The international crisis of cultural racketeering—the looting and trafficking of ancient artifacts to fund crime, conflict, and terrorism—threatens our national security and world heritage.
To honor World Heritage Day on April 18, the Antiquities Coalition launched a new awareness campaign to tackle this growing problem. Our new video, #BuyerBeware, features a consumer unknowingly purchasing a piece of looted ancient art online. This brings the issue of the illicit trade and its consequences into the homes of everyday people.
We hope it will help viewers recognize:
This illegal industry often goes hand in hand with cultural terrorism, the deliberate and systematic destruction of targeted groups and their heritage.
Cultural racketeering is the looting and trafficking of art and antiquities to fund crime, conflict and violent extremism.
As long as there have been tombs, there have been tomb raiders; but in this modern world, such destruction is taking place on a scale never before seen in history. Cultural racketeering has become a multi-billion dollar criminal industry that spans the globe and thrives during crisis.
Currently, Daesh (commonly known as ISIS or ISIL), is engaged in both cultural racketeering and terrorism in Iraq and Syria, converting the Cradle of Civilization’s patrimony into weapons and troops whose atrocities destroy human life, culture, and history.
But Daesh is not alone. By purchasing antiques on Madison Avenue such as an Egyptian papyrus, a Cambodian statue or a Mayan vase, collectors may be putting money into the pockets of mafia syndicates, armed insurgents, and terrorist networks.
We hope that you will help us promote #CombatLooting by sharing our #BuyerBeware video on your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
And remember, whether you’re purchasing a piece of ancient art on Madison Avenue, or trinket on the internet, artifacts are a risky investment. At best, you risk buying a modern forgery or stolen property. At worst, you risk funding terrorist organizations like Daesh (also known as ISIS). If you recognize one of the red flags from our infographic while purchasing an item, think twice before you buy.