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the antiquities blackmarket
October 5, 2005 3:53 AM   Subscribe

With the apparent theft of ancient maps from Yale and the Getty admitting to displaying stolen antiquities from Italy, what does the blackmarket antiquities trade look like?
posted by raaka (18 comments total)

 
This ? [self link]
posted by srboisvert at 4:09 AM on October 5, 2005


My understanding is that this is a huge problem. I once dated an archeologist that claimed (take this as you will) that the amount of money in the blackmarket for stolen art and artifacts was second only to drugs in the US.
posted by allen.spaulding at 4:13 AM on October 5, 2005


We had/have pictures of Smiley up all over the library where I work. We've got a bunch of old trading maps and were in the middle of a pretty chaotic renovation this summer, perfect time for theftery!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:32 AM on October 5, 2005


When you travel in the third world you can always tell the real antiquities from the fakes because the fakes are more expensive.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:53 AM on October 5, 2005


Unlike drugs, finding clients to purchase these things has got to be kind of difficult.
posted by sonofsamiam at 6:49 AM on October 5, 2005


Right up until I was old - far too old than I'd care to admit - I used to think the Elgin Marbles were big and round, like these buggers.

For shame.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 6:59 AM on October 5, 2005


Uncanny hengeman, I hang my head in shame and admit that I thought the same thing.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 7:45 AM on October 5, 2005


!
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:55 AM on October 5, 2005


Unlike drugs, finding clients to purchase these things has got to be kind of difficult.

Unlike drugs, snooty older rich people actually like to display that they have purchased these sorts of things rather than hide their addictions until they are sent to rehab.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:57 AM on October 5, 2005


Ah. Nearly all the rich folks I know are kinda nouveau-riche.
posted by sonofsamiam at 8:00 AM on October 5, 2005


Ah. Nearly all the rich folks I know are kinda nouveau-riche.

Oh, OK, so they like to show off their designer drugs, I bet they have some nice Buddha heads or navaho pots on their shelves though, something that matches their couch or makes them look like they are into those hip eastern religions.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:23 AM on October 5, 2005


STOP SPYING ON MY LIFE!!!! :)
posted by sonofsamiam at 8:31 AM on October 5, 2005


Black Market Art is the third largest black market in the world, behind drugs (#1) and weapons (#2).

The FBI has one full-time employee devoted to stolen art. There is no single central database of stolen art. Most people who steal art are petty thieves who get pennies on the dollar, but still reap better returns than any other type of stolen property because its so small and easy to hide and easy to sell. High-end stolen art is often used as collatoral in drug deals. Low-end art is just resold at estate auctions, flea markets and to antiques dealers.
posted by stbalbach at 8:57 AM on October 5, 2005


The FBI has one full-time employee devoted to stolen art. There is no single central database of stolen art.

Update- their website claims eight full timers, and numerous adjuncts to the cause.

And there are numerous databases of stolen art (like this), both government and private. Probably they should be fed into a central clearing house- probably they will be eventually - but it's not as if people are ignoring this problem. (Not to imply that you meant that, of course.)

Given the flood of fakes, especially ancient fakes, and the shadiness of black market dealers, I'm mildly surprised anyone with money would buy unprovenanced material in the first place.
posted by IndigoJones at 9:26 AM on October 5, 2005


The FBI has one full-time employee devoted to stolen art.

Maybe because smuggling antiquities into the US would be under the jurisdiction of these guys?
posted by Pollomacho at 10:52 AM on October 5, 2005


More on Smiley. And his business.
posted by IndigoJones at 11:10 AM on October 5, 2005


Hmm. Maps stolen. Artifacts stolen. This doesn't sound like blackmarket trading to me. This sounds like family friendly adventure.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:33 AM on October 5, 2005


Did someone say family friendly adventure?
posted by Pollomacho at 12:01 PM on October 5, 2005


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