Antiquities and importation
Pandora Art Services working closely with ACREW Yachting hopes to educate captains, crew and management during September’s Monaco Yacht Show as part of the ‘INSIGHTS’ programme started in Monaco this April. Vessels crossing to and from EU borders should understand the new regulation relating to looted antiquities. EU Regulation 2019/880, framed at the end of 2018, brought into force in 2019 and taking effect fully from 2020 and beyond is essentially about stemming terrorist financing in conflict zones. Concerning the import of antiquities over 250 years and artworks over 200 years old, artefacts from outside EU territory must carry sound provenance with documentation to demonstrate they are clean from illicit trafficking. This is the first ever EU law regarding import of cultural heritage and anyone shipping items inwards must seek a licence for entry into EU territory. Each country will establish a register of licences and for other categories, statements of origin.
Responsible sourcing demands weeding out conflict objects, looted for instance from museums and archaeological sites in Syria and Iraq. Cultural items from both territories are already barred, however antiquities are now being traded internationally via multiple channels to fund terrorism, so this means enhanced vigilance. Value is immaterial and the European legislation specifies that painting, drawing, coins, sculpture, engravings as well as archaeological pieces apply. There are two categories, but antiquities are the more stringently controlled.
For the superyacht industry, states with weaker laws, varied border control or which are known vulnerable trafficking routes into Europe will be under scrutiny. Turkey along with other destinations in the East Mediterranean meets this criteria. The region is important for the superyacht industry and there is a strong case for raising awareness with captains, yards, crew and yacht management in how to prepare.
Along with these impending changes, other considerations for superyachts transporting art and artefacts concern the spoils of war. The museum world is undergoing incredible political pressure to return cultural objects taken during earlier conflicts. The Elgin Marbles in the British Museum is a famous and longstanding debacle and more recently, French President Macron has ordained that all the Benin Bronzes and African artefacts looted from present day Nigeria be returned. How this will play out with treasures finding their way into private portfolios remains to be seen.
The superyacht owner is inevitably an art collector and what can happen on land, can happen at sea. Vessels over 40 metres typically have lush interiors and carry fine art on board and vessels are growing with interior space becoming more impressive as one seeks to surprise and delight guests. Risks with fine art pervade, but can be contained and prevented.
ACREW’S April 9th INSIGHTS day in Monaco highlighted a number of key concerns bringing in conservators, shippers, art advisors, yacht security professionals and an art data company. Pandora Art Services subsequently announced a Market Intelligence Whitepaper detailing the numerous facets of art on board and how to mitigate these risks. An addendum will be published following the second INSIGHTS group during September’s Monaco Yacht Show. There will be an overview of the looted antiquities and other facets of dealing with art on board from industry experts. A free copy of the report can be obtained via Onboard magazine.