Sunday, February 3, 2013

Cultural Security News (Jan. 27 – Feb. 02)

Repatriations and Arrests for Smuggling Antiquities are up
In politics, a commentary in The New York Times discussed the power of “source nations” in reclaiming antiquities. In some cases, the museums in “market nations” conceded to claims for repatriation without the need for legal proceedings. In a similar vein, France returned statuettes of the Nok civilization to Nigeria, and the French Ambassador announced plans for the return of another set of artifacts. In Brazil, a citizen identified and voluntarily returned a Roman sculpture to Egypt.
In a crossover of politics and security, in Egypt, a series of crackdowns on comedians and journalists may put contemporary artists at risk as well. The Association of Art Museum Directors in the United States raised the standards for due diligence in acquisitions of antiquities that have incomplete provenance. In Nigeria, The National Commission for Museum and Monuments (NCMM) appealed to communities to take initiative to protect antiquities for the benefit of future generations, while Yemisi Shyllon spoke on the need to preserve artistic heritage.
In economics, an article in the Business Times of South Africa cautioned against prematurely perceiving art as an asset class. In Singapore, Chinese artists formed the second largest group at Art Stage Singapore, after local artists. In New York, Sotheby’s featured Indian art in an auction, while in India, upper-middle-class families appear to value art in wealth management. Indian art prices reportedly remain depressed but show signs of recovery.  An article in ArtInfo commented on the ephemeral market value of works by artists who were recently considered a “sensation.” A London art fair for “affordable art” will have a presence in Hong Kong in March.
On Friday, the first day of the fair, some galleries said they had made sales ranging from a few lakhs of rupees to `10 crore. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint
In a crossover of economics and security, an article in The New York Times revealed the lack of regulation in the art market against the backdrop of record prices and the seeming impunity of galleries to some existing regulations. In Mali, artists receive support from North Korea and China to create monuments in the vein of the foreign culture.
In security, destruction continued in Mali as rebels retreated from Timbuktu. In particular the burning of a library, Ahmed Baba Institute, brought the security of historic manuscripts into question. In Nigeria, the NCMM announced plans to employ 600 security personnel to monitor cultural heritage sites. In Romania, authorities arrested three people who were transferring masterworks that disappeared from the Netherlands in January. In Iraq, Missan Police seized 27 antiquities that were in route to leave the nation illicitly, the Israeli Antiquities Authority caught three robbers in the act of looting a burial chamber, and authorities in South Korea arrested five Korean men on suspicion of smuggling Buddhist statues from Japan.
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