|From a farmer's field in Cambodia to a mantle in a New York penthouse, the path of a looted antiquity is profitable for some, but leaves behind a wide swath of economic, environmental and cultural degradation. Despite increased awareness and global attempts at enforcement, the growth of the illicit antiquities trade into a $4 billion market is a clear sign that there are more rewards than actual risks. However, according to this report from the Milken Institute, an overhaul of incentives could change the market to create significant cultural and economic value.
According to "Financial Innovations for Developing Archaeological Discovery and Conservation," there are market-based solutions that can promote legal discovery and conservation, while at the same time stop or at least mitigate the effects of looting. The report offers three possible solutions to explore: long-term leases for museums and exhibitions, museum/collector partnership sponsored digs and the design and development of archaeological development bonds.
The report is the result of a Financial Innovations Lab, designed by the Milken Institute. In January 2008, the Milken Institute, renown for its understanding of market mechanisms and financial tools, with assistance from the Cultural Policy Center at the University of Chicago, gathered an esteemed group of economists, museum representatives, attorneys, collectors, antiquities dealers and members of the archaeology community to discuss potential regulatory and economic innovations and incentives.