Saturday, December 20, 2014

Frau Grutters Helps US Collectors

Archaeologists with an axe to grind against collectors, together with the cultural bureaucrats of failed states and/or dictatorships like Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq and Syria are keeping up their campaign of attrition. Under the pretence of  "Stemming a Tide of Cultural Theft" they want to impose increasing, unconstitutional and crippling restrictions on the collector. This is as premediated as it is premature, failing to have twisted the evidence to prove their case. The arguments that antiquities collecting, which fosters international understanding, is in any way responsible for the war in Syria is a false one.

Not that this will in any way deter the frumpy German bureaucrat Monika Grütters, Germany's Commissioner for Culture, from proposing her draconian solution to all the world's ills. Frau Grütters has outlined plans for
a new law that would require documented provenance for any object entering or leaving Germany, long among the laxest of regulators of the art market. Among other measures, dealers would be required to show a valid export permit from the source of the piece’s origins when entering Germany.
As one informed observer points out: "It's unclear how Grütters believes German dealers and collectors are going to come up with documentation that simply does not exist for artifacts that have been traded legally for generations without such paperwork". Of course what will happen is the opposite to the intended effect. Firstly more material will be dug up in order to be brought into Germany this time with paperwork, and/or there will be massive forgery of the provenenances and papers of the objects already in the hands of dealers. Alternatively there is another possibility that is being overlooked, this new law will be a landfall for US collectors, to whom it does not apply, and more objects will become available for the US market.

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