chapter  4
19 Pages

The destination market

WithSimon Mackenzie, Neil Brodie, Donna Yates, Christos Tsirogiannis

This chapter offers an organisational and structural perspective on the destination market for illicit antiquities. The destination market for antiquities can be construed as a mutually-engaged circulation of money, material and information. Its logic and action is to construct value and determine price, create the conditions of trust necessary for the orderly commercial exchange of objects, and to extract a monetary profit. It also functions communicatively, cognitively, and discursively to insulate participants from any direct or overtly criminal knowledge of transit and source markets. At destination, the antiquities market is subsumed within the larger art market, and is subject to many of the same laws, normative constraints and informal conventions of doing business. The art world acts culturally to create and sustain consensual belief in the symbolic qualities and values of art objects, and socially and materially to construct and maintain the market for their exchange. Experts of various kinds are part of the process of assessing and constructing value in the destination market, and the chapter considers the responsibility of these experts, looking at whether they are complicit facilitators of illicit trade. The chapter also reports analysis of types and amounts of provenance information circulating in the market, and whether this has changed over time. It concludes with a discussion of the antiquities market as a communicative system, and the proposition that promoting the better circulation of information in the market will be important in controlling the illicit antiquities trade.