Tess Davis

Tess Davis
Tess Davis, a lawyer and archaeologist by training, is Executive Director of the Antiquities Coalition. She oversees the organization’s work to fight cultural racketeering and also manages the day-to-day operations of the institute’s staff in Washington, DC and New York, as well as programs in the Middle East and Asia.

Since 2013, Davis has been affiliated with the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research, at the University of Glasgow. She came to Scotland from the Lawyers’ Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation — a not-for-profit institution based in Washington, DC — where she was Executive Director until 2012. She previously worked for the nongovernmental organization Heritage Watch in Cambodia, first as Project Coordinator, and finally Assistant Director. Her career began at the Archaeological Institute of America.

For the last decade, Davis has conducted extensive field research on the illicit trade in Cambodian antiquities, as well as legal research on the kingdom’s cultural property law. She also conceptualized and implemented a number of exciting projects in the country, including an exhibition at Angkor Wat about threats facing the temple, a hotline for the public to report archaeological discoveries or looting, and a children’s book entitled “If the Stones Could Speak.” From 2012-2014, she directed a legal internship program in Phnom Penh for international students from the Tulane-Siena Institute, who assist the Cambodian Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts with their legal needs.

Davis has been a legal consultant for the Cambodian and US federal governments and works with both the art world and law enforcement to keep looted antiquities off the market. She writes and speaks widely on these issues — having been published in CNN, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, the Cambodia Daily, and various scholarly publications — and featured in documentaries on PBS and ARTE. She contributes to both the the Conversation and Huffington Post.

After graduating magna cum laude from Boston University with a Bachelor of Arts in Archaeology, Davis earned her Juris Doctor from the University of Georgia School of Law. She now serves on the Advisory Board of Heritage Watch and is Vice Chair of the American Society of International Law’s Cultural Heritage and the Arts Interest Group. She is admitted to the New York State Bar.

In 2015, the Royal Government of Cambodia knighted Davis for her work to recover the country’s plundered treasures, awarding her the rank of Commander in the Royal Order of the Sahametrei.

Tess Davis in the News

Records Point to Dealer’s Role in Artifact Theft

Records Point to Dealer’s Role in Artifact Theft BY BEN PAVIOUR | FEBRUARY 22, 2017 Douglas Latchford, a globe-trotting 80-something Brit, has made a name for himself in real estate, bodybuilding and Southeast Asian antiquities [...]

By | February 22nd, 2017|

Antiquities Coalition Returns to New Orleans for Cultural Heritage Law Seminar on Museums, Ethics, and the Law

Antiquities Coalition Returns to New Orleans for Cultural Heritage Law Seminar on Museums, Ethics, and the Law The Antiquities Coalition is proud to have joined with the Federal Bar Association of New Orleans, the nation’s [...]

By | December 20th, 2016|

ISIS May Face War-Crime Charges for Destruction of Historic Sites

ISIS May Face War-Crime Charges for Destruction of Historic Sites By Owen Jarus, Live Science Contributor | December 12, 2016 12:42pm ET ISIS dynamited and bulldozed the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud. Credit: Screen grab from ISIL [...]

By | December 12th, 2016|

At the Museum: Winter speakers bring diverse perspectives to Newport

At the Museum: Winter speakers bring diverse perspectives to Newport NEWPORT — Each January, the Newport Art Museum opens its doors to an eclectic mix of experts and luminaries, bringing together a group of talented [...]

By | December 10th, 2016|

Art and Cultural Heritage Crime Symposium

Art and Cultural Heritage Crime Symposium The art world's unregulated transactions and lack of transparency, combined with political instability and skyrocketing demand from the art market, continues to fuel art crime. Efforts to abate the [...]

By | November 2nd, 2016|

Brussels Linked to Illicit Antiquities Trade which Funds Terrorism

Brussels Linked to Illicit Antiquities Trade which Funds Terrorism In an oped published by the Wall Street Journal in August, the Antiquities Coalition warned that Belgium was poorly prepared to combat the illicit trade in antiquities from [...]

By | November 1st, 2016|