Archive for ‘Illicit Antiquities’

03/10/2022

loot and forgeries from Eastern Europe on the market in Western Europe, regardless of Russia’s war on Ukraine

In the course of researching artefact-hunting in Eastern Europe, I found netnographic evidence of transnational trafficking and analyses by ethical collectors of markets in Western Europe for looted antiquities (and forged antiquities) from Eastern Europe. Specifically, I found evidence of looting (and forgery) in Ukraine, Russia and Belarus, some of which had been published by artefact-hunters in online forums and social networks, some of which had been published by ethical collectors Lodewijk and Renate, in “an open forum for dealers and collectors of ancient artifacts”. However, I didn’t have space to include it in the study, so I’ve posted it here. (Paul Barford has also commented on the evidence that has been provided by Lodewijk and Renate.)

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02/08/2022

artefact-hunting in drug plantations and by cannabis-cultivators in Ukraine (around 2014)

In the course of researching artefact-hunting in Eastern Europe, I found a discussion of the activity among drug-producers in Ukraine, as both a problem for some and a practice of others. This material, based on an 88-message conversation between early 2014 and early 2015, has been cut from the current draft of the text.

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02/04/2022

There is a market in Belarus for cultural property that has been stolen from Ukraine, pillaged by Russia’s soldiers and mercenaries.

According to the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine (Головне управління розвідки Міністерства оборони України), the invading and occupying ‘Russian military has opened a bazaar for the sale of loot [Російські військові відкрили базар для торгівлі награбованим]’. The proceeds of this war crime include cultural property.

There is no evidence (yet) that this particular market is handling property that is legally protected specifically for its cultural value (on top of its value simply as public or private property), but this already shows the scale and organisation of the pillaging and that the targets of the pillaging include objects of a cultural nature.

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05/01/2022

In 2018, “a chartered Tupolev-154 jetliner” reportedly flew from Kazakhstan to Switzerland, “loaded up” with “antiques, jewelry, works of art and other cargo”.

As we see monuments to dictators get toppled in demonstrations in Kazakhstan, as they were adapted in the Slipper Uprising in Belarus and toppled or adapted in the Maidan Revolution in Ukraine, we can see the causes of this civil resistance in a raft of issues around political unfreedom and socio-economic insecurity, including the theft of wealth by the elite that mires citizens in poverty, which involves the stashing and display of that dirty money in the form of cultural property.

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03/09/2021

Norway’s economic crime unit, Ministry of Culture, Cultural History Museum, National Library and University of Oslo are assisting Iraq in the pursuit of looted and illegally-exported antiquities

Norway’s economic crime unit (Økokrim), its Ministry of Culture (Kulturdepartementet) and supporting experts at the Cultural History Museum (Kulturhistorisk museum), the National Library (Nasjonalbiblioteket) and the University of Oslo (Universitetet i Oslo) are assisting Iraq in the pursuit of looted and illegally-exported antiquities.

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17/08/2021

organised crime in trafficking of cultural goods in Turkey and interconnections between antiquities trafficking and narcotics trafficking, arms trafficking and political violence

I’m delighted to say that my open-source research into organised crime in trafficking of cultural goods in Turkey and interconnections between antiquities trafficking and narcotics trafficking, arms trafficking and political violence has been published in the open-access Antichistica of Edizioni Ca’ Foscari.

Following on from a proof-of-concept study of using open-source data to identify participation in the illicit antiquities trade, an archaeological and historical study of destruction, theft and rescue of archaeological artefacts in Cyprus and a netnography of online social organisation of looting and trafficking of antiquities from Turkey, Greece and Cyprus, this piece explores the history of Turkey-rooted organised crime, including the existence of politically-“protected criminals [Korunan suçlular]” who have served state interests.

It examines the development of the Turkish antiquities mafia over six decades, the functioning of a Turkish-Cypriot antiquities gang from the civil war through the foreign invasions into the occupation and the activities of a Turkish multi-commodity gang in and around the state.

It also traces connections between Mexican narcotraffickers who also handle cultural goods, Turkish ultranationalists who self-finance with narcotic substances and cultural goods and Turkish state-backed Syrian Turkmen jihadists, plus the operations of a Syrian Turkmen jihadist who served as a Turkish intelligence agent and who trafficked antiquities as well as arms.

Amongst these and other things, such as interactions of organised crime with political violence and the rule of law, it draws out evidence of women’s participation in cultural property crime.

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10/08/2021

It is not against the law, if no one can see you: Online social organisation of artefact-hunting in former Yugoslavia

I’m happy to say that it is not against the law, if no one can see you: online social organisation of artefact-hunting in former Yugoslavia has been published in the Journal of Computer Applications in Archaeology, as part of a special collection on fighting illicit trade in antiquities with digital technology.

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01/06/2021

Treasure-hunters ‘even from Sweden’, organised criminals and ‘lawless’ police in the Eastern Mediterranean: Online social organisation of looting and trafficking of antiquities from Turkey, Greece and Cyprus

I’m grateful that my monster study of treasure-hunters ‘even from Sweden’, organised criminals and ‘lawless’ police in the Eastern Mediterranean: online social organisation of looting and trafficking of antiquities from Turkey, Greece and Cyprus has been published in the open-access Revista d’Arqueologia de Ponent, in a special issue that spans Argentina, Spain, the United Kingdom, Lebanon, Syria and further afield, including Libya, Egypt, Palestine, Iraq and Yemen.

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20/05/2021

Conflict antiquities’ rescue or ransom? The cost of buying back stolen cultural property in contexts of political violence.

Happily, following the “first half” of my study on private ‘rescue’-by-purchase of stolen cultural goods: the material and social consequences and the complicity of Europe and North America in the International Journal for Criminal Justice and Social Democracy, I’ve published the “second half” on conflict antiquities‘ rescue or ransom? The cost of buying back stolen cultural property in contexts of political violence in the International Journal of Cultural Property. Both are open-access publications.

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06/10/2020

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, Volume 9, Number 3. Available at: https://doi.org/10.5204/ijcjsd.v10i1.1526

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