Showing posts with label ARCA 2011. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ARCA 2011. Show all posts

June 26, 2014

Report from ARCA Amelia '14: Inside the lecture hall with criminologist Marc Balcells amongst medieval festivities in Amelia

The end of Marc's class.  Photo by S. Kelley-Bell
By Summer Tappmeyer, ARCA '13 graduate and ‘14 intern

Three weeks of being in Italy has flown by so quickly! We have had such a spectacular time so far, and it’s not even halfway through the program. The third week started off with Marc Balcells’ course: “Breitwiesers, Medicis, Beltracchis, Gurlitts and Other Shady Artsy Characters: A Course on How to Analyze Their Crimes Empirically.” Marc had a few adventures in travel in order to make it to Amelia: coming from New York where he has been teaching at John Jay College of Law, with a brief stopover in Spain to visit family, and then finally settling into the city for the beginning of his course. Despite Marc’s long journey to Amelia, he started off his class with a bang. An ARCA 2011 alumnus, Marc has unique insights into student life. It was a pleasant surprise to have someone who has previously walked in our shoes only a few years ago. 

This criminology course focused on the theoretical framework of the subject, as well as gave insight into the different foundations of the Classical, Positivist, and Critical school of thinking. Marc proved to be a fascinating professor, as he engaged the class in discussions and told us stories using his animated personality to bring those stories to life. One of the greatest aspects of this course is that you do not have to have a criminology background. Marc was adamant about us being able to understand the “nuts and bolts” of the essentials of criminology and was able to simplify information in a way that allowed the students to understand the concepts and theories. Overall, Marc was able to command and capture the attention of his audience, making us all feel incredibly comfortable to engage in scholarly debates throughout the duration of his course.

The Champion of Volterra.
Photo by L. Albertson
The city of Amelia was able to cool off this week, due to the plush amount of rain it received during the third week of our stay. We appreciated the break from the heat, but that did not leave much time for extracurricular activities and a few of our weekly adventures had to be postponed. Most students enjoyed the pitter-patter of rain as they slept at night though, and by the weekend the rain was gone and scheduled activities continued. As soon as Marc’s class ended on Friday, the ARCA 2014 class went across the street to “Park Bar” and savored a refreshing afternoon spritzer. Since this was the professor’s last evening in Amelia, we all gathered around a few tables to learn more about Marc and his experience as a student with ARCA three years ago. Saturday and Sunday consisted of rest and relaxation. A few students went on a shopping spree in Rome, others enjoyed a rare chance to see none other than the Rolling Stones play in Rome at Circo Massimo.

Amelia hosted a medieval crossbow competition Saturday and Sunday for everyone to enjoy. The Balestra Antica da Banco is the national championship and offered everything from costumes to the special seated crossbows. Amelia also celebrated a religious holiday known as Corpus Domini. This celebration included a procession through the town on a bed of flowers.

We are looking forward to welcoming Noah Charney and his new course, "Art Forgers and Thieves", this week.

This weekend the ARCA 2014 Conference will bring together students and professionals in two days of panels on art crimes ranging from Nazi-looted art to stolen antiquities in Cyprus and Cambodia.

May 17, 2013

Padma Kaimal, author of "Scattered Goddesses: Travels with the Yoginis" traveled to museums to study the legacy from a lost temple in South India

Kait Murphy (ARCA '11) in front of 10th
Kanchipuram yogini
at the Sackler Galleries of Art in
Washington D.C. 
Kait Murphy (ARCA 2011) interviews Padma Kaimal, the Author of “Scattered Goddesses: Travels with the Yoginis” which examines the cultural history, theft, and reunion of South Indian temple sculptures.

What happens to sacred objects lost over the centuries? What stories can they tell? Does their meaning change? Padma Kaimal, professor of art and art history and Asian studies at Colgate University, dreams of reuniting 10th century goddesses from a temple in South India. She chronicles the journey of these objects and their collective meaning.  Their creation, dispersal, theft, sale, and museum acquisitions paint a colorful history that has been pieced together to explore how and why objects travel around the globe.

In Kaimal's new book, "Scattered Goddesses: Travels with the Yoginis," we can look at the storied past of most (but not all) goddesses that once graced a now-lost temple in Kanchipuram, India.

Through Kaimal’s outreach to museums and scholars around the world, 19 sculptures re-emerged from the original 64 in museums and private collections planting the beginnings of a reunion and telling the tale of their travels, theft, sale, and current locations.

