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Selling History: Should Stolen Ancient Artifacts Be For Sale Legally?

Illicit antiquities are once again in the headlines. US retailer Hobby Lobby was recently fined US$3m (£2.3m) for illegally acquiring antiquities that were most likely looted from Iraq. Collectors and museums are therefore being reminded to undertake due diligence in checking collections’ histories before purchasing cultural property. The implication here is, of course, that when the item on the auction block has been legally excavated and diligently recorded by archaeologists, there isn’t a problem. This is an enormous mistake. Such sales may be legal, but they are still ethically problematic….

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