A major international auction house has announced today a new rigorous due diligence process for antiquities (archaeological material). It has recognised that the looting of archaeological sites, especially in Italy, Greece, Turkey and Egypt, to provide material for the market is unsustainable in the long term.
A spokesperson for the auction house indicated that the internationally recognised 1970 UNESCO Convention would be the new standard, although existing national and international laws would be taken into account.
This means all lots will be subject to a rigorous process to establish the full collecting history (historically known as the 'provenance'). This includes the authentication of all supporting documentation.
The auction house also recognises that the consultation of online databases of 'stolen' objects do little to identify recently looted objects.
The auction house expects the value of its lots to rise as potential buyers are reassured by the security of their purchases.
It is expected that this new process will be adopted by other auction houses, galleries, dealers and their related trade organisations.