Four museums in CA raided in looting bust

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Pasadena’s Pacific Asia Museum, the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana and the Mingei International Museum in San Diego were served with search warrants this morning, the result of a five year undercover investigation on the purchase of looted goods.

The warrants are based on an undercover investigation by an unnamed agent with the National Park Service, who presented himself as an eager new collector to Olson and Markell. Both men allegedly admitted their illegal activities to the agent and sold him recently looted objects.

The warrants claim the men also introduced the agent to museum officials who, in dozens of secretly tape-recorded meetings, accepted donations of looted art with values inflated to help the sellers obtain tax write-offs.

In the case of the Bowers and the Pacific Asia museums, the warrants clearly suggest that museum officials were aware that the objects were looted and overvalued and accepted them anyway.

Toldya they were in on it. And now, enjoy the sight of federal agents raiding those looters at the Pacific Asia Museum:

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6 Comments »

Comment by P-dub
2008-01-24 21:16:12

Oh noes! Not the Pacific Asia Museum, a wonderful place, I was there many years ago. Hate to see this happen at such a great place.

Comment by livius drusus
2008-01-24 22:40:19

I hate to say it, but odds are a good portion of the things you saw were stolen, possibly under horrendously destructive circumstances. :(

There isn’t a museum in the United States that hasn’t built collections over the last 40 years out of looted goods.

They can’t excavate antiquities legally and the provenanced market is really very small, too small to create extensive collections from in a short span of time.

Comment by Clutch
2008-01-25 07:57:07

“They can’t excavate antiquities legally and the provenanced market is really very small, too small to create extensive collections from in a short span of time.”

Damn.

So, are all the graduates of curating/gallery studies/museum studies doomed to careers of self-deception or outright fraud? Do you think anything can be done? If the legal/moral supply really is too small, and the demand is large, it strikes me that a “War on Drugs” approach of occasional prosecutions will work no better than… well, the War on Drugs. Do you see a practical course of action that could help?

Comment by livius drusus
2008-01-25 08:33:17

If you don’t mind, Clutch, I’d like answer this in a post.

(Comments won't nest below this level)
 
 
 
 
Comment by Clutch
2008-01-25 09:16:16

I about as far from mind as is possible.

Comment by livius drusus
2008-01-25 14:32:52

Done, sir. :chicken:

 
 
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