One of the issues that needs to be addressed is the scale of the market. Some have suggested that the annual turnover of antiquities could be as high as $4.5 billion. But how do you define antiquities? Do you take the cultural range that is represented by the "mainstream" sales of antiquities in London and New York: Classical (Greek and Roman); Egyptian; Near Eastern. But what about material from the Far East or Central America?
Is it possible to extrapolate a figure from the stock of a single dealer that was found in a series of London warehouses? If a single dealer could have stock worth a quarter of a billion dollars, what about the range of other dealers in North America, Switzerland, and the Middle East?
One New York dealer has suggested that the annual value was closer to $200 / $300 million per year. Yet one New York auction house alone sold $112 million worth of antiquities in a single year (2007). But that was not a typical year.
I suspect I am at the more conservative end of the scale, hovering around the $100 million mark but willing to go a little higher. Yet this is probably based on public sales rather than the movement of objects through more secret transactions.
What do readers of Looting Matters think?