The events in Syria are alarming not only for the oil market, but also antiques market participants who are familiar with the shocks that emerge in this market segment during invasions of U.S. forces in the Middle East. Pravda.Ru asked experts whether we should expect a collapse in prices for artifacts in connection with their release in the "black market" by the Americans.
The U.S. military has not yet invaded Syria engulfed in a civil war, and the possibility of such a turn of events is unlikely at this time because the Syrian authorities keep bringing the evidence that chemical weapons were used by the rebels. However, today connoisseurs of rare items and objects of mysterious Eastern countries expect a new surge in the antiques market caused by the desire of the American soldiers to get rich.
Looting is quite common for soldiers of the United States in the countries where they come to ostensibly restore order and peace. This became known after the landing of the soldiers in Iraq. During the Iraq war, the Americans have established cross-border supply of cultural values that subsequently were either kept as trophies or sold to some connoisseurs of rare things.
Experts estimate that during combat actions nearly 200,000 items of art and culture, much of which is of value not only for Iraq itself, but for the entire history of the world, were stolen from Iraqi museums such as Baghdad, Mosul, and others. The Iraqis likely contributed to the looting of cultural valuables. However, it is assumed that private collectors and dealers of stolen goods are behind the looting of artifacts. As noted by the U.S. Department of State Security Officer James Hayes, Jr., the illegal trade of cultural valuables is the third segment of the black market in terms of volume and profitability."
Valuables are stolen not only from museums and libraries, but also from ruined private homes. Therefore, contraband is classified into three categories: art and rare antiques, objects found in archaeological sites, and military paraphernalia. The proliferation of black markets, particularly in Europe and the U.S., is largely due to the unstable political situation typical for the Middle Eastern countries in recent years. Residents of the countries beset by civil war and revolutionary events collaborate with resellers and send valuable cultural objects across the border for the purpose of sale.
Is the demand for Arab art, including antiques from Syria that is facing a possible invasion of the U.S. Armed Forces that great?
"I would bring down the heat about the "black market" because the traditional antiques market is mainly formed by traditional things, and not highly specialized ones," shared his opinion editor in chief of the magazine "Antiques, Art and Collectibles" Igor Pelinsky. He believes the art of the Middle East to be quite specific. "Even if something special is brought from Syria, it's still quite a narrow segment of the market."
Moreover, according to the expert, it is unlikely that objects of high value are left in countries such as Egypt, Iran, Iraq, and so on. Even if something is smuggled across the border, these things are likely to be interesting to a small number of collectors. At the same time Pelinsky emphasized that looting of art by the Americans in any way should not be considered the American policy. "These are private criminal cases punishable by law with which the United States is actively fighting," the expert concluded.
In turn, General Director of Auction House "Russian Enamel" Vladimir Labazov noticed that there might be a slight uptick in the black antiques market in the case of the U.S. army invading Syria, but it is unlikely that this will be a significant raise that would affect pricing. "In general, this situation will not affect the civilized antiques market, and the prices will not change in any way. Some collectors will simply get some things that maybe they've always wanted to get. But the market as a whole of course will not be affected in any way. It cannot be affected, because it does not happen "in plain sight," and now mostly all of the processes take place in the open. Some collectors who have friends and acquaintances connected with it may get new things, but it will be difficult to legalize them, if not impossible. Therefore, the market as a whole will not be affected, it will be a redistribution of private things," summed up the expert.