Ian M. Goldrich


This Comment explores the various legal methods designed to protect cultural property and to prevent its illegal removal. Part I examines both international and U.S. efforts to prevent illegal removals of cultural property. This Part briefly outlines the history of cultural property protection, focusing upon the first international agreements to contain cultural property protections and their failure during World Wars I and II. Part I also explores post-World War II international efforts to protect cultural property during both peacetime and war. Finally, Part I analyzes U.S. efforts to prevent the importation of illegally removed cultural property through the application of the NSPA. Part II discusses the Case of the Gold Phiale, the first civil forfeiture proceeding against an illegally removed piece of cultural property under the NSPA. Part III argues that civil forfeiture is an improper mechanism for addressing the influx of illegally removed cultural property into the United States because it affords no protection to bona fide purchasers. Instead, the United States should ratify and implement the UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Property (“UNIDROIT Convention”), which requires the repatriation of illegally removed cultural property while providing fair and reasonable compensation to bona fide purchasers.