Speaker(s): Kate Fitz Gibbon, Megan Noh

Zombie Statistics, Draconian Laws, Media Complicity: The End of the Global Antiquities Trade


The media has helped to propound a myth – that the illegal trade in cultural goods is a pillar of organized crime. That trade in antiquities is part of a multi-billion dollar network with links to the drug and arms trade, to money laundering and terrorist financing.

Recent studies intended to substantiate these allegations have found no evidence for such claims. ‘Cultural racketeering' turns out to be a giant hoax – but with real consequences for the art market and future global circulation of art. At the same time, there is widespread acceptance of dictatorships use of art for political promotion and control, conflating unbridled nationalism with anti-colonialism. This does more than threaten the existence of the antiquities trade. It encourages a narrow, highly-politicized view of culture that justifies academic censorship and limits the ability of museums around the world to preserve art, study it, and show it to the public.

The panel will discuss:

  • Investigating the provenance of works of art and antiquities
  • Analyzing Bilateral treaties and international laws relating to cultural property and patrimony
  • Championing better laws and policy with public and private partners worldwide against cultural racketeering
  • Should the sale of antiquities should be banned altogether?

This talk was originally filmed during The Business of Art Observed.


Kate Fitz Gibbon

Editor, Cultural Property News at Committee for Cultural Policy, Inc.
Kate Fitz Gibbon is the Executive Director of the Committee for Cultural Policy, a U.S. think tank on art and cultural property policy, and editor of the online journal, Cultural Property News. Kate was a member of the Cultural Property Advisory Committee to the President from 2000-2003. She was editor and contributor...

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Megan Noh

Partner at Pryor Cashman LLP
Megan E. Noh is a partner in Pryor Cashman’s Art Law Group. With nearly 15 years of combined experience in private practice and both in-house legal and business positions in the auction world, Megan has extensive knowledge of the complex issues impacting today’s art market. Her clients include auction houses, collectors, galleries, individual artists,...

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