On Aug. 26th the following announcement was made:
The FBI is alerting art collectors and dealers to be particularly careful trading Near Eastern antiquities, warning that artifacts plundered by terrorist organizations such as ISIL are entering the marketplace.
“We now have credible reports that U.S. persons have been offered cultural property that appears to have been removed from Syria and Iraq recently,” said Bonnie Magness-Gardiner, manager of the FBI’s Art Theft Program.
The Bureau is asking U.S. art and antiquities market leaders to spread the word that preventing illegally obtained artifacts from reaching the market helps stem the transfer of funds to terrorists.
In a single-page document titled ISIL Antiquities Trafficking, the FBI asks leaders in the field to disseminate the following message:
- Please be cautious when purchasing items from this region. Keep in mind that antiquities from Iraq remain subject to Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctions under the Iraq Stabilization and Insurgency Sanctions Regulations (31 CFR part 576).
- Purchasing an object looted and/or sold by the Islamic State may provide financial support to a terrorist organization and could be prosecuted under 18 USC 233A.
- Robust due diligence is necessary when purchasing any Syrian or Iraqi antiquities or other cultural property in the U.S. or when purchasing elsewhere using U.S. funds.
In February, the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 2199, which obligates member states to take steps to prevent terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria from receiving donations and from benefiting from trade in oil, antiquities, and hostages.
Before purchasing an item from suspected areas, ask questions and verify:
- Which country did this come from?
- Do you have the proper paperwork?
- What is the provenance or history of the object’s ownership?
Check stolen object databases. Proceed with caution. For the full article and links to important resources: ISIL and Antiquities Trafficking
A Circle of Trust has been established by the three major professional societies for personal property appraisers to jointly promote education to the public regarding the importance of using credentialed appraisers. They include the International Society of Appraisers, American Society of Appraisers and the Appraisers Association of American. The joint announcement states:
Members of these associations earn their credentials through a stringent admissions, training and testing process, are required to comply with IRS and AQB guidelines, adhere to a code of ethics, and to complete continuing education requirements. These qualifications provide a level of professionalism that is unmatched, and ensure the public that appraisals performed by an accredited appraiser are among the most reliable appraisals available.
All three organizations strongly urge the public to verify the educational and experiential background of an appraiser prior to retaining their services, and to be wary of red flags that indicate an appraiser may not be objective in conducting appraisals. These include charging for appraisals based on the appraised value of an item, or offering to purchase an item the appraiser has appraised. Professional, competent appraisers always conduct appraisals at “arm’s length,” without self-interest.
The full news release and contact information for the three societies can be found at PRSYNC.
As an appraiser, I receive calls daily from potential clients saying they have an antique to be evaluated. If the caller is in their twenties, they may be speaking about something only 30 years old. On the other hand, if I ask a room full of senior citizens how many of them think they are antiques, the majority of people in the room raise their hands. It’s a matter of perception.
Although we may see varying descriptions, there is a U.S. government definition for an antique. Guidelines were originally established by the U.S. Customs Service for import tariffs. In the Tariff Act of 1930 an antique was defined as an object made before 1830, after which mass production became common. In 1993, Title VI of the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act (Pub. L. 103-182, 107 Stat. 2057), also known as the Customs Modernization or “Mod” Act, became effective. These provisions amended many sections of the Tariff Act of 1930 and related laws. Thus, there is a rule of 100 years old to describe something as “antique”.
“Shopping For Antiques” from the Federal Trade Commission.
“Works of Art, Collector’s Pieces, Antiques, and Other Cultural Property” from U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Kathi Jablonsky, ISA CAPP is a full time personal property appraiser designated in Antiques and Residential Contents with the International Society of Appraisers. She is based in Southern California and serves the San Diego and Palm Desert regions.