Showing posts with label Art and Heritage Law. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Art and Heritage Law. Show all posts

October 18, 2020

Regulatory Comparison: How is the 19th century merchant shipping scene similar to today's ancient art market.

East Indiamen Madagascar by Thomas Goldsworth Dutton (fl 1840)
National Maritime Museum Greenwich, London

A lesson from our regulatory past. 

The more ship you can see, the higher the vessel sits in the water.

The less ship you can see, the lower the vessel sits in the water.

If you own a ship, you make more money by transporting more goods. 

Logistically, ships sitting high in the water carry less cargo.  Those seen sitting low in the water carry more cargo. 

Either is ok when the ship is moored safely within a harbor and in most cases when the weather is calm. 

But when a large vessel sets out to sea, the heavier ship, sitting lower in the water, suffers from increasing drag as it moves. It is generally less responsive to steering making a heavily laden ship more difficult to manage in rough seas.  If an overly-laden vessel gets caught in a storm, it's easier for it to take on water and also to sink.

When ships sink, sailors and passengers drown and cargo is lost to the murky depths.  But the insurance fees paid out to the voyage's financers and ship owners were designed to cover such financial losses, so for the shipping industry, more cargo (still) equalled = more money.

That’s how it was in nineteenth-century Britain. 

A ship's crew and passengers might die, but the ship's backers and owners were still compensated financially through marine insurance.  Likewise, due to the booming trade market of the period, the demand for marine insurance created opportunities for profit for both the marine merchants and their voyage underwriters, who in turn profited from high premia which more than compensated the underwriters for the losses incurred when an insured merchant's vessel sunk. 

In 1871 alone 856 ships sank off the coast of Britain. Nearly 2000 sailors and an unknown number of passengers drowned at sea.  

Profit-driven, many shipping barons were unpulsed, more interested in how and when the merchandise got from point "A" to point "B".  More so, with the death of all hands on deck, it was sometimes impossible to verify or disprove events which had occurred in distant ports or on the rough open sea.  To them, the risk to human lives was not a particularly motivating factor to change the status quo of overloading.  Humans may have been drowning, but merchants and many of their underwriters were still making fortunes. 

Sailors often referred to these overly-laden vessels as coffin ships, a way to describe a ship that was overinsured and worth more to its owners sunk than afloat. To them, merchants turning a blind eye to the coffin ships represented the depths to which the merchants operating in the market could stoop.  

But despite their worries, it was an offense for a sailor to refuse to sail, and to do so could mean many months, or even years, in the gaols.  Such were the state of affairs that in 1871 alone, 1628 sailors, including two complete crews, were jailed for refusing to work on overladen merchant vessels.  For many, despite their reluctance and awareness of the awful toll on human life aboard such ships, desperation drove their decisions, forcing them to agree to work as the crew, making them part of an equation that valued commerce and merchandise over humanity. 

Despite the sometimes strident calls for help from worried seamen and the families of those lost at sea, the general consuming public seemed blindly unaware or disinterested in the problem.  That is apart from one man, Samuel Plimsoll, an English social reformer.

Plimsoll fought for a safe loading line on all ships to be passed into law on all English ships and asked for regulation to prevent the overloading of cargo encouraged by the ships' greedy owners.  Plimsoll's principle was based on one already known by seamen as far back as the Middle Ages.  Back then, ships from Genoa, Italy in the Venetian Republic, and the Hanseatic League, required ships to show a load line indicating how heavy the vessel was weighed down with merchandise. 

Yet Plimsoll's reasonable proposal met with powerful opposition and earned him the hatred of many shipowners.

Many of the most vocal members of parliament against reforms were these self-same shipowners and underwriters; men more intent on maximizing their profit than bowing to the expense of morally and ethical moderation.  From their point of view, shipping was a lucrative business couched in the notion of free trade. Their profits should not be bogged down under the weight of moral and ethical considerations.  

