By Molly Cotter, ARCA Intern
Leila Amineddoleh, a 2010 alumnus of ARCA’s postgraduate program and Boston College Law School, presented her latest research titled “The Pillaging of the Abandoned Spanish Countryside” on the panel “Fresh Perspectives on Art and Heritage Crime”.
Many towns in the Spanish countryside have been abandoned. Since the towns operate on tax dollars and people have fled to bigger, more industrial cities, rural houses and churches become vulnerable to pillaging. Leila’s presentation even included an astonishing ad in a Spanish newspaper that advertised for an entire “Town for Sale” for 189,000 Euro.
One very unfortunate issue with these depopulated cities is the fate of the art and cultural objects left behind. Though some construction companies have permission to remove Roman ruins and Visigoth remnants from the abandoned homes and churches, much of the forgotten art is eventually ripped from its context and sold.
Unbeknownst to many Spanish citizens, the hidden works have incredible cultural and historical value for the nation’s identity. Municipalities receive 1% of tax revenue for art restoration but in many cases without a sufficient number of people in the town paying taxes, there is little money for protection.
Leila strongly believes that for Spain to protect its patrimony it must create an extensive catalogue that encompasses both State and Church property. She believes working with a database modeled after the Italian ICCD catalogue, which receives donations and revenue, would be ideal for keeping track of and protecting Spain’s cultural treasures.