Showing posts with label erik nemeth. Show all posts
Showing posts with label erik nemeth. Show all posts

August 2, 2013

Report from ARCA in Amelia: Dorit Straus teaches "Insurance Claims and the Art Market"; Erik Nemeth finishes course on cultural security; and students visit Pompeii and Oplontis with Acting Academic Director Crispin Corrado

Dorit Straus
by Summer Kelley-Bell, ARCA Intern

This week brought us the amazing Dorit Straus, who taught "Insurance Claims and the Art Market".  Until her recent retirement, Ms. Straus worked as the Worldwide Fine Art Specialty Manager for Chubb Personal Insurance. Prior to that, she studied archaeology at Hebrew University and worked in a variety of different museums. The combination of these two careers meant that Ms. Straus was able to offer us a truly unique classroom experience. Her class was shorter than most, a mere two and a half days to the usual five, but by the end the students were clamoring for more time. Through her, we learned about the complexities involved in insuring different types of collections and the steps that are taken in the event of a loss. I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that her class was the sleeper hit of the summer. Who would have guessed that art insurance could be so fascinating? In this case, I think we owe a lot to our professor. Ms. Straus was able to distill the important concepts of the art insurance world in understandable and interesting ways. Towards the end of her section, she had the class split into groups to create our own insurance situation. This process helped to solidify the ideas we had been presented with in class and was an excellent means of studying for Straus’ final test. 

Ms. Straus’ class was offset by the end of Dr. Erik Nemeth’s section on cultural security. For the end this class, we looked at the idea of legalizing the trade in antiquities as a possible way of stopping destruction of sites. This sparked intense debate among the students and led to some rather entertaining class discussions. Dr. Nemeth’s class finished up with an epic exam where students were asked to find a way to encourage different groups of people to care about art crime. We were told to come up with a project and try to find funding for it in sectors that do not usually work within the art world. It worked well as a way to sum up everything Dr. Nemeth had been teaching us about interdisciplinary collaboration and how it can be used to help protect art.

"Ducks" of Oplontis
We finished out the week with a trip to Pompeii and Oplontis, led by the always amazing Dr. Crispin Corrado. Dr. Corrado, an archaeologist based out of Rome, gave us a guided tour unlike any other.  We learned about Pompeii: from its humble beginnings, to its fiery end. A few of the students even took a side trip to the House of the Fawn and the Villa of Mysteries. The villa especially was a big hit as it is so beautifully preserved. After a brief break for lunch, we head over to the villa at Oplontis, where I had a minor fit over some very small paintings of ducks. The villa is filled with fantastic frescoes—the reds and golds remain so vibrant that it almost hurts your eyes to look at them. For me though, the most amazing paintings were the hallway frescoes. These simple paintings, which were made to look like marble, have an unassuming boarder of small animals: deer, panthers, and ducks.  The ducks, while of no real importance and placed so high on the wall as to be almost invisible, illustrated for me the love that went into decorating this house.  It was a home, one to which people surely wanted to return.   

For years scholars believed that this sea facing villa was uninhabited at the time of the eruption as there were no human remains found in the Villa "A" portion of the structure.  Even so, walking through its many rooms gave me a very real sense of their presence.  This viewpoint changed dramatically when researchers discovered 54 skeletons in one of the large ground-floor rooms in the Villa "B" portion of the site, an area that opens onto the southern portico.  Here, men, women and children, some rich, others apparently not, had gathered to wait, perhaps hoping rescue from the unfolding tragedy would come from the sea.

The fact that we can still learn new things from a site such as Oplontis over the course of many years  underscores why we need to not only protect sites such as this from decay, but to continue studying them.  We can learn many things about our past from Oplontis and its marvelous ducks and if we teach people about the importance of preservation instead of just herding tourists through by the thousands, we might be able to protect our cultural heritage long enough to uncover even more important discoveries about our past.   

I have learned to love the villa at Oplontis and I will never look at ducks, or those who painted them, the same again.

