Ms. Loll, as the founder and director of Art Fraud Insights, you’ve worked closely with the online art market, developing a proactive anti-fraud initiative for eBay that identified Suspect Sellers and quantified the vast number of listings in the Art Marketplace that contained deceptive information and were in violation of the Art Selling Policy. Do you sense a growing awareness in the legitimate market about the illicit trade in ancient art?
I think many people are still shocked to hear the scope of it. However, with all the press related to this issue, it is harder and harder for anyone to claim an innocent owner defense. There is no excuse for not understanding the importance of proper due diligence when purchasing antiquities. However, one issue that remains is that the definition of what constitutes “proper due diligence” is still very broad and subjective—and many don’t think this applies to online sales. Obviously, online sales are not exempt from proper due diligence practices.
In his brief, Dr. Brodie warns that cultural racketeering is putting both online companies and consumers at risk of unknowingly facilitating criminal activity, or even funding violent extremist organizations like Daesh (ISIS)? Based on your experience with art dealers and collectors, how big is this risk, and is enough being done to address it?
The risk is not just from purchases made on traditional e-marketplaces, but through illicit e-commerce sites, social media and the dark web. The vastness of these networks is hard to comprehend for the average consumer, especially when they may be new to purchasing art objects online. Through my research at eBay, we discovered that 2/3 of listings in our studied segment of the art marketplace did not conform to their own Art