AC Shares How Archeologists Can Help Combat Cultural Racketeering at the Society for American Archeology Annual Meeting

Since the AC’s founding, a key priority has been shutting American markets to illicit antiquities, while increasing responsible cultural exchange. At the 89th Society for American Archeology Annual Meeting, the AC’s Executive Director, Tess Davis, and Director of Programs, Helena Arose, hosted a forum discussion on a specific way that American archaeologists can support this effort.

The forum brought together speakers with experience from the fields of law, archaeology, and government to discuss the importance of Cultural Property Agreements (CPAs). CPAs between the United States and foreign governments help to stop criminal activity at U.S. borders by keeping looted and stolen art and artifacts out of American markets. Under U.S. and international law, the U.S. can join CPAs to prevent looted and stolen antiquities and artifacts from entering the American art market, fighting the illicit trade while allowing the legal trade to continue and even thrive. 

These agreements aim to lessen global demand for illicitly-obtained or looted objects—especially since the U.S. makes up some 42% of the global art market—while increasing responsible cultural exchange. The U.S. has signed CPAs with a growing number of countries around the world generating mutual respect, strengthening global law enforcement, and protecting archaeological heritage in situ.

Before a Cultural Property Advisory Committee meeting at which a new CPA or the renewal of an existing CPA is considered, members of the public may submit comments on the proposed CPA via and/or request time to give testimony during a CPAC public session. Archeologists have first-hand knowledge of any crimes related to cultural racketeering, and their knowledge can become powerful testimonies to the committee. 

The panelists discussed tips for archaeologists interested in submitted comments or providing testimony: 

  • Write or speak from your own personal knowledge or experience as an archaeologist. 
  • Focus on addressing the four determinations a requesting country must satisfy to achieve a CPA. It is not necessary to address all four. 
  • If providing testimony, be prepared to answer questions from the Committee.

To learn more about CPAs, the process, and how to get involved, check out the AC’s FAQ here


Antiquities Coalition Partners with FACT Coalition to Combat Corruption

The American art market is the largest unregulated market in the world, making it vulnerable to a wide range of financial crimes. To fight back, the Antiquities Coalition is proud to announce that we have joined the Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency (FACT) Coalition

Founded in 2011, the Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency (FACT) Coalition is a non-partisan alliance of more than 100 state, national, and international organizations working toward a fair tax system that addresses the challenges of a global economy and promotes policies to combat the harmful impacts of corrupt financial practices. As experts on financial crimes within the art market, the AC is proud to deepen our partnership with the FACT Coalition.

The AC recognizes that ongoing exemption from standard financial regulatory laws and oversight, which now cover all industries of comparable risk and size, is a documented and growing threat to our national security and integrity, as well as the vast majority of legitimate collectors, dealers, auction houses, and museums. 

Criminals, including blacklisted Russian oligarchs and Hezbollah financiers, are exploiting the art market’s vulnerabilities to commit a wide range of offenses from fraud to forgery, tax evasion, money laundering, and sanctions violations. By joining the FACT Coalition, the AC looks forward to partnering and expanding our work to strengthen, standardize, and enforce anti-money laundering practices and laws. 

“To best protect art, cultural heritage, and responsible market actors, we must strengthen rules surrounding art and anti-money laundering (AML), counter-terrorist financing (CFT), and sanctions. By joining the FACT Coalition, we are committed to combating these challenges head-on and will continue to champion the principles of accountability and integrity.” -Tess Davis, Executive Director

This announcement is the latest in an ongoing partnership between the Antiquities Coalition and the FACT Coalition. In September 2023, the FACT Coalition recognized AC’s Director of Programs, Helena Arose, as an anti-money laundering expert. The AC looks forward to future joint efforts to combat cultural racketeering. 

For additional information, visit the FACT Coalition’s website.

Careers in Cultural Heritage: A Conversation with the AC

In April, the Antiquities Coalition’s Director of Programs Helena Arose, and Legal Consultant Liz Fraccaro shared their career experience and advice in a webinar hosted by the American Society of Overseas Research (ASOR)’s Early Career Scholars Committee. 

In their discussion, both Arose and Fraccaro shared their journey, noting how their backgrounds in archaeology and museums reaffirmed their passion for the cultural heritage field. They also shared key takeaways for those interested in cultural heritage careers:

  • No two careers look alike in this field—each individual must carve out their own unique path. Regardless of your position within an organization, you’ll need to proactively shape your career trajectory and find ways to focus on cultural heritage.
  • When considering job opportunities, it’s crucial to weigh factors like the size of the organization or company and the nature of your day-to-day tasks. Think about what aspects of work you enjoy most—whether it’s being out in the field, engaging in interpersonal interactions, writing, or other activities. Larger organizations may offer more structured roles with specialized tasks, while smaller ones might provide greater flexibility and opportunities to wear multiple hats.
  • In this field, you’ll often encounter positions within nonprofits, whether you find yourself working in a museum, advocacy group, or think tank. Therefore, honing skills such as grant writing, effective communication, and proficient project management will prove invaluable irrespective of your specific career path.

As the AC’s Director of Programs, Arose collaborates with representatives from the U.S. and international governments, law enforcement agencies, international partners, academics, and other key stakeholder groups to develop and implement programs to fight the illicit trade in ancient art and antiquities. Arose is a recognized expert on cultural racketeering, antiquities looting and trafficking, cultural heritage diplomacy and protection, financial crimes, and the art market. 

Fraccaro, as the AC’s Legal Consultant, is a trained archaeologist and attorney, admitted to the Illinois State Bar and New York State Bar and is a Certified Money Laundering Specialist. Utilizing her extensive background in museum collections and field archaeology, Fraccaro strives to preserve and protect cultural heritage worldwide. In her work at the AC, she uses her expertise in the legal dimensions of cultural heritage management and money laundering to develop concrete recommendations for combating money laundering, forgery, fraud, and terrorist financing via art and antiquities. 

While Arose and Fraccaro acknowledged that entering this field can be challenging, they highlighted that new needs and opportunities are developing in areas such as provenance research, art market compliance, and foreign affairs, which all contribute to the fight against cultural racketeering. 

The AC thanks the ASOR’s Early Career Scholars Committee for spotlighting our leaders and giving them a platform to share their work experiences and inspire the next generation of professionals interested in a career in cultural heritage. Watch the discussion here

Want to get more involved with the Antiquities Coalition? Consider supporting our efforts to end cultural racketeering or apply to our internship program to get first-hand experience in the fight against looting.