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Comments by YACCS
Saturday, April 01, 2006

I love that vase. I saw it on a dig last year

Shelby White is the force behind a $200 million gift to N.Y.U.

$200 Million Gift Prompts a Debate Over Antiquities

Published: April 1, 2006

It was a startling windfall, and one of the largest donations New York University had ever received: $200 million in cash and real estate for the founding of an ancient studies institute. The force behind the gift, the art collector Shelby White, described it as "the dream project of a lifetime" for her and her husband, the financier Leon Levy, who died in 2003.

Yet while many greeted the gift last week as an exhilarating bonanza, it is stirring intense debate among archaeologists across the country, and even at N.Y.U.

By accepting the money, some argue, the university is tacitly approving Ms. White's practice of buying Greek and Roman antiquities, including some that experts believe were looted from archaeological sites. Some scholars point proudly to policies adopted by their own institutions, including the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Cincinnati and Bryn Mawr College, to discourage or even ban the acceptance of Levy-White money.

To protest the donation, one professor has already resigned from N.Y.U.'s existing Center for Ancient Studies, an umbrella group that will continue to coordinate the university's study of antiquity across various disciplines.

"I simply no longer wanted my name to be affiliated with an organization that would accept such a gift without expressing severe reservations or even protest," said Randall White, a professor of anthropology who specializes in prehistoric art and technology and Europe's Paleolithic period. Mr. White's resignation from the center, which will not affect his teaching position, was first reported online by Science magazine.

"This is a major issue — the flow of antiquities through the art market," added Professor White, who is not related to Ms. White. "This is not a small issue cropping up by a few malcontents. This is something we fight daily to try to preserve the archaeological record."

Other professors at N.Y.U. are also concerned. "I think everybody wants to be able to look back in 20 years and say we were the vehicle for the best kind of scholarly research under the most ethical circumstances," said Laura M. Slatkin, a classics professor. "Our concerns are to ensure as much as we can that that's the case."

N.Y.U.'s president, John Sexton, said the university had no qualms about the donation. "Shelby White and her husband, Leon Levy, over time have done extraordinary things to benefit the advancement of knowledge, archaeology studies, the appreciation and love for antiquity and antiquities," he said in an interview.

But it's $200m

Jesus, anyone buying antiquities in this market knows they are playing around with stolen items from people who could have any number of criminal ties. The Greek and Italian government want their history back in their countries and under their control.

posted by Steve @ 12:04:00 AM

12:04:00 AM

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