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Antiquities Coalition Launches Awareness Campaign To Fight Cultural Racketeering And Terrorist Financing

April 18, 2018

Releases New Awareness Video for World Heritage Day

Washington, DC, April 18, 2018—To honor World Heritage Day, the Antiquities Coalition is launching a new video campaign today to raise awareness about how the sale of “blood antiquities” is financing ISIS and other violent extremist organizations.

The international crisis of cultural racketeering—the looting and trafficking of ancient artifacts to fund crime, conflict, and terrorism—threatens our world heritage and national security.

The not-for-profit Antiquities Coalition fights cultural racketeering with the help of an international group of multidisciplinary experts. Education is a key tactic in the organization’s concerted effort to stop the trafficking of illicit antiquities in order to preserve the world’s shared history for future generations. Its new video, featuring a consumer unknowingly purchasing a piece of looted ancient art online, brings the issue of the illicit trade and its consequences into the homes of everyday people.

This video sends an important message:

  • Those who purchase ancient art often have no way to validate whether or not a piece has been looted.
  • These buyers unknowingly fund violent extremism or criminals.
  • They also may unwittingly contribute to the destruction of the world’s shared cultural heritage. Cultural sites are destroyed by looting and by the extremists who profit from it.

See the video at “Violent extremist organizations are profiting from the illicit antiquities trade,” said Deborah Lehr, Antiquities Coalition chairman and founder. “Americans must remain vigilant to prevent their purchases from supporting crime and conflict. World Heritage Day is the perfect time to raise awareness of this crisis in the United States, which is the largest art market in the world.” World Heritage Day was established on April 18 by the 22nd United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) General Conference in 1983.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has recognized the credibility of reports that artifacts looted to fund violent extremism are heading for the U.S. art market. Other experts have warned such “blood antiquities” are finding their way to everyday online auctions. “No one wants to buy a blood antiquity, a stolen relic, or a modern forgery,” said Ms. Lehr. “Our website provides red flags to help potential purchasers act responsibly. But this new video has a clear message for art collectors and others considering investing in ancient artifacts: Let the buyer beware.”

The Antiquities Coalition unites a diverse group of experts in the fight against cultural racketeering: the illicit trade in antiquities by organized criminals and terrorist organizations. This plunder for profit funds crime and conflict around the world—erasing our past and threatening our future. The Coalition’s innovative and practical solutions tackle crimes against heritage head on, empowering communities and countries in crisis. Learn more at Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or follow us on LinkedIn.

Media contact:

Berceste Demiroglu,
Program Director,,