Thursday, January 21, 2010

A register for antiquities in private hands

Earlier this week I posted on the attempts by Italian authorities to pursue 350 or so antiquities from a Zurich-based dealer and conservator who has been linked with several of the objects returned from North American collections. Peter Tompa, the Washington lobbyist, posted a comment and then grumbled elsewhere that I had "posted but did not directly answer" his question.

I responded with a request for him to disclose the identity of the anonymous but knowledgeable collector of Greek pots. Tompa has failed to respond with either a comment or a separate posting --- and that is surprising.

Tompa is the legal officer for the Cultural Property Research Institute (CPRI). William Pearlstein, who is cited by Tompa in his comment, is a Director. The CPRI has a number of "projects" on the go. I have commented on the first and its inadequacies.

The second project relates to "Developing different models for a registry that can be applied to privately-owned objects". The CPRI promises "A draft report will be published on the CPRI website by the end of 2009"; it has yet to appear. The project is due to do the following:
Several different forms of registries have been proposed in legal articles with extensive discussions of how a registry might preserve security and privacy, the degree of transparency/opacity they should have, the responsibilities of contributors to a registry, the potential interaction with law enforcement, and what sort of repose it might offer. The CPRI will pull together, explain and compare the models that have been proposed and others that may also serve the purpose of inclusive registry.
It would be so helpful for the legal officer and the director of the CPRI to urge the anonymous knowledgeable pot collector to publish her or his collection on the CPRI website as the first stages in a public registry. Are there any Apulian pots? What are their collecting histories? What percentage of the collection has recorded histories before 1970?

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