Fortunately, in 1876, after years of fighting, Plimsoll's calls for reforms succeeded and Britain's Parliament passed the Unseaworthy Ships Bill into law.  But while this Act required a series of 'lines' to be painted on the ship to show the maximum loading point it didn't specify where.  As a result, some unscrupulous shipowners chose to paint the load line in areas of the ship more convenient and continued this ruse, to disguise their overloaded vessels. 

It was not until 1890 that the country's Board of Trade officials finally applied the regulation that every ship must have a clearly visible Plimsoll linea line on a ship's hull, in a very specific place, which indicates the maximum safe draught, and therefore the minimum freeboard for the vessel in various operating conditions when loaded with cargo.

I suppose one could draw a few parallels between this maritime story and today’s art merchant climate, where the art market's focus seems to discourage regulatory oversight in favor of self-regulation, ensuring the free movement of merchandise. Likewise, many collectors seem oblivious to, or disinterested in, the problem of illicit trafficking. 

Despite cultural Plimsoll lines, like local legislation and international conventions such as the UNESCO 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property and the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects, disreputable commercial actors in the art market continue to conduct commerce outside calculated ethical lines. 

And like the sailors on ships, desperation sometimes drives the decisions of subsistence looters in source countries who facilitate the supply chain, and remain as actors to the commerce equation, despite whatever harsh penalties they might face. 

It’s hard to envisage a non-legislative solution that will protect commerce and protect culture at risk.  For now, the foxes in charge of the art market hen house are woefully incapable of self-regulating, and are resistant to the idea that there is even a problem worthy of being addressed. 

By:  Lynda Albertson

h/t to Dave Trott for his details on shipping regulations and statistics. 

January 25, 2019

Duncan Chappell returns to Amelia to this summer to teach "Art and Heritage Law" at ARCA's Postgraduate Program in Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection

By Edgar Tijhuis 

In 2019, the ARCA Postgraduate Program in Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection will be held from May 30 through August 14, in the heart of Umbria, in Amelia, Italy. In the months leading up to the start of the program, this year’s professors will be interviewed. In this occasion, I am speaking with Dr. Duncan Chappell, a lawyer and criminologist, who also serves as Chair of the International Advisory Board of the Australian Research Council’s Center of Excellence in Policing and Security and is the former Director of the Australian Institute of Criminology.

Can you tell us something about your background and work? 

I have enjoyed a rather peripatetic and varied career which began in the remote Australian island state of Tasmania, or Van Diemen’s Land as it was originally called by its 1642 Dutch discoverer, Abel Tasman. It later became infamous as the dumping ground for most of the criminals transported by the British following Australia’s establishment as a European settlement and penal colony in 1788, all described in an entertaining and comprehensive way by the late art critic Robert Hughes in his book, The Fatal Shore.

I graduated with dual degrees in Arts and Law from the University of Tasmania in the early 1960’s and then received a scholarship with the University of Cambridge where I completed a PhD in criminal law and criminology. I should probably add that my original choice when arriving in Cambridge was to study for an international law degree with a view to perhaps joining eventually the Australian foreign service. However, on arrival at my Cambridge college in 1962 I was persuaded by my college supervisor to go and chat with Professor Leon Radzinowitz about possibly becoming a member of the then newly established Cambridge Institute of Criminology. It was at that point that I guess that I became an accidental criminologist! 

I suspect that many career choices are made in this way! But it also proved to be a happy choice because at that time there were very few lawyers who also had criminological qualifications. As a result I had no difficulty getting a job back in Australia when I graduated in 1965 where I took a job which involved teaching criminal law and criminology to law students at the University of Sydney, the academic institution where now in 2019 I remain an honorary faculty member.

During 50 years or so I have been very fortunate to live and work in a number of countries and professional settings including the United States, Canada and Italy. I think it was in part the Italian experience in the 1990’s when I was attached to the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute [UNICRI] in Rome that I first began to develop an extensive interest in art crime, as I witnessed the richness of Italy’s cultural heritage and also learned of the rampant plunder of its antiquities that was occurring as well as the measures being taken to try and prevent it. 

