The Fallout of the Pandora Papers

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  • Title: The Fallout of the Pandora Papers: How Museums Are Responding and How to Handle Future Tainted Wealth and Art in the Market
  • Author(s): Katie Prinkey
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Common Ground Open
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum
  • Keywords: Ethics, Art Dealers, Looted Antiquities, Pandora Papers, Collections, ICOM, Provenance
  • Volume: 16
  • Issue: 2
  • Date: July 28, 2023
  • ISSN: 1835-2014 (Print)
  • ISSN: 1835-2022 (Online)
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.18848/1835-2014/CGP/v16i02/53-65
  • Citation: Prinkey, Katie. 2023. "The Fallout of the Pandora Papers: How Museums Are Responding and How to Handle Future Tainted Wealth and Art in the Market." The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum 16 (2): 53-65. doi:10.18848/1835-2014/CGP/v16i02/53-65.
  • Extent: 13 pages

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Abstract

In 2021, the Pandora Papers were released by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, revealing a global network of secret financial dealings by wealthy individuals and world leaders who took advantage of shell companies, offshore accounts, and tax havens. Although the data leak was shocking, the Pandora Papers sent waves through the museum world, revealing a darker side to art dealers, wealth, and museums. The art and museum world has latched on to one major player: Douglas A. J. Latchford (1931–2020). Latchford was the pre-eminent collector and dealer of Cambodian antiquities. Prior to the Pandora Papers, Latchford was under investigation for forging documents and dealing in looted art and artifacts. With the release of the Pandora Papers, museums have had to take the brunt of the criticism surrounding the data regarding Latchford’s shell companies and offshore accounts. Museum responses have been varied but are important and will set precedents for museum ethics, art dealers, collectors, and what happens when dealers or donors of objects lose their reputation. The response to the Pandora Papers from museums is an opportunity to restructure relationships between the market and the public museum. Using publicly available information, I examine how codes of ethics from museum governing bodies fall short of addressing the issues raised by the Pandora Papers. A lack of guidelines has also added to reputational harm. I focus my response on the three following museums: the Met, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Denver Art Museum. I then offer a range of solutions to move forward at the institution level, at the museum association level, and at a broader government policy level.