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This book begins with a critical re-examination of the rival Greek and British claims to the Elgin Marbles. That case study identifies the questions that still dominate the growing international debate about cultural property policy and are explored in subsequent essays: Why do people care about cultural property? Is cultural nationalism a sound organizing principle for dealing with cultural property questions? Or is it a relic of 19th-century romanticism, kept alive by the power of Byron's poetry?
How can cultural nationalism be rationalized with the idea that works of art and antiquities are "the cultural heritage of all mankind?" What alternative ways are there of thinking about cultural property policy and law? How may the contending interests of source nations, market nations, archaeologists and ethnologists, museums, collectors and the art and antiquities trade be evaluated and accommodated? Is there space for a licit international trade in works of art and other cultural objects?
The author examines in particular the law and policy relating to cultural property export controls and the evolution and development of the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention on the Return of Stolen and Illegally Exported Cultural Property. In the second part of the book the author addresses a number of contemporary art law issues in essays on counterfeit art, the moral rights of artists, the artist's resale right (droit de suite), the litigation over the Mark Rothko estate, and problems of museum trustee negligence, conflict of interests, and misuse of inside information.