That interest in heritage crime has continued to the present time and led to numbers of collaborative multidisciplinary research and writing projects on topics ranging from fraud in the indigenous art market in Australia to the illicit traffic in cultural property in Vietnam.

What do you feel is the most relevant aspect of your course?

The course that I have now taught at ARCA for the past five years provides a broad based introduction to those aspects of art and cultural heritage law that relate to theft, fraud and looting. Reflecting the students who participate in the course, it is designed for a multi-disciplinary audience although much of the relevant law, national and international, does raise some rather tricky and complex legal issues.

What do you hope participants will get out of your course?

I hope they will begin to appreciate and understand some of the legal and practical challenges that exist in combating any form of art crime. To assist this process one of the key features of the course is the choice each participant makes to select a particular area of the online art market to study in more depth, as theft and fraud can be persistent problems in the digital market. The choice they make then forms the basis of a short classroom presentation, and is extrapolated on in greater detail in a formal research paper. The range and quality of the presentations and papers resulting from this process has been quite astounding.

The necropolis of Banditaccia
Image Credit:  ARCA
What would a typical day be like in your classroom? 

In addition to the presentations, as much as possible I seek to stimulate discussion and dialogue throughout my classes. We also spend one day in a field class visiting the World Heritage listed Etruscan necropolis site at Cerveteri, Banditaccia.  There, entering the city of the dead of a now disappeared civilization, among the graves, we get a look at what history loses during illegal excavations, as unprotected Etruscan sites throughout Italy have been looted and robbed. This visit helps to encourage lively discussion about the complexity of protecting cultural heritage.

While each year participants are very enthusiastic about your course, is there anything you learn from them in the class? 

I have been massively impressed by, and grateful for, what I have learned from the wonderful individuals who have participated in the ARCA program over the years I have been associated with it. The richness and variety of the experience and knowledge they communicate has been one of the enduring strengths and delights of the program for me.

In anticipation of your courses, what book, article, or movie would you recommend to students?

For a rollicking account of the contemporary art market I strongly recommend reading Don Thompson’s book The Orange Balloon Dog. And for a little more detailed historical background and description of that market Phillip Hook’s Rogues Gallery which is equally stimulating and quite informative. 

For a detailed prospectus and application materials or for general questions about this postgraduate program please contact us at

Edgar Tijhuis serves as the Academic Director at ARCA and is a visiting scholar at the Institute of Criminology in Ljubljana. He is responsible for the postgraduate certificate program in the study of art crime and cultural heritage protection and since 2009, has taught criminology modules within the ARCA program.

December 23, 2016

Italy prepares to introduce tougher sanctions to combat art crime

Often ahead of the game when it comes to having a low tolerance for art crimes, Italy is about to get tougher still by adapting its current criminal legislation on crimes against cultural heritage.

During a press conference held on Friday at the inauguration of the reopening of the House of the Faun at Pompeii, the Italian Minister of Culture Dario Franceschini and the country's new Prime Minister, Paolo Gentiloni, announced that Italy was perched to crack down further on a variety of art and heritage related crimes, something it has been valiently trying to accomplish in legislation originally pushed for by General B(a) CC Roberto Conforti, the (now) retired Commander of the del Comando Carabinieri Tutela Patrimonio Culturale.

Based on a revised proposal submitted by the Minister of Justice Andrea Orlando and Mr. Franceschini, Italy's Council of Ministers, has approved a bill today that will be tabled in Parliament to give the government a mandate for the reform of the country's rules on penalties for offenses against cultural heritage.

