The Latest

AC Founder and Chairman Deborah Lehr Argues that Art’s Worst Offenders are Experiencing a Just and Overdue Reckoning in Op-ed

December 31, 2021

The latest successes of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office against bad actors exploiting the American art market highlight a continuing weakness in the multibillion-dollar industry: self-regulation and voluntary policing haven’t worked.

In an op-ed for The Hill, Antiquities Coalition Founder and Chairman Deborah Lehr argues that recent cases such as that of Michael Steinhardt, Nancy Weiner, and Douglas Latchford show that criminal investigations and legal consequences are needed to halt the trade in illicit antiquities.

“In what industry, other than art, can you hunt out stolen property worth hundreds of millions of dollars, or even directly arrange for its theft, and then expect praise not prosecution if you give it back? Looting is a crime. Trafficking is a crime. Possession of stolen property is a crime. If you commit or facilitate any of these offenses, you should be held accountable. You deserve not only to lose the public’s trust but to become the focus of our justice system.”

Lehr urges the United States and other governments to take note and fight cultural racketeering as the crime that it is. 

Read her full op-ed here.