Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Antiquities Auction Houses Must Now Reveal the Names of Sellers

I am not a lawyer, and look forward to hearing what Derek Fincham, Stephen Urice, Patti Gerstenblith, Rick St. Hilaire, and other legal scholars make of this new ruling. If it sticks it will make it far easier for researchers and police to track the chain of ownership for dodgy antiquities, which should be helpful.

Beyond creating transparency in at least one area of the market for antiquities, however, the ruling, one hopes, will give policymakers a reason to start thinking more carefully about how that market could and should be regulated in ways that do the most possible to prevent looting of archaeological sites (i.e., not just by keeping illicit pieces off the licit market via registration of antiquities -- something one assumes collectors and dealers might now support -- but harnessing the power of the licit market to help pay, via a dedicated tax, for the policing of the illicit market).

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