July 14, 2015

Erin L. Thompson on “But We Didn’t Steal It:” Collectors’ Justifications for Purchasing Looted Antiquities" in the Spring 2015 issue of The Journal of Art Crime

Erin L. Thompson discusses “But We Didn’t Steal It:” Collectors’ Justifications for Purchasing Looted Antiquities in the Spring 2015 issue of The Journal of Art Crimeedited by Noah Charney (with Marc Balcells and Christos Tsirogiannis) and published by ARCA:
This article looks at beliefs of collectors about archaeology and antiquities in order to explain why modern collectors are willing to tolerate a certain amount of illegality in the process of getting antiquities from the ground to their collections. These justifications for purchasing potentially looted artifacts work by providing reasons to explain why the collector is a better owner for the antiquity than the government of its country of origin. The justifications fall into two main strands: first, that the country of origin does not deserve to own the antiquity; and second, that the collector possesses some special power of understanding of the object that gives him or her the right to own it.
Erin Thompson is Assistant Professor of Art Crime at John Jay College of Law. Her research focuses on the damage done to humanity’s shared heritage by the looting and smuggling of antiquities and other instances of the deliberate destruction of art. In addition to her traditional scholarly production during her time as a faculty member, she has published two editorials in the New York Times: “Restrict Imports of Antiquities from Syria to Cut Down on Looting” (October 9, 2014) and “Egypt’s Looted Antiquities” (May 30, 2014), as well as one in the Los Angeles Times: “To protect Syria’s antiquities, don’t buy them” (September29, 2013). She has responded to requests for background information on art crime from 60 Minutes, CBS Evening News, and NewsHour (PBS), and has been interviewed on Public Radio International’s The Takeaway and Al Jazeera America’s evening news. She has also appeared on the Freakonomics podcast, which has 3 million listeners per episode, to discuss the economic paradoxes of museum security. 

Here's a link to ARCA's website about access to The Journal of Art Crime.

July 13, 2015

David Gill writes on "Damaging the Archaeological Record: The Lenborough Hoard" in the Spring 2015 issue of The Journal of Art Crime

David Gill writes on "Damaging the Archaeological Record: The Lenborough Hoard" in the Spring 2015 issue of The Journal of Art Crimeedited by Noah Charney (with Marc Balcells and Christos Tsirogiannis) and published by ARCA:
On Sunday 21 December 2014, a major Anglo-Saxon coin hoard was discovered in Buckinghamshire, England. The discovery has been hailed as a major find, but at the same time concerns have been raised about the way that the find was made and removed from its archaeological context. It should be stressed that no crime seems to have been committed, but the impression given is that the hoard was removed from the ground through a less than scientific process. This is an appropriate moment to learn from the discovery of the Lenborough Hoard and to suggest stronger guidelines to protect nationally significant finds. 
David Gill is Professor of Archaeological Heritage and Head of the Division of Humanities at University Campus Suffolk. He was a Rome Scholar at the British School of rome and a Sir James Knott Fellow at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. He was subsequently part of the Department of Antiquities at the Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge, and Reader in Mediterranean Archaeology at Swansea University, Wales, UK. He has published widely on archaeological ethics with Christopher Chippindale. He has recently completed a history of British archaeological work in Greece prior to the First World War.

Here's a link to ARCA's website about access to The Journal of Art Crime.

July 12, 2015

Ryan Casey on "Analyzing Criminality in the Market for Ancient Near Eastern Art" in the Spring 2015 issue of The Journal of Art Crime.

