ICOM International Observatory on Illicit Traffic in Cultural Goods

ICOM International Observatory on Illicit Traffic in Cultural Goods International Observatory on Illicit Traffic in Cultural Goods is a platform of experts, a research hub and resource database created and managed by ICOM
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The ICOM International Observatory on Illicit Traffic in Cultural Goods is a collaborative platform for international organisations, law enforcement agencies, research institutions, experts and stakeholders in the field. It is an information databank available through a Website. http://obs-traffic.museum/

It is a publication of articles by renowned experts, edited by France Desmarais, Director of Programmes at ICOM.http://obs-traffic.museum/sites/default/files/ressources/files/Book_observatory_illicit_traffic_version%20issuu.pdf

It is an innovative tool that contributes to preventing and fighting the illegal trade in cultural property and related crimes at both national and international levels. Article 17 of the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property mentions the possibility for relevant organisations to conduct studies on matters relating to the illicit movement of cultural property. In creating the International Observatory on Illicit Traffic in Cultural Goods, ICOM started a continuous process of extensive research and reporting, in close cooperation with a wide range of international partners. The International Observatory on Illicit Traffic in Cultural Goods was initially a three-year project which was initiated in January 2013 on the initiative of ICOM and with the financial support of the Prevention of and Fight against Crime Programme of the European Commission’s Directorate-General Home Affairs. Through a daily monitoring, the International Observatory is gathering and compiling an unprecedented amount of information regarding illicit traffic in cultural goods. The acquired information has been used to implement a dedicated Website, which aims at disseminating all the information available and acting as an activity hub for ICOM and its partners in this fight. This three-year project provides a unique monitoring activity which will lead to the publication of a book on the worldwide issue of illegal traffic in cultural property. The International Observatory on Illicit Traffic in Cultural Goods also intends to create a strong network of project partners who will contribute to the development of the Website and the publication of the final Global Report. In this regard, several work meetings will be organised at ICOM General Secretariat with the partners of the project. The project partners of the International Observatory, originating from international organisations, national law enforcement agencies, specialized research institutions and state administrations, are divided into two categories: the Consulting and the Editorial Committee. Both committees will help ICOM develop and improve the Observatory Website during the first 24 months of the project, whereas the Editorial Committee will pursue its participation in coordinating the conception of the Global Report during the third year. In addition, ICOM General Secretariat will conduct a series of field missions in several strategic countries either very affected by the problem or with developed infrastructures and services at their disposal to fight it. These missions will be an occasion to meet law enforcement agencies, custom officers, public officers, heritage and art professionals, researchers, representatives of national NGOs, journalists, etc. in order to discuss the situation of the traffic in the country as well as the methodology and tools developed in the country to counter it.

We are proud that France Desmarais, our Director of Programmes, has been able to help solve this case that illustrates t...
20/08/2018
Repatriation: The Case of the Stolen TEFAF Buddha

We are proud that France Desmarais, our Director of Programmes, has been able to help solve this case that illustrates the importance of international cooperation, and the role of civil society and NGOs in the protection of cultural heritage at risk.

Excerpt:
"After reviewing the documentation we had provided to the London police, [Detective Constable] Hayes contacted France Desmarais of the International Council of Museums - ICOM.

Desmarais arranged for a neutral external expert opinion on the Buddha currently held in the UK by the antiquities dealer for the consignor. This evaluation was conducted for evidence of authenticity as well as in comparison to the evidence provided by ARCA and India Pride Project related to the theft in Nalanda, Bihar 57 years ago.

ICOM's expert found the bronze in question to be an authentic, and a match to one of the 14 objects stolen in 1961."

(With Lynda Albertson of ARCA)

"A blog about art crimes, illicit trafficking, forgery, art theft and cultural heritage protection."

09/06/2018
icom.museum

[JOB VACANCY] Want to help us protect cultural heritage at risk and fight illicit traffic in cultural goods? The International Council of Museums - ICOM is looking for a coordinator of cultural heritage protection programmes. If you want to join us, apply before midnight (CET) Monday June 11.

This will create a precedent: Sotheby’s is taking Greece’s ministry of culture to court over the ownership of an ancient...
08/06/2018
Sotheby’s takes Greece to court in antiquities test case

This will create a precedent: Sotheby’s is taking Greece’s ministry of culture to court over the ownership of an ancient Greek bronze horse, in a highly unusual legal attempt by the auction house “to clarify the rights of legitimate owners” amid a surge in claims by countries of origin.

Ownership of collections will take center stage this year. Much provenance research work (and headaches) ahead for collectors, museums, and 'source countries'. Hopefully constructive dialogue will prevail.

Auction house launches first action against a state after Athens demands return of bronze

01/05/2018
Confronting the darker aspects of museum collecting | Museums Association

"Repatriation is now a permanent feature of the museum world. [...] Even more precious than these objects are the relationships that we formed with Native Americans through the process of repatriation. Now we can *ask* them to share their culture with us."

