Private ‘rescue’-by-purchase of stolen cultural goods: The material and social consequences and the complicity of Europe and North America

In an article in the International Journal for Criminal Justice and Social Democracy, I assess the risks of private ‘rescue’-by-purchase of stolen cultural goods.

Apart from funding crime and receiving the proceeds of crime, other studies of negligent and criminal collecting have demonstrated consequences such as destruction of knowledge through looting and misdirection of science through use of forgeries (Chippindale and Gill 2000; Gill and Chippindale 1993; Muscarella 2001; Nørskov 2002); incentivisation of corruption (Hardy 2019a); interference with the rule of law (Keenan 2005; Hardy 2019a); and the degradation of sources of cultural and socio-economic resilience for indigenous and other vulnerable communities in authoritarian states (Keenan 2005).

Drawing on cases of looting and theft in Guatemala, Iran, Bulgaria and Angola, plus thefts of artefacts across Europe to supply collectors in China and fraudulent offers of cultural goods to vulnerable communities in the United States, I demonstrate buyers’ risk of financing organised crime, fraud, money-laundering and reputation-laundering and authorities’ risk of facilitating that financing.

As the toleration or facilitation of private “rescue”-by-purchase ‘enables and encourages people with political and economic power to increase their influence and assets’, while the state continues ‘to police and punish the people who extract and supply those assets’, it is also a threat to the rule of law.

Citation

Hardy, S A. 2020: Private ‘rescue’-by-purchase of stolen cultural goods: The material and social consequences and the complicity of Europe and North America. International Journal for Criminal Justice and Social Democracy, online first. Available at: https://doi.org/10.5204/ijcjsd.v10i1.1526

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