Ryan Casey looks at "Analyzing Criminality in the Market for Ancient Near Eastern Art" in the Spring 2015 issue of The Journal of Art Crime, edited by Noah Charney (with Marc Balcells and Christos Tsirogiannis) and published by ARCA:
Similar to other criminally deviant transnational markets, the trade of Near Eastern artifacts involves powerful participants exerting influence over regulative and law enforcement systems in order to manipulate and exploit the market to their advantage. The emphasis in this paper is on the perceptual factors attributed to the power of these offenders and how that can be further manipulated to excuse and perpetuate criminal activity. By exploring criminological theories concerned with crimes of the powerful, neutralization techniques, and sociology theories based on the idea of philanthropic power crimes, we gain a clearer understanding of this criminal scheme. Through case studies specifically involving Near Eastern art, it becomes apparent that perceptual power sustains the illusion of social distinction and boundaries between those in the trade and academic field of Near Eastern art and those not involved, and also how these boundaries encourage a false sense of legitimacy and acceptance of deviant behavior.
Ryan Casey is an alumni of ARCA’s Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection program from the Class of 2014. After acquiring a B.A. in International Criminal Justice from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, she enrolled in ARCA’s certification program to gain a better understanding of the transnational market for cultural property. She will be continuing her studies at the University of Glasgow as a student of the MSc program in Transnational Crime, Justice, and Security for the 2015-16 school year.

Here's a link to ARCA's website about access to The Journal of Art Crime

July 11, 2015

Suzette Scotti Writes About Hawaii's Museums in Resurrecting Hawaii Identity in the Spring 2015 issue of The Journal of Art Crime

Suzette D. Scotti writes on "Rekindling the Flame: The Role of Hawaii's Museums in Resurrecting Hawaiian Identity" in the Spring 2015 issue of The Journal of Art Crimein the 2015 Spring Issue, edited by Noah Charney (with Marc Balcells and Christos Tsirogiannis) and published by ARCA:
On January 17, 1893, a group of influential American businessmen residing in Hawai’i staged a coup to overthrow the Hawaiian monarchy. The illegal occupation and subsequent annexation of Hawai’i by the United States threatened the Hawaiian culture with extinction. Today, three Honolulu museums – Bishop Museum, the Honolulu Museum of Art, and ‘Iolani Palace – are striving to right the wrongs perpetrated against the Hawaiian nation by reviving, promoting, and celebrating Hawaii’s unique history, culture, and art. Their efforts are helping to salvage an endangered heritage by educating the public, Hawaiian and non-Hawaiian alike, about Hawaiian culture. Each in its own way is inspiring a resurgence of Hawaiian identity and a newfound pride in a nation whose language, customs, and art had been nearly eradicated. Like the newly emerging “museums of social justice,” they are raising public awareness of controversial issues in Hawaiian- American relations and inviting dialogue over contentious topics. 
Suzette Scotti teaches Art History at Leeward Community College, a campus of the University of Hawai’i. She serves on the Board of the Hawai’i Museums Association and is a docent at the Honolulu Museum of Art. She taught for a decade in Rome, indulging her passion for Italian art, and has also lived in England, Spain, Switzerland, and Japan. She speaks fluent Italian and French. Suzette earned a B.A. in English from Vassar College, a Diploma in Legal Studies from Queens’ College, Cambridge University, an M.A. in English Literature from the University of Virginia, and a second M.A. in Art History from Louisiana State University. She first became interested in art crime while living in Rome, where she could see the looted obelisk of Axum from her living room window. She is a devoted supporter and happy graduate of ARCA.

Here's a link to ARCA's website about access to The Journal of Art Crime

Saturday, July 11, 2015 - , No comments

AUR students and students from Rome University 3 excavating at the Colosseum and Forum of Peace

Dear ARCA colleagues,

AUR students and students from Rome University 3 have just begun an exciting summer of archaeological excavation at the Colosseum and Forum of Peace (aka Forum of Vespasian). We would love it if you could follow us on our blog (http://www.aur.edu/archeology-classics/colosseum-blog-2/) and also follow the special facebook page we have set up called “diggers’ creed”. This is updated by the students on site as much as time allows (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Diggers-creed/362275977305135?fref=ts ). Please like us and share the post with as many people as possible.

We are hoping to begin regular a periscope spot soon which will be the first time this has been done from the Colosseum.  
At the moment a documentary is being made about the games and one of the lifts that brought animals into the arena has been reconstructed. It is right next to where we are digging and pretty impressive!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJnPtFuzFOA

Please help us out by following us!

