Antiquities Acquisitions and Cultural Preservation

October 21, 2008 § Leave a comment

It’s no isolated observation that many of the world’s antiquities have been looted, repossessed, and generally tossed around the globe by those who had the means to acquire them, legal or not.  (See:  Holocaust-era stolen art treasures from Jewish families and institutions, the recent “missing items” from the Iraqi Museum.) 
Currently, Italy is at the center of another such controversy, and the Colosseum in Rome is holding a massive exhibition that highlights the cultural treasures that have been taken from Italy and returned to the country.  Italy’s art-trafficking laws are among the strictest in the world (and oldest, being passed in 1909, before many countries were aware of the cultural looting happening to their art).
Simultaneously, a former cultural minister for Italy is bringing attention to some antiquities up for auction in London that may have been improperly acquired:  Francesco Rutelli is speaking out about the Bonhams auction house’s plans to sell some pieces he believes may have been looted from Italy, with the hopes that the Italian government will take action to verify the provenance of these art items.  Bonhams has agreed to immediately withdraw these items from auction if the Italian government can provide documentation proving that the items in question were illegally taken out of the country.

-Dana Horst


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