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The good news is that prudence and diligent investigation will be rewarded. Each category of legal risk must be independently evaluated. The prudent purchaser will go through the checklist and satisfy himself as to each category of potential liability. Today it is widely known that many foreign “source” nations have nationalized ownership of all archeological objects, in or out of the ground. Because export was documented to predate Sudan’s national existence, it was initially argued to U. Customs that Sudan couldn’t claim the pieces because no Sudanese law applied.Even well-provenanced antiquities at the top of the antiquities market can be undervalued compared to other segments of today’s art market and will afford satisfaction for decades and validate the owner’s good taste and erudition. These include treaties, embargoes and import restrictions, which are all subject to different compliance regimes. Was the object properly exported under applicable foreign law and then properly imported under U. Also summarized below is the legal academic background and legislative history of the U. However it is less widely known that a smaller number of others, such as Japan, England and Israel, have not, and provide alternate models that allow for private ownership once the needs of national heritage are deemed satisfied. OFAC subsequently granted an exemption after a formal submission was made.
This essay addresses legal issues commonly faced by private collectors and dealers when buying and selling antiquities.
The evolving and multi-layered legal framework in which those issues must be considered can be complex, confusing and sometimes arbitrary. PEARLSTEIN is counsel to the New York law firm of Golenbock Eiseman Assor Bell & Peskoe LLP, where he represents leading private collectors and dealers in transactions, disputes and regulatory matters involving antiquities and fine art.
The first essay looks at the fraught issues involved with buying and selling antiquities in the United States.
The second essay deals with the difficult issues of the statute of limitations and owners recovering possession of art once held by them, but which has been misappropriated, that is, stolen or converted.
Introduction Buying and selling ancient art requires the prudent purchaser to research the provenience (country of origin) and provenance (history of ownership) of an object and to evaluate the available information in the context of the legal framework discussed below.
In my experience, objects that have a plausible history of ownership and origin, even if not fully documented, can, generally, be safely purchased.Using SCUBA equipment or free diving, others directly loot sites. “An Essay on the International Trade in Art.” Stanford Law Review 34 (1982): 275–384. "Bad actors and faulty props: unlocking legal and illicit art trade." 14 (2013): 359-385. “Transnational Crimes Against Culture: Looting at Archaeological Sites and the “Grey” Market in Antiquities.” Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice 24 (2008): 225–42. Stealing History: The Illicit Trade in Cultural Material. “Art Crime in Context.” In Art and Crime, Exploring the Dark Side of the Art World, edited by Noah Charney, xvii–xxv. Finally, treasure hunters use large scale marine exploration equipment to locate and salvage shipwrecks. Cambridge, UK: Mac Donald Institute for Archaeology Research, 2000. “Frequency and Figures of Organized Crime in Art and Antiquities.” In Organised Crime in Art and Antiquities, edited by Stefano Manacorda, 29–40. The last essay addresses a frequent issue for owners of art collections, to wit, how to pass (or not) the collection to heirs.Three times a year issues of this Journal will address legal questions of practical significance to collectors, dealers, scholars and the general art-minded public. As noted in the first two Volumes of this Journal, the legal structure we call art law (an amalgam of personal property law, contract, estate, tax and intellectual property law) supporting the acquisition, retention and disposition of fine art, often fits uneasily with art market custom and practice. This issue contains three essays, which will become available on ARTNET, starting July 2012.Illicit antiquities are a major resource for traffickers, ranking among other highly trafficked commodities such as narcotics. UNESCO estimates the legal antiquities trade to be worth US.2 billion annually; however, the financial scope of the illicit trade is ultimately unknowable as black market statistics are notoriously difficult to ascertain. “Art Market.” In Yearbook of Cultural Property Law, edited by David Tarler and Sherry Hutt, 101–18. A partially-documented history does not necessarily indicate fresh looting or illegal export.Even objects that entirely lack history are also not necessarily smuggled or looted. collector considered purchasing a low six-figure collection of antique (not ancient) Iranian textiles at auction in Germany.