Showing posts with label Britain. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Britain. Show all posts

May 31, 2014

Noah Charney on "The British Origin of the Monuments Men" in "Lessons from the History of Art Crime" in the Spring 2014 issue of ARCA's Journal of Art Crime

Noah Charney is a professor of art history specializing in art crime and an international best-selling author of fiction (The Art Thief) and non-fiction (Stealing the Mystic Lamb). He teaches for American University of Rome and Brown University, and is an award-winning columnist for a variety of popular magazines and newspapers. He is the founder of ARCA, and has served as its president since its inception. In his column "Lessons from the History of Art Crime", Noah Charney writes about “The British Origin of the Monuments Men”: 
This winter, when George Clooney’s drama comes out about the Monuments Men and their adventures in saving Europe’s art treasures during the Second World War, viewers will be privy to a Hollywoodization of a true, dramatic, epic story of the race to rescue an estimated five million cultural heritage objects, from paintings and sculptures to rare books and valuable archival materials, that were looted by the Nazis and risked complete destruction. The Clooney film is only loosely based on historical fact—it necessarily compresses, condenses, and alters reality to fit the rules of a Hollywood feature. But one aspect of the Monuments Men that most American accounts skip past or exclude altogether is the fact that the Monuments Men began as a British operation—its spearhead was a most British brand of hero, Sir Leonard Woolley. 
The Monuments Men was the nickname of a group of some three-hundred Allied officers, members of the art world during their civilian lives (architects, conservators, archaeologists, art historians), who were charged with identifying art and monuments that might be in the line of fighting in Europe during the Second World War. Once these works, from Notre Dame Cathedral to the entire contents of the Uffizi, were identified, the officers would advise the Allied armies they accompanied on how, whenever possible, to avoid damage to these cultural monuments. That part of their call of duty was the British plan. But their role changed in practice, once the officers were in the field and it became clear, only late in the war, that there was an enormous, proactive art-looting plan that the Nazis had put into operation, led by their art theft unit, the ERR, and intended to both enrich the Nazi war effort and fill Hitler’s planned “super museum” that would occupy the entirety of his boyhood town of Linz, Austria, which would contain every important artwork in the world. Once in the field, as an under-appreciated and under-supported twig attached to the massive Allied armies, the Monuments Men began to act as war-time art detectives, seeking out key stolen works, piecing together clues as to the overall Nazi art theft plan, and eventually rescuing tens of thousands of looted masterpieces, including van Eyck’s Adoration of the Mystic Lamb and Michelangelo’s Bruges Madonna—the twin focal points of the Clooney film.
You may finish reading this column in the Spring/Summer 2014 issue (#11) of The Journal of Art Crime edited by ARCA founder Noah Charney. The Journal of Art Crime may be accessed through subscription or in paperback from Amazon.com. The Table of Contents is listed on ARCA's website here. The Associate Editors are Marc Balcells (John Jay College of Law) and Christos Tsirogiannis (University of Cambridge). Design and layout (including the front cover illustration) are produced by Urška Charney.

February 1, 2014

Introducing Sam Hardy and "Conflict Antiquities" -- the blog that aims to track the use of antiquities to fund war

In Vernon Silver's article "The Apollo of Gaza: Hamas's Ancient Bronze Statue" in Bloomberg Businesweek, Sam Hardy is quoted as to the complications of the discovery:
In the hands of the Hamas government, the bronze is worth more than just money. The most valuable reward would be recognition of any kind by U.S. or European institutions and governments. Even the slightest cooperation, say, over restoration, sale, or loan of the statue, could open the diplomatic door a crack. “This case is fiendishly difficult,” says Sam Hardy, a British archaeologist whose Conflict Antiquities website tracks the use of looted artifacts to fund war. “National and international laws make it difficult to assist the administration in the West Bank, let alone that in the Gaza Strip. Indeed, any sale or leasing of the statue might normalize looting of antiquities as a funding stream for Hamas.”
We've added Hardy's blog "Conflict Antiquities" to ARCA's "Related Blogs" on the right side of our website.

