AC in the News: How Indian Activist Groups Work to Recover Missing and Stolen Antiquities

AP Photo/Nishat AhmedThe idea of who owns cultural property has long been a heated debate, leading to a constant uphill battle to end illicit trades.

However, groups like India Pride Project (IPP) and The Antiquities Coalition have been working to have these precious antiquities returned to their rightful homelands.

“Our research shows that well over $700 million worth of Indian art and antiquities entered the U.S. just in declared imports over the last decade,” AC Executive Director, Tess Davis, tells Angel Martínez Cantera of The Diplomat. And that may be a modest estimate!

Smugglers like Subhash Kapoor, who was a known criminal art dealer, profited greatly on stolen antiquities.

Davis explained that one of the most frustrating pieces of the puzzle in returning the stolen antiquities is that “just about every foreign museum with an Indian art collection purchased pieces from this smuggler, and some continued to do so even after the true nature of his business was revealed.”

To read the full article from The Diplomat, and to learn more about what is being done to return these antiquities, click here.

Congress Continues Bipartisan Push to Tackle Financial Crimes in the Art Market

This week, Congress moved forward with proposed legislation that would help to close the $26.6. billion American art market to money laundering, terrorist financing, and other crimes.

On October 22, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bipartisan Corporate Transparency Act of 2019 (H.R. 2513). The bill would remove antiquities dealers’ current exception from the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), which would require them to assist the U.S. government in detecting and preventing financial crimes.

They will be in good company as dealers in precious metals, stones, and jewels are already subject to the BSA, as are sellers of automobiles, planes, and boats, casinos, pawnbrokers, real estate professionals, and travel agencies.

Patrimony in Peril Symposium: Lawyers and Academics Meet to Discuss Antiquity Protection

On October 11th, the North Carolina Journal of International Law, in partnership with the Graduate and Professional Student Federation, hosted its Volume 45 Symposium entitled “Patrimony in Peril.”

The symposium, which took place at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill campus, featured a diverse array of speakers ranging from academics to legal practitioners.

Friend and colleague of the Antiquities Coalition, Helena Arose, were among attendants and shared details of the meeting with us.

Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar of India Talks Success on Recovering Antiquities

Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam JaishankarIndia has recently seen an improvement in recovering its antiquities with the help of the United States Department of State.

Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar sat down to discuss India’s foreign policy and newly re-elected Modi government at the Council on Foreign Relations. Antiquities Coalition Executive Director, Tess Davis, was able to ask him about India’s recent successes in recovering antiquities.

Protecting Iraq’s Antiquities and Cultural History: Q&A with Iraqi President, Barham Salih

Iraqi President Barham SalihIraq has seen unbelievable destruction from war and senseless violence for years affecting their citizens, way of life, and cultural history. Still, their government is working to repair the damage that has been done and foster unity among its people as well as protect its historical sites.

On September 27th, the Council on Foreign Relations hosted the President of Iraq, Barham Salih, in a Q&A session where he discussed Iraq’s current state, goals for the future, and how he and his government are working to protect their country’s rich history.

Antiquities Coalition’s Executive Director, Tess Davis, was among attendees and was able to pose a question to President Salih regarding his stance on Iraqi Antiquities.

The AC Digs Into: Interdisciplinary and International Approaches to Cultural Heritage Preservation

Interview with AC Think Tank Author Seán Fobbe, Part III



In the final segment of a three-part series, we sat down with Seán Fobbe, Chief Legal Officer of RASHID International and author of the AC’s How to protect outstanding cultural heritage from the ravages of war? Utilize the System of Enhanced Protection under the 1999 Second Protocol to the 1954 Hague Convention. Fobbe comments on the role of the international community in cultural heritage preservation, the importance of a multidisciplinary approach, and key legal instruments to protect cultural patrimony. For more information, read Part I and Part II of the interview.