LETTER: Fakes and Forgeries Exist in the International Antiquities Market

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Sir: Professor Palmer's letter (26 May) querying my reported statements made at the recent Art and Crime conference (report, 24 May), gives me the opportunity to clarify the situation. The meeting, jointly organised by the Fraud Advisory Panel and The Art Club, was principally concerned with theft and illicit trade. My contribution was on methods of detecting forgeries. Thus I thought it appropriate to point out that although it is generally accepted that many unprovenanced antiquities on the international art market are likely to be illicit exports, it is less generally appreciated that many other unprovenanced pieces could be forgeries.

I am sorry if this was misunderstood and I am a little surprised that Professor Palmer did not take the opportunity to address me during the ample question time after my paper. If he had done so I could have emphasised there and then that I was speaking of unprovenanced antiquities on the international market.

The looting of antiquities and their forgery do seem often to be linked, the one counterbalancing the other. …