Listen to museum curator Chip Colwell of Denver Museum of Nature and Science on how museum professionals can work in close cooperation with communities from which their collections originate. #MuseumEthics

International Council of Museums - ICOM
01/05/2018

International Council of Museums - ICOM

Illicit trafficking in cultural goods is a complex, vast and multifaceted issue that will only be solved with a global response. 🌏

Find out more about ICOM's actions in the protection of heritage at risk here 👉 http://icom.museum/programmes/fighting-illicit-traffic/

#HeritageMW

[Breaking] Excellent news: Anne de Bretagne's "heart of gold" and two other precious stolen artifacts retrieved by Frenc...
21/04/2018
Le reliquaire du cœur d'Anne de Bretagne a été retrouvé

[Breaking] Excellent news: Anne de Bretagne's "heart of gold" and two other precious stolen artifacts retrieved by French police, intact. Great work.

L'objet, d'une "valeur inestimable", avait été dérobé au musée Dobrée, à Nantes. Il a été retrouvé à Saint-Nazaire.

International Council of Museums - ICOM
26/03/2018

International Council of Museums - ICOM

International cooperation is the key to stop #IllicitTrafficking 🤝🌏

Last week, ICOM Director of Programmes France Desmarais spoke about due diligence, ICOM Red Lists and ICOM's Code of Ethics during the session “Legal framework and International Cooperation” of the Capacity Building Conference “Engaging the European Art Market in the Fight against the illicit trafficking of cultural property”, co-organised by UNESCO and the European Commission.

Stressing the importance of regulation in protecting cultural heritage at risk, France encouraged the audience to apply high standards when establishing the provenance of an artifact and engaging in the art and antiquities market. "After determining if the object is authentic and if it is legal, we should ask if it is ethical to trade it."

Congratulations to the Italian Carabinieri's Art Squad for the recovery of 37 artworks, some of which had been stolen fr...
16/03/2018
Italy's art police recover works stolen from quake-hit churches

Congratulations to the Italian Carabinieri's Art Squad for the recovery of 37 artworks, some of which had been stolen from churches in the aftermath of deadly earthquakes in central Italy. Another proof that emergency situations always put heritage at risk.

An Italian police unit specializing in protecting the country's cultural heritage on Tuesday presented 37 artworks it had recovered, some of which had been stolen from churches in the aftermath of deadly earthquakes in central Italy.

"The lion’s share of looted antiquities are not reported because they are taken from the ground or unprotected sites." I...
12/03/2018
Tough new scrutiny by district attorney rattles New York antiquities trade

"The lion’s share of looted antiquities are not reported because they are taken from the ground or unprotected sites."
It's why #ICOMRedLists are such useful tools: they illustrate the types of objects most at risk of theft and illegal sale.

https://www.theartnewspaper.com/amp/news/tough-new-scrutiny-rattles-collectors-and-dealers

Will New York district attorney’s new unit clean up the antiquities market—or shut it down?

Emergency Red List of Cultural Objects at Risk from Yemen launched at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
05/02/2018

Emergency Red List of Cultural Objects at Risk from Yemen launched at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Emergency Red List of Cultural Objects at Risk from Yemen launched at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

[Theft] Burglars broke in store room housing archives for the Canterbury Archaeological Trust and stole over a thousand ...
05/02/2018
Canterbury artefacts 'may have been stolen by metal thieves'

[Theft] Burglars broke in store room housing archives for the Canterbury Archaeological Trust and stole over a thousand items. Archaeologists are concerned that the nationally important hoard could end up online or sold for scrap metal, and are urging the public and antiques dealers to lookout for the items.

“We think they are opportunistic metal thieves who have stumbled across this great treasure trove of artefacts. So they probably won’t know what do with it or how to shift it on the antiquities black market. I think things like eBay are going to be particularly worth watching. We really need people to help us out.”

Archaeological trust believes opportunists stole hoard of 1,500 items while looking for copper pipes

International Council of Museums - ICOM unveils Yemen Red List at Metropolitan Museum in bid to halt illegal trade of ar...
01/02/2018
Icom unveils Yemen red list at Metropolitan Museum in bid to halt illegal trade of artefacts

International Council of Museums - ICOM unveils Yemen Red List at Metropolitan Museum in bid to halt illegal trade of artefacts. Yemen’s cultural heritage is at serious risk as war and famine ravage the country.
"We are now strongly advising collectors to avoid the objects on the list altogether, or at least to be extra cautious and thoroughly check the legality of provenance," says France Desmarais, the director of programmes and partnerships at Icom.

