thefts (6) Civil War (2) Claude Monet (4) Claudia Seger-Thomschitz (3) Cleveland Bronze Apollo (2) Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) (5) Coins (7) Colonial Art (1) Columbia (1) Conferences (7) Conservation (1) Conventions (1) Copyright (5) Corot (1) Corrections (1) cosmpoplitanism (4) Costa Rica (2) CPIA (10) criminal charges (5) criminology (1) Crystal Bridges Museum (5) Cultral Property Advisory Committee (9) Cultural First Aid (2) cultural heritage (6) cultural heritage careers (2) Cultural Heritage Moot Court Competition (2) Cultural heritage movement (1) cultural justice (3) cultural policy (18) cultural property (4) Cultural Resource Management (1) cultural security (1) culture funding (1) curatorial theft (2) Cycladic Figurines (1) Cyprus (9) Dahshour (1) Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) (2) Database (5) Databases (4) DCMS (2) Deaccessioning (24) Dead Sea Scrolls (1) Dealing in Cultural Objects (Offences) Act 2003 (4) Declaratory Suits (4) Demand and Refusal (2) Design and Artists Copyright Society (1) Detroit Institute of Art (1) development (1) Dick Ellis (2) Diplomatic Bags (1) Doctrine of Discovery (3) Donald Trump (3) Donny George Youkhanna (2) Dr. No (6) Droite de Suite (2) Dubai (1) due diligence (5) eBay (5) Economics (1) Ecuador (1) Edgar Degas (2) Edinburgh (1) Edoardo Almagia (1) Edvard Munch (2) Egon Schiele (4) Egypt (55) El-Hibeh (2) Elgin Marbles (5) empirical studies (1) England (4) environmental justice (4) Environmental law (2) Erik Nemeth (1) Etruscans (2) Euphronios Krater (4) European Court of Human Rights (1) Export Restrictions (19) Fakes (6) FBI (16) FBI Art Crime Team (16) Festivus (1) Fifth Circuit (1) fire (1) Fisk University (3) Footnotes (59) force multiplier (1) Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) (6) forfeiture (13) Forgery (27) fossils (2) Four Corners Antiquities Investigation (11) fractional ownership (2) Francavilla Marittima (1) France (30) Francesco Rutelli (15) Frans van Mieris (2) Frederick Schultz (3) freedman's town (2) Gaza (1) George Grosz (1) Georgia (1) Georgia O'Keeffe (2) Germanicus (2) Germany (16) Getty (1) Ghent Altarpiece (1) Giacomo Medici (6) Gianfranco Becchina (1) Golf (3) good faith (3) Goya (3) Goya theft (4) graffiti (1) Greece (38) Grosz (1) Henri Matisse (1) Henry Moore (1) Heritage at Risk (1) heritage crime (1) Heritage Crime in Art (1) Hermitage (2) High Court in London (4) historic documents (1) Historic Landmark (1) historic preservation (1) historic weapons (1) Holocaust (Return of Cultural Objects) Act (2) Hopi (1) House of Commons Illicit Trade Advisory Panel (ITAP) (1) Houston (2) Howard Spiegler (2) Human Remains (5) Human Rights (1) Hungary (1) Identification (1) illicit excavation (1) Immigration and Customs Enforcement (16) Immunity (6) Immunity from Seizure Act (ISA) (3) import restrictions (3) in the media (7) Indemnity (1) Indianapolis Museum of Art (5) indictments (5) Indigenous Rights (2) Indonesia (1) injunctions (1) Insider Theft (2) Institute d'Egypte (1) Institute of Art and Law (1) Institutional theft (1) Intellectual Property (4) Intentional Destruction (6) International Criminal Court (ICC) (1) International Journal of Cultural Property (1) internationalism (4) INTERPOL (1) Interview (2) Interviews (2) Iran (8) Iran v. Barakat Galleries Ltd. (6) Iran v. Berend (3) Iraq (46) Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum (7) Islamic art (2) Israel (4) Istanbul (2) Italian Art Squad (5) Italian Culture Ministry (6) Italy (122) Jacques Goudstikker (4) James Ossuary (1) Jan Breugel the elder (2) Jan van Eyck (1) Japan (3) Jeanneret v. Vichy (1) Jeff Tweedy (1) Jenack v. Rabizadeh (1) JMW Turner (2) John Constable (1) Jonah Marbles (1) Jonathan Tokeley-Parry (1) Jordan (2) Joseph Farquharson (2) Journal Articles (1) Journal of Art Crime (1) Ka-Nefer-Nefer (9) Kansas (2) Kansas City (1) Kazimir Malevich (3) Kenya (1) Kingsland (3) Klimt (3) Koh Ker (6) Konowaloff v. Metropolitan Museum of Art (1) Kunsthal Museum Theft (2) La Dea Di Morgantina (6) Lawrence Kaye (1) Lebanon (1) Leonardo Da Vinci (9) Leopold Museum (1) Lewis Chessmen (5) lex originis (3) lex situs (5) Libya (2) Lincoln's Inn theft (1) Lithographs (1) loans (5) London (6) London Art and Antiques Unit (7) London Metropolitan Police (2) loot (1) looting (30) Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) (2) Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) (1) LS Lowry (3) Lucas Cranach (1) Lucas Cranach the Elder (3) Lucian Freud (1) Macedonia (1) Machu Picchu (12) Madonna of the Yarnwinder (recovery) (9) Mali (4) Malta (1) Manchester (2) manuscript (1) Maori (2) maps (2) Marc Chagall (1) Marion True (25) Mark Landis (1) market overt (1) Mausoleum at Helicarnassus (1) Max Stern (3) Maxwell Anderson (3) metal detecting (6) Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met) (29) Mexico (9) Meyer de Haan (1) MFA Boston (6) Michael Brand (3) Michael C. Carlos Museum (1) Michael Steinhardt (2) Middle Eastern Geodatabase for Antiquities (MEGA) (1) Minneapolis Institue of Arts (MIA) (1) Moctezuma's Headdress (1) Modigliani (2) MoMA (4) Mondrian (1) Monet (3) Montreal Museum of Fine Art (2) Monument Men (5) Monuments Men (1) Moral Rights (3) Morgantina (2) Morgantina Aphrodite (9) Morgantina Treasure (1) Moscow (2) Musée d'Art Moderne theft (1) Museum Acquisitions (1) Museum Governance (1) Museum of Anatolian Civilizations (1) Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (6) museum security (2) museum theft (2) Museums Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) (1) Music (2) Myth (1) Napoleon III (1) National Academy (2) National Archaeological Museum in Naples (1) National Archives (3) National Gallery (Washington) (1) National Historic Preservation Act (2) National Stolen Property Act (8) nations of origin (5) Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (8) Native Americans (17) native cultures (2) Nazi Spoliation (74) Neglect (1) Neil Brodie (1) Nelson-Atkins' Bloch Building (1) Netherlands (10) New Acropolis Museum (3) New Orleans (4) New York (6) New Zealand (7) Nigeria (1) nighthawking (3) Noah Charney (1) Norbert Schimmel (1) Norman Palmer (1) Norman Rockwell (2) Norway (4) NSPA (1) Nuclear Analytical Techniques (1) Odyssey Marine Exploration (23) Olympics (2) Omaha Nebraska (1) Organized Crime (1) Orphaned Works (2) Oskar Kokoschka (2) Oslo (1) Pablo Picasso (16) Pakistan (2) Palestine (3) Panama (1) Paolo Ferri (2) Paris (10) partage (1) Parthenon Marbles (17) Patents (1) Patty Gerstenblith (1) Paul Bator (2) Paul Cezanne (5) Paul Gauguin (4) Pazardzhik Byzantine Silver Hoard (1) Penn Museum (1) Pentagon (1) Pere Lachaise (1) Persepolis (3) Peru (24) Peru Headdress (1) Peter Watson (1) Philadelphia (7) Phillipines (1) Picasso (9) Pierre Le Guennec (1) Pierre Valentin (1) piracy (1) Pollock (1) Pompeii (3) Popular Culture (1) Portable Antiquities Scheme (25) Portrait of Wally (11) Poussin (1) pre-Columbian antiquities (2) pre-emptive archaeology (1) Prince Claus Fund (1) Princeton (4) Private Collectors (2) Private International Law (5) Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (UK) (1) Prosecutions (7) provenance (13) Prussia (1) Public Art Theft (5) Public Trust (1) Publications (2) Quran (1) Radio (2) Ransom (2) realkulturpolitik (1) recovery (45) Rembrandt (2) Rene Magritte (2) Renoir (2) Renvoi (3) repatriation (121) Restitution (40) reward (1) Rhodes (1) Robert Hecht (8) Robin Symes (1) Rodin (2) Roger Atwood (1) Roman Objects (2) Rome (3) Rothko (1) Royal Academy (1) Rubens (3) Rubin v. Islamic Republic of Iran (2) Russia (11) Sale of "The Cello Player" (1) Sale of the "Gross Clinic" (11) Sale of the Stieglitz Collection (4) Salvage (1) Sao Paulo (2) Sao Paulo Museum of Art (3) Scheduled Ancient Monuments (1) Scholarship - Articles and Essays (57) Scholarship - Book Reviews (3) Scholarship - Books (12) Scholarship - Case Notes (1) Scholarship - Events and Conferences (55) Scholarship - Journal Articles (12) Scholarship - Student Papers (16) Scotland (7) Scotland Yard's Arts and Antiques Squad (1) scrap metal (1) Sculpture (2) security (4) seizure (16) Selling stolen art (1) seminars (1) semiotics (1) Sentencing (2) Serbia (1) settlement (1) Sevso Treasure (6) Shelby White (3) shipwreck (1) Sicily (4) Simon Mackenzie (2) Sisley (4) Slovakia (1) Smithsonian (4) Solomon R. Guggenheim (1) Sonic Fingerprints (1) Sotheby's (13) Sotheby's Paris (1) South Africa (1) South America (1) Spain (21) Spoliation (2) Spoliation Advisory Panel (8) St. Louis Art Museum (8) St. Ninian's Isle Treasure (3) Stair Gallery (2) State Department (2) Statue of a Victorious Youth (1) statute of frauds (1) Statutes of Limitations (10) Stephane Breitwieser (1) Stephen Colbert (1) Steven Spielberg (1) stewardship (2) Stolen Art (11) Stone Age (1) street art (1) study collections (1) Summer Palace Bronzes (7) Sweden (2) Switzerland (13) Syria (7) Taliban (1) Tennessee (3) The Art Fund (1) The Bowers Museum (1) The Discovery Rule (4) the fourth ward (1) The Getty (57) The Gross Clinic (1) The Guggenheim (2) The Holocauset (stolen art) restitution bill (2) the Louvre (2) The Menil (4) The National Gallery (1) The National Gallery (London) (2) the Pirate Party (1) The Scream (1) theft (2) Thomas Eakins (9) Thomas Jefferson (1) Timbuktu (2) Titian (1) Toledo Museum of Art (4) tombaroli (2) tourism (1) transparency (1) Traprain Law (1) Traveling Exhibitions (2) Treasure Act (4) treasure trove (3) Turkey (11) UCC (1) Ukraine (2) UN (2) Underground Salt Museum (1) Underwater Cultural Heritage (32) Underwater Sites - "Black Swan" (3) Underwater Sites - "Blue Baron" (1) Underwater Sites - HMS Victory (3) UNESCO (23) UNESCO Convention (24) UNESCO Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage (9) UNIDROIT Convention (2) United Kingdom (24) United States (12) University College London (1) University of Chicago (1) University of Guelph (1) University of Virginia (3) urban development (1) Van Gogh (7) Vandalism (4) Vatican (1) Vermeer (2) Victoria And Albert Museum (3) Vigango (3) viking (1) Villa Giulia (3) Vineberg v. Bissonnette (4) Visual Artists Rights Act (2) voluntary returns (1) Von Saher v. Norton Simon Museum of Art at Pasadena (3) Watts Towers (1) Waverley Criteria (10) Week in Review (3) West Bank (1) wikiloot (1) Wilco (1) William S. Burroughs (1) Windsor Antiquities Indictment (1) World Heritage Sites (1) World War II (11) Yale University (13) year in review (2) Zahi Hawass (9)

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...