Consultation begins on proposed EU efforts to tackle illicit trade in cultural property

As homegrown efforts to counter the illicit trade in cultural property progress though the UK Parliament, the European Commission has begun consulting on a proposed EU import licence system to tackle the problem.

The Consultation on Rules on the Import of Cultural Goods opened on 28 October 2016 and is part of EU efforts to “protect cultural heritage, fight illicit trafficking, prevent terrorist factions from acquiring income through cultural goods sales and promote legal trade in cultural goods in the EU and worldwide.”  Continue reading

Fears for the fate of cultural heritage sites after devastating earthquake

As rescue efforts continue in the wake of the 6.2-magnitude earthquake which struck Italy on Wednesday (24 August) there are fears for the fate of cultural heritage sites and some 3,000 works of art.

Cultural Minister Dario Franceschini has emphasised that the government’s first priority is with saving lives and according to reports, the death toll from the deadly quake stood at 267 this morning (26 August) and families of the deceased are preparing to hold the first funerals. Continue reading

Italy makes €1bn investment in its heritage

The Italian government have announced that they will be investing €1bn into museums and cultural sites across the country.

It will be the “biggest investment in cultural heritage” in Italy’s recent history, culture minister Dario Franceschini told The Telegraph. “These projects will start straightaway. These are not just announcements, but initiatives that have already been deliberated and financed,” he added.

The money, which will come from regular government budgets until 2020, will be allocated to 33 cultural places. The ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum and the Uffizi Galleries in Florence are among those that will benefit. An 18th century stone prison, designed by British philosopher Jeremy Bentham on the island of Santo Stefano, will receive €70 million – the largest proportion of the funds.

It marks a new direction for the country, whose struggling economy has meant that it has had to rely on private benefactors and corporate sponsors to help preserve and protect its world-famous heritage. Artnet news points out that luxury group Tod’s paid €25 million to refurbish Rome’s Colosseum in 2012, fashion house Fendi paid $2.2 m (£1.5m) to restore the Trevi Fountain in 2014, and jeweler Bulgari donated $2 million (£1.3m) to repair the Spanish Steps in 2014.

The government are hopeful that much of the money will be recouped through tourism.

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Sex Pistols’ townhouse studio receives Grade II* listing

The 17th century townhouse in which punk band the Sex Pistols lived and recorded their music has been given the second highest heritage grade available.

Earlier this week, Number 6 and Number 7 Denmark Street in London’s Covent Garden received Grade II* listings from Historic England (formerly English Heritage). Band manager Malcolm McLaren leased the outbuilding at Number 6 as a base for his new group, the Sex Pistols. The band used it as a rehearsal studio and living quarters between c1975 and 1977. Continue reading

Task force established to protect cultural heritage in conflict zones

A landmark accord was signed in Rome yesterday (16 February) establishing an emergency task force for the protection of cultural heritage in conflict zones.

The agreement was signed by UNESCO’s Director-General, Irina Bokova, and Italy’s Minister for Foreign affairs, Paolo Gentiloni inside the 1st century Baths of Diocletian. It commits the Italian government to deploying cultural heritage experts to protect endangered cultural property at the request of UNESCO Member States. Continue reading

Italy celebrates the return of stolen artefacts

After a catastrophic week for its prized art collections, Italy is celebrating the recovery of five frescoed stone slabs stolen from the ancient city of Paestum, which went on display in Rome on Thursday (26 November).

Dating from around 300 BC, the frescoes were removed from ancient tombs in Paestum near Naples during an illegal dig in the 1990s. Paestum was originally founded by the ancient Greeks and boasts hundreds of ancient tomb sites.The frescoes depict a noble lady and her slave girls, a warrior on horseback and a young armed man walking with a donkey. According to Paestum site director, Gabriel Zuchtriegel, they offer a valuable insight into aristocratic life in the 4th century BC. Continue reading

Francois Hollande plans to protect artefacts looted by ISIS

Innovative legal measures to secure the fate of artworks and artefacts in the Middle East were announced by French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday (17th November),  Le Point magazine reports.

Speaking at the 70th General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris, President Hollande unveiled plans to crack down on illicit trafficking by ISIS. Continue reading