Monday, 9 June 2008

Is it OK to smuggle Iraqui art?

" A former US Navy Lieutenant smuggled Iraqi modern art out of the country to sell in New York - with the artists' permission. Was he right to do so?
The current issue of New York magazine carries an interesting story about Christopher Brownfield, a former US Navy Lieutenant who smuggled more than 100 modern Iraqi paintings, sculptures and drawings out of Baghdad using the US Armed Forces Postal System.

There's no doubting the integrity of Brownfield's intentions: the work has been loaned to him by the artists in question on the understanding he will act as a middleman, selling it in the west and passing the profits back to the artists. So far, he's been good to his word: an exhibition has just opened at Manhattan's Pomegranate Gallery.

The fact still remains, however, that he lied about owning the work in order to sell it in America - and there have already been a few dissenting voices about his actions on New York magazine's website.

To his credit, Brownfield defends his actions and details his philanthropic quest on his own website. But the question is: where do you draw the line? If Brownfield can exploit the system so easily for good, surely that leaves the door open for less scrupulous characters?
(An article from Mark Hooper for The Guardian

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