Do millionaires order the theft of priceless art like in the movies?Breaking News
tags: Syria, Palmyra, ISIS, ISIL, Ancient Artifacts
Looting-to-order or theft-to-order of cultural assets has been widely dismissed as a myth. To test that, an open-source analysis of cases and testimony from law enforcement agents, perpetrators of cultural property crime and cultural heritage professionals was conducted. Web searches were conducted for reports that addressed looting, stealing or theft of cultural property on commission or to order; for material that discussed looters, robbers or thieves who had been contracted, employed, hired or paid to extract antiquities; and for academic publications that discussed “looting to order”, “theft to order” or any commodity “stolen to order”. Source-end employment/contracting that did not demonstrate a direct connection to market-end purchase and other cases that might have constituted “stealing to offer” were excluded, as were implicit and complicit orders that did not establish a contractual relationship. The analysis found historic and global evidence of commissioned theft of cultural property. It also found evidence that theft-to-order was a significant problem in some places and had served as a structure for conflict antiquities trading in Argentina, Cambodia and Syria. Since it is an exceptionally challenging form of an already difficult-to-police crime, the evidence of theft-to-order reinforces demands for increased market regulation through export and import licensing.
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