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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 75348 Find in a Library
Title: Art Theft - National Stolen Property Act Applied to Nationalized Mexican Pre-Columbian Artifacts
Journal: New York University Journal of International Law and Politics  Volume:10  Dated:(Winter 1978)  Pages:569-611
Author(s): R Upton
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 43
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The 1977 holding of the Fifth Circuit in 'United States v. McClain' that the National Stolen Property Act (NSPA) applies to persons who import or handle certain foreign art objects nationalized by the country of origin is discussed in terms of impact on the art world and legal implications.
Abstract: In 1973 Joseph M. Rodriguez acquired approximately 170 pre-Columbian artifacts, and with the aid of four other defendants, he sold the artifacts to an undercover FBI agent. All five were arrested and charged with the transportation and receipt of stolen goods under NSPA. Application of NSPA to foreign property raises such issues as which nation's laws are applicable, who will enforce the judgment, and what degree of 'knowledge' that objects were 'stolen' is sufficient to sustain a conviction. Possible solutions to the problem of illegal traffic in art include action by museums or dealers, treaties, cooperation between exporting and importing nations through licensing, and strict port control. Mexican laws of nationalization of artifacts are seen as ineffectual and are actually contributing to the operation of a black market. The NSPA is shown to be not applicable to the facts in the McClain case, since it was intended to discourage the taking and receiving of stolen goods, not goods legitimately obtained. It is suggested that a reliable supply of artifacts be placed in the stream of commerce to check the growth of the black market. A total of 232 footnotes accompany the text.
Index Term(s): Art theft; Black market; International agreements; Judicial decisions; Laws and Statutes; Mexico; Theft offenses; United States of America
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