Christie’s defends its decision to auction looted goods

May 16th, 2007

If something is stolen and no-one sees it or hears it being stolen, is it really stolen?

Not according to Christie’s. This month the auction house will sell off as many as 35 Pre-Columbian artefacts looted from various sites throughout Peru. These artefacts, from various cultures, are expected to fetch a total of $140,000 US.

The Director of Peru Explorer magazine, Jorge Sanchez, is leading the criticism of the sale and has taken it up with the Peru’s National Institute of Culture (INC), who have yet to say or do anything about it. Sanchez accuses Christie’s of not doing anything to verify the origin of these items of Peru’s heritage and says they have made no effort to contact any authorities in Peru. Peruvian archaeologists have said that they can name the places where each and every one of the auction items were illegally removed and smuggled from the country.

Christie’s however states that it checks all pieces against the Arts Loss Register. Public relations officer Sara Fox seems to think this is all that is necessary. Artefacts stolen from archaeological sites would not be registered on the Art Loss Register because they wouldn’t have been excavated and logged by archaeologists.

Christie’s and Ms Sara Fox know this, but there’s money to be made, so who cares, right?
Perhaps I’ll steal things from Sara Fox’s home without her knowing and sell them. The stolen items wouldn’t have been reported stolen, so that makes it all right, no?

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