July 25, 2013

Report from Amelia: Erik Nemeth lectures on Cultural Security at ARCA's Postgraduate Certificate Program


by Yasmin Hamed, ARCA Intern

Week Seven of ARCA's Postgraduate Certificate Program got off to an unusual start with most of this year’s students off-site. Monday and Tuesday saw the remnants of the long weekend break where many of the students travelled both within and beyond Italy. Students enjoyed the sights around Italy such as Bari, Matera, Venice, Milan and Florence in addition to other locations beyond the borders such as Switzerland, Serbia, Marrakech and Malta.

Our slower than usual return to classes on Wednesday afternoon began our first day of a new module on Cultural Security led by Dr. Erik Nemeth. With a brief segue from art crime, our first encounter focused on the interdisciplinary nature of Cultural Security and the interactions of each discipline very thoroughly represented in our class from the three areas of physical, political and economic spheres.

With our first full day of classes we further examined the dimensions of cultural security during three main temporal spheres: the Second World War, the Cold War, and the Post-Cold War periods. The dynamics between cultural security and cultural intelligence opened up a discussion on the problems and solutions currently at play on the international field. Again, each student offered insights from their own fields. Dr. Nemeth’s presentations offered a view of cultural security through a series of well-known case studies such as the infamous destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhasin Afghanistan in 2001 and of the Samarra Mosque in Iraq in 2006.

A discussion of the great losses to cultural property could only be followed with the counter-active measures: cultural intelligence services. Dr. Nemeth’s scientific approach to this subject brought about a new way of attacking our studies through the use of statistical analysis. This data may be used to predict threatened cultural heritage sites worldwide by organizations who are tasked with the protection of cultural property in areas of conflict.

As we are getting further and further into the course, an interesting dynamic begins to arise. Having covered such significant areas such as bi-lateral agreements previously in our class on Art Crime in War with Judge Arthur Tompkins, in addition to during our class on Art and Heritage Law, we are now garnering a view of intricate subject areas such as this from a number of viewpoints. This multi-disciplinary approach to major issues within the area of art crime research is creating a solid foundation in our knowledge of this area with every new module. 

Coming off the hectic travel during the long weekend, and with no formally arranged class trips, most students took advantage of last weekend to relax. A fantastic birthday party for one of the students at the top of Amelia beside the duomo offered astounding panoramic views of Amelia. As Week Seven came to a close, some of our students even benefited from a poolside reading of Dorit Straus’ article on “Insurance Claims and the Art Market” in preparation for Week Eight in ARCA’s 2013 Postgraduate Program.

July 13, 2013

America's Book of Secrets features segment on the Isabella Stewart Gardner 1990 Theft

Here's the show, America's Book of Secrets on the History Channel, which interviewed ARCA trustee Erik Nemeth (PH.D., Independent Researcher) for an episode aired in June, Lost Treasures.  At around minute 29, the show focuses on the 1990 theft of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in the segment "Bare Walls". Interviews include FBI Special Agent Geoffrey J. Kelly; Robert K. Wittman, former FBI Special Agent; Nemeth; Catherine Williamson, PH.D., Director of Fine Books and Manuscripts, Bonhams; and Chris Isleib, Director of Communications, National Archives.

March 5, 2013

ARCA Trustee Erik Nemeth on the Political Economy of Cultural Property and A Gap in Cultural Intelligence

ARCA Trustee Erik Nemeth (and a lecturer on Cultural Security during the summer program in Amelia) published two articles on the political economics of cultural property and cultural intelligence last month.

"Alternative Power: Political Economy of Cultural Property" in Columbia's Journal of International Affairs begins:
Last May, The Scream by Edvard Munch set a record for the most expensive painting sold at auction. The $120 million sale at Sotheby’s in New York illustrated a trend in record prices for artworks at auction and in private sales. At the same time, members of the al Qaeda-linked group Ansar Dine started to target mausoleums of Sufi saints in Timbuktu, Mali, and conflict in Syria continued to compromise cultural heritage with the looting of the well preserved Crusader castle, Krak des Chevaliers. The purchase of The Scream and the destruction of the historic monuments represent extremes that derive from the perceived value of art and the strategic value of cultural heritage.
"A gap in cultural intelligence" in The Providence Journal begins:
What the heck happened to cultural sensibilities last year?
 
