In politics, the battle for the Berlin Wall continued, while the power of the symbolism has waned since 1989. After three years of investigation, a Buddhist statue was returned from the United States to Myanmar. In Italy, investigation into the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin continued. South Koreans called for the return of a stolen Buddhist statue to Japan. In Russia, Artyom Loskutov is considered the most well-known activist after Pussy Riot. Peru and China have signed a Cultural Cooperation Agreement, which includes protection and recovery of cultural property.
In a crossover of politics and economics, an Arizona tribe requested that an auction house in Paris withhold tribal artifacts with religious significance from sale. In the UK, the seller of a Reynold’s painting is attempting to categorize the artwork as “plant” to avoid capital gains tax.
In a crossover of politics and security, in Iraq development has surpassed looting as the main threat to cultural heritage. Egypt and the EU discussed an agreement to fight trafficking and to repatriate artifacts. In Syria, controversy continued over which parties are responsible for looting of cultural property. The Lawyers for Justice in Libya demanded the arrest of the parties responsible for the destruction of the Al-Andalusi mausoleum.
In economics, speculation continued over the contraction of the art market in China, while debate over undervaluing of the international art market gained momentum. Steven Cohen reportedly paid $155 million for Picasso’s “Le Reve.” The market for damaged art has particular relevance as insurance companies settle claims after natural disasters such as hurricane Sandy. In Nigeria, increased documentation of contemporary art is improving the market.
In a crossover of economics and security, in Thailand, restoration competes with conservation of historic monuments. United Nation agencies have announced a campaign to alert tourists to illicit goods that enable organized crime.
In security, in Paris, a bomb threat caused the evacuation of the Eiffel Tower. In Syria, a Jewish synagogue was looted and hit by shelling in Damascus, and the Temple of Bel was damaged by fighting in Palmyra. In Utah, several individuals were indicted for trafficking in artifacts from Peru. On a positive note, in Bulgaria, cultural property crimes have dropped by half.
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