Valerie Higgins,
Associate Professor of Archaeology,
Program Director for Archaeology and Classics,
Program Director for Sustainable Cultural Heritage
The American University of Rome,
Via Pietro Roselli 4,
00153 Rome,
Tel. ++39 06 5833 0919
Fax ++39 06 5833 0992 

For five decades AUR has been preparing students to live and work across cultures.
The American University of Rome is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education

July 9, 2015

EmBree & Scott on "The Multifarious Nature of Art Forgery in France: Four Case Studies of Belle Époque Fakes and Forgeries" in the Spring 2015 issue of The Journal of Art Crime

Carolyn EmBree and David A. Scott wrote on "The Multifarious Nature of Art Forgery in France:  Four Case Studies of Belle Époque Fakes and Forgeries" in the 13th issue of The Journal of Art Crime, in the 2015 Spring Issue, edited by Noah Charney (with Marc Balcells and Christos Tsirogiannis) and published by ARCA.

Here's the abstract for this academic article:
For the insatiable consumer culture that first appeared 19th-century France, fine art objects were among the luxury goods they coveted since these items served as markers of an elevated social status. While this situation certainly created a financial incentive for dishonest art dealers to supplement the elevated demand, issues surrounding art fakery and forgery during the Belle Époque were sometimes more complicated than economic forces during this period. In the pursuit of understanding these more complex issues relating to artistic authenticity, we hope to illustrate that in distancing ourselves from the simplistic notion that profit alone drives art crime, we are better equipped to appreciate the subtleties within the larger notion of art forgery itself. In this article, we present four cases: the Tiara of Saïtapharnès, Mailfert’s furniture, Schuffenecker’s alleged sunflower painting, and the Rodin sculptures of Guy Hain. We will focus on the hermeneutics involved in each of the examples in question, as well as the characteristics that challenge their authenticity. In doing so, we argue that the multifarious nature of these cases serves to further extend the ambit of art forgery, while simultaneously raising the issue of whether such an expansive conception of forgery can negatively color perceptions of the objects and artists it implicates.
Carolyn EmBree is a PhD student in the Department of French and Francophone Studies specializing in nineteenth- century literature at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

David A. Scott holds a joint appointment in Art History and Archeology, and was founding director of the UCLA/Getty Program in Archaeological and Ethnographic Conservation.

In a letter from the editor, Noah Charney explains how The Journal of Art Crime is reaching a wider audience:
Big things are happening for the Journal of Art Crime. After several years courted by a number of academic journal publishers, we have signed on with HeinOnline, a provider of e-edition journals to thousands of libraries around the world, making the JAC accessible via their subscription service to researchers the world over. It remains the more cost-effective method to subscribe to us directly, and the only way to receive print subscriptions, but our goal to disseminate the fine articles in this publication to as many researchers as possible made this a good move. We are also about to release an essay collection that features work published in the JAC, as well as more than a dozen new essays by over thirty leading international experts, many of whom have already appeared in these pages. The book, entitled Art Crime: Terrorists, Tomb Raiders, Forgers and Thieves will be published by Palgrave towards the end of 2015/start of 2016, and all proceeds from it support ARCA. We are also putting together new symposia for the fall and winter in the UK, so stay tuned for more good things to come.
Here's a link to ARCA's website about access to The Journal of Art Crime.

July 7, 2015

The Oratorio of San Lorenzo in Palermo, Sicily: Where a stolen Caravaggio Nativity once hung above the altar

Street entrance to the Oratorio of San Lorenzo in Palermo
by Judge Arthur Tompkins

This post continues last week's post "Sicily, Palermo, Cicero, and a missing Caravaggio".

I found it.

Not, sadly, Caravaggio's Nativity. But the stunning Oratorio where it should hang.

The Oratorio of San Lorenzo in Palermo, Sicily, is at Via Immacolatella, 3, next door to a larger church dedicated to Saint Francis, which overlooks a quiet piazza. It's a little tricky to find, a few streets back on the south side of Via Vittorio Emanuele, on the seaward side of both the main north-south roads, Via Marqueda and Via Roma, in the Old Town.

Just in case you're interested, the easiest route is to turn off Via Vittorio Emanuele into Via Alessandro Paternostro, then walk down this gently curving street until it opens into the small piazza. The Chiesa San Francesco is on your left, across the piazza, and the entrance to Via Immacolatella is in the far left corner: it heads back towards Via Vittorio Emanuele. You'll most likely need to keep your map close at hand as you untangle the labyrinth to find the front entrance.

Leafy courtyard of the Oratorio of San Lorenzo
Inside the entrance and up a few steps is a small leafy courtyard. You pay the modest entrance fee on the left (hang on to your ticket - it will get you free or reduced entrance to a list of other places, including the sombre and austere 12th century church of San Cataldo, with its distinctive three cupolas, just behind Piazza Pretoria) and then the door to the Oratorio is diagonally across the courtyard, in the far corner nearest the street.

Inside a vibrant rococo feast of Giacomo Serpotta baroque stucco work greets you, showing various scenes from the life of St Lawrence, culminating in his martyrdom atop a fiery brazier on the rear wall.

The copy of the stolen Caravaggio painting of the Nativity
But opposite that, in pride of place above the altar, hangs a full size replica of the stolen painting. Even as a copy, it dominates the rectangular room, the only break in the profusion of white and gilded stucco-work.

It remains a silent witness to a now decades-old theft, with little or no hope for the recovery of an original most likely now gone for ever.

Sources for further reading on the theft of Palermo's Caravaggio Nativity can be found here.

July 3, 2015

Further Information about Palermo's stolen Caravaggio Nativity painting

Caravaggio, "Nativity with Saint Lawrence
and Saint Francis"
For further reading on the ARCA Blog about Caravaggio's "Nativity with Saint Lawrence and Saint Francis" stolen from a church in Palermo in 1969:

Judith Harris, "Breaking News on the Stolen Caravaggio Nativity", December 18, 2009;

Catherine Schofield Sezgin, "More confirmation of old news? Pietro Grasso, head of the anti-Mafia crime unit, confirms in May that Caravaggio's Nativity of Palermo eaten by pigs", May 10, 2012;

Sezgin, "Revisiting books: Peter Watson on the Palermo Nativity in the 1984 book The Caravaggio Conspiracy", May 14, 2012;

Sezgin, "Revisiting books: Watson's The Caravaggio Conspiracy and the motive for stealing the Palermo Nativity",  May 16, 2012;

Sezgin, "Revisiting books: An Earthquake Shatters Expectations in The Caravaggio Conspiracy", May 18, 2012;

Laura Fandino, "ARCA 2013 Conference: James Moore on the stolen Palermo Nativity by Caravaggio ...", August 25, 2013;

In regards to a theft of another Caravaggio painting:

Sezgin, "Rev. Dr. Marius Zerafa Spoke on "The Theft and Ransom of Caravaggio's "St. Jerome Writing", Co-Cathedral of St. John" at ARCA's Sixth Annual Interdisciplinary Art Crime Conference" July 10, 2014;

Sezgin, "Father Zerafa's recommended reading on Caravaggio's Stolen Palermo Nativity -- and his memory of visiting the painting in the S Lorenzo Chapel",  July 17, 2014.

July 2, 2015

Sicily, Palermo, Cicero, and a missing Caravaggio ...

Cicero's bust in the Musei Capitolini
 ["Cicero - Musei Capitolini"
 by Glauco92 - Own work.
 Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
 via Wikimedia Commons].jpg
by Judge Arthur Tompkins

This year's visit to Ameliai, Umbria, for ARCA's Art Crime and Cultural Heritage course saw a visit, during a break in teaching duties, to Sicily. Apart from the obvious reasons to visit (I'd never been before, and it being a slightly mythical, Godfather-producing place, and all) two art crime-related reasons spurred my presence in the centuries old, culturally diverse, vibrant and slightly shambolic ancient metropolis. 

The first was that about 20 centuries ago, a Roman magistrate named Gaius Verres came to Palermo as governor. During an energetically corrupt, roughly two-year tenure, he managed to plunder and loot and steal his way through whole swathes of Sicilian culture and art and heritage.  