Some highlights from an interview with Padma Kaimal:
KM: How did you get involved in this project? 
PK: I became involved while looking at another 8th century monument in the same region and noticed the goddesses were really important.  Starting in 2003, I emailed museums and a bunch responded and invited me to look at their files. They would email scans of their images and I started diagramming and mapping where they all were. 
KM:  What is the history of the statues? 
PK: The only information to go on for dating them is from their style and comparison to carved objects in northern Tamilnadu in the first 3 quarters of the 10th c.  Sometime between the 10th c -19th c, the temple was broken into and each of the goddesses was damaged to some degree with features hacked off like their noses and hands.  Evidence from other research shows that all other religions were afraid of this sect of Hindu tantric goddesses.  This was a secret sect so most people viewing seductive powerful women were frightened and didn’t understand their message. 
At some point in the early 20th century, seven goddess sculptures were salvaged and reassembled into a new temple.  In 1926, a poor laborer reported to a French archeologist about interesting objects he found.  This archeologist sent photos and descriptions to an art dealer back in Paris, which traced the objects directly from India to France. 
Back in Paris, France, C.T. Loo was the single most important art dealer with access to Asian art. His markets were Europe and the United States.  He had high standards for the works he acquired. He re-educated museums on what they needed to be buying in terms of high art.  He got the museums on board and changed the collections.  His goal was about the art preservation and education in addition to being a profitable businessman.  Loo was behind the French archaeologist’s research in India and he paid his travel and room and board to find art.  Also perhaps involved in the acquisition of these objects was the British director of the Madras Government museum.  He was probably aware of the extraction and was able to retain two of the objects so that they would stay in Madras (now Chennai), India.  In 1926, Loo began to sell the objects to various collectors and museums with the last one sold in 1960. 
With the dispersal of the objects, the book exposes fragments along the path and helps   connect the vectors to figure out where the objects were and ended up.  There are still two goddesses that haven’t been found and it is thought that they are in private hands somewhere.  Further research will help continue the chase.  There is theft and rescue in this story but there is no separation between the good and bad guys.  The same people were acting with motives we admire as well as those we deplore. The goddesses will always be somewhere else, even if they are some day repatriated to India.  All trace of their original home has been lost. 
KM: What is the status of the project?
PK: I am continuing to travel around to the different museums I went to for the research where the statues are located. Now some of these museums want me to return to share with their communities the stories of these objects on permanent display. But they are displayed by themselves and have lost their context. 
One of my current projects is to go to each museum and re-contextualize the objects for curators and communities and those who support their museums.  I want them to be on board and know they have amazing objects.  Since government funding is disappearing and museums rely more on local buy in, that education is important. 
Some places identify the museums as the bad guys in cultural property theft appropriation, which is an unfortunate tendency of the blame game.  Museums are the last stop and we have to think about the whole chain of transport and extraction as well as the museums themselves. How do we support the museum’s responsibility and their response to the histories? We need to support them so they take care of the objects.  We also need to convince them to tell the journey of objects in the display.  Adding photographs and describing the long road of their history are important factors in leading to a reunion. 
KM: What's next?
PK: I will continue to speak to museums as long as they want me and I would be happy to help to broker some trades to begin to reunite the objects.  Each museum has one or a few object from various sites.  It may be possible to facilitate some switches to reassemble the goddesses in an historical recreation.  When you see these goddesses with each other, it is very exciting and they mean something different together than apart.  They are variations on a theme and share the same basic physical format but with different objects in hand, seated on platforms, different hair and eyes.  When the pattern emerges, it makes clear that visualizing Shakti, feminine force/power, was the part of the intent of the artists. 
The Freer and Sackler Galleries of Art in Washington DC, have put together an exhibition on yoga as a tantric practice which will open this October 2013. Kaimal is a consultant on which sculptures might join the Sackler Gallery’s Kanchipuram yogini. The exhibition will be open October 19, 2013 through January 26, 2014. 
Details on the exhibit can be found:

March 13, 2012

The Journal of Art Crime, Fall 2011: Diane Joy Charney reviews Terence M. Russell's "The Discovery of Egypt: Vivant Denon's Travels with Napoleon's Army" and Denon's erotic novel "No Tomorrow"

In the Fall 2011 Issue of The Journal of Art Crime, Diane Joy Charney reviews Terence M. Russell's The Discovery of Egypt: Vivant Denon's Travels with Napoleon's Army (Sutton Publishing Limited, 2005) and Viviant Denon's No Tomorrow (Translated from the French Point de Lendemain by Lydia Davis with an introduction by Peter Brooks, New York Review Books, 2009):
Does the name “Denon” ring a bell? Perhaps it would if you are the sort of Louvre visitor who has gazed up at the inscription “Pavillon Denon” on the Louvre’s façade, or who notices, en route to the “Mona Lisa,” to “The Winged Victory of Samothrace,” and to Michelangelo’s Slave sculptures, that you are walking in the museum’s “Denon Wing”. Or maybe you are a connaisseur of erotic literature who knows about the new dual-language edition of “No Tomorrow,” a work attributed to Denon that has recently garnered attention in literary circles. Just who could this chameleon-like Denon fellow be? 
Known as “Napoleon’s Eye,” as well as a lover of the Empress Josephine and eventual director of the Louvre, Denon was a man of many talents. Writer, artist, collector, adventurer, archeologist, tastemaker, and charming courtier, he could metamorphose into whatever role was required of him. 
Readers of Terence Russell’s scholarly, authoritative text will get to know the colorful Denon as an intrepid artist able to sketch rapidly under fire who was selected to accompany the French troops on their Egyptian campaign. In addition to his drawing skills, however, Denon paints with his words keen observations about the land and culture he encounters. Denon’s illustrated record of what he saw in Egypt is here made available to the non-speaker of French, through Russell’s well-chosen quotes and drawings. Russell’s paraphrasing and commentary, although sometimes more dry than Denon’s own words, add a necessary framework to the story. 
It is thanks to Denon that so many Egyptian artifacts made it safely to Paris, where as a result of his efforts, the wonders of Ancient Egypt began to be known and appreciated. Without Denon, today’s Louvre would not be the treasure house that it is. To those interested in art crime, however, there is another facet to Denon’s far-reaching influence and collecting style. 
As an immensely likeable master courtier, Denon was able to put a positive spin on what amounted to Napoleon’s looting of the art of countries where he waged war. Under Bonaparte, the appropriation of art became standard policy. In praising Napoleon for his heroic efforts to “conserve” great art in the face of “the torment of war,” Denon lauds a policy that would later be copied by Hitler, whose wholesale confiscation of art was touted as an effort to “protect” it. 
Now how does the reader put together the Denon who drew for sixteen hours straight through eyelids bleeding from the windblown sand, with the author of the 30-page erotic classic, “No Tomorrow,” which according to one reader, should be next to “titillating” in the dictionary? Although Denon was known to have talent for pornographic art, it may be quite a leap from that to authoring what Good Reads calls “one of the masterpieces of eighteenth-century literature, a book to set beside Laclos’ ‘Les Liasons Dangereuses.’”
Diane Joy Charney teaches French Literature at Yale University, where she is also Tutor-in-Writing and the Mellon Forum Fellow of Timothy Dwight College.

You may read the entire review by purchasing a subscription to The Journal of Art Crime.

February 17, 2012

Friday, February 17, 2012 - , No comments

Profile Update: ARCA Alum Perri Osattin on the 2011 ARCA Program in Amelia

Perri Osattin at Ephesus, Turkey
by Catherine Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor

This week Perri Osattin (ARCA '11) answered a few questions as a follow up to her profile posted on the ARCA blog prior to her attendance at the Postgraduate Certificate Program in International Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection Studies in Amelia.

