Flashmag Digizine Edition Issue 107 July 2020 - Page 90

On May 14, 2019 in Lima, the capital of Peru, the Peruvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs exhibited, 130 objects of pre-Columbian art, including figurines of clay idols and fabrics of the Inca empire, returned by the United States and Argentina according to AFP.

These archaeological objects, most of which had been returned voluntarily after being smuggled out and illegally exported from Peru, were exhibited at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Of these goods, consisting of vases, statuary bowls and clothing, 38 were returned by the United States and 92 by Argentina. Some of the pieces date from the pre-Columbian period, while others belong to the Inca civilization.

In Africa, outside of Egypt where the control of artefacts has a better follow-up, even if cases of theft remain recurrent, in sub-Saharan Africa the bulk of ancient artefacts was looted during the slave and colonial period so that the it is estimated that 80% of the cultural heritage of sub Saharan Africa is held by Western museums "Legally"; to the chagrin of African activists who have since asked for these works to be returned to their rightful owners.

The international market for art and cultural goods continues to grow. Buyers are ready to acquire antiques and works of art from galleries, antique dealers and auction houses. According to the TEFAF 2017 report on the art market, the latter generated in 2016 nearly 45 billion USD in turnover worldwide, an increase of 1.7% compared to 2015. The European market is the largest in the world when it comes to auctions, private sales and art dealers. It also ranks first in the world for cross-border trade in works of art. It is the world's leading exporter (14.59 billion USD) and the second importer after the United States.

Antiques and works of art imported into Europe and between the various countries of the continent represent 11.5 billion USD. More than half were destined for the United Kingdom (worth 6.275 billion USD). Next comes Switzerland, which hosts 6% of world trade. France accounts for 5%, and Germany for 3%. Trade with Italy represents 1.5% of world trade on this market; while Austria, Belgium, Spain and the Netherlands account for around 0.5% each.

Paradoxically, this increased international interest is a source of risks and threats to the integrity of cultural property. Indeed, the increased demand for works of art and antiques does not only lead to the development of a prosperous art market on an international scale. It also encourages illicit trafficking in cultural property, and therefore theft from museums, private collections and religious buildings; as well as the irreparable destruction of archaeological sites and the looting of buildings and monuments.

A scourge that steal the soul of countries and peoples less affluent because of the system of predation, fueled by capitalist greed, must be undermined for good at the time there are call around the world, for social justice.

Sources https://www.carredartistes.com/fr

https://www.letemps.ch/culture/perilleuse-vente-aux-encheres

UNESCO: Culture & Development - Stop the Illicit Traffic of Cultural Property

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