If approved by Italy's parliament the reform is designed to:
  • introduce a new criminal offence "theft of cultural property" which will make a distinction between simple theft in general and heritage theft in particular.  This offense would carry a sentence of 2 to 8 years of imprisonment,
  • introduce a new criminal offence, the illicit trafficking (specifically of) cultural goods, which would be punishable by a sentence of 2 to 6 years of imprisonment, 
  • increase the penalties for crimes which lie downstream from the looting and theft of cultural property, this could including money laundering and/or receiving stolen goods, when those goods or proceeds are considered to have been the direct result of the illicit handling of cultural property, including specific penalties for the "illegal possession of cultural property" which would be punishable by eight years of imprisonment,
  • address the crime of pillage, seeking sanctions not only against the unjustified possession of metal detectors when found in possession of cultural goods on heritage sites, but the simple possession of tools used for tomb raiding, whether or not the person is found with heritage objects in their possession,
  • address the destruction, disfigurement, or desecration of cultural and landscape heritage,
  • allow for tougher penalties in cases involving art forgeries, 
  • allow for the use of undercover operations to track illicit trafficking of cultural property crime, including wiretapping,
  • allow for the reduction in criminal sentencing in cases where defendents work with law enforcement and stolen art is recovered.

November 2, 2016

11,500 years of stratigraphy in a tractor.

Ancient peoples first occupied Bandera County, Texas from the end of the Pleistocene (Ice Age), until the early 18th century. Some of the flint points highlighted in Mike Leggett's recently published article in the Statesman, filed ironically under the category "Sports", appear to be from Archaic cultures.  Flint points like these varied in shape over time and analyzing these points against those from other archaeological sites could be useful in pinpointing the period when the article's dig site was in use by cultures of the past.

But that won't be possible when 11,500 years of stratigraphy are gouged out of the ground with a tractor or backhoe for sport.

Even more painful to read Leggett's statement:

"And there’s nothing wrong with organizing and orchestrating a dig such as this. There are no burial grounds to be disturbed here and no unknown artifacts that might offer some sudden insight into Native American life and culture."

"Nothing wrong" is a pretty broad term.

But is it illegal? 

On private property in Texas, no.  Under specific conditions, it is perfectly legal (unfortunately) to dig on private lands where middens and ancient historical objects can be found.

In Texas, the presence of an archaeologically significant site on private property does not restrict the property rights of the individual landowner.  In fact, these sites and their contents actually belong to landowner who can manage their property in the manner they choose within certain restrictions.  Some choose to use their sites as moneymaking ventures as some flint points are worth a few dollars, while rarer ones can be valued anywhere from between $7,000 and $12,000 each. 

On public property in Texas and under specific conditions, yes it is illegal. 

But having said all that, what we know of the nomadic prehistoric people who populated the region is quite limited so it's a pity when hobbyists with artifact obsessions see the territory only as their own personal treasure trove of pointy objects. 

In 2005 Thomas Hester presented a paper on there area where he said: 

Unfortunately for history, it looks as if the flintheads have the upper hand. Archeological sites will continue to be mined for profit in the Southwest as long as artifacts have sentimental and monetary value on the national and international ancient art markets. 

But what does it really mean when hobbyists take historical memories out of the ground like this, permanently sifting the land grain of sand by grain of sand until nothing is left.  

Collectors in some states can buy history, but preservationists know you can't buy culture.

Texas Pay Dig Site
Texas Pay Dig Site
Texas Pay Dig Site
Texas Pay Dig Site

By: Lynda Albertson

July 9, 2013

"Cultural Heritage in the Crosshairs: Protecting Cultural Property during Conflict" provides case studies of Cultural Property Protection and the military

Dr. Joris D. Kila, University of Amsterdam, and James A. Zeidler, Colorado State University, edited Cultural Heritage in theCrosshairs: Protecting Cultural Property during Conflict (Brill Publications, May 2013).

Dr. Kila, co-recipient with Karl von Habsburg in 2012 of ARCA’s Art Protection and Security Award, attended the 2013 Art and Cultural Heritage Conference in Amelia last month. He has undertaken cultural rescue missions in Iraq, Macedonia, Egypt and Libya and is affiliated with several heritage organizations. In the Blue Shield Winner Heritage under Siege (Brill, 2012), Dr. Kila considered the practical feasibility of the 1954 Hague Convention. 

Dr. Zeidler is a Senior Research Scientist at Colorado State Univesity where he serves as Associate Director for Cultural Resources in the Center for Environmental Management of Military Lands (CEMMI). He has been involve din Cultural Resource Management on US military installations since 1992 and has provided cultural heritage awareness training to US troops deployed in the Middle East.
The protection of cultural property during times of armed conflict and social unrest has been an on-going challenge for military forces throughout the world even after the ratification and implementation of the 1954 Hague Convention and its two Protocols by participating nations. This volume provides a series of case studies and “lessons learned” to assess the current status of Cultural Property Protection (CPP) and the military, and use that information to rethink the way forward. The contributors are all recognized experts in the field of military CPP or cultural heritage and conflict, and all are actively engaged in developing national and international solutions for the protection and conservation of these non-renewable resources and the intangible cultural values that they represent.
Here’s a list of the chapters (the book can be purchased online; its discounted 25% through 31-12-2013 with the Action Code 50555):

Chapter 1: Introduction by Karl von Habsburg
Chapter 2: "Military involvement in Cultural Property Protection as part of Preventive Conservation" by Joris D. Kila
Chapter 3: "Respecting and Protecting Cultural Heritage in Peace Support Operations – a pragmatic approach" by Colonel Dr. Michael Pesendorfer
Chapter 4: "Cultural Property Protection and the Training Continuum in the US Department of Defense" by James A. Zeidler
Chapter 5: "Developing a Cultural Property Protection Training Program for ROTC: Methodology, Content, and Structure" by John A Valainis
Chapter 6: "Conflicting memory: The use of conflict archaeology sites as training for operational troops" by Richard Osgood
Chapter 7: "Developing a NATO Cultural Property Protection Capability" by CDR Michael Hallett
Chapter 8: "Aiming to Miss: Engaging with the Targeting Process as a means of Cultural Property Protection" by Michael Hallett
Chapter 9: "A Case Study in Cultural Heritage Protection in a Time of War" by CPT Benjamin A. Roberts and LTC Gary B. Roberts (Ret.)
Chapter 10: "Counterinsurgency: A Tool for Cultural Heritage?" by Cheryl White and Tommy Livoti
Chapter 11: "Heritage Destruction and Spikes in Violence: The Case of Iraq" by B. Isakhan
Chapter 12: "A Report on Archaeological Site Stability and Security in Afghanistan: The Lashkari Bazar Survey" by Matthieu J. Murdock and Carrie A. Hritz
Chapter 13: "Holy Places – Contested Heritage: Dealing with Cultural Heritage in the Region of Palestine From the Ottoman Period until Today" by Friedrich T. Schipper
Chapter 14: "Urban cultural heritage and armed conflict: the case of Beirut Central District" by Caroline A. Sandes
Chapter 15: "Antiquity & Conflict: Some Historical Remarks on a Matter of Selection" by Mirjam Hoijtink
Chapter 16: "Plundering Boys: A cultural criminology assessment on the power of cultural heritage as a cause for plunder in armed conflicts along history" by Marc Balcells (ARCA Alum).

July 7, 2011

Leila Amineddoleh, Courtney McWhorter, Michelle D'Ippolito and Sarah Zimmer will form the panel “Fresh Perspectives on Art and Heritage Crime” at ARCA's Third Annual International Art Crime Conference in Amelia on July 10

"Fresh Perspectives on Art and Heritage Crime", a panel leading the schedule on the second day of ARCA's International Art Crime Conference, will feature Leila Aminddoleh, Courtney McWhorter, Michelle D'Ippolito, and Sarah Zimmer.

Leila Amineddoleh, an alumnus of ARCA’s postgraduate program and Boston College Law School, will present: “The Pillaging of the Abandoned Spanish Countryside”:
"Spain is rich in art treasures: artwork ranging from religious works, modern paintings, ancient architecture, Roman ruins, and Visigoth remnants are densely scattered across Spain’s cities and countryside. Whereas some of the art is world-renowned and protected, much of the art is still hidden in churches and in depopulated towns and is left vulnerable to damage and theft. Spain’s cache of hidden works has great cultural value to the Spanish cultural identity; however, these works are often misappropriated because their existence is virtually unknown or unprotected. This paper sets forth recommendations for Spain to follow to protect is patrimony, most importantly the necessity of creating an extensive catalogue, encompassing both State and Church property."
Leila Amineddoleh has twice published articles in the Art & Cultural Heritage Law Newsletter of the Art & Cultural Heritage Law Committee of the ABA Section of International Law, including “The Getty Museum’s Non-Victorious Bid to Keep the ‘Victorious Youth’ Bronze” (Winter 2011, Vol. III). She is currently Intellectual Property Legal Consultant at Independent Legal Counsel and Of Counsel at Lysaght, Lysaght & Ertel in New York.

Courtney McWhorter is currently completing her final year as an Honors student at Brigham Young University, for a Bachelors in Art History. She has worked as a teaching assistant and is an art student to John McNaughton. She has done extensive travel while studying abroad, visiting places such as Greece, Italy, Austria, and Belgium, as well as completing graduate courses while studying in Mexico. She is also a committee member of the Art History Association. Ms. McWhorter will present “Perception of Forgery According to the Role of Art”:
"How we view forgery is dependent upon how we view art as a society. In this paper I will argue that forgeries have been received differently according to the role art is playing at the time they are discovered. I will show how the role of art began changing during World War II, due to the looting of Nazi leaders, and how this affected forgery, using the case of the Van Meegeren forgeries as an example. 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. They are placed into historical contexts where they do not fit and thereby misconstrue the public view of history. This paper is important because it shows that by understanding the perception of forgeries at certain periods, we can better understand the role of art and the values placed upon it in society."
Michelle D’Ippolito is completing her final year at the Univeristy of Maryland College Park, majoring in Anthropology with minors in Art History and French. She has interned for the Smithsonian Institution and the Department of the Interior, where she wrote an online course in basic museum collections care. Michelle has an article, “The Role of Museums in the Illegal Antiquities Market,” under review for publication. Ms. D’Ippolito will present “Discrepancies in Data: The Role of Museums in Recovering Stolen Works of Art”:
"The ability of investigative agencies like Interpol and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to effectively recover stolen works of art depends in part on how comprehensive and complete their databases of stolen works are. The scope of these databases and their effectiveness in recovering artwork depends on how many reports of theft are submitted by museums to the investigative agencies. This paper looks at the various influences that inform a museum’s response to theft, including sending in reports of theft. It examines how a concern with public image and a lack of funding affect the resources museums have at their disposal to handle museum theft and provides some strategies to improve the deterrence of museum theft worldwide."
Sarah Zimmer is a part-time faculty member in the Photography department of the Art Institute of Michigan. She has studied in both the United States and Italy.  She graduated from the Cranbrook Academy of Art in 2010 with a Masters of Fine Arts in Photography. Ms. Zimmer's works of art have appeared in many different exhibitions, including two solo exhibitions: “Presenting” at Four White Walls in Phoenix, Arizona, in 2005, and “Presence” at the Galleria La Corte in Florence, Italy, in 2007. Ms. Zimmer will present “The Investigation of Object TH 1988.18: Rembrandt’s 100 Guilder Print”.
In 2008, while working at an archive of an unnamed institution it was discovered that an etching by Rembrandt van Rijn was missing from the collection. According to a letter on file it was approved to be sent out for restoration in 1998. However, no record was ever found to confirm that it was sent out for treatment. It was last accounted for in a 1990 inventory. Months were dedicated to digging through files and paperwork. After attempting to track the object starting with its provenance, port of entry, and adoption into the collection, the paper work dropped off and a more rigorous search began. Emails were sent and searches commenced, until one afternoon in 2009 I received a letter from the head of the institution asking me to halt the investigation with no explanation offered. While the particular piece’s rarity and monetary value hold no comparison to the Rembrandt cut from its frame during the 1990 Gardener Museum heist, the unnamed institution continues to guard the knowledge of the prints disappearance. This object and the circumstances that ensued led me to further investigate and explore a larger system of values using Rembrandt as a model. I began by questioning the institutional value of maintaining the secret of a missing artwork that was not of any particular rarity or monetary significance.