September 12, 2013

Dick Ellis, ARCA Lecturer and founder of Scotland Yard's Art & Antiquities Squad, on arrests of travellers for thefts of museums and auction houses

Dick Ellis, ARCA Lecturer, formerly of Scotland Yard
When media reports announced that police had arrested suspects for a series of art-related thefts, ARCA blog turned to Richard Ellis, ARCA Lecturer and founder of Scotland Yard's Art and Antiquity Squad, for his perspective: 
The arrest of two men in Essex was a part of a joint police operation which saw a total of 17 men and 2 women arrested across the UK and Ireland, following a series of thefts at museums and auction houses in which ancient Chinese objects, Rhino horns and other works of art and antiques valued in excess of £20 million were stolen during the course of 2012. 
Police from 26 forces including An Garda Siochana in Ireland, the Police Service of Northern Ireland and members of the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) raided houses and traveller camps in London, Essex, Cambridgeshire, Sussex, The West Midlands, Nottingham, Belfast, Cork and in Rathkeale near Limerick, the home of the Irish Traveller community. 
They are reported to have seized a large amount of unspecified property although it is not known whether this includes any of the rare Chinese jade carvings stolen from the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge for which crime, four people were convicted earlier this year including a 15 year old boy. All were from the traveller community, members of whom have been responsible for a series of the major art and antique robberies committed in the UK in recent years. 
Not for the first time, the UK police were forced to create a cross border task force to investigate a series of crimes committed by travellers against public and private collections of art and antiques. The crimes themselves demonstrate how criminals follow trends in various markets, including the art market, and the explosion in value of Chinese artefacts following the re-emergence of the Chinese art market did not go unnoticed. Likewise, the high prices offered for Rhino horn in the Far East attracted the attention of criminals who realised that it was easier and safer to steal the horns from exhibits in museums rather than poach the horns from live animals in Africa. 
Travellers have been arrested in a number of European countries in connection with the theft of horns from museums, and Austria was recently seeking the extradition of one leading Traveller from Rathkeale. The scale of these crimes resulted in many institutions replacing the horns with replicas to discourage thefts, however in the case of the Norwich museum in Norfolk, the birthplace of Admiral Lord Nelson, when the burglars were unable to steal the Rhino horn they turned their attentions to other exhibits and stole some Nelsonian objects including a mourning ring worn by a member of Nelson's family following his death at the battle of Trafalgar in 1805. 
These crimes and how they and other art thefts are inspired by art market trends will be discussed in detail at the "Art Crime" Seminar to be held in Dallas Texas between the 14th - 18th October 2013 at the SMU Meadows School of the Arts at which I and former FBI Special Agent Virginia Curry will be talking. For further information about this course contact Abigail Smith at 214 768 3425 or abigails@smu.edu or visit http://mcs.smu.edu/calender/event/world-art-and-fine-art-crime.

October 11, 2012

The Journal of Art Crime, Fall 2012: "Getting Governments to Cooperate Against Looting: Insights from the American and British Experience" by Asif Efrat

In the Fall 2012 electronic issue of The Journal of Art Crime, Asif Efrat writes on "Getting Governments to Cooperate against Looting: Insights from the American and British Experience":
Why would countries that had long resisted the efforts against archaeological plunder reverse course and join these efforts?  The article solves this puzzle by examining the American and British decisions to join the 1970 UNESCO Convention.  Initially skeptical of UNESCO's endeavors, the United States and Britain changed their policies and came to support the international efforts in the early 1970s and early 2000s, respectively.  I argue that the two countries' policy shifts had similar causes.  First, archaeologists advocacy made policymakers aware of the damage caused by the illicit antiquities trade and the art world's complicity.  Second, public scandals exposed unethical behavior in the American and British art markets and demonstrated the need for regulation.  Third, the U. S. and British governments established domestic consensus in favor of regulation through advisory panels that included the major stakeholders: archaeologists, dealers, and museums.  Yet because of divergent bureaucratic attitudes, the U. S. government has ultimately been more vigorous in its efforts against the illicit antiquities trade than has the British government.
Dr. Efrat is Assistant Professor of Governmnet at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya, Israel.  He received his Ph.D. in government from Harvard University and has taught at Cornell Law School.  His book Governing Guns, Preventing Plunder: International Cooperation against Illicit Trade has been published by Oxford University Press.

Here's a link to the ARCA website and more information about subscribing to The Journal of Art Crime.