I read an interesting article yesterday as found in the Financial Times about collecting/selling/investing in ancient artifacts for whatever reason. The interesting bit starts:

"Just a few decades ago, dealers, auction houses and buyers felt much less pressure to trace back the ownership of an object to give themselves comfort that it had been legitimately sourced. Now, provenance has become a hot issue as buyers seek assurances that they are not buying illicit or looted works, in a climate where cultural ministries are increasingly challenging the ownership of objects that come up for public sale.

Jane Levine, Sotheby’s worldwide director of compliance, says: 'The market has changed in the past 15 to 20 years. If you’re a collector or dealer of antiquity.'

'We want to be able to verify provenance independently through documents and by using external, third party verification. The internet can also be helpful,' says Laetitia Delaloye, Christie’s London head of antiquities. 'We want to make sure there are no unexplained gaps'

Despite the greater focus on provenance, there are some in the academic community and in the culture ministries of archaeologically rich nations who believe that those in the antiquities market are not doing enough to ensure the objects that pass through their hands are properly verified. Buyers and their middlemen should themselves contact the relevant authorities in these countries, typically the culture ministry, to check that a work’s sale is legitimate."

For more, please read on here, due to copyright limitations on the article.