Home 2020-09-23T10:27:45-04:00

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

How Will Climate Change Affect Cultural Heritage? Recommendations for Mitigating Risks

Terry Townshend builds on recent developments by examining the climate change-related risks facing cultural World Heritage Sites and makes recommendations for how to assess and mitigate those risks.

  • Commentary

Do Archaeologists Have an Ethical Obligation to Report Looting? A Legal Approach

Justice Luigi Marini argues that a collaborative approach through the establishment of a network with authorities, the academy and the community at the national and local levels is needed to adequately support archaeologists who bear witness to looting in this Commentary.

  • Commentary

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 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 University

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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Luigi Marini
Luigi MariniHigh Court of Rome

Luigi Marini is Justice at the High Court of Rome, Italy. He has dedicated much of his legal career to protecting cultural heritage and countering corruption, organized crime, and terrorism.

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Terry Townshend
Terry TownshendClimate Legislation Study

Terry Townshend is a Beijing-based conservation and climate change expert with specific expertise on legislation, wildlife conservation and China.

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