Sunday, August 07, 2005
A rather curious little announcement in the national section of this week’s Antique Week (unavailable on line) caught my attention yesterday evening.
Dr. Pillsbury photo-shopped at the Baghdad Museum
Several Google searches deepened my curiosity.
The Antique Week announcement concerned the appointment of Dr. Edmund P. Pillsbury, great grandson of the cake mix founder, Yale graduate, former Yale University curator and 18 year Kimbell Art Museum Director in Fort Worth, TX, as the “Senior Fine Arts Expert” at the Dallas based Heritage Galleries and Auctioneers where "his expertise will be a significant factor in Heritage's expansion”.
Heritage Galleries and Auctioneers “is the third largest auction house in the United States with over $400 million in sales the past year in art, antiques, rare coins and currency, books and manuscripts”.
The Heritage Galleries press release describes Dr. Pillsbury as having a variety of antiquarian and cultural associations but neglects to mention his founding association with the Iraq War-tainted American Council for Cultural Policy.
According to a cached copy of a 2002 Art Newspaper article:
Art collectors and dealers…have formed the American Council for Cultural Policy to help defend and preserve Iraq's cultural sites and artifacts. They met with U.S. Defense and State officials in early January…the Council seeks to revamp the Cultural Property Implementation Act so that the U.S. cannot be as easily blocked from importing foreign antiquities…Another aim is to discourage the use of the 1977 US v McClain decision as a judicial precedent to target the trade and collectors by means of the National Stolen Property Act.
The 2002 Art Newspaper article continues:
The inaugural meeting of its 45-person Board of Advisers on 9 October , at the Fifth Avenue apartment of Guido Goldman, a collector of Uzbek textiles, drew the antiquities collector Shelby White, the former Getty curator Arthur Houghton (a vice-president), the former Kimbell Art Museum director Edmund Pillsbury, and the legal scholar Professor John Merryman. Lawyers from major museums were also there.
A Google of the American Council for Cultural Policy results in a spanking new web site, unavailable in searches made in 2003 and 2004, cleansed of Dr. Pillsbury’s name and all but the most wholesomely politically correct Iraq war associations.
According to the ACCP’s wholesome Statement of Purpose and contrary to the 2002 Art Newspaper description:
The American Council for Cultural Policy, a public charity created in 2002 is dedicated to enhancing knowledge and understanding of issues and policies affecting the collecting of works of art.
An April, 14, 2003-dated statement, on the new ACCP web site, by President Ashton Hawkins regarding the looting of the Baghdad Museum passively says:
The ACCP will seek to involve national and international cultural institutions…to find ways to shut off the import of objects that may have been taken from Iraq.
Without making any negative assumption whatsoever, it does seem most curious to me that Dr. Pillsbury, with his array of Yale and Texas associations, neglects to mention the ACCP involvement in his lengthy press release.
It also seems most curious that the Pillsbury-less and expensively-designed ACCP web site, unresponsive to Google searches in 2003 and 2004, is filled with duration-enhancing 1998 and 2002-dated papers and contradicts, with its Statement of Purpose, the reporting found in the 2002 Art Newspaper story, the no longer available, except for a quoted excerpt in my April 23, 2003 posting, April 15, 2003 weblog of a University of Virginia professor and several no longer available European newspapers.
Time might not wait for man but it can certainly assist in the blurred provenance of certain auctionable commodities.
Image: Reuters, HeritageGalleries.com