Go On! Study Art Law at the Tulane-Siena Institute

ImageThe Tulane-Siena Institute for International Law, Cultural Heritage, and the Arts is now accepting applications for its 3 week summer course in Tuscany. The program is based in historic Siena, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of Italy’s most beloved tourist destinations. It runs from 3-27 June 2014, during which time students will earn five ABA credits, and have the opportunity to take the following classes:

• The International Legal Framework for the Protection of Art and Cultural Property
• From Black to Gray: The Markets in Stolen and Looted Art and Antiquities
• Beyond the Law: The Ethics of Collectors and Collections
• The Protection of Art in Times of Crisis: From War to Natural Disasters

While designed for law students, the Tulane-Siena Institute welcomes other graduate students and professionals, including practicing lawyers. Indeed attorneys may be eligible to earn six Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits for each hour of academic credit awarded by the school. The application deadline is May 31, but apply now, as seats are limited.

To learn more and apply, visit the official website here.

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The US Takes on Antiquities Trafficking (And Why You Should Care)

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A Cambodian boy looks across the Mekong Delta to the temple of Phnom Da.

As the World Economic Forum concludes, in an editorial on the Huffington Post, my colleague Mark Vlasic and I have urged the political leaders attending Davos to pay heed to an international criminal industry that is costing the world billions in financial losses, and more irreparably, destroying something with no price tag: our cultural heritage.

Right now looters are reducing countless ancient sites to rubble in their search for buried treasures to sell on the art market. The ensuing trafficking of antiquities and other stolen cultural objects reaches every corner of the globe, and experts fear, may be funding organized crime and terrorist groups. It is also a very attractive way to clean “dirty” assets in the face of otherwise strengthened anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws, which as former United States prosecutor Rick St. Hilaire notes, “are often limited when it comes to the trade in cultural property.”

For these very practical reasons, the U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Department of Justice (DOJ), and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) — as well as foreign and international law enforcement such as Scotland Yard and Interpol — are now prioritizing their efforts to fight antiquities trafficking. U.S. agents and attorneys in particular have had a recent string of successes on this front. Just this month the federal government returned $1.5 million worth of plundered statues to India. And last month, it celebrated another victory when Sotheby’s Auction House agreed to repatriate a $3 million masterpiece to Cambodia, which had been hacked by thieves from a sacred temple during the country’s bloody civil war (both stories were reported by Tom Mashberg in the New York Times here and here).

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At renovated Rijksmuseum, an account of centuries of Dutch globalization

shipsAMSTERDAM – Newly reopened following a 10-year renovation, the Rijksmuseum now tells tales of globalization. It is thus far different and more provocative than the art-house of old.

A gallery named “The Netherlands Overseas” confronts visitors with the reach of the Dutch, who established the multinational Dutch East India Co. in 1602 and ranged widely for centuries thereafter. Adorning the gallery’s walls are portraits of Dutch ambassadors. One rides horses with a pasha in Persia. Another poses in Jakarta with his half-Japanese wife. In showcases below, an array of artifacts – the blue and white porcelain renowned in China and Delft alike, woolen caps worn by Dutch whalers, silverware that once held coffee, tobacco, spices, and spirits.

Throughout the museum Java and Molucca, India and Australia, Suriname and Brazil, North and West Africa, even Norway and Sweden, are invoked. Colonization is evident, not the least in the depictions of servants, some named, some not, beside the Lowlands envoys. Also present is international law, with major treaties marked by medals and epic paintings. Marked by the rijks_camp2013roomful of model ships above, moreover, is the warfare once conducted in the name of commerce and colonialism.

It is in the 20th C. gallery atop the museum that visitors encounter another sobering aspect of world events. The striped jacket at right once was worn by Isabel Wachenheimer, a 16-year-old German whose Jewish family had sought refuge in Rotterdam from the Nazis. After the Netherlands was occupied, all  were deported to Auschwitz, where her parents perished. She would be liberated at Mauthausen, a concentration camp in Austria where a fifth of the inmates were teenagers. Isabel, who became a U.S. citizen in the ’60s, kept her Mauthausen jacket. It’s described in museumspeak as “Germany, after 1938. Rags printed with blue ink, plastic.”

(Cross-posted from Diane Marie Amann)