Yemen’s cultural heritage is at serious risk as war and famine ravage the country

"This Red List could not have come at a more crucial time." said the Yemen Permanent Representative to the United Nation...
01/02/2018
International Council of Museums - ICOM

"This Red List could not have come at a more crucial time." said the Yemen Permanent Representative to the United Nations, H.E. Ambassador Khaled Hussein Alyemany, at last night's launch of the ICOM Emergency Red List of Cultural Objects at Risk for Yemen at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Today ICOM's Emergency Red List of Cultural Objects at Risk for Yemen was released at the Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York, US. While we prepare an article with all the details of the event, you can check our Twitter Moment, where we have included our live tweets as well as those from our partners and attendees!

Aujourd'hui, la Liste Rouge d’urgence des biens culturels yéménites en péril a été présentée au Metropolitan Museum of Art de New York, aux États-Unis. Alors que nous préparons un article avec tous les détails de l'événement, vous pouvez déjà consulter notre Moment Twitter, où nous avons inclus nos tweets en direct ainsi que ceux de nos partenaires et invités!

Hoy, la Lista Roja de urgencia de bienes culturales yemeníes en peligro fue presentada en el Museo Metropolitano de Arte de Nueva York, EE.UU. ¡Mientras preparamos un artículo con todos los detalles del evento, ya puede consultar nuestro Momento de Twitter, en el que hemos incluido nuestros tuits en vivo, así como los de nuestros socios y asistentes!

https://twitter.com/i/moments/958838355697037312

[Investigation] Officials in Gabon say they have dismantled the Central African nation’s largest ivory trafficking netwo...
22/01/2018
Gabon Says It Busted a Major Ivory Smuggling Network

[Investigation] Officials in Gabon say they have dismantled the Central African nation’s largest ivory trafficking network, which last year alone was responsible for trading, selling and shipping six tons of ivory across the continent. Suspects may have links to Boko Haram, the Islamist militant group that has been waging war in northern Nigeria and neighboring areas for nearly nine years. #WhenTraffickingFundsTerrorism

Officials said they had dismantled an ivory trafficking network with links to Boko Haram in a region where poaching has decimated the elephant population.

[Good News!] The Metropolitan Police’s Art and Antiques Unit, disbanded in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire, has been...
19/12/2017
Scotland Yard Art and Antiques Unit re-formed

[Good News!] The Metropolitan Police’s Art and Antiques Unit, disbanded in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire, has been re-formed after fears London was at risk from an increase in the theft and fraud of cultural items.

The Metropolitan Police’s Art and Antiques Unit, disbanded in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire, has been re-formed after fears London was at risk from an increase in the theft and fraud of cultural items.  Following the tragic Grenfell Tower fire on June 14 the entire art crime squad was disba...

[News] Some welcomed good news coming from the UK concerning the fight against illicit traffic in cultural goods: The Ma...
05/10/2017
Mayor confirms art squad return | Antiques Trade Gazette

[News] Some welcomed good news coming from the UK concerning the fight against illicit traffic in cultural goods:
The Mayor of London has confirmed the Metropolitan Police’s Art and Antiques Unit will not be abolished. Doing so would have been counterproductive nonsense in the current context. Plus this unit has produced some spectacular results in the past.

See, in our book, the chapter on Afghanistan for a case study highlighting the importance of effective cooperation with law enforcement in the UK:
http://icom.museum/fileadmin/user_upload/pdf/publications/Book_observatory_illicit_traffic_version_issuu.pdf

The Mayor of London has confirmed the Met’s Art and Antiques Unit will re-form and will be led by a new head to take office this month.

Help us spread the word about this stolen collection from a museum in Norway. Let's raise awareness to make sure hundred...
28/08/2017
International Council of Museums - ICOM

Help us spread the word about this stolen collection from a museum in Norway. Let's raise awareness to make sure hundreds of articfacts are not sold online or elsewhere in the art and antiquities market.

During the weekend of August 11 to 13, some 400 Viking artefacts were stolen from Bergen University Museum in Norway. We call on our international network to support the museum in its efforts to recover this irreplaceable testimony of Norwegian culture and history.
❗ If you suspect a cultural object originates from the Bergen Museum, please contact [email protected]
More information: https://buff.ly/2wEEPfE

Le weekend du 11 au 13 août, quelque 400 artéfacts vikings ont été dérobés au musée de l'université de Bergen, en Norvège. L'ICOM appelle donc son réseau international à soutenir les tentatives de récupération de ces irremplaçables témoignages de l'histoire et de la culture norvégiennes.
❗ Si vous pensez qu'un objet culturel provient du musée de Bergen, contactez s’il vous plait : [email protected]
Plus d'infos : https://buff.ly/2wEOz9J

Durante el fin de semana del 11 al 13 de agosto fueron robados 400 objetos vikingos del Museo de la Universidad de Bergen en Noruega. Instamos a nuestra red internacional a apoyar al museo en sus esfuerzos por recuperar este irremplazable testimonio de la cultura e historia de Noruega.
❗ Si sospecha que un objeto cultural proviene del Museo de Bergen, póngase en contacto con [email protected]
Más información: https://buff.ly/2wEJgHf

24/08/2017
Illegal Wildlife Trafficking

[Must Watch] A short powerful message from Harrison Ford and the U.S. Department of State on why we should not encourage the illegal trade in protected species.
"Never buy illegal wildlife products. When the buying stops, the killing can too!" Same applies to antiquities. 'No buyers, no looters' as we like to repeat. Spread the word and help us raise awareness.

