Valuation of Priceless Historical Cultural Term Paper

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The shapes, forms, mediums, quality and condition of the ancient art all plays a role in the final determination of value of the art a recent report of an action of the Stanford Estate by Christie's in London relates that documentation of an Apollo bust for the purpose of establishing value was conducted and included "comprehensive research and our own expertise as well as drawing on the knowledge of established scholars and academics from around the world." Padgett of Princeton's stated that "style alone can be an imprecise rule of thumb. Technical analysis of the materials may help but it is frequently inconclusive, especially in the case of marbles used by both Greeks and Romans. (Sandler, 2006)

The work of Coolidge (2006) entitled: "Ancient History for Sale" published in Forbes Magazine relates that "Ancient art has not appreciated much in value for along time." (Coolidge, 2006) the reason for this is due to "issues of provenance." (Coolidge, 2006) However, the value of antiquities are expected to climb due to the finite supply of antiquities under the current governing laws and regulations worldwide for import and export of antiquities. Large museums, such as the Met have been forced to return antiquities to the originating country if the antiquity left the country after the enactment of certain regulations. Coolidge states: "Collectors can avoid legal trouble by investigating an object's provenance -- the history of its ownership. "The due diligence before making a purchase can be exhaustive," says William Pearlstein, a New York-based attorney who specializes in the fine arts and antiquities trade. 'Collectors have to be very well advised,' says Judith L. Pearson of the ARIS Title Insurance of New York, which underwrites title insurance for fine art. 'Even then, you still might not know positively how it was acquired, whether it was legally imported or if it was stolen from an excavation site. And the provenance might have been faked, too. There are dozens of things that can go wrong.' The best documentation of provenance includes published articles, books and auction catalogs describing the object. Sales records and affidavits from previous owners are also helpful. An object should have documentation showing where it originated. According to Lawrence W. Mushinske, national imports specialist for the U.S. Customs Department: "Inquire before you buy and check with customer before the object enters the country. Potential buyers can protect themselves by writing to the Customs Department with a request for a written ruling which "binds" the Customs and Border Protection." (Coolidge, 2006)


It has been clearly demonstrated in the research that valuation of antiquities has no sure and constant form due to the nature of collecting antiquities and all the questions and concerns that may arise as to the origination of the art objects. Due to the demand for such works of art, looting of archaeological sites and museums has occurred and while rules and regulations have been instituted into import and export laws, there still exists a black market for these ancient art objects. In today's world of art collection, the collector must necessarily ensure that they are not in possession of stolen art objects and should that be the case pressures from the art world and the country of origination, as well as the penalties of law regarding such objects will likely result in a return of the art object to the originating country or culture to which the art object was derived. This work has related that it takes many years to become an expert in identifying objects of antiquity and in gaining the necessary knowledge, education and skill to be considered an expert in the field. The primary method used for valuation of such objects is based on comparison of similar items in terms of age, form, the artist or creator of the item, as well as the appeal of an item upon the auction block. The business of collecting antiquities is not for the faint-hearted and is described by most collectors as an exciting and unpredictable business.


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Sandler, Linda (2006) Ancient Clash: Christie's Says it's Greek, Dealers Say Roman. Phoenix in Bloomberg. 18 May 2006. Phoenix Ancient Arts S.A. Online available at

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