ARCA Blog: How did ARCA's program in International Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection Studies support your interest in the subject?
Perri Osattin: The ARCA program broadened my conception of what constitutes "art crime" and heightened my understanding of the need to approach it as both a scholarly discipline and a matter of daily, practical concern. In particular, I was struck by the fact that although art crime is a truly international issue (and business), encompassing legal and moral questions, there are no global standards for combating it and levels of awareness and passion vary greatly from country to country, both among the general public and law enforcement entities. I was especially surprised at the apparent lack of cognizance or punishment of art crime in the U. S., which led me to pursue my thesis topic.
ARCA Blog: The program culminates in the writing of an article -- what area of art crime or cultural protection did you research?
Perri Osattin: For my final dissertation I researched a specific and controversial case of trafficking in Native American artifacts in the Southwestern U. S. I analyzed the legal and law enforcement approaches to the case, as well as local public opinion and the media's interpretation of the events.
How have you continued your interest since leaving the program?
Perri Osattin: I still read ARCA blog updates regularly, troll for crime-related articles on everyday, and attended a talk by Sandy Nairn at Sotheby's in New York in the fall with a group of fellow ARCA students. Since I came to understand that the art market and art crime are inextricably, if unpredictably linked, I've also (belatedly) read some well-known and wonderful accounts of the commercial art world, including Seven Days in the Art World and An Object of Beauty. Finally, I ask as many security-related questions at my new job as I can without making my coworkers suspicious!
What did you enjoy about living in Amelia and what do you find that you miss?
Perri Osattin: What didn't I enjoy? I really miss the inexpensive, individual squares of pizza at the hole-in-the-wall joints (even more than the thin-crust pies at the regular restaurants). I miss hearing the gossipy chatter of my older neighbors outside in the evenings while doing work at the dining room table with my flat-mate. I miss my early morning runs in the valley below the city. Mostly, I miss the vistas, the cappuccino ritual, and my fellow students and professors! Being that we are currently in the midst of winter, I could also use some of those wonderfully warm summer breezes...
Ms. Osattin is a gallery associate at Pucker Gallery in Boston. 

February 15, 2012

Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - ,, No comments

Profile Update: ARCA Alum Marc Balcells ('11) Discusses the ARCA Postgraduate Certificate Program in International Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection Studies

Marc Balcells at The Met, NY
by Catherine Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor

Many page visits to the ARCA blog appear to be from those getting familiar with ARCA and the Postgraduate Certificate Program in International Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection Studies. Last year I interviewed (via email) Marc Balcells, art historian and criminologist, before he entered the program in Amelia. This week I asked Marc Balcells, an Adjunct Professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice,  a few questions about his experience studying art crime in Umbria.

How did ARCA's program in International Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection Studies support your interest in the subject?
Marc Balcells: Well, my interest on researching art crime has grown, of course. That was easy because of two reasons: first, because as a researcher/scholar/proud "ambassador" of the topic, I am very happy on conducting research non-stop. I do take it very seriously, so we can advance the field by very serious academic work.

Also, because those 10 weeks were fantastic, on the educational side... I have no words to really express how enriching that was! Professors, materials, books... On the book side let me tell you that when the girl at the check-in counter at Fiumicino wanted to weigh my trolley bag, well... it weighed more than 25 kilos out of how many books I bought in Amelia regarding art crime. I still remember her face! Nerdish? Maybe, but now imagine for three months a professor recommending this book, a guest speaker another, a panelist another... Your trolley will resent you!
The program culminates in the writing of an article -- what area of art crime or cultural protection did you research?
Marc Balcells: I am a criminologist conducting research on organized crime and the links with the art world, so it was obvious that my thesis went on that direction. Because I am in academia my thesis is just a first step on what it will be a longer project (and article) on defining organized crime operations in the art world (for my thesis I just used a small example), getting even to challenge that concept to the extent that maybe when we are talking organized crime in some cases it can be another thing (like occupational crime), changing the players and the scenarios where they act. I hope that more data and some crime-explaining theories will be useful on debating that point.
How have you continued your interest since leaving the program?
Marc Balcells: Well, since leaving the program the show just goes on and on! When I do teach, I like to use a lot of examples from my own research, or even from colleagues' and professors' experiences that I learned during the summer. So my students at John Jay College at the City University of New York get a good deal on art crime in both courses I teach. But I also must confess that ARCA's Postgraduate program really confirmed my belonging in this field, and I do take very seriously (no kidding here!) on producing serious empirical work that may establish art crime as a form of criminality that can rival any other better researched form of crime.

I do also take very seriously my "ambassador" role, and I feel that my columns on art crime, or my guest talks (both in an academic environment or on TV, radio or press: yes, future ARCA students, now you know a lot about that and media may want to hear what you have to say!) have to be very seriously addressed: that is, not only talking about the fancy crimes that everybody wants to hear, but also on the serious consequences art crime may have.
What did you enjoy about living in Amelia and what do you find that you miss?
Marc Balcells: Oh, I miss many things from Amelia. One of them could be the silence that allows you to contemplate every single building on the old part (works fantastic for working, or reading a good novel), even during week days. But I have to admit I treasure all the laughs and drinks we all shared at Fuori Porta or the bar at the Park. There were nights that were, simply put, memorable. On the foodie side, I miss the trofie al Pesto or the ragu alla lepre from Punto di Vino (and the cappuccinos), the Porcella pizza at Porcelli's; the lemon ice cream at Tropicana or my favorite breakfast, ciambelle, at Bar Leonardi! And even though I am a city boy, it will be fun being back for the conference, meeting the new cohort, and well... you know what they say about criminals: they like to go back to the scene of crime!
ARCA will be accepting applications for the 2012 program through the end of February; to request a prospectus and apply,  please contact ARCA Admissions at

August 7, 2011

Keynote Panel: 40-year Anniversary of the 1970 UNESCO Convention Features Chris Marinello of the Art Loss Register

Paolo Ferri and Chris Marinello
By Mark Durney, Founder of Art Theft Central

Chris Marinello, Executive Director & General Counsel of the Art Loss Register, delivered a lecture on the role of private and public stolen art databases in the recovery of lost art. In March 2011, Marinello along with ARCA’s Catherine Sezgin attended the 40th Anniversary of the 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property held at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris France.

