Published  08/07/2003

Booty abounds

The combination of looted heritage from Afghanistan with that from Baghdad has suddenly created a buyer's market, with an evident surplus of works. There has been no useful analysis as yet about the trade routes for this spread of relics, Bronze Age bowls, votive plaques from Afghanistan or how they are mingling with mysterious lost/found /lost treasures from the Baghdad museum. Art sleuth Dan Cruikshank has been probing closer than most, but recently became silent following a dramatic television inquest by 'Maigret' Cruikshank. The London salerooms are also mysteriously silent about this mirage of investment opportunities. Forty-seven of the Baghdad museum's artefacts have not been recovered at this point, although London may have some clues. Too much knowledge is as uncomfortable in this world as too little. The one-day preview organised at the Museum did reveal one big success in the right direction – the amnesty that brought back many looted items on a 'no questions' asked basis. But who will put together the 15 pieces that were once the Warka Vase, a formerly five-foot high alabaster vase dating from 3,000 BC.

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