Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Israel to require collectors to register?

Cultural Property Observer comments on a Jerusalem Post story by Jonah Newman on new enforcement of a 2002 law jailing unregistered collectors for up to six months. Under Israeli law, a collector is anyone with 15 or more artifacts.

This seems like a huge pain for the Israeli government, especially if, as Newman reports, 100,000 citizens have 15+ artifacts and collectors can choose to receive an appraisal of the historical significance of their artifacts. Who writes appraisals of 1,500,000+ artifacts?

Cultural Property Observer hints that the mandatory registration in Greece has devolved into a system where only wealthy, “connected,” people become “registered collectors.”.

I don't know much about the Greek registration system. It's described here. Apparently, under Greek law, the collector is required to give the government photographs of every object and facilitate visits. The collector “shall be responsible for the unity of a collection. The collection may be dispersed upon permit granted by the Minister of Culture following an opinion of the Central Archaeological Council.” What does that mean? If a Greek collector decides to trade a coin with another registered collector do both need permission from the Central Archaeological Council? How often does it meet?

Greek collectors have some rights, for example they are entitled to “reproduce and dispose of photographs or other representations of their monuments.” Does this mean non-collectors cannot dispose of photographs? How do do non-collectors dispose of photographs they don't want anymore?


lwht said...

BCD, a Greek national, amassed a massive collection of mainland ancient Greek coins over a period of forty years. He disposed of this collection over the last ten years via a series of international auctions and sales.

As noted in Greek Law “The collector shall be responsible for the unity of a collection. The collection may be dispersed upon permit granted by the Minister of Culture following an opinion of the Central Archaeological Council....... There is a distinction between transfer of the collection as a unit and the transfer of individual items......Regarding the transfer of individual items the same regulations apply as for the transfer of ownership of movable monuments (art 28 II) and transfer of possession (art. 28 I). As transferring individual items is in most cases a breach of unity, a Decision of the Minister of Culture will be necessary in most cases.”

Notwithstanding this, the law must be flexible enough to permit the dispersal of the BCD collection. I just wonder how long and what effort was required of BCD to secure the approval to disperse his collection via multiple international sales and individual cross-border transactions?

Anonymous said...

BCD's collection was coins purchased and stored outside of Greece. Look at all of the auction provenances given in the auction catalogs. As such, it was not subject to Greek laws.

lwht said...

I appreciate the nuance and that my assumptions regarding the collection being registered under Greek Law may be incorrect and therefore the inferred flexibility of the latter may be false. Some of the coin provenances indicate relatively recent sourcing from within Greece, for example The 1979/80 Epidauros Hoard. However, the application of Greek Law to its citizens in terms of activity beyond its borders is a complex affair and subject to the additional complication of EU law and directives, beyond the scope of this post to detail. That said, it opens up the whole issue of cross border enforcement... a very complex area of law and jurisdictional responsibility.

Anonymous said...

The coins from the 1979/80 Epidauros Hoard may also have been purchased several years after 1980 from a dealer or auction outside of Greece and then stored outside of Greece.