Friday, August 25, 2006

Antiquities weather the market

Interesting FT article looking at the demand for legally available antiquities, looking at the impact of the recent cases regarding repatriation claims, the risks involved in purchasing antiquities, and pricing issues: "Queen Mutnodjmet’s face is calm, dignified and relaxed. Befitting an Egyptian monarch, her expression is cool and confident with a girlish beauty. Her skin looks velvety soft. Unfortunately for the queen, her nose was hacked off and her eyes gouged out, possibly by an opponent of her husband Pharaoh Horemheb’s reign. Other than that, she has weathered the 3,300 years since she was created remarkably well. And, if you have $3m to spare, she can be yours.
In recent months, much of the attention on the antiquities trade has focused on demands by Greece, Italy and Egypt for US museums to return national treasures that they say were looted. . . . . But this has not sapped demand for legitimate, well provenanced, properly documented antiquities – in fact, it has increased it. The sale of works from recent excavations is illegal and there is a finite supply of the most precious pieces that can be traded legitimately because they were in circulation before countries such as Egypt, Greece and Turkey passed their most recent cultural patrimony laws. Once pieces are bought by a museum, there is no further chance to buy them, so private collectors and curators are in hot pursuit."
See the above page for the full story.

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