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International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy Queensland University of Technology 2202-8005 The International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy is an open access, blind peer-reviewed journal that publishes critical research about challenges confronting criminal justice systems around the world.  The Journal is committed to democratising quality knowledge production and dissemination. Authors retain copyright and articles are licenced via Creative Commons to make published articles more readily available and useable. There are no APCs (Article Processing Charges). Authors can submit and publish at no cost.
International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy 9 3

Private ‘Rescue’-by-Purchase of Stolen Cultural Goods: The Material and Social Consequences and the Complicity of Europe and North America


‘Rescue’ has long provided a justification for the handling of illicit cultural goods, yet the specific consequences of this practice have not been systematically documented. This paper draws on historic, recent and still-emerging cases around the world to assess the resurgent argument that looted antiquities and stolen artefacts should be rescued through purchases made by private collectors. It shows that the practice is promoted by politically exposed persons, who use it for money laundering and reputation laundering; that proceeds from the practice may be received by transnational organised crime groups; and that its social and political acceptability is exploited to facilitate fraud and embezzlement.

While many of these cases demonstrate complicity on the part of elites and authorities within the societies that are victimised, they are emblematic of the global structure of this enterprise. They also reaffirm the complicity of markets and authorities in the Global North/West in illicit flows of cultural assets that are exceptionally harmful to societies in the Global South/East.

Section: Online First
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Author Biography

Norwegian Institute in Rome, University of Oslo
Italy Italy

Dr. Samuel Andrew Hardy is the Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in Cultural Heritage and Conflicts at the Norwegian Institute in Rome, University of Oslo. He is also an expert in the Alliance to Counter Crime Online (ACCO) and the Association for Research into Crimes against Art (ARCA), an adjunct professor at the American University of Rome and an honorary lecturer at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London.