conflict antiquities, from Libya to Italy and from Syria to Belgium, and lack of due diligence in the international market

Fortunately and unfortunately, I’m going to be staying in Turkey longer than expected, so I won’t be able to go to the International Arts and Antiquities Security Forum (@IAAS_Forum). Happily, the CEO of ARCA (the Association for Research into Crimes against Art, which has its own conference in Amelia, Italy every June), Lynda Albertson, is going to speak instead.

My stay also means that I am going to remain quiet, even though there is a lot to discuss. This includes the trafficking of conflict antiquities from Libya to Italy, in cooperation with (non-combatant) organised criminal groups (OCGs). And it includes two (apparently separate) cases of trafficking of conflict antiquities from Syria to Belgium, where one case involves antiquities that are believed to have been looted from Mari since its occupation by jihadists, and another case involves antiquities that are believed to have subsidised the activities of the terrorists who attacked Paris and Brussels.

If anyone is surprised by the apparent lack of due diligence in the international market, my quiet has been punctuated by “normal” (non-crisis) finds at Christie’s New York auction house by forensic archaeologist Christos Tsirogiannis, who spotted a pot, a sculpture and a mosaic when they surfaced, not all of which were withdrawn from auction in April, and a statue when it surfaced, which was withdrawn from auction in October.

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