"Michelangelo Caravaggio, Nativity with
 San Francesco and San Lorenzo"

Fated ever to be the long suffering populace (in the coming centuries, they were to be ruled by - not necessary in this order, or at least always not in a lineally ordered sequence - the Romans, the Vandals, the Goths, the Byzantines, the Arabs, the Normans, the Angevins and the Aragonese, the Bourbons, the Savoys, and finally, the Italians), Verres' larceny proved too much even for the stoical Sicilians. They hired a young and ambitious lawyer in Rome, one Marcus Tullius Cicero, to prosecute the erstwhile governor. And prosecute him Cicero did, vigorously and famously, in the Senate, by way of a series of speeches later known to history collectively as the Verrines. Such was the power of his prosecutorial oratory, after the first speech was delivered to a likely enthusiastic Roman crowd and Senate, Verres fled into exile. He never returned to Rome.

Cicero's Verrines have echoed down the centuries, as exemplars of oratory, of writing, of prosecutorial precedent and, coincidentally, of informative travel-writing. Conceptually, in part they embody and express a fundamental idea that underpins so much of our cultural heritage protection thinking now, the idea that art and culture and heritage belongs not just to the immediate possessor or the country in which accidental history consigns it, but to all humankind.

So I wanted to walk the same ground as had the notorious Gaius Verres, and which had occasioned Cicero's oratory.

Via Vittoria Emanuele, Palermo, Sicily [Arthur Tompkins].jpg
The second reason is that Palermo is the site of one of the great unsolved art crimes. In 1609 Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was on the run from the authorities in Rome. He had been Naples and in Malta, but in late 1608 he had washed up in Sicily. According to one account, he spent a year here, "sleeping fitfully with a dagger by his side, and painting several late [although I guess he would probably have thought of them as early to mid career] masterpieces".

One of them was the large and dramatic Nativity with San Lorenzo and San Francesco. For about 350 years the canvas hung undisturbed above the altar in the Oratorio di San Lorenzo, just off the main Via Vittorio Emanuele in downtown Palermo.

Then in October 1969 it was stolen.  It has never been seen since. Varying accounts have it still in hiding somewhere, burnt, rotted, eaten by rats, or indeed fed to swine (by swine, one might think ...).

I wanted to see where it should still be.

July 1, 2015

Islamic Manuscript Collections in Conflict Zones: Safeguarding Written Heritage, hosted by the University of Cambridge from 5 to 7 October 2015

Dear Colleagues,

The Islamic Manuscript Association, in cooperation with the Thesaurus Islamicus Foundation and the University of Cambridge and with the support of Harvard University, is pleased to announce an inaugural short course entitled Islamic Manuscript Collections in Conflict Zones: Safeguarding Written Heritage, hosted by the University of Cambridge from 5 to 7 October 2015.

This intensive, three-day course is intended for academics, policy makers, cultural experts, lawyers and military experts, and will also be of interest to conservators, librarians, art historians, and other researchers working with Islamic manuscripts and documentary heritage in conflict areas. Ten speakers will introduce the concepts and mechanisms that underpin cultural property protection in the present day and educate participants in best practices of managing, protecting, and preserving manuscript collections at risk. Individual case studies will concentrate on Bosnia, Iraq, Libya, and Mali, while presentations and roundtables will be structured around the themes of the legal aspects of cultural property protection, military involvement in cultural property protection, and the destruction of memory.

To register your interest, please fill the application form found at: goo.gl/qBDlIK.

Scholarship Opportunity: The Islamic Manuscript Association is also pleased to offer a scholarship for a place on the course. Sponsored by the Barakat Trust, this scholarship will enable a senior conservator, codicologist, librarian, art historian, curator, researcher, or any other scholar or specialist of Islamic manuscripts who resides in the Islamic world to attend the full course.

Best wishes,


Armin Yavari
Assistant Director
The Islamic Manuscript Association
c/o 33 Trumpington Street
Cambridge CB2 1QY
United Kingdom
T: +44 (0)1223 303 177
F: +44 (0)1223 302 218
E: armin@islamicmanuscript.org
W: www.islamicmanuscript.org