As of 2011, the ALR’s database contained over 300,000 stolen works of art. The ALR offers its registration services on a pro bono basis to countries that are currently engaged in armed conflict or that have endured through natural disasters. For example, upon hearing news of the looting and theft of objects from sites and institutions across Egypt, the ALR reached out to Zahi Hawass to assist in the swift recovery of its missing objects.

Marinello continued with a discussion of a number of the more intriguing recoveries the ALR had made in recent years. For example, in cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the ALR returned a portrait of a young girl by famous Belgian artist Antoine (Anto) Carte to its owner 69 years after it was stolen by the Nazis. During the World War II, the work’s original owners fled their Brussels home and the Nazis eventually confiscated their art. In November 2008, the ALR notified ICE and the U.S. Attorney's Office that a Long Island art gallery had possession of the work. Fortunately, in this case owner forfeited the painting upon hearing that it had been stolen during the war. However, as Marinello alluded to, few cases are resolved as quickly. As illustrated in the Carte case, the ALR frequently works closely with domestic and international law enforcement agencies including the FBI, Scotland Yard, the Carabinieri, and Interpol.

Upon conclusion of Marinello’s lecture, former Italian state prosecutor Paolo Ferri, provided a few insights into the Carabinieri’s lost art database, which now contains over a million registered objects.

Keynote Panel: 40-year Anniversary of the 1970 UNESCO Convention

Catherine Schofield Sezgin reports on her participation at the 40th anniversary of the 1970 UNESCO convention at the at ARCA’s International Conference in the Study of Art Crime, in Amelia, Italy July 10

by Jessica Nielsen, ARCA Intern

November 14, 2010 marked the 40th anniversary of the 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. ARCA blog editor-in-chief, Catherine Sezgin, reported on her participation in a celebration of the 40th anniversary held in Paris last March from her notes on the event. She mentioned that she had seen Annika Kuhn and Prosecutor Paolo Ferri at the event and invited them and many of her other fellow presenters at the ARCA conference (who she deferred to as having greater knowledge of the history and successes of the treaty), to engage in a lively discussion following her presentation.

"The Fight against the Illicit Traffic of Cultural Property: The 1970 Convention: Past and Future" The conference was an opportunity for UNESCO to look at the history of the Convention, evaluate its accomplishments, strengths and weaknesses and examine its main challenges. Sezgin noted that there was a speaker who brought up the similarities in the implementation of the 1970 Convention of UNESCO on illicit traffic to the experiences of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna 1973 (CITES). She also sat in on a public debate covering various issues among representatives from “source and destination” countries, the art market, museums and international organizations. Sezgin was most impressed by the Mexican representative, Dr. Jorge A. Sánchez Cordero, Director of the Mexican Center of Uniform Law; who spoke about Mexico’s active participation in the forming of the treaty and that it was the eighth country to ratify it. Mr. Cordero said:
We are in a situation that we cannot tolerate. Many countries are being plundered through clandestine excavations. Despite all our efforts, criminals operate on sites and in the trafficking of cultural and archeological objects.
Dr. Sanchez-Codero also talked about the ‘international community experiencing a rise of a new consciousness regarding the need of protecting cultural heritage, which is not linked to cultural nationalism, but rather to the need of safeguarding universal knowledge.’ Sezgin reported that he urged UNESCO to ‘play a prominent role in the new cultural order' and said that the convention 'only protects objects placed on an inventory list,’ this was a perfect introduction to the next speaker at the ARCA conference, Chris Marinello, from the Art Loss Registry, who described his company’s database.

More from Sezgin’s report on the event can be read on the ARCA blog here and here.

Catherine Schofield Sezgin received her Postgraduate certificate in ARCA’s International Art Crimes Studies Program in 2009. She has written about the efforts of law enforcement to stop the trafficking of stolen antiquities on the blog and in The Journal of Art Crime. She has worked as the editor-in-chief of ARCA’s blog since 2010.

August 6, 2011

Mark Durney, Founder of the website “Art Theft Central” and moderator of Museum Security Network, on “Collection Inventories”

By Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

Collection Inventories account for works in the event of disaster, transition or conservation treatment and are a proactive effort to protect and secure art collections, Mark Durney, ARCA’s Business and Admissions Director, told the audience at ARCA’s third annual International Art Crime Conference on July 10.

Accurate and well-audited inventories may increase the likelihood of recovering missing items. In 2008, an inventory of Russian museums discovered 242,000 pieces missing of which only 24,500 were officially registered as stolen.

In 1980, the Dutch Institute for Social Policy Research’s Condition Survey reported a backlog of 70,000 “men years” to inventory 16 national museums.

Many collections in Egypt don’t have inventories, Durney told the audience. And when 56 objects were reported missing from Egypt as published by the Supreme Council, the description of such items as a ‘wooden model vase’ were incomplete as to claim or recognize the object.

In France, 2002 legislation required all museums to create inventories of their collections and calls for them to be reviewed every ten years. The Joconde: catalogue des Collections des Musees de France” is an online inventory from 328 museums.

“More information, better results,” Mark Durney said. “Collection inventories hold institutions accountable for objects in the public trust; motivates more accurate theft reporting; and increases likelihood of recovery.”

“Law enforcement claims a recovery rate of 5-10 percent,” Mark Durney said. “But looking at the numbers over a ten year period, only 1.9% of objects registered stolen were recovered. The confidence interval is 95% and you can quote me on that.”

August 5, 2011

Katharyn Hanson on “Looting at Archaeological Sites During Conflict: Iraq’s Cultural Heritage as a Case Study”

by Kirsten Hower, ARCA Intern

Katharyn Hanson is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Chicago, concentrating her studies in Mesopotamian Archaeology. Her archaeological experience has helped her to examine the dangers that archaeological sites face and what can be done to prevent the looting and destruction of these sites. In her presentation, “Looting at Archaeological Sites During Conflict: Iraq’s Cultural Heritage as a Case Study,” Hanson examined the looting of archaeological sites in Iraq and stressed the tools with which these sites can be protected in the future.

