I got mad at The Antique Detective

I came across an article today that pissed me off so much I actually bothered to register and comment: Genuine antiquities are surprisingly affordable.

Plasma TVs from the back of some guy’s van are surprisingly affordable too. Know why? BECAUSE THEY’RE FRIKKIN STOLEN.

I mean, just look at this quote.

I know it sounds unbelievable that it is possible to pay as little as $200 for a small Egyptian station (954-853 B.C.) or a Neolithic painted pottery jar c. 2000 B.C. or a free blown amber marbled glass flask c. 1st century A.D. for $1,000/$2,000.

Surprisingly the answer is because they aren’t very rare. According to Bill Gage, in the expert department of James Julia Auctions, they turn up regularly at auction. “They are still digging it up and it was untouched for 2,000 years.”

They are still digging it up. There. Right there. Who the hell does Anne Gilbert The Antique Detective think is doing that digging? Can ya maybe detect that every major antiquities-exporting country has LAWS against “digging it up” and selling it for a bargoon to Indiana Jones manqué IT professionals in the greater Chicago area?

Now watch this drive:

If you are still interested check before buying for historical significance, authentic age and good condition. Study museum collections and ask questions.

Historical significance, age and condition. Not a single word in the entire article about history of ownership. No need for buyers to care in the least if they’re supporting grave robbers, drug cartels and terrorists.

So here’s what I said in my comment:

I’m dismayed by your complete lack of acknowledgment that recently surfaced antiques (“They are still digging it up and it was untouched for 2,000 years.”) are most likely looted, stolen by highly destructive grave robbers and trafficked by criminal networks including a vast panoply of terrorists, drug dealers and all manner of criminals.

The market in Apullian red figure vases in particular is notoriously comprised of goods ripped from the ground of central Italy since 1970 in contravention of Italian law and the 1970 UNESCO convention.

To not even mention provenance or ownership history as something potential buyers should care about is deeply irresponsible. That sort of look-the-other-way attitude is why Shelby White, the Getty Museum, the Met and a myriad other collectors and institutions have been forced to return the stolen goods they so gleefully purchased with the reckless encouragement of people like you.

I had links in there but evidentally they don’t allow HTML in comments.

What do you think? Was I too nice?

25 thoughts on “I got mad at The Antique Detective

  1. Livius Drusus, your righteous indignation is commendable! And you kept your dignity even while being pissed off.
    If I were capable of writing such a comment to the Antique Detective, I would. Geez, in pre-1968 Chicago I would have to buy the Pioneer Press weekly local newspaper in order to get any news of Evanston and Skokie. The level of journalism was in the pits.

    1. Oh wow, you know the paper? I was wondering what sort of publication it is. I mean, why have a regular feature by “The Antique Detective” anyway? Doesn’t that seem weird?

      I’m considering emailing her since I suspect she’ll never see my comment.

      1. Yeah, it does sound weird, Antique Detective. I guess a lot of people there look around for antiques (furniture etc.) to buy, but antiquities??
        I haven’t seen the paper since 1983. In the pre-Internet days you needed it mostly for community event dates. NOT for any journalistic worth.
        Good idea, e-mail her. That way you might get an answer.

  2. Excellently worded comment. As I was reading your post all I could do was make horrible squeaks, growls, and language of which my mother does not approve.

    Cheers to you! :hattip:

  3. Excellent comment – I think you did a good job of being forthright without resorting to name-calling and the like. This sort of thing needs to be called out, and I’m glad you took the time to do it, and to do it well.

  4. Too nice? Eh, niceness is subjective. I do not think you were too belligerent which, in my opinion, is typically best when confronting someone. Makes you seem more rational and logical, therefore making it more likely that your comments will be taken seriously.

    If I were you, and if this is in fact something you’re truly passionate about, I would follow up with the owner/moderator of that site. Let them know you’re a force to reckon with.

  5. All I know on the subject I learned from Amelia Peabody, and she would certainly be in a dither on your behalf and in defense of the antiquities. Jeez, hasn’t enough been lost in war and looting through the ages? Your blog rocks! Praise and thanks! M

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