November 3, 2010

Wednesday, November 03, 2010 - ,,, No comments

ARCA students attend SAFE's Beacon Awards

SAFE (Saving Antiquities for Everyone) honored four men with a combined total of more than 75 years of working for the U.S. government in recapturing and returning cultural heritage property at the sold-out 2010 Beacon Awards at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City on October 29.

A non-profit organization dedicated to preserving cultural heritage worldwide, SAFE aims to raise public awareness about the irreversible damage that results from looting, smuggling and trading illicit antiquities.

The organization’s Beacon Awards ceremony commenced with introductory remarks by its president and founder, Cindy Ho, who thanked all of the event’s attendees for raising their voices against the destruction of antiquities. She urged all present to raise public awareness about this problem, asserting that it is humanity’s shared responsibility to protect our heritage. Ms. Ho thanked the Beacon Award winners for their tireless in efforts in protecting cultural heritage property then welcomed the moderator, Marion Forsyth Werkheiser of Cultural Heritage Partners, LLC, who introduced the honored speakers.

The 2010 Beacon Awards honored four professionals in the law enforcement sector, Robert E. Goldman, David Hall, James E. McAndrew, and Robert K. Wittman. Goldman served as an Eastern District of Pennsylvania federal prosecutor and worked with the FBI to investigate museum and art theft. David Hall also served as an attorney for the government in his capacity as Special Prosecutor for the FBI’s Art Crime Team. James McAndrew acted as an expert on international art and antiquity investigations and on customs and international trade law with the U.S. Customs Service and then with the Department of Homeland Security. Robert Wittman led a successful career with the FBI for twenty years, and was instrumental in founding the FBI Art Crime Team.

Friday evening the four award winners participated in a panel about their experiences in protecting art. Each man spoke about his role in protecting antiquities and art, and shared personal anecdotes about his practice. Each honoree expressed the idea that the public shares a responsibility in guarding art and antiquities because these objects are the property of all humanity. After their presentations, the award winners responded to questions asked by the moderator and audience members.

The honorees were asked why they had devoted years of their lives to protecting art and cultural heritage property. The men agreed that they all felt immeasurable joy when they repatriated priceless art objects to their rightful owners. The gratitude expressed by the property recipients was compensation that could not be quantified.

Robert Goldman said that after each one of us perishes, antiquities and cultural heritage property objects endure and continue to represent man’s accomplishments and humanity’s shared history.

After the speeches and award ceremony ended, Beacon Award audience members enjoyed a food and drink reception where they had a chance to mingle with the award winners. Robert Wittman autographed copies of “Priceless”, his best-selling book about his experiences with the FBI Art Crime Team.

Included in the audience were students who had studied art crime in Amelia with the Association for Research into Crimes against Art.

Leila Amineddoleh, a 2010 student in ARCA's postgraduate origram, said, “The award winners were fantastic; their dedication to the protection of cultural heritage property and antiquities is moving, their professional experiences are fascinating, and it is inspiring to hear about law enforcement’s ability to protect humanity’s treasures.”

Further information about SAFE can be obtained at www.savingantiquities.org.

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