Thursday, 10 April 2008

The Art Loss Register: The Wording on the Certificate

I have drawn attention to the use of the Art Loss Register (ALR) certificate as part of the due diligence process for antiquities.

I closed with this question:
Does the ALR need to start ensuring that its certificates are issued with a reminder that they provide no guarantee that the object has not appeared on the market as the result of recent looting?
Christopher A. Marinello, Executive Director & General Counsel at the ALR, has kindly responded in order to clarify the point. He states:
Please note that The Art Loss Register certificate contains the following…

“2) The database does not contain information on illegally exported artefacts unless they have been reported to us as stolen.”
Marinello answers my point.

There is a huge difference between objects that have appeared on the market as the result of recent looting and "illegally exported artefacts" that have been reported as stolen. Or to put it another way, there is a difference between an Athenian red-figured amphora looted from a tomb in Tuscany (totally unknown to scholarship and the authorities) and a Roman bronze stolen from a museum (presumably recorded and certainly known).

It sounds as if there is room for a little rewording ...

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Knowledge destruction, confusion and collecting

Suzie Thomas and Bonnie L. Pitblado have written a 'Debate Article' for Antiquity: ' The dangers of conflating responsible and...