Sunday, March 3, 2013

Cultural Security News (Feb. 24 - Mar. 02)

“Renting” the pyramids in Egypt and “protecting” cultural property in Iran? 
In politics, in New York, the removal of a painting from Auburn museum for reasons of “safety” caused a controversy when the owning foundation announced plans to sell the artwork. In Washington D.C., complaints arose over suspected misuse of social media by the White House in circumventing the press. In the West Bank, Palestinians claim that cultural artifacts were illicitly removed for a King Herod exhibit in Jerusalem. In the U.S., Hindu leaders call for the repatriation of cultural patrimony to source nations worldwide. In Washington D.C., federal layers made a trip to Cambodia in the ongoing dispute over the 10th century “mythic warrior” statue, Duryodhana.
In a crossover of politics and economics, in Germany, plans to construct luxury flats would require the demolition of part of the Berlin Wall. Protestors subsequently delayed the demolition. In New York, students at the Fashion Institute of Technology discussed if size matters in the art world.
In a crossover of politics and security, in Egypt, Islamists are suspected of vandalizing monuments of important intellectuals of the 20th century, and looting of Villa Casdagl in Cairo was reportedly targeted due to Western and Christian past uses. Japan will demand though diplomatic channels that South Korea return Buddhist statues that have been missing since last year. The U.S. signed a memorandum of understanding with Belize to bring legal action against illicit possession of artifacts from Belize. The Iranian Cultural Heritage, Handicraft and Tourism Organization is suspected of looting and destroying pre-Islamic cultural heritage under the guise of protection.
In economics, Christie’s announced higher transaction costs at auctions with shifts in thresholds for premiums. Turkmenistan is investing in removal of Soviet-era buildings and rebuilding with marble facades. In Maastricht, Netherlands, attendance of the upcoming TEFAF (The European Fine Art Fair) is expected to follow the upward trend since the launch in 1988. In China, predictions for 2013 expect more pragmatic long-term practices in the art market. Christie’s in London announced a master’s degree (MSc) in art, law and business accredited by the University of Glasgow. In London, Sotheby’s held a show of contemporary art from oil-rich nations of Central Asia and the Caucasus.
In a crossover of economics and security, Felix Salmon had an interesting piece on the fourth year of Sustainable Preservation Initiative in finding creative means for protection of archaeological sites in emerging nations. In Egypt, apparently Qatar has an interest in funding a project to put the Pyramids up for rent.
In security, in Greece, a man who mailed a stolen Salvador Dali painting back to an Upper East Side gallery in New York was subsequently trapped in sting operation by New York police. In New York, a world-class pianist was robbed of a $140,000 grand piano while subletting his condo. In Syria, rebels, soldiers, and civilians reportedly make use of historic fortifications for protection against shelling. Concern continues in Hyderabad, India over Hindu temples and Islamic mosques as flashpoints for conflict.
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