The U.S. Department of State, in partnership with non-profit organization WildAid, produced three television public service announ The U.S. Department of Sta...

France Desmarais, Director of Programmes and Partnerships at the International Council of Museums (ICOM), spoke to the E...
13/07/2017
EU to crack down on art-funded terrorism

France Desmarais, Director of Programmes and Partnerships at the International Council of Museums (ICOM), spoke to the EUobserver about certain aspects of the fight against illicit traffic in cultural goods, in relation to the European Commission's new proposed measures aimed at cutting funding sources for terrorist groups.
We do need to pass and implement new regulation so we can only welcome this initiative, while wishing some of its provisions will be slightly adjusted before entering into force.

The EU executive has presented measures to crack down on the traffic of cultural goods as part of an effort to cut funding to terrorist groups.

International Council of Museums - ICOM
13/07/2017

International Council of Museums - ICOM

The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court - ICC in The Hague organized a first Expert Consultation on Cultural Property on 10th July. Among 20+ experts from across world, ICOM’s Director of Programmes, France Desmarais, took part in the consultation to contribute as an expert in the protection of cultural heritage at risk. The meeting addressed different challenges that relate to the protection of cultural heritage, and how those could be addressed through the implementation of the Rome Statute and the future prosecution of crimes committed against cultural heritage. An initiative most welcomed by the world museum community and the wider heritage field.

[Return of Cultural Property] United States files civil action to forfeit thousands of ancient Iraqi artifacts imported ...
06/07/2017
United States Files Civil Action To Forfeit Thousands Of Ancient Iraqi Artifacts Imported By Hobby Lobby

[Return of Cultural Property] United States files civil action to forfeit thousands of ancient Iraqi artifacts imported by Hobby Lobby. Cuneiform tablets were falsely labeled as product "samples".

As the Hobby Lobby is also behind the Museum of the Bible, let's hope this will prompt increased due diligence and provenance research for the Museum's collection.

Earlier today, the United States filed a civil complaint to forfeit thousands of cuneiform tablets and clay bullae. As alleged in the complaint, these ancient clay artifacts originated in the area of modern-day Iraq and were smuggled into the United States through the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and…

'In Harm's Way - Aspects of Cultural Heritage Protection' is a new publication that aims to offer a brief introduction t...
27/06/2017
In Harm’s Way | British Council

'In Harm's Way - Aspects of Cultural Heritage Protection' is a new publication that aims to offer a brief introduction to current thinking within the field of cultural protection, by expert authors commissioned by the British Council.
France Desmarais, of ICOM, contributed the text Red Lists and Red Lines: The Role of Museums in Protecting Heritage in Danger.

Aspects of cultural heritage protection

26/06/2017
062317 -- “The Exploitation of Cultural Property: Examining...: (EventID=106166)

Listen to Dr. Brian Daniels's testimony on antiquities trafficking and criminal financing, starting at 23:20. Don't miss his answers to the many questions that followed, including on free ports, funding of criminal activities, due diligence and valid titles, etc.
A message from Dr. Daniels addressed to those speculating on how much money is made from the sale of illegal antiquities:
"It is incumbent upon us as archaeologists who research this to be circumspect in the kinds of the claims that we make." We concur!

Friday, June 23, 2017 (9:15 AM) - Subcommittee on Terrorism and Illicit Finance (Committee on Financial Services) Hearing: “The Exploitation of Cultural Prop...

[Enquête] La justice genevoise resserre les mailles de son filet autour du marchand d’art Ali Aboutaam, patron de la gal...
02/06/2017
Nouvelle enquête autour d'un marchand d'art genevois

[Enquête] La justice genevoise resserre les mailles de son filet autour du marchand d’art Ali Aboutaam, patron de la galerie Phoenix Ancient Art à Genève.

Il est utile de rappeler que la Résolution 2199 du Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies souligne l'obligation des Etats Membres d'exercer des sanctions contre toute personne bénéficiant du trafic d'antiquités issues de Syrie et d'Iraq.

L'épouse et le chauffeur du négociant d'antiquités Ali Aboutaam ont été placés en mars en détention préventive. Tous ses objets d'art ont été saisis

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