If Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz is involved, you know we’re talking about an exciting aspect of jurisprudence.
We’ve been following the case of the Mongolian dinosaur bones, but really that’s just a small window into the world of antiquities law. It’s a field of law that should fire the imagination of any lawyer who was a liberal arts major in college but ended up in law. We’re talking about a field of law which will reward the art history majors of the world. The romance language majors. The random anthropology majors who didn’t have the stones to take Orgo, but spiked a 170 on the LSAT. This is a field of law for you.
The New York Times ran a long and fascinating article last week about the emerging law surrounding the provenance of antique goods sold at auction. After centuries of private collectors being able to simply steal and resell the history of poor countries, it seems like reputable auction houses and museums are finally refusing to legitimize the black market through their purchase of questionably-obtained artifacts.
But the new rules mean that some antique collectors now can’t unload treasures they believed they acquired legitimately. Even Professor Dershowitz is having some difficulty establishing the proper documentation of an item he wanted to auction….