Protecting Antiquities: A Role for Long-Term Leases?
Most countries prohibit the export of certain antiquities. This practice often leads to illegal excavation and looting for the black market, which damages the items and compromises the archaeological record. We consider the prospect of long-term antiquity leases and sales contracts with a pre-arranged repurchase option. Such mechanisms could raise revenue for the country of origin, while preserving long-term national ownership rights. We show that leases, which leave the country of origin in charge of future recontracting, are optimal mechanisms for resolving adverse selection, and that they have good properties for addressing corruption. Option contracts deliver more revenue now and are therefore useful for reducing credit constraints. Allowing those who disclose the existence of antiquities the right to lease objects overseas for a xed period could create incentives to reveal the location of hidden objects.
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