Opening her talk with the devastation of the Iraqi National Museum, Hanson highlighted the difficulties entailed in even knowing how much has been stolen from a museum—let alone from an archaeological site. In addition, the lack of recoveries made is even more depressing than not knowing how much was lost in the first place. After opening with this sad tale, Hanson used the same basis to talk about two archaeological sites in Iraq that have been devastated by looters: Umma and Umm al Aqarib. As she stated in her presentation, “By far, the majority of artifacts stolen from Iraq come from archaeological sites.” Using aerial and satellite photos, she was able to show the extreme addition of looter’s holes to archaeological sites from 2003 to 2008. The result was depressing and mind-numbing, with an increase of nearly 5,000 or more looter’s holes at each site over the course of five years.

Hanson also stressed that certain artifacts had been recovered after being found in the presence of weapons, such as AK-47s—marking a tie between the arms market and the black antiquities market. In a really somber moment, she stated that we do not really know where these works go after they have been dug up: “We don’t have a great answer. I don’t know.” Hanson then stated what measures are out there, legally, for protecting sites, such as CIPA, Customs Enforcement, and the Hague Convention which calls for sites to be protected during wartime. However, it was pointed out that sadly, these are more measures for protecting what is looted from sites in the hopes of recovering them. Hanson brought a very somber topic to the conference, but it was certainly one worth hearing and will, hopefully, advocate more work towards protecting archaeological sites in Iraq and around the world.

August 4, 2011

Larry Rothfield on What Museums and Archaeological Sites can to do protect themselves during times of upheaval and lessons learned from Cairo

by Jessica Graham Nielsen, ARCA Intern

Larry Rothfield, a writer-in-residence during the ARCA postgraduate program in Art and Crime Studies this year, presented his thoughts on the recent looting during the revolution in Cairo at ARCA’s International Conference in the Study of Art Crime, in Amelia, Italy, on July 10.

"The recent revolution in Egypt provided a natural experiment or stress test of the security system that normally protects antiquities, whether in museums, or on sites or remote storerooms. What can we learn from the looting of the Cairo Museum (and from storerooms and archaeological sites around the country) about how other heritage professionals could and should be planning ahead to cope with similar situations of political instability that might strike their country?"

Rothfield described the failings of security during the recent revolution in Cairo that “allow us to see important things about the structure of heritage protection.” The lack of foresight to establish a contingency plan in the wake of the Tunisian revolution essentially left the Cairo museum unguarded and allowed a mob of one thousand people to break in to the gift shop of the museum, a very few of whom were able to then penetrate the galleries and steal a small number of artifacts. Some of these looters were apprehended by citizens who formed a human chain around the museum to protect it from further thefts.

Rothfield questioned why the “Pharoah of Antiquities,” Zahi Hawass, was not better prepared for the eventuality of the looting, the timeline involving his resignation and subsequent re-instatement after Mubarak’s toppling, the inaccurate reporting on the series of events surrounding the looting, and due to some strange coincidences, whether the thefts could have possibly been an inside job. He went on to list six lessons learned:
1. Contingency plans are needed to assure the safety of museums and cultural heritage sites during times of normal security breakdown.
2. Antiquities ministries are interested in scholarship and excavations and aren’t particularly interested in site security.
3. Well-conserved sites that are not armed are not protected.
4. Sites and museums can be protected by a mobilized public and dedicated civil servants.
5. There is no substitution for police, or militarized police, in general lawlessness.
6. Tourism revenue alone will not provide locals with enough incentive to protect heritage if doing so become too dangerous.
In response to questions regarding the arming of guards he said that he did not believe in simply handing out guns and that a contingency plan, training and an “all hands on deck” approach would have prevented the little looting that did occur. He also stressed that the situation in Cairo was very different than the issues that Donny George at the Baghdad Museum faced during wartime. An article in the Guardian published during the conference discussed Mr. Rothfield’s views in more detail.

Larry Rothfield is Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Chicago, where he co-founded and directed the Cultural Policy Center from 1999-2008. He has published on a wide array of subjects in cultural policy. His last book, The Rape of Mesopotamia (University of Chicago Press, 2009) offers a behind-the-scenes look at the causes for the failure of US forces to secure the Iraq National Museum and the country's archaeological sites from looters in the wake of the 2003 invasion.

August 3, 2011

Courtney McWhorter on the “Perception of Forgery According to the Role of Art”

by Jessica Graham Nielsen

ARCA welcomed one of the newest scholars to the field, Courtney McWhorter, as she presented her paper on the “Perception of Forgery According to the Role of Art” in the “Fresh Perspectives” panel at ARCA’s International Conference in the Study of Art Crime in Amelia, Italy, on July 10.

McWhorter described the different and changing ways we have valued art over time: from placing a high value on the aesthetic experience; to subsequently valuing its specific place in history; to the current trend of appreciating it more in economic terms. She proposed that as the perceptions of the value of art have changed, so has our acceptance and tolerance for copies and forgeries:
"I will show how art is valued today according to its historicity, rather than its aesthetic capabilities. Such a claim explains why forgeries could have once been acceptable, but now are not because they falsify history."
McWhorter explained that in the Renaissance, art was valued for the aesthetic experience it could impart. Scholars looked to the Ancients for inspiration on how to think about art and embraced Plato and Aristotle’s theories. The Greek philosophers considered art to be a mere copy of the ideal, and that its primary objective should be to evoke a feeling. Thus, when the Duke of Mantua was told that the “Raphael” he had coveted and that had been (reluctantly) given to him by Ottavio de Medici was in reality a copy by Andrea del Sarto, he reportedly said that he “valued it no less than if it were by the hand of Raphael.” In his mind the genius was in Sarto’s perfect copy – an improvement on the original. The copy had artistic merit in its own right.

McWhorter then discussed the 20th century and used Van Meegeren’s “Vermeers” as an example of how the value of art has shifted to one of historicity. Originally esteemed as some of Vermeer’s greatest masterpieces when they were “discovered,” they were disparaged by critics as worthless fakes once Van Meegeren was forced to admit (and prove) that he had actually painted them. The career of the connoisseur who had enthusiastically welcomed them as the long hoped for missing link between Vermeer’s earliest religious work and the small domestic scenes he became associated with later, was ruined. It was the great value placed on art’s historical relevance that Van Meegeren had exploited for the conception and acceptance of his Vermeer pastiches.

