Thursday, March 13, 2014

My Word Winter 2014

Christmas 2013 seems like it occurred about twenty years ago. Much has happened and unfortunately not much is good news. We promised that we would cover the Detroit bankruptcy and how it will impact the art museum. We have a piece in this issue that will undoubtedly provide more information that you would ever want to know about the subject. But it is ever changing and we will stay on top of it. Repatriation and our government's ongoing efforts to get involved with both private and public art purchases promises to only become more intrusive to everyone's detriment. The latest bomb shell for the art and antiques world came with Fish and Wildlife Director's Order 210 which was effective February 24th of this year. This issue of the Newsletter has focused on this and the Endangered Species Act. A casual reading of all this information might cause one to wonder why the reader should care. The Forbes article answers this question by questioning how objects acquired in good faith by buyers obeying all the rules should now become worthless to the owner. I appraised an ivory elephant tusk a few years ago for $5,000 to $7,000 that had been acquired by missionaries living in the Congo in the mid 1940s. If the owners can prove it came into the States prior to 1975 they can at the moment sell the tusk within the State of Texas. My sources are telling me the sale of all ivory could be banned in the US within the near future. At this point the tusk will truly be worthless.  My sources are also saying that we can look for bans encompassing other endangered species as well. I understand conservation and efforts to preserve our environment. I don't understand how you can justify violating individual rights of those who were legal owners of family heirlooms last week and are now potential criminals if they unknowingly sell their objects. There will be political pressure from both liberals and conservatives alike. I certainly can't imagine this being endorsed by museums. But we will cover it.. JB

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