Sunday, November 18, 2012

Cultural Security News (Nov. 11 - Nov. 17)

UAE: Preservation, acquisitions, and prevention
In politics, an op-ed in US News and World Report illustrated the emerging power of cultural property in foreign relations, while the illumination of the Statue of Liberty provided a symbol of resilience after Hurricane Sandy. Questions over what defines "fine art" continued a midst controversies over the aesthetic value of some modern and contemporary art. In the UAE, the director of the Sharjah Museums Department's (SMD) presented at a course that aims to introduce professionals working in the Arab region to the field of conservation and management of heritage and museum collections. Athar Programme and the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) organized the course.
In a crossover of politics and security, a 3-D rendering of the Buddhist Cave Temples of Xiangtangshan in China accompanied an exhibit of Buddhist sculptures at New York University's Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, which included sculptures from prominent museums in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Also, an article in Foreign Policy articulated the historical targeting of religious monuments as background for recent calls by Salafist leader Murgan Salem al-Goharyof for the destruction of monuments such as the Sphinx and pyramids at Giza. Tragically, the armed conflict between Israeli and Hamas also put world cultural heritage, such as in Jerusalem, at risk.
In economics, arts centers and organizations are considered catalysts for economic development in the United States, such as in Oregon and Arkansas, and the government of Abu Dhabi considers the annual art fair part of a "cultural ecosystem." The Royal Family made acquisitions destined for the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, which is scheduled to open in 2017. Performing arts showed promise in Taiwan, as the Ministry of Culture funded the Performance Art Showcase which featured the Huashan Living Arts Festival as a means to promoting the arts both within the state and with international festival curators.
Sotheby's and Christie's had successful auctions in New York totaling close to $1 billion despite the stagnating market for contemporary art, and at a following auction by Phillips de Pury & Company,  a portrait of Mao Zedong by Andy Warhol sold for $12 million. Meanwhile Chinese auctions houses, such as China Guardian Auctions and Poly Auctions, prepare to expand internationally.
In a crossover of economics and security, ArtLyst.com queued off of comments by art critics and high-end collectors to write an article with details on the "unscrupulous" facets of the billion-dollar art market.
In security, an armed robbery at the Pretoria Art Museum made headlines as the largest art heist in the history of South Africa. Reportedly, a 10-fold increase in prices motivated the estimated $2 million theft. Subsequently, the Minister of Arts and Culture appealed for the safe return of the artworks. Meanwhile, investigation into the illicit dealings of of Subhash Chandra Kapoor revealed long-term smuggling of relics across India and South East Asia.
In recoveries, two men copped to stealing a Henry Moore sculpture worth up to $793,800 in Eastern England, and authorities in Connecticut may leverage of drug and gun charges to press a mobster for information on the historic 1990 heist from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
In prevention, a new decree to combat cyber crime in the UAE included penalties for use of information technology in illicit trading of antiquities and artworks. Also, the International Council of Museums is behind establishing an "intelligence" body, "International Observatory on Illicit Traffic in Cultural Goods," to improve cooperation between Interpol and UNESCO on countering the worldwide illicit trade in cultural material.
For similar news, visit Cultural Security News.

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