Category Archives: Antiquities

Anglo-Saxon brooch returned to local museum after more than a quarter century

Posted on: September 23, 2021 by Emily Gould

All too often in the field of art law we read about looting, destruction and loss, heritage subjected to risks and threats the world over. It sometimes feels like happy endings are rarer than hens’ teeth. Even less common, perhaps, are art world stories which have a very personal resonance. However, a story which came […]

Court decision on ‘technicality’ prevents claim over allegedly fake antiquity

Posted on: September 1, 2021 by Alexander Herman

On 9 August a decision came down from the High Court of England and Wales that imparts an important lesson about limitation periods and related timelines for the service of proceedings. The decision also reveals useful information about a particular dispute over allegedly fake antiquities, showing just what happens when negotiations between buyer and seller […]

Roman amphoras discovered in a Spanish seafood shop

Posted on: August 4, 2020 by Manuel Valdecantos Saavedra

An intriguing case involving underwater cultural heritage was brought to light by the Spanish media towards the end of July. In the city of Alicante, a father and son, owners of a frozen seafood shop, were found to be in possession of 13 Roman amphoras, possibly dating from the 1st  Century AD, together with an […]

Discovery of gothic sculpture in Spanish river – thoughts on Spain’s finds regulation system

Posted on: July 13, 2020 by Marta Suárez-Mansilla

Last month, a fisherman found in the Sar River, near the city of Santiago de Compostela (Galicia, Spain), a 14th-century gothic sculpture of the Virgin and Child, half-submerged, and covered in moss and slime. On paying closer attention to the shape of the object, he noticed some engravings suggesting that what he was looking at […]

Fifty years on: the meaning of the 1970 UNESCO Convention

Posted on: June 18, 2020 by Alexander Herman

Amidst the sad turmoil (for some) and the uncertainty (for all) brought on by the pandemic and the resultant lockdown, it is perhaps more forgivable than usual to miss an important anniversary. I am referring here to the fact that 2020 marks 50 years since the adoption of the Convention on the Means of Prohibiting […]

Recent report on the illicit antiquities trade receives mixed response

Posted on: June 10, 2020 by Charlotte Dunn

A UNESCO-backed research project into the illicit trade in cultural property in Germany has recently released its final report. The ‘ILLICID Project’, launched by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, aimed to increase understanding of illicit trafficking networks and financial flows linked to organised crime and terrorism. However, the findings of the final […]

A final judgment? Court of Appeal rules in favour of the Ivory Act 2018

Posted on: June 5, 2020 by Charlotte Dunn

We have been following the debate over the UK’s position on ivory on the IAL blog over the past few years. The latest development has seen the Court of Appeal uphold the decision of the High Court, finding the Ivory Act 2018 to be lawful. What does this mean for the future of the ivory […]

Lessons in Collecting from the Museum of the Bible

Posted on: April 14, 2020 by Charlotte Dunn

The Museum of the Bible has been a site of continual controversy since its opening in November 2017. The issues it has faced range from alleged thefts and forgeries to the illicit trade in antiquities. More than anything else, the Museum’s difficulties have demonstrated the importance of careful provenance research before acquiring artefacts for a […]

An update on the Crimean Treasures in Amsterdam

Posted on: March 24, 2020 by Emilie Huisman-van Essen

Still pending in The Netherlands is the interesting case of the Crimean Treasures. After the Court of First Instance had ordered the repatriation of the museum objects to the Ukraine based on the 1970 UNESCO Convention, the Amsterdam Court of Appeal reversed that decision in an interim judgment of 16 July 2019. A recap of […]

To deal or not to deal: provenance and morality in recent sale at Christie’s

Posted on: July 26, 2019 by Julia Rodrigues Casella Hommes

Earlier this month, controversy surrounded one particular lot in the ‘The Exceptional Sale’ at Christie’s in London. The object of the controversy was ‘An Egyptian Brown Quartzite Head of the God Amen with the features of the Pharaoh Tutankhamen’, dated to the Reign of Tutankhamen, c. 1333-1323 BC, New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty. The lot (no. 110) […]