Stealing of antiquities

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

As antiquities stolen goods , illegal is trading with archaeological finds and art objects referred.

Importance and scope

Within the art trade with antiques has the antiquities stolen goods a large part because conservation laws exist in most regions with archaeological significance cultures since the 19th century, tie the excavation and export of finds of official permits. Objects without corresponding proof of provenance have therefore in most cases been illegally excavated and taken out of the country. The crucial problem is the destruction of the archaeological sites, which are unique sources of knowledge about the past. The market for antiquities, but especially the illegal market, is an incentive for more and more robbery excavations . In the meantime, some ancient cities in Iraq, Syria, but also in Bulgaria (e.g. Ratiaria ) have been completely destroyed and destroyed as a source of information and for local tourism.

In many countries there is also a so-called treasure shelf , according to which the finds are the legal property of the respective country, excavation and export are therefore to be described as embezzlement (robbery). Provenance information "from an old collection" is mostly untrustworthy, since before the relevant alteration laws came into force, for example in the Ottoman Empire, there was hardly any travel from Europe.

Today antiquity is closely linked to robbery-grave mischief , illegal probe-taking , but also international terrorism. According to estimates by the FBI , sales - as of 1999 - are between six and nine billion Swiss francs. It should be significantly higher today. The stealing of antiquities is thus just behind the drug and arms trade in terms of sales and is one of the most profitable illegal business areas. The Swiss Federal Criminal Police assume that money laundering in the art trade is also an illegal line of business with a high turnover.

These figures on a criminal unrecorded field cannot of course be verified. They go back to research by the Italian journalist Fabio Isman in 2009 and were initially uncritically distributed. In the meantime, the uncertain basis has been pointed out on various occasions - especially by the art trade - and UNESCO is also more cautious with these figures. While she still used them in a 2013 study on the Convention against Illegal Trafficking in Cultural Property, she has now dispensed with corresponding figures.

According to the International Association of Dealers in Ancient Art (IADAA), annual sales of legal antiques are only around 150 to 200 million dollars for 2013; the prices for antiques are usually between 500 euros and 300,000 euros. Top prices in the millions can only be achieved for objects in a first-class state of preservation and impeccable, excellent provenance.

Measures against receiving stolen goods

The prevention of illegal antiques trade is considered part of the protection of cultural property. From an international perspective, UNESCO is working on this with its partner organization Blue Shield . This also relates to the prevention of receiving stolen goods in the course of financing military conflicts. Several international agreements oppose illegal trade, such as the Convention on Measures to Prohibit and Prevent the Unauthorized Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property by UNESCO of 1970. Since this only affects intergovernmental issues, the “International Institute for the Unification of Private Law ”(UNIDROIT) in Rome a complementary convention, the UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects , which was passed in 1995.

The prehistoric Hermann Parzinger , President of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation , also calls for retailers to undertake to sell only pieces with a clear provenance. One association that has made such a commitment is the “International Association of Dealers in Ancient Art” (IADAA), an association of 29 dealers from nine countries. Members of the IADAA only buy or sell items whose provenance is "fully verifiable". Auction houses have also joined this voluntary commitment. The IADAA, whose press spokeswoman is Ursula Kampmann , has been working with the Art Loss Register since 1996 .

One of the most important measures against stealing antiquities would be a falling demand. The German Society for Prehistory and Early History e. V. (DGUF) points out that illegal antiques are also sold via internet auction platforms and how a potential buyer should deal with them. The DGUF advises: “Because the legality of antiquities often cannot be proven and because networks of illegally working antique dealers are difficult to untangle, especially for individuals, we recommend a clear line: Do not buy antiques. No way. "

Significant cases


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Video Bloody Treasures. The antique trade and terror. A film by Rainer Fromm , Kristian Lüders and Michael Strompen  in the ZDFmediathek , accessed on January 25, 2014. (offline)
  2. ^ Thomas Buomberger: The ways of the illegal art trade . EvB Magazin 4/20 special edition cultural property theft ( memento of February 2, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) p. 16ff.
  3. Lucas Elmenhorst: The Six Billion Dollar Myth, Handelsblatt from July 31, 2015
  4. Juan Moreno : "But so badly wrong". Spiegel interview with the Basel antiques dealer Christoph Leon . In: Der Spiegel . No. 6 , 2015, p. 98-101 ( Online - Jan. 31, 2015 ).
  5. Cf. u. a. Eden Stiffman “Cultural Preservation in Disasters, War Zones. Presents Big Challenges ”in The Chronicle Of Philanthropy, May 11, 2015; Lawrence Rothfield (Ed.) "Antiquities under Siege: Cultural Heritage Protection after the Iraq War," AltaMira Press, 2008; Hans Haider in an interview with Karl Habsburg “Abuse of cultural goods is punishable” in Wiener Zeitung on June 29, 2012.
  6. Convention on Measures to Prohibit and Prevent the Illegal Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property , accessed on January 14, 2012.
  7. ^ UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects , accessed January 14, 2012
  8. Parzinger: "Of course it would be best if the trade withdrew from the area of ​​archaeological finds." . It does not work without such a voluntary commitment by retailers. The museums have also prescribed these basic rules for themselves ”, quoted in: Catrin Lorch: Antiken vom Lorch : The international market protects its goods through provenance research: But who buys the looted property? In: Süddeutsche Zeitung, 23./24./25. April 2011, page 20
  9. see Catrin Lorch: Antiken vom Lorch: The international market protects its goods through provenance research: But who buys the looted property? In: Süddeutsche Zeitung, 23./24./25. April 2011, page 20
  10. Buying antique objects on the Internet? A guide of the DGUF working group on cultural property protection. (PDF) German Society for Prehistory and Protohistory, December 2015, accessed on July 27, 2016 .
  11. El traficante Leonardo Patterson fue por detenido Interpol España. In: El Universal (accessed on September 8, 2013)
  12. Hunter of Lost Treasures . In: Süddeutsche Zeitung online. (Query on September 8, 2013)
  13. Mexico receives stolen cultural goods back. In: Schwäbische Zeitung. (Query on April 24, 2019)