Lastly McWhorter turned to the current obsession of valuing art as an economic asset. She showed several images of editorial headlines proclaiming the monetary losses various collectors, including the actor Steve Martin, had suffered by being duped by fakes and forgers such as the “German Ring.” She blamed the auction houses for the current commodification of art and although she did not expand on it, she alluded to a developing phenomenon of fakes becoming just as economically valuable as some of the works they imitate.

Courtney McWhorter is currently completing her final year as an Honors student at Brigham Young University, working towards a Bachelors in Art History.

August 2, 2011

Michelle D’Ippolito on “Discrepancies in Data: The Role of Museums in Recovering Stolen Works of Art”

By Mark Durney, Founder of Art Theft Central

Aspiring art crime researcher, Michelle D’Ippolito, who currently is completing her undergraduate degree at the University of Maryland at College Park, discussed the role museums play in reporting and recovering stolen art. Many museums are reluctant to report art thefts due to their “concern for their public image and a persistent lack of funding.” According to D’Ippolito, the public’s opinion of a museum greatly affects its ability to attract visitors and donations, which in turn impacts its likelihood of receiving government grants. Unfortunately, in the event of a theft, the media frequently focuses its headlines on museums’ security shortcomings rather than on the possible factors that may have contributed to its loss. For example, after it was reported that 1,800 historic artifacts were missing from Pennsylvania’s state collections, the media published headlines, such as “PA. Auditor Says State Has Lost Treasure Trove of Artifacts” and “Audit: Pennsylvania museums’ artifacts ‘likely lost forever.’”

Alternatively, the media could have examined how the Pennsylvania State Historical and Museum Commission’s recent budget cuts and staff reductions may have contributed to its ability to accurately account for its collections. Funding is critical to a museum’s basic operations and its effort to preserve and protect cultural heritage. For example, it enables a museum to purchase current collections management software, which streamlines the inventory process, and it provides financing for the specialized training of museum personnel.

D’Ippolito continued her panel lecture with a discussion of the variety of national, international, and private stolen art databases available to art theft victims. While such databases are helpful to ensuring a quicker recovery of stolen art, their true potential has not yet been realized. Many countries do not consistently report museum theft due to their inability to register accurate statistics. According to D’Ippolito, this element coupled with the fact that many museums are reluctant to report theft has given rise to a situation that has little effect on deterrence.

In conclusion, D’Ippolito offered a few tactics in order to increase the reporting and recovery of stolen art. She identified eliminating discrepancies in the information required to report a theft; interfacing the current databases; creating a database related to the objects recovered with details of the investigation; and increasing museums’ participation in reporting theft.

August 1, 2011

Sarah Zimmer on “The Investigation of Object TH 1988.18: Rembrandt’s 100 Guilder Print”

By Kirsten Hower, ARCA Intern

Sarah Zimmer is a part-time faculty member at the Art Institute of Michigan’s Photography department and teaches both art history and studio art. Her experience ranges from fine art exhibitions to art history to museum work, on which her presentation, “The Investigation of Object TH 1988.18: Rembrandt’s 100 Guilder Print,” is based. While working in the archive of a museum, Zimmer discovered that an etching by Rembrandt was missing and then proceeded to investigate its disappearance. Her investigation, which included emailing former directors of the museum and anyone that may have an idea of where the print disappeared to, led to an interesting turn when she was asked to halt all investigation into this mystery.

Rather than completely forgetting the project, Zimmer was driven to investigate the value of this particular print and the value of works to museums. A contemporary artist with no prior knowledge of Rembrandt’s “worth,” she was intrigued by the question of: “What is the value of this museum protecting this secret when the value of the work may be minimal?” Using her artistic training, Zimmer delved into the realms of forgery to recreate the Rembrandt print along with provenance documents for an exhibition examining the value of a work and where the value lies. “I’m attempting to understand the value of the work, whether it’s monetary value or assigned value. Whether it’s the name that counts or the functional value of depicting a story.” Zimmer’s exhibition was shown at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Detroit in 2010 and also in Chicago.

Not inclined to completely let go of the project, Zimmer is still interested in examining the value that museums place on works and what value society places on works of art, such as “How we’ve made Rembrandt, the name, a commodity.” Though she no longer works for the museum, from which this print went missing, Sarah stated that, “the true crime was the institution depriving us of information and not allowing us to continue our investigation.” Of the multiple missing works that Zimmer investigated while working at this museum, the Rembrandt is the only one that raised the attention of the institution to cease research into its whereabouts. Zimmer is still pursuing research into the value that is placed on works by museums and the art community.

July 31, 2011

Leila Amineddoleh on “The Pillaging of the Abandoned Spanish Countryside”

Leila Amineddoleh
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.

July 30, 2011

Author and Historian Peter Watson Discussed What He Called “Some Unpublished and Un-pulishable Details about Recent Art Crimes”

Peter Watson (Photo by Urska Charney)
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin

Peter Watson, author of numerous books including “The Medici Conspiracy” and “Sotheby’s the Inside Story”, leaned back in his chair in front of the audience and like an practiced storyteller, said that he would talk about “some unpublished and unpublishable” details about recent art crimes.

He asked the audience to question about how much they knew about the truth of art theft. “Museums lie about provenance and experts are not experts,” he said.

Watson spoke about the stories in his books, of how the priest with the Vatican’s mission trafficked in stolen paintings, pleaded for mercy on the court, and after the judge suspended his sentence, went on to trafficking in drugs.

John Drew, the forger, was once suspected of burning down a house that killed a Hungarian lodger and two months ago was sentenced for defrauding a widow.

When Robin Symes partner Kristos died, Symes went to jail. The judge changed the case from a civil to a criminal case. Symes was sentenced to two years in jail and only served 10 months. He made enemies with Kristo’s family. A month after Robin came out of jail, a BMW was deliberately set on fire and a yacht went up in flames. “Nothing was ever proved, but this is underlining the idea that we are not dealing with nice people,” Watson said.

