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AC’s Deborah Lehr Emphasizes that the Illicit Antiquities Trade is More Than Stolen History in Arab News

July 20, 2023

The illicit antiquities trade is not a victimless crime. It destroys cultures around the world, global economies, national security, and our shared history. The money gained from these looted antiquities also funds some of the most dangerous actors, furthering harm to vulnerable communities experiencing unrest.

To end cultural racketeering, museums, institutions, and governments must collaborate to fund stronger provenance research units and develop legal ramifications against these acts. Deborah Lehr, Chairman and Founder of the Antiquities Coalition, emphasized these points in an interview with Arab News.

Lehr detailed how high-profile stories, such as the return of the coffin of Nedjemankh and charges against Jean-Luc Martinez, the former director of the Louvre, have helped to expand the global outlook on stolen antiquities. These cases brought attention to the illicit trade while exposing those in positions of power who turned a blind eye and willingly took part in these crimes.

Lehr also pointed to the Antiquities Coalition’s call for a whole-of-government approach that would help address the negative impacts cultural racketeering can have on national economies and security. This is one of many recommendations that the AC presented to the G20, along with international cooperation, that would help them face this issue more comprehensively.

The article features the Antiquities Coalition’s Ten Most Wanted Antiquities, which aims to find and repatriate some of the most significant looted, stolen, and missing artifacts with help from the public. Specifically, the piece highlights the Lion of Nimrud, looted from the Iraq National Museum, and the Alabaster Stone Inscription, looted from the Temple of Awwam.

Read the full article from Arab News here.