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March 12, 2021

Conference: "Violated national heritage: theft, trafficking and restitution"

 Violated national heritage: theft, trafficking and restitution
Organizer: The Society for the History of Collecting
Registration Fee:  Free with registration
Location: Virtual
Date: Tuesday, 23 March 2021
Time: 17:30 – 20:30 CET

Have you ever wondered how ancient art from countries such as Egypt, Greece and Rome came to fill European and American museums? And how did Pacific collections come into being? This conference, with a dynamic list of international speakers, will address how collecting antiquities has been regulated, circumvented and trafficked. It will also examine how the criminal orbit operates, how heritage-rich countries confront the trafficking of their patrimony and how museums are involved in such debates.

These talks will present an overall picture of the international situation with regard to patrimony laws, looting, illicit trade, faking provenance and money laundering. The dark side of the trade takes many forms and may include forgeries and falsification of provenance. Both source and receiving countries have sharpened their laws, policing and prosecutions towards restitution.

This conference, organised by Dr. Eleni Vassilika, is aimed not only at students but also art world and museum professionals, indeed anyone interested to hear the latest information, much of which is unpublished, and to learn more about the realities behind these key issues.


Chair: Dr. T. E. Stammers, Durham University

Vernon Rapley (Director of Cultural Heritage Protection and Security) & Laura Jones (Cultural Heritage Preservation Lead): The V&A’s Culture in Crisis Programme;

Eleni Vassilika, Former museum director (Hildesheim and Turin), on the operations of placing illicit Egyptian antiquities in museums;

Christos Tsirogiannis, Assoc. Prof. and AIAS-COFUND Research Fellow, Institute of Advanced Studies, University of Aarhus, formerly at the Archaeological Unit at Cambridge, as well as the Greek Ministry of Culture and the Greek Police Art Squad: on recent thefts and restitutions to Greece;

Lynda Albertson, CEO, Association for Research into Crimes against Art: Hiding in plain sight with the help of the art market's laundrymen: Reflections on the restitution and “grey” market in Italy's antiquities;

Hilke Thode Arora, Keeper Oceanic collections (Museum Fünf Kontinente, Munich), on Pacific ‘gifts’;

Ian Richardson, Registrar for Treasure Trove (The British Museum), on how the TTAct functions;

Roland Foord, Senior Partner, Stephenson Harwood LLP, on procedures for restitution.

Please note that this event was meant to take place at the V&A in March 2020, but was cancelled. The Society for the History of Collecting is grateful to the Worshipful Company of Makers of Playing Cards, the V&A and the Gilbert Trust for the Arts for their support.

To register for this event, see the Society's Eventbrite page here.


I went to register for the conference but, sadly, it is sold out. Does anyone know if it will be recorded for those of us who could not attend because it was sold out? Thanks! Heather Gill-Frerking