Monday, September 9, 2013

Update: ACQUITTED! The Archaeology News Network: Mexico recovers three ancient sculptures from University of Miami

I haven't written in a while, and I apologize for my delay.  Sometimes life throws a few curve balls.  Since my last post exactly 2 months ago, I've learned that Spain acquitted infamous art-dealer Leonardo Patterson.

The archaeology community acknowledges that his practices over decades have been suspect, including the possibility that he sold fake antiquities (forgeries). 

I bring this up because I question if it is relatively easy to smuggle artifacts.  Harsh sentences are rare if at all, and hilighting men like Patterson makes the business of collecting seem exotic and money-making business.

The Archaeology News Network: Mexico recovers three ancient sculptures from University of Miami

A few years ago when I attended a workshop with renowned Maya archaeologist Michael Coe, he mentioned a man named Leonardo Augustus Patterson.  Coe described Patterson as a forger from Costa Rica who was being pursued for his activities in the illicit antiquities trade by Mexico, Peru, Interpol, etc.  As of 2010 he was arrested many times but was never jailed.

I thought this man sounded like an interesting character.  Here was a man fleeing authorities and hiding out in Spain.

I mention this because at the time I considered researching him because of looting, but I decided to focus more on the repatriation debate, now 3 years later, he is a key figure in the debate because he sold looted artifacts to the University of Miami museum, and just last week the museum repatriated these objects to Mexico.

The main reason behind the return is based on one of the factors I laid out in my thesis for a successful repatriation.  I wrote that the country needs legal backing and evidence that the objects/artifacts came from its country illegally, and in this case, Mexico had evidence that Patterson illegally acquired the artifacts.

I attached the article above that concerns the return, and below are some images:

Leonardo Augustus Patterson

Object illicitly taken from Peru

"Serpent Head" from Central Mexican Highlands ca. 900-1200 CE, returned to Mexico