Sunday, April 14, 2013

Cultural Security News (Apr. 07 - Apr. 13)

Native American artifacts: court cases and archaeological investigations
In politics, in Egypt, the Antiquities Minister refuted a report of looting in a region by asserting that the area in question does not have any archaeological sites. This past week marked the 10-year anniversary of the destruction of the statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad. In Iraq, an archaeologist claims that the United States obtained, and has refused to return, thousands of artifacts. In China, Jackie Chan’s title of “ambassador for the return of relics” was drawn into question over plans to move historic buildings to Singapore. In England, the Labour party dismissed the idea of a statue of Margaret Thatcher on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square. In the United States, Bill Moyers interviewed a Native American author on the lack of cultural power of Indians.
BAGHDAD, IRAQ - APRIL 9: (FILE PHOTO) U.S marines and Iraqis are seen on April 9, 2003 as the statue of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is toppled at al-Fardous square in Baghdad, Iraq. In a crossover of politics and economics, in Jordan, the EU Ambassador inaugurated a cultural event that promotes artists and designers.  In China, Christie’s gained permission to hold an auction in Shanghai. The event will mark the first auction held by a foreign company on the mainland. Also, the planned Beijing freeport will be much larger than the Shanghai freeport. In Texas, development of public land now falls subject to archaeological investigation for cultural artifacts.
In a crossover of politics and security, in Syria, ancient sites suffer damage as fortifications are exploited to strategic advantage in the civil war. In India, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) does not know what happened to 35 protected monuments, which have disappeared. Controversy over the Hopi masks for sale in France continued with legal proceedings against the Paris auction house. The sale occurred nonetheless but not without emotional protests at the auction.
In economics, Artspace.com expanded its online business with the acquisition of VIP Art of New York, and Hiscox insurance reported an increase in online purchases of art. Meanwhile, in New York, another firm, Art Remba, entered the online market for trying out artworks before committing to an acquisition. Sotheby’s demonstrated confidence in a comeback of the art market by announcing plans to ask $30-40 million for a painting by Francis Bacon. Reportedly, interest in African contemporary art has surged. In Mexico, the annual art bazaar fell short of expectations. In China, reports on the strength of the art market on the mainland remain mixed, but the online market continues to expand with a new website that will focus on modern and contemporary art.
In a crossover of economics and security, reports continued on the prolonged closure of the Iraq National Museum in Baghdad.
In security, in Texas, Homeland Security Investigations made an arrest for the theft of Chinese ivory Buddhist Lohans from a gallery in Houston. In Italy, police recovered a Chagall painting eleven years after the theft from a yacht in a northern port. A rare report on damage to cultural property during armed conflict in Nepal pointed out that the nation has yet to ratify the 1954 Hague Convention.
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