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The trade in stolen antiquities


The market in illicit antiquities operates globally and very profitably. It is also a market that takes advantage of poverty-stricken countries where people are willing to sell their heritage to survive, and legal loopholes in developed countries where the illicit antiquities are mainly bought. A report released by the Australian Institute of Criminology, "Regulating the Market in Illicit Antiquities", details some of the vulnerabilities to criminal activity in the antiquities market. Goods usually enter this illicit market via impoverished locals in the source country who sell illegally removed artefacts to local dealers. The goods then progress to international dealers, and finally end up with local dealers in the market country, or in the market for collectors and museums. As well as outlining this chain of supply, the report discusses how the market in antiquities is regulated internationally, namely through export prohibitions and transfer of ownership of certain artefacts to the state.

One example of a chain of supply from source destination in the illicit antiquities market



  • MacKenzie, S. 2002, "Regulating the Market in Illicit Antiquities", Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice, no. 239, Australian Institute of Criminology, Canberra.

Cite article

2002. The trade in stolen antiquities. Crime facts info no. 38. Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology. https://aic.gov.au/publications/cfi/cfi038