In regards to the Sevso silver, a strange murder in the late 1970s in a wine cellar showed three sets of footprints going into the wine cellar, and two going away. People accused of these crimes are “too dangerous”, Watson said. His friend Charley Hill, who recovered one of the Munch paintings while working for Scotland Yard, said that his children were threatened in a case.

“This is a very unpleasant world so watch where you’re going,” Watson told the audience.

July 28, 2011

Art Crime Writer Fabio Isman on "The Biggest Looting: an awful story that will never end" and his latest book "Il predatori dell’arte perduta: il saccheggio dell'archeologia in Italia"

Fabio Isman (Photo by Urska Charney)
by Jessica Graham Nielsen, ARCA Intern

Fabio Isman, a celebrated investigative journalist in Rome, who contributes to The Art Newspaper and writes regular columns for Il Messaggero and Arte e Dossier, took part in ARCA’s International Conference in the Study of Art Crime, in Amelia, Italy, July 9. Through an English-speaking interpreter, Mr. Isman talked passionately about the immense scope of illegal excavations, the illicit trade in Italian antiquities, and the yet unpunished main characters in a drama of tomb robbers, dealers, antiquities collectors, auction houses and the world’s major museums.

In his presentation, which he called: “The Biggest Looting: an awful story that will never end,” he shared pictures and information he found while researching his book, Il predatori dell’arte perduta: il saccheggio dell'archeologia in Italia (Raiders of the Lost Art: the Looting of Archaeology in Italy), which is the first written on the subject in Italian. He described his book as following Peter Watson’s fundamental work in The Medici Conspiracy, thanked him, and added that the depth of the issue has not been discovered until recently.
I will talk of a phenomenon: one million antiquities shipped from Italian soil from 1970 on, the most important [of which] was sold to the world’s greatest museums and big collectors…I wrote it because Italy is a great source of antiquities and I realized that few [here] are aware…
He went on to describe a story of 10,000 people, involved in the systematic looting and sale of one million illicit objects sold to 36 museums and 12 private collectors through specialist dealers from 1970 to 2004 in a business that is still ongoing – items having just come up at auction a few months ago.

Isman traced the beginning of the Grande Razzia to the Metropolitan Museum’s purchase of the illegally excavated Euphronius Krater for $1,000,000 in 1972, which made the market and established a record for an ancient object. As the market hungered for more objects, it was fed by looter/dealers Giacomo Medici and his secret depositories discovered in Geneva in 1995; four rooms filled with vases and recently excavated objects and 4,000 polaroid pictures of artifacts, some of which were already in major museum’s collections, and Gianfranco Becchina’s four warehouses discovered in Basel in 2001 containing more than $6 billion worth of antiquities. He referred to these men and other nefarious characters as “murderers of antiquities” who had scattered important objects around the world, leaving them out of context and thus “destroyed.” He underscored his words with images of a villa excavated in an unknown location at Pompei, its frescoes buried yet still intact, and those same frescoes cut into pieces so that they could be taken to Medici’s storehouses.

Isman thanked the State, and particularly Prosecutor Ferri and the Carabinieri (which increased from 16 personnel to 300 during that period) for helping to curb the flood of antiquities leaving Italy and helping many find their way back home. But he lamented that “no police dog is at the airport sniffing for ancient vases and [that] one-third of the people in prison have something to do with drugs and not one [of them is there] for illegal art.”

Mr. Isman has published 24 books, 18 of which are dedicated to art and culture in Italy.

July 27, 2011

Neil Brodie Awarded the Eleanor and Anthony Vallombroso Award for Art Crime Scholarship

Neil Brodie receiving his award
by Mark Durney, Founder of Art Theft Central

At ARCA’s third annual international art crime conference, Neil Brodie was awarded the Eleanor and Anthony Vallombroso Award for Art Crime Scholarship. Brodie is an archaeologist and former director of the Illicit Antiquities Research Centre at the University of Cambridge. Brodie has studied and written extensively on the illicit antiquities trade. His publications include Stealing History: the Illicit Trade in Cultural Material (Cambridge: McDonald Institute, 2000), Trade in Illicit Antiquities: the Destruction of the World's Archaeological Heritage (Cambridge: McDonald Institute, 2001), Illicit Antiquities: the Theft of Culture and the Extinction of Archaeology (London: Routledge, 2002), and Archaeology, Cultural Heritage, and the Antiquities Trade (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2006) among over thirty other academic papers. In January 2008, Brodie received a Saving Antiquities For Everyone (SAFE) Beacon Award for his significant role in raising awareness of illicit antiquities.

During his acceptance speech, Brodie offered his thanks to Noah Charney for developing an organization that educates students in the many issues related to art crime. Through its conference, academic program, and various publications, ARCA continues to inspire new research and projects aimed at combatting the growing problem. Brodie served as a writer-in-residence during the first six weeks of ARCA’s international art crime and heritage protection studies program.

July 25, 2011

ARCA Award for Art Policing & Recovery Given to Paolo Ferri at International Art Crime Conference

Paolo Ferri and Noah Charney (Photo by Urska Charney)
By Catherine Schofield Sezgin

Paolo Giorgio Ferri received ARCA’s Award for Art Policing and Recovery for his work as a former Italian State Prosecutor and his role in the return of many looted antiquities from North American public and private collections. He was the lead attorney in Italy’s cases against The Getty Museum, Marion True, and other American museums for the return of looted antiquities. He now serves as an expert in international relations and recovery of works of art for the Italian Culture Ministry.

Dr. Ferri told the audience, in Italian and through the use of an English translator, that he was delighted to receive the ARCA award, his first major award recognizing his professional accomplishments.

Years ago, Ferri said, exporting of looted antiquities was a fiscal misdemeanor and assisted by the ease with which the items could be cleared through Switzerland. He credited the work of Peter Watson, the author of The Medici Conspiracy, for his investigation into Giacomo Medici that enabled the return of many objects. In addition, the subsequent media coverage increased awareness of the problem of selling cultural heritage.

Regarding resolution of these matters of allegations of stolen antiquities, Dr. Ferri would prefer an international court that would provide more uniform judgments. “This court could possibly be under the offices of UNESCO which recently started offices for mediation and restitution,” Dr. Ferri told the audience.

