Sunday, June 30, 2013

Cultural Security News (Jun. 23 - Jun. 29)

Intertwining of politics and security of cultural property
In politics, in Korea, the case of the Buddha statue that was stolen from Japan and maybe retained reflects broader ambitions of repatriation of cultural property. In Afghanistan, the Minister for Information and Culture received an arms antiquity from U.S. Homeland Security Investigations. An article reviewed the question of the Benin Bronzes still at large. In Iran, authorities welcomed easing of UN sanctions on trading in Iraqi cultural property.
In a crossover of politics and security, in Iraq, cultural heritage sites remain at risk despite severe laws that can carry the death penalty. Also, an article suggests that less overt trading of antiquities from Iraq may indicate that the market is moving underground. The World Heritage Committee voted to adopt a Jordanian resolution on the protection of Palestinian cultural heritage in Jerusalem. In Peru, Unasar ministers met to declare a commitment on countering trafficking in cultural property. In Egypt, intellectuals organized groups to visit archaeological sites, monuments, and museums to raise awareness for protection most recently in the Zamalek district of Cairo. In Peru, archaeologists kept the excavation of a Wari tomb a secret to lower the risk of looting.
In economics, in Hong Kong, foreign auction houses, such as Christie’s, and art fairs show increasing interest in establishing offices and events. Articles revisited the practicality or risk of art as an alternative investment.
In a crossover of economics and security, in Australia, reportedly the National Gallery sold a 1000-year-old bronze Shiva statue to help finance the $5-million larger Shiva from Subhash Kapoor. In Syria, looters continue to exploit instability to smuggle cultural objects.
In security, in Sri Lanka, organized gangs continue to loot archaeological sites. In Italy, police recovered a cache of Etruscan artifacts including funerary urns, bronze weapons, and other objects. In Egypt, authorities feared planned looting by organized thieves during protests at the end of the month. At the same time, police seized smuggled artifacts from Peru.
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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Cultural Security News (Jun. 16 - Jun. 22)

Increasing influence of “cultural power”
In politics, in Australia, the National Gallery of Australia released a statement on due diligence practiced in the acquisition of objects now in question. In Egypt, the Supreme Council of Antiquities is making calls for European museums to return artifacts. In Cambodia, the Sultanate of Oman took part in the 37th session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. In Germany, news reports criticized Vladimir Putin’s resistance to discussing the return of World War II looted artworks with Angela Merkel.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (front R) and Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel (front L) visit the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, June 21, 2013. REUTERS-Anatoly Maltsev-PoolIn a crossover of politics and security, in Egypt, archaeologists speak out against looting by armed groups at cultural sites, while selling of looted objects occurs openly in cities. In Russia, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations collaborated with local law enforcement to recover cultural documents. In the United Kingdom, one opinion stresses the importance of cultural power as a long-term strategy in international relations as recognized by other nations. Belarus and Azerbaijan ratified agreements on combating theft of cultural property.
In economics, in Switzerland, souring prices at Art Basel demonstrate ultra-high net worth individuals competing for the same works, while increased interest at art auctions in general might indicate a pending economic slump. In the United Kingdom, a Sotheby’s auction pulled in $164 million including the sale of a painting by Monet for $30.5 million.
Roman ruins of Palmyra, 220 kms northeast of the Syrian capital DamascusIn a crossover of economics and security, in Germany, an art historian argues that market for forged paintings has increased with general interest in art, while in Wiesbaden, a forgery ring is under investigation.
In security, in Syria, UNESCO placed several sites of cultural significance on the list of endangered World Heritage sites. In Libya, several citizens were honored for disrupting smuggling and returning artifacts to Sabratha. In Egypt, stringent laws on the antiquities are in review. In the United States, Afghan students completed a Department of Homeland Security law enforcement course as part of training to become a member of Homeland Security Investigations.
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Sunday, June 16, 2013

Cultural Security News (Jun. 09 - Jun. 15)

