Webinar on Measuring the Illicit Antiquities Trade in Data and Dollars

Looking for facts? But which to choose may be a political question. Image: Gerd Altmann / Pixabay.
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“Putting a Price on the Priceless: Measuring the Illicit Antiquities Trade in Data and Dollars” was the name of a webinar hold on 26 July 2021. The event was organized by the Antiquities Coalition and TrrACC, the George Mason University Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center.

Louis Shelly and Layla Hashemi of TrrACC discussed with Neil Brodie of Oxford University, and Ute Wartenberg-Kagan (American Numismatic Society) the role antiquities and coins in particular have in the illegal trade. Patrick Costello of the Council on Foreign Relations was the webinar moderator. The live event was registered and published on Youtube.


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The webinar was co-organized by the Antiquities Coalition, and TraCCC defines itself as “the first center in the United States devoted to understanding the links among terrorism, transnational crime and corruption, and to teach, research, train and help formulate policy on these critical issues”. So it does not come as a surprise that the positions in the speakers’ panel were mainly critical or hostile against coin trade.

The discussion tackled questions like how to quantify looting, smuggling, and related crimes or what data to use.

Those who have followed our articles presenting recent research and reports on the subject may wonder why traditional positions have not changed over the time. But on the other hand: when we remember that even a study funded in part by the Antiquities Coalition came to debunk this association’s own claims, one should not wonder at all that still facts are not everything in this discussion.


Do not miss the summary and critical comment by expert and lawyer Peter Tompa.

Just to remember: the RAND study in 2020 stated that antiquities trafficking is much smaller than generally thought.

Read in this analysis why the international art market has become a cultural bogeyman.

And political reasons are also the motives why US MOUs have become so restrictive against coin collectors.

And if you want to read more articles on this subject, browse through our archive category “Cultural Property Issues”.