Home 2020-03-26T11:20:41-04:00

The United Nations warns that cultural racketeering, the looting and trafficking of art and antiquities, is a multi-million dollar illegal industry that funds crime, armed conflict, and violent extremism around the world. However, when compared to similar transnational crimes, from arms running, to drug smuggling, to the illicit wildlife trade, there is much we still do not know. The demand for strong scholarship in this field is greater than ever.

The Antiquities Coalition Think Tank is filling this gap by bringing high-quality, innovative, and results-oriented research to the world’s decision makers, especially those in the government and private sectors. We join forces with international experts to better understand the challenges facing our global heritage, while developing better solutions to protect it. We invite you to learn more below. 

The Latest

  • Policy Brief

Do Archaeologists Have an Ethical Obligation to Report Looting? Protecting Antiquities and an “Ethical Double Standard”

Blythe Alison Bowman Balestrieri draws from a global survey on why many field archaeologist say they do not report archaeological site looting when they encounter it, and argues that the duty to report should be a central tenet of a field archaeologist’s professional ethics.

The AC Digs Into: Interdisciplinary and International Approaches to Cultural Heritage Preservation

AC author Seán Fobbe comments on the role of the international community in cultural heritage preservation, the importance of a multidisciplinary approach, and key legal instruments to protect cultural patrimony.

The AC Digs Into: The Destruction of Iraqi Cultural Heritage

AC author Seán Fobbe discusses the unique challenge of cultural heritage preservation in Iraq; the difficulty of prosecuting war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide; and broader patterns in cultural crimes worldwide.


The Antiquities Coalition unites a diverse group of experts in the global fight against cultural racketeering, the illicit trade in art and antiquities. This plunder for profit funds crime, armed conflict, and violent extremism around the world, erasing our past and threatening our future. Through innovative and practical solutions, we fight cultural racketeering head-on, empowering communities and countries in crisis.

One way we do this is through our Think-and-Do-Tank, launched in 2016. We partner with leaders in archaeology, business, law, security, and technology to conduct high quality research and put 

its lessons into action. Initially, the think tank will focus on policy briefs, concise and targeted documents that tackle critical and urgent issues. Importantly, these documents go beyond just describing the problem, and provide solution-oriented recommendations for addressing it. Subsequent think tank series will include case studies, examining preservation successes (or failures) and the lessons learned, as well as best practices papers. 

Together, these outputs help governments, law enforcement agencies, the private sector, and other decision makers better understand the challenges facing our heritage, while developing better solutions to protect it. 


Ricardo St. Hilaire
Ricardo St. HilaireCultural Heritage Lawyer

Ricardo “Rick” St. Hilaire, Esq., CIPM is an attorney whose legal practice emphasizes cultural heritage, nonprofit, criminal, museum, and international law.

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Lawrence Rothfield
Lawrence RothfieldUniversity of Chicago

Lawrence Rothfield is associate professor at the University of Chicago, where he is currently directing a research initiative on illicit antiquities markets.

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Neil Brodie
Neil BrodieUniversity of Oxford

Neil Brodie is a Senior Research Fellow on the Endangered Archaeology in the Middle East and North Africa project at the University of Oxford’s School of Archaeology.

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Steven Gallagher
Steven GallagherChinese University of Hong Kong

Steven Gallagher is an Associate Professor of Practice in Law at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, with expertise in property law, cultural heritage law, and legal history.

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Seán Fobbe
Seán FobbeRASHID International

Seán Fobbe is Chief Legal Officer of RASHID International, where he leads a team of elite lawyers in their fight to secure the international rule of law, end the destruction of Iraqi heritage, and establish accountability for international crimes.

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 Blythe Alison Bowman Balestrieri, Ph.D.
Blythe Alison Bowman Balestrieri, Ph.D.Virginia Commonwealth Univeristy

Blythe Alison Bowman Balestrieri, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice in the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government & Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University.

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