Egypt struggles to contain looting
In politics, in Tasmania, the Museum of Old and New Art (Mona) is banking on shock-art. In New York, the Met returned two 10th-century statues to Cambodia. In New York, Homeland Security Investigations tracked down the diaries of Alfred Rosenberg, who was a top aide to Adolf Hitler.
In a crossover of politics and security, Botswana has joined the fight against trafficking of cultural property. In Egypt, the Ministries of Antiquities and Interior cooperate to protect monuments. In Australia, the National Gallery of Australia is being pressed on acquisition policy. In Jordan, an unusual case of looters reporting on an archaeological find alerted the Department of Antiquities to a Byzantine Church.
In economics, in Turkey, the success of the Istanbul biennial indicates rising cultural power. In Switzerland, sales at Art Basel indicated that post-war and contemporary art is an increasing investment choice for billionaires. Two web art auction companies have substantial financial backing.
In a crossover of economics and security, in Paris, only antiquities with well vetted provenance receive bids at auction. In Egypt, looting continues by armed gangs.
In security, in Canada, for the first time, a conviction was made based on the National Parks Act. In Maryland, the Baltimore Museum of Art claimed legal ownership of a stolen Renoir painting that was subsequently found in a flea market. In New York, U.S. authorities issued an arrest warrant for Subhash Kapoor. Peru continues vigilance in disrupting trafficking in cultural property with searches at post offices.
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Sunday, June 9, 2013

Cultural Security News (Jun. 02 - Jun. 08)

Cultural property in Australia, indigenous and illicitly imported
In politics, in Germany, the return of human remains to nations of origin has the potential to increase calls for repatriation of art, antiquities, and other cultural property. In Egypt, the director-general of the Repatriation of Antiquities Department resigned over lack of cooperation by other departments.
The right place for Indigenous artIn a crossover of politics and economics, in Australia, an initiative seeks to gain the same level of distinction for indigenous art as for non-indigenous art in historical and contemporary exhibitions.
In a crossover of politics and security, in the Holy Land, cultural heritage sites that lie in regions of conflicting Israeli-Palestinian jurisdictions suffer from neglect. China seeks to preserve the language internationally by determining when and how translation might occur. In Turkey, police clashed with protesters over the planned demolition of the park in Taksim Square.
In economics, in India, the government turns to the option corporate donors for preservation of cultural heritage sites in exchange for promotional opportunities. In the UK, Christie’s announced the upcoming sale of the estate of T. S. Eliot. In Lebanon, the Beirut Art Fair for 2013 has the potential to further strengthen the contemporary art market in the Middle East.
quran manuscriptIn a crossover of economics and security, in France, Egypt requested that an auction house halt the sale of a Quran manuscript. In the West Bank, the family that holds the remaining fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls intends to sell the artifacts, while Israel claims rightful ownership.
In security, in Sri Lanka, the Antiquities Protection Division reported the attempted smuggling of rare artifacts. In Egypt, sales of looted antiquities, reportedly, goes undeterred in public spaces. In Australia, evidence has been retrieved on the purchase of $3.8 million in antiquities from the Indian smuggler, Subhash Kapoor. In Mali, UNESCO reports that damage to Timbuktu by insurgents is greater that first assessed.
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Sunday, June 2, 2013

Cultural Security News (May 26 - Jun. 01)

In Egypt, Islamic antiquities and Roman artifacts at risk
In politics, in the Philippines, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts emphasized the need for scholars in conservation and rehabilitation of cultural heritage. New Mexico recognized President Obama in designating new national monuments. Japan returned a Buddhist painting to South Korea after 420 years. Germany reexamines treatment and return of human remains from museums.
Ancient artefacts are seen on display in this photograph distributed by the police after the arrest of three people who had stolen them from a museum in Ancient Olympia (Reuters)In a crossover of politics and security, in the West Bank, reports emerged of fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls going up for sale. In Egypt, bulldozing of an historic gate in Islamic old Cairo and Chinese graffiti on Pharaohnic temples illustrate the threat to cultural heritage in the nation. Germany repatriated a large cache of Nazi-acquired antiquities to Greece. In India, the culture minister plans to redraft the Antiquities and Art Treasures Act of 1972.
In economics, in New York, Christie’s anticipated increased interest in Latin America contemporary art. Hong Kong remains a primary source of wealth and infrastructure for the art market despite a correction in China’s market share.
In a crossover of economics and security, in China, reportedly designation of Uyghur shrines as cultural property is intended to reduce the religious significance as part of strategy to control the oil-rich region.
In security, in Egypt, Islamic antiquities suffer looting in Cairo, and a Roman temple in Qena has suffered looting and environmental damage. In Australia, the director of the National Gallery confirmed involvement with the international smuggler, Subhash Kapoor. In Ireland, a medieval stone window-frame was stolen from national monument on Lake Garadice.

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