What to Consider before Buying Art Abroad

By Grant, Daniel | Consumers' Research Magazine, October 1996 | Go to article overview

What to Consider before Buying Art Abroad


Grant, Daniel, Consumers' Research Magazine


Most foreign travelers return from their jaunts with photographs, maybe a little stomach ailment, and some souvenirs: A statuette, old vase, wood carving, or a painting--every country has its own character that is translated into the monuments in its public squares, ornaments on its churches, and images in its works of art.

Collecting rare and interesting objects is one of the joys of traveling abroad, but people of many countries are net so happy to be picked clean by tourists. They see the American vacationer's desire for mementos as a form of plunder, a laiasez-faire banditry that robs them of their national treasures and cultural artifacts. They feel their "patrimony"--their national sense of self--is at stake.

Leaders of countries around the world have responded with laws to protect their art and ancient artifacts and keep them within their borders. Many nations of the Third World as well as some communist countries have established wholesale embargoes of all art from their borders. Others, such as Greece, Iran, Mexico, Turkey, and Central and South America, have adopted wide-ranging restrictions covering art and artifacts from certain areas dating back a certain number of years.

Some of the nations of western Europe offer a different sort of object lesson in frustration. England, France, Italy, and Spain require the export of works of art or antiquity to be overseen by three or four different governmental agencies, any one of which may veto a sale or shipment. The decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, so no general rules can be ascertained. It can take up to a year for an export license to be granted or denied, requiring collectors either to plan for a long vacation or to learn the ropes.

The art and antiquities in question need not be of any great value, merely old enough to be deemed in need of protection by the foreign government. The rules change from one country to the next, but that is not the only thing that could confuse the buyer. The nations with embargoes and restrictions often have considerable black market activity, and the sellers of this contraband will seek to persuade tourists that desired pieces aren't a problem to take out of the country. An explorer may come upon an as-yet undiscovered ancient ruin (there are many in Turkey, for instance, and in Africa) but find to his dismay that the native government lays claim to objects it never previously knew existed. The same is true for finds in coastal waters. Added to this is the fact that U.S. Customs obeys some claims by foreign governments and ignores others.

The easiest works to buy and take home with you are those of the 20th century, especially pieces created since the end of the Second World War. The hardest are the Old Masters or antiquities over 100 years old. In Europe, the hardest countries in which to buy antiques and art are England, France, Italy, Spain, and Turkey. The easiest countries in which to buy art and bring it home are the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Germany. (Switzerland is a frequent stop for collectors as many European dealers, frustrated at the difficulties in selling to outside collectors, have moved their galleries to Zurich. The market there, unencumbered by state regulations, is thriving nicely.)

In Holland and Germany, it is a general rule of thumb that anything one can buy may be taken out of the country. One-needs to show (as in any country) a "declaration of exportation," basically a detailed receipt listing what the object is, its value, and when it was purchased.

The Germans export approximately one-third of their gross national product and are reluctant to create export restrictions. The only items that may require an export license are weapons and nuclear fuels.

Holland's legislature periodically has discussed applying protections to the export of certain works of art, but it has never gone further than talking. It is somewhat irrelevant anyway, as most of the important works still in Holland by the country's most esteemed artists--Hals, Rembrandt, and Vermeer--are already in the possession of the national museum. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

What to Consider before Buying Art Abroad
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.