’Official Fakes’:The Consequences of Governmental Treatment of Forged Antiquities as Genuine during Seizures, Prosecutions, and Repatriations

27 Pages Posted: 10 Nov 2018

See all articles by Erin Thompson

Erin Thompson

CUNY, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Date Written: October 17, 2018

Abstract

The article discusses what I will call “official fakes” – fakes mistakenly treated as genuine antiquities by governmental authorities - are costly to many branches of government. They waste authorities’ time, resources, cash, and credibility. Fakes also lead to basic problems of justice: people who intend to sell looted antiquities are either under-prosecuted after it is discovered that they were unwittingly dealing in fakes, or over-prosecuted if this discovery is not made, and the government continues to assume that the accused looter’s stock of fakes is actually genuine. The article begins with a discussion of the factors leading to the current flood of fakes in the antiquities market, an explanation of why it can be so difficult to tell when an artifact is fake, and a summary of the recognized harms caused by these fakes. I then describe categories of “official fakes,” giving case studies and analysis of how they cause waste. The article then summarizes the current failure of the treatment of fakes in American law to reduce this waste, and ends by proposing some policy changes necessary to stem the governmental losses caused by “official fakes.”

Keywords: forgery, comparative law, international law, criminal law, art law, cultural heritage

Suggested Citation

Thompson, Erin, ’Official Fakes’:The Consequences of Governmental Treatment of Forged Antiquities as Genuine during Seizures, Prosecutions, and Repatriations (October 17, 2018). Albany Law Review, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3268273

Erin Thompson (Contact Author)

CUNY, John Jay College of Criminal Justice ( email )

695 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10021
United States

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