SOURCE: Milken Institute

December 18, 2008 12:00 ET

Financial Innovations Can Help Preserve Cultural Heritage and Slow Illicit Antiquities Trade, According to Milken Institute

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - December 18, 2008) - Despite increased awareness and global attempts at enforcement, the illicit antiquities trade has grown into a $4-billion market that has left behind a wide swath of economic, environmental and cultural degradation.

To slow this growth, financial incentives can be created that will promote legal discovery and conservation while mitigating the effects of looting, according to a new report from the Milken Institute.

The report, Financial Innovations for Developing Archaeological Discovery and Conservation, is the result of meeting at the Institute earlier this year with a diverse group of players in the antiquities trade, including economists, museum representatives, attorneys, collectors, antiquities dealers and members of the archaeology community.

"An open, more efficient market can help address many of the problems that plague the antiquities trade, including poverty, corruption and environmental and cultural degradation," said Glenn Yago, director of capital markets at the Milken Institute. "The whole chain of events, from country of origin to museum or personal collector, needs a new set of legal market-based rewards."

The report offers three possible solutions, explained in detail in the report:

--  long-term leases for museums and exhibitions
--  museum/collector partnership-sponsored digs
--  the design and development of archaeological development bonds

As stated in the report, the legal market needs to provide incentives and rewards along each step in the series of activities from discovery to display.

"Unfortunately, countries that are rich with antiquities and archaeology are often economically underdeveloped," said Larry Rothfield, co-founder and research affiliate of the Cultural Policy Center at the University of Chicago, which assisted in organizing the Lab. "Many of them lack the resources to enforce basic anti-looting laws, let alone implement best practices or establish a legal industry in support of cultural heritage."

Financial Innovations Labs are part of the Milken Institute's continuing leadership in promoting financial innovations to help solve ongoing social, economic and environmental challenges.

The full report is available at

About the Milken Institute: The Milken Institute is a nonprofit, independent economic think tank whose mission is to improve the lives and economic conditions of diverse populations around the world by helping business and public policy leaders identify and implement innovative ideas for creating broad-based prosperity. It is based in Santa Monica, Calif. (

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