While collectors bid up record prices for artworks at auction--Edvard Munch's "The Scream" went for $120 million in May--they were criticized for a lack of aesthetic judgment, especially at the premier U.S. fair, Art Basel Miami Beach. And cultural heritage took a turn for the worse as well. Cooperation on repatriation of antiquities was overshadowed by grim reports of wanton destruction of historic sites in Mali and Syria. With both contemporary and ancient art, the desire to collect and possess seemed to outstrip cultural appreciation.
 
High-end collectors and cultural-heritage abusers alike would benefit from a boost in cultural intelligence, or "CQ," to grasp the interrelation of art, culture, economic development, and human rights..
You may follow his studies on the blog Art World Intelligence through the online newspaper Cultural Security News.

December 12, 2012

Erik Nemeth on "The Diplomatic Case for Repatriating Art and Antiquities" in U.S. News

Erik Nemeth, formerly with the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, is a trustee of the Association for Research into Crimes against Art and an adjunct international security policy analyst at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation. Here's a link to Nemeth's article in U.S. News & World Report on "The Diplomatic Power of Art" which begins here:
Even as cultural property faces immediate peril today in conflict zones like Syria and Mali, there is anecdotal evidence that some nations are awakening to the diplomatic and foreign policy benefits that can flow from the repatriation of cultural patrimony.
While on a different scale from World War II, historic structures, religious monuments, and other priceless antiquities continue to suffer collateral damage and exploitation in armed conflict. Antiquities have been stolen, smuggled and sold in what is a reported multibillion dollar underground market. They have become the illicit prizes of private collectors and the subject of legal claims against museums.
So it goes in Syria, where wartime damage to World Heritage Sites, such as Krak des Chevaliers, seems intractable. In northern Mali, too, religious strife has brought ruin to centuries-old, historic shrines in Timbuktu. Where is the constructive potential of cultural property?

February 1, 2012

Profile: ARCA Trustee Erik Nemeth and New Lecturer to ARCA's Postgraduate Program in Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection Studies

by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

ARCA Trustee Erik Nemeth will be lecturing in Amelia this summer for the Postgraduate Program in Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection Studies.

Dr. Nemeth is Director at CulturalSecurity.net and Adjunct Staff at RAND Corporation. He will be teaching “Cultural Security: Interrelations of art crime, foreign policy, and perceptions of security” between July 30 and August 10, 2012.

In The Journal of Art Crime, Spring 2009, Erik Nemeth published on “Plunderer & Protector of Cultural Property: Security-Intelligence Services Shape Strategic Value of Art.”

In 2010, Dr. Nemeth published “The Artifacts of Wartime Art Crime: Evidence for a Model of the Evolving Clout of Cultural Property in Foreign Affairs” in Art and Crime: Exploring the Dark Side of the Art World (edited by Noah Charney) among other papers.

In recent years, Dr. Nemeth has presented on panels at the American Society of Criminology: “Cultural Intelligence: data sources on the motivation and means for trafficking” (2009) and “Antiquities Trafficking – Complementary Countermeasures” (2010).

