Cultural Heritage and Museums Lecture Series
Tess Davis. Photo Credit: Julia Brennan
Photo Credit: Tess Davis

Buyer Beware

The US Market for Ancient Asian Art Is Still the Wild, Wild East

Tess Davis, JD

Executive Director, the Antiquities Coalition


Wednesday, February 28, 4:30 pm

David Friend Hall, Yale Peabody Museum

Refreshments will be served


Art and antiquities have financed some of the last century’s worst actors—from organized criminals, to drug cartels, mafia syndicates, the Nazis, the Khmer Rouge, the IRA, al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and Daesh (ISIS). Yet public policy still treats the illegal trade in cultural property as a white collar victimless crime. The United Nations has taken commendable steps to cut off the global traffic in so-called "blood antiquities" from Iraq and Syria, but US art collections and sales remain full of suspect pieces from recent and even ongoing conflict zones further East, such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Cambodia. This lecture will explore a recent government crackdown on the illicit trade in Asian antiquities and the resulting implication of a top figure in New York’s art world.


Sponsored by the Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage, the FAS Office of Diversity and Faculty Development, and the Yale Peabody Museum. With special thanks to the Yale Anthropology Department and the Yale Archaeological Studies Program.