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AC’s Tess Davis Joins AIA to Discuss the Fight Against Cultural Racketeering

February 26, 2024

Cultural racketeering isn’t just a threat to our past. It’s a threat to our future, to human rights, national economies, and global security. It is also a threat to the legitimate art market, to good faith collectors, dealers, galleries, and museums, who themselves can also be victims of looters and traffickers. To fight back, governments, law enforcement, and citizens should join forces to hold criminals accountable and close loopholes that leave our collective history vulnerable to this illicit trade.

On February 25, Antiquities Coalition Executive Director, Tess Davis, joined the Archeological Institute of America to discuss “Blood Antiquities: Tomb Raiders, Art Smugglers And The Black Market In Cultural Treasures.” These conversations help raise awareness of the scale of the illicit antiquities market, an important step in incentivizing action from leaders and policymakers. 

The AIA, the world’s oldest and largest archaeological organization, is a valuable champion in the fight to increase public knowledge of the cultural racketeering crisis through efforts like International Archaeology Day, a Site Preservation Grant program, Archaeology Magazine, their lecture program, and more. The AC is a proud supporter of these efforts, and Davis has previously participated in the AIA Archaeology Hour as the Virtual Lecturer of the Month. These collaborations strengthen our joint efforts. 

The AC has long worked closely with the AIA. AC Chair and Founder Deborah Lehr served as an AIA General Trustee from 2013-19, while co-founder Peter Herdrich was a Board Member and later CEO of the organization. Executive Director, Tess Davis, also started her career there as a program assistant in 2001.

The AC thanks the AIA for their continued partnership and looks forward to future collaborative efforts to ensure cultural relics are kept out of the hands of bad actors.

Learn more about Davis’ recent lecture here.