Sunday, July 17, 2011

Collector as Looter (and not just by analogy!)

This story is over a year old but I just ran across it and thought it worth sharing, since it is rare that a wealthy collector even admits to buying looted artifacts, much less to having looted them himself, and from a World Heritage site to boot:

In an interview with German magazine Welt-online prominent Austrian-German media manager Helmut Thoma admitted the looting of a grave in Syrian UNESCO world heritage site of Palmyra 30 years ago.
Thoma tells how a dealer in Damaskus took him to a grave chamber in Palmyra and invited him to crawl inside. "It was dark and there were snakes..." Thoma says. But his inner Indiana Jones was stronger than his worries. After a small entrance there were several graves, decorated with frescoes. "I've chosen these ones here in my living room." Afterwards these antiques were smuggled through the customs at Frankfurt. Today this piece – probably the closing stone of a hypogaeum – is presented in Thoma’s living room among other objects. “Most more recently acquired pieces”, Thoma said, he had bought from art dealers.
German and Austrian archaeologists protest against this crime against international law and demand that the objects have to be brought back to Syria.

No comments: