Friday, January 25, 2008

More Museum Raid

Tons more coverage of yesterday's raid on four California museums. Here is the Los Angeles Times. The New York Times is here. Newsweek is here. The Orange County Register talks to "the man identified as 'the smuggler'" in the investigation.

Lee Rosenbaum cautions that "the degree of intentional complicity by museums in this mess is not yet known."

It's indeed early, but Derek Fincham starts drawing some lessons:

"First, the alleged objects were of limited value. These aren't comparable to the Euphronios Krater for example. They are smaller objects, but were bought and sold in greater quantities. ...

"Second, I think this is compelling evidence of a systemic problem with the antiquities trade. ... The lack of provenance, and the ease with which smugglers can elude customs agents makes policing the trade difficult. However, it would seem now that those who would buy and sell objects can no longer afford to cut corners, and must now conduct far more detailed investigations into how objects came to market.

"Finally, I think this investigation reminds us that Roman and Greek objects are not the only classes of antiquities that are smuggled, despite the attention the recent returns from US institutions have indicated. Clearly, the question now is how many indictments or convictions will ensue, and how will the individual art institutions and the relevant industry codes of practice evolve to prevent this kind of criminal activity in the future."