ARCA Blog: Dr. Nemeth, If I understand what you said at the ASC in 2010 is that by looking at public auction sale catalogs, policy makers can understand if there’s a lucrative market for the cultural property of a region and a period. If policy makers understand that there’s demand for cultural property, they can then look at opportunities organized crime may have seized to hire local people to loot archaeological sites for more saleable artifacts and also look for weaknesses in the government that may lead to corruption. Did your studies indicate that certain regions are more susceptible to looting than others? Do you think the governments in these areas are utilizing available data to create policy to stem looting?
Dr. Nemeth: I appreciate your asking about the research. I embarked on the study in 2009 to explore quantitative means of assessing risk in looting of and trafficking in cultural artifacts. By collecting data from auction sales archives, I had a chance to experiment with comparing changes in trade volume and average market value of cultural artifacts by geographic region of origin over a nine-year period. For the dataset to which I had access, African tribal art stood out as increasing along both parameters relative to classical antiquities, pre-Columbian art, Islamic art, and Indian and Southeast Asian art. After analyzing the data, I had two thoughts on how such analyses might support risk analysis. 
Does trading of cultural artifacts reflect political and economic conditions in regions of origin for the objects? For example, quantitative measures of demand for cultural artifacts by region of origin over time could be compared against events in politics and economics for nations in the region. Can the auction market for cultural artifacts provide a quantitative, albeit indirect, measure of the illicit trade? The opaque illicit market has proven challenging, if not impossible, to quantify accurately. Perhaps a structured study of the auction market can help in devising a well defined estimate of the size of the illicit market for antiquities, tribal art, and other cultural artifacts.
ARCA Blog: You will be teaching the course tentatively titled, “Cultural Security: Interrelations of art crime, foreign policy and perceptions of security.” Could you elaborate for our readers on what you will discuss in the classroom, the books you might assign, and what you think your students might discover while exploring this topic?
Dr. Nemeth: Cultural security is a rapidly evolving field. I expect to expand on what the course will cover between now and the summer, but here is what I have in mind so far. I will start with what I would call a traditional understanding of the relationship between culture and security, namely protection of artworks and historic structures during wartime and restitution cases for and repatriation of cultural property after conflict. I plan to examine the relationship in different periods—World War II, the Cold War, and the post-Cold War—which have shaped the political clout of cultural property. The post-Cold War provides a lead-in to a perceptual dimension of the relationship with the targeting of religious monuments in political violence. The simultaneous increase in the financial volume of the art market since World War II adds an economic dimension and forms a relationship between culture and financial security.

I consider myself an integrator of various disciplines in pursuit of an understanding of the evolving role of culture in identity and perception of security, and I anticipate that the students may have greater depth of knowledge than I in particular areas such as history of art, archaeology, criminology, and law. I trust that the students will gain an appreciation for the potential of bridging disciplines to enhance and expand their own areas of specialization. Accordingly, I plan to assign readings of cross-disciplinary studies. Here are a few examples of potential sources. Art and Crime: Exploring the Dark Side of the Art World brings together scholars from a range of disciplines, and Cloak and Trowel by David Price creatively examines the controversial relationship between security-intelligence services, anthropologists, and archaeologists. On the perceptual side, science can lend insight into the emotional and symbolic significance of artworks, and Inner Vision by Semir Zeki provides an intuitive introduction to the field of neuroaesthetics. I have other sources in mind, and I suspect that I will work in some of my own publications as well.
Additional information may be found about Dr. Nemeth’s work at http://culturalsecurity.net.

November 3, 2009

ARCA Talks in the US this November

ARCA is pleased to announce the following events taking place in the US during the first two weeks of November.

Nov 5
11am
Marriot Hotel and Conference Center
Philadelphia, PA
ARCA trustees Erik Nemeth and Noah Charney present at the American Society of Criminology conference (open only to conference registrants)

Nov 7
4pm
Walters Art Museum
Baltimore, MD
Spotlight: Gary Vikan and Noah Charney
A conversation with the Walters Museum director and ARCA director Noah Charney

Nov 10
8am-4:30pm
Wexler Center for the Arts
Ohio State University
Columbus, OH
Library and Archive Security
Travis McDade and Noah Charney present a workshop on archive theft and security strategies, in collaboration with IFCPP (open to the public)

Nov 11
9am-4pm
Henry Lee School of Forensic Science
University of New Haven
New Haven, CT
Noah Charney gives an all-day workshop on how a knowledge of the history of art theft can be used to protect and recover art in the future

Nov 12
530pm
Yale Art Gallery
New Haven, CT
"The Most Stolen Painting in History"
Noah Charney speaks about his next non-fiction book, entitled Stealing the Mystic Lamb, a monograph on the art history and criminal history of Jan van Eyck's The Ghent Altarpiece, the most frequently stolen masterpiece of all time.
The talk will be followed by a book release party for ARCA's essay collection, ART & CRIME: EXPLORING THE DARK SIDE OF THE ART WORLD. The party will be held after the talk, across the street from the gallery at Atticus Bookstore Cafe. All are welcome.