He proposes that arbitration would expedite these matters and that inexpensive working groups in each state could provide spontaneous information that could ease the return of cultural objects. “The Washington Agreement should help people who hold title in ‘good faith’ and return objects to the original state,” Dr. Ferri said. “The necessity of proof should come from the buyer of good faith.”

The object should be returned to the country of origin who claims it if there is any doubt, Dr. Ferri said. “Cooperation in marco-regions is of extreme importance,” he said.

July 24, 2011

Elena Franchi on “Under the Protection of the Holy See: The Florentine Works of Art and Their Moving to Alto Adige in 1944”

Elena Franchi
Update: This is post has been republished with corrections.

On July 9, at ARCA's International Art Crime Conference, Elena Franchi presented her latest research on the protection of art in Florence during the Second World War, "Under the protection of the Holy See": the Florentine works of art and their moving to Alto Adige in 1944."

Ms. Franchi is the author of two books on the protection Italian cultural heritage during the Second World War: I viaggi dell’Assunta: La protezione del patrimonio artistico veneziano durante i conflitti mondiali, and Arte in assetto di guerra: Protezione e distruzione del patrimonio artistico a Pisa durante la seconda guerra mondiale. She has also been involved in a project on the study of the “Kunstschutz” unit. In 2009 she was nominated for an Emmy Award – “Research” for the American documentary The Rape of Europa, 2006, on the spoils of works of art in Europe during the Second World War.

"In Italy, at the beginning of the war in 1940, the movable works of art were subdivided into three classes of importance and sent to castles and villas in the countryside to protect them from the only danger to be expected: the air raids," Ms. Franchi told the audience. "The most important Florentine works of art were gathered in three deposits: Villa reale in Poggio a Caiano sheltered masterpieces from the Uffizi Gallery and Palazzo Pitti; Villa reale della Petraia housed precious sculptures; and Palazzo Pretorio in Scarperia protected the main works of art coming from churches and private collections."

At the end of the first year of the war, Ms. Franchi said, Poggio a Caiano was filled up and other deposit sites needed to be set up to shelter the important works. By 1943, Florence's mobile patrimony resided protectively in more than 20 storage sites.

On July 10, 1943, the Allied Forces landed in Sicily in "Operation Husky", and launched the Italian Campaign. "A frenetic moving of works of art from one deposit to another suddenly started, under heavy bombardment, even though fuel and means of transportation were hard to find," Ms. Franchi said.

Fifteen days later, Benito Mussolini was dismissed and Marshal Pietro Badoglio was appointed to head the government in his place. After the Armistice declared on September 8th between Italy and the Allied armed forces, the situation of the deposits became increasingly risky, Ms. Franchi said. In those days two military units began to operate in Italy for the protection of cultural property: the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Sub-Commission (MFAA) by the Allied Commission for Italy and the German Kunstschutz. Frederick Hartt, responsible for the MFAA in Tuscany, declared at the end of the war: "Italian authorities had done almost everything possible to protect their country's treasure against bombardment."

According to Franchi, and contrary to what many believe, the Nazis did not always steal the art work around them. Franchi argued that in the case of Florence, the Kunstschutz unit, the German military unit created to protect cultural property, worked with Italians Carlo Anti, the General Arts Director in the Ministry of Education, and Carlo Alberti Biggini, the Minister of Education, to move as much as possible to the north of Italy (controlled by the Italian Social Republic with Mussolini and the German occupation).

In June 1944, Biggini ordered to move the main works of art of Florence and Siena to the north of Italy, far from the battle line. But the difficulties of his journey made it clear that it was impossible to carry such precious shipment to the north.

Despite this order, at the beginning of July, the German Army evacuated the precious works of art belonging to Florentine Galleries from the deposit of Montagnana, since the battle line was approaching. The German Army also evacuated the deposit of Oliveto, unbeknownst to the Kunstschutz, the Italian Ministry and the Superintendency.

Kunstschutz got on the trail of the missing works of art and removed the works of art from the deposit of Poggio a Caiano, that was under the protection of the Holy See.

At the end, the Florentine works of art removed by German Army and Kunstschutz were all moved to two deposits to Alto Adige, that were entrusted to the local Superintendent and to German Kunstschutz until the arrival of the Allies in 1945.

July 23, 2011

Annika Kuhn on “The Looting of Cultural Property: A View from Classical Antiquity”

Update: This post has been republished with corrections.

by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

Annika B. Kuhn, currently a Fellow of the Mercator Kolleg on International Affairs (German Academic Foundation / Federal Foreign Office), conducting research on the illicit trafficking and repatriation of antiquities, presented “The Looting of Cultural Property: A View from Classical Antiquity” at ARCA’s Third International Art Crime Conference in Amelia on July 9, 2011.

Dr. Kuhn, who holds a PhD in Ancient History from the University of Oxford, discussed how the destruction and pillage of cultural property in times of war and peace reach far back in history to the Greek and Roman periods. She selected several historical examples and examined the different forms of ancient responses to the loss of significant religious and cultural artifacts, which ranged from the diplomatic negotiation of returns, the repatriation of looted property as symbolic political acts, or the restoration of the religious and cultural order by the use of replicas.

Dr Kuhn referred to cases of plunder during the Persian Wars (e.g. Xerxes’ looting of the statue group of the Tyrannicides Harmodius and Aristogeiton after the sack of Athens in 480 BCE), the capture of war booty by Roman generals and soldiers, which was displayed in the triumphal parades at Rome, as well as excessive art thefts committed by provincial governors and emperors. Thus, the Sicilian governor C. Verres, one of the earliest art thieves, conducted “forced sales” in the province and used slaves to rob residences and temples in a systematic theft of art. Verres looted statues, furniture, vases, jewelry, carpets and paintings from sites throughout Sicily. The Julio-Claudian emperors Caligula (37-41 CE) and Nero (54-68 CE) were art thieves on the throne and plundered statues to decorate the rooms of their palaces. However, Greek and Roman contemporaries not only criticized the plunder of art, but actively tried to protect or recover commemorative artifacts, and there are already antecedents of the ‘codification’ of norms to respect the inviolability of religious and cultural sites and prohibit the illicit appropriation of art.