Title

Stealing History: How does Provenance Affect the Price of Antiquities?

Document Type

Working Paper

Date of This Version

6-1-2011

Abstract

In 1982, the United States passed legislation that partially implemented the UNESCO Treaty, the Cultural Property Implementation Act. Despite the fact that the United States signed onto this treaty, it was common knowledge in the antiquities world that the enforcement of these laws has been lax, and the illegal sale of artifacts has continued. In December 2005, the Italian government took the Curator of Antiquities at the Getty Museum Marion True and Robert Hecht (a well-known antiquities dealer) to trial for conspiracy to buy and sell looted artifacts. This paper tests whether a good provenance increases the price of an antiquity and also whether the impact of appropriate provenance has changed since the trial began. To test these hypotheses, a hedonic regression on sales prices of provenanced and unprovenanced artifacts is estimated. We find that provenanced items are indeed selling for higher prices after 2005, ceteris paribus, which is evidence that the art market has responded to the law suits.

Working Paper Number

1105

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