Marc Balcells reviews The Illicit Trade in Art and Antiquities (Hart Publishing 2012) by Janet Ulph and Ian Smith in the Spring 2013 issue of The Journal of Art Crime.
Janet Ulph and Ian Smith write, mainly from a legal point of view, about the illicit trade in art and antiquities, the criminal and civil liability derived from these kind of cases, and the efforts regarding international recovery. The goal of the text is to focus upon the extent to which laws can protect vulnerable countries, while considering what further steps could be taken in the future. Therefore, the book deals with this particular topic from a double perspective: an international point of view, on the one hand; on the other, drawing from the experience of the authors (Mrs. Ulph is a solicitor and a professor in Commercial Law at the University of Leicester, and Mr. Smith is a barrister in London), it uses many cases from English law.
The book covers, in a logical and ordered structure, the different topics mentioned above. The first chapter deals generally with the trade in art and antiquities: concepts and broad topics are defined, such as the legal right to claim, good faith purchasers, or the global market in art and antiquities. The situation in Iraq is used as a study case, to illustrate the patters of this form of illicit trade.
The second chapter talks about international initiatives, to focus on the major international conventions and other legal instruments which, objectively, have an impact upon the illicit trade in art and antiquities. The scope of this chapter is truly amazing, going beyond the UNESCO and UNIDROIT conventions, and analyzing such legal dispositions as the Vienna or Palermo conventions, among others.
The complete book review is included in the ninth issue of The Journal of Art Crime, edited by ARCA Founder Noah Charney (available electronically and in print via subscription and Amazon.com). Associate Editor Marc Balcells (ARCA '11) is a Graduate Teaching Fellow at the Department of Political Science, John Jay College of Criminal Justice -- The City University of New York.