The stipulations of the amendment of the law on the Protection of Cultural Heritage in Germany threaten the collecting of cultural objects by private individuals. This law will effect everybody specialized in traditional collecting fields, such as books, stamps, furniture, ceramics, coins, classic cars and paintings. Retroactively, this new law will impose due diligence guidelines that are impossible to follow. When it comes to a dispute, the law will require, by reversing the burden of proof, the owner of a “cultural good” with a value of at least 2,500 euros to provide proof as to the item’s provenance for the previous 20 years; this affects “archaeological cultural goods” with a value as low as 100 euros.
This is an unrealistic demand which misrepresents most of the objects that are currently traded on the domestic and the international art market in full accordance with the law as being illegal, and will result in a considerable decline in value of the objects in question.
We therefore demand a law on the Protection of Cultural Heritage that observes the following principles:
- No retroactive effect of the law
- No reversal of the burden of proof
- Free movement, unimpaired by bureaucratic obstacles, of cultural goods which are not classified as “natural cultural heritage”, EU-wide, according to the free movement of goods
- An appropriate participation by the parties representing collectors and dealers in the law-makingprocess
For centuries collectors have protected cultural heritage. Private collecting adds to national efforts and promotes the tradition’s preservation in all its variety, in a way museums alone could never accomplish. Collecting is an immaterial cultural heritage that is currently threatened by the latest drafts of the new German law on the Protection of Cultural Heritage.
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