U.S. Adopts Near-Total Ivory Ban

The move is the latest step in the Obama administration’s fight against wildlife trafficking.


By Jani Actman
Say you find an old elephant ivory trinket in your grandmother’s attic that no one wants. How can you legally get rid of it?

According to new rules announced Thursday, there aren’t many options—at least if you were hoping to make a buck off the item.

The regulations, which take effect on July 6, amount to a near-total ban on the commercial trade of African elephant ivory. Current law allows for the sale of ivory and ivory products in limited cases where the seller can prove the ivory is old and was lawfully imported. But the new rules further restrict exports and sales across state lines, as well as limit ivory trophy imports to two per year, per hunter. Ivory trophy imports are currently unlimited.

“Today’s bold action underscores the United States’ leadership and commitment to ending the scourge of elephant poaching and the tragic impact it’s having on wild populations,” said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell in a press release.

Poachers kill some 30,000 elephants a year in order to feed the global demand for ivory, with China by far the largest consumer, according to a 2010 report. The United States is among the world's largest consumers of wildlife and remains a significant ivory market, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says.

According to the agency, wildlife traffickers have exploited previous regulations allowing for a legal trade in ivory and the new rules will go a long way in helping law enforcement more easily distinguish legal from illegal ivory.

They also mark another step toward fulfilling President Barack Obama’s 2013 executive order to combat illegal wildlife trafficking. Since then, the administration has inched toward shutting down the country’s elephant ivory market. Thursday’s announcement marks another milestone, and it fulfills an agreement with China made in September to restrict each nation’s domestic ivory trade. (China has yet to take any significant public steps toward that goal.)

This brings us back to that ivory trinket dilemma. 

Read more: U.S. Adopts Near-Total Ivory Ban

Scrap metal find turns out to be $33 million Faberge golden egg

goldenegg(CNN) A $14,000 jumble sale find turned into millions of dollars for a man who'd been thwarted in his attempts to turn a quick profit by selling the tiny ornament to scrap metal dealers.

The man, who hails from the Midwest but wishes to remain anonymous, had been left financially stretched after he apparently overestimated what the tiny golden egg would be worth once melted down. He'd been hoping to make $500.
In a fit of desperation one night last year, he typed "egg" and the name engraved on the clock it contained -- "Vacheron Constantin" -- into Google.
His search brought up a 2011 article in Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper describing a "frantic search" for the object: the Third Imperial Easter Egg, made by Faberge for the Russian royal family and estimated to be worth 20 million pounds ($33 million).
Far from being a financial millstone around the scrap metal trader's neck, it appeared the golden egg might live up to its fairy-tale namesake and avoid the furnace with just a few scratches -- to assess its gold content -- to show for it.
The man contacted Faberge expert Kieran McCarthy and flew to London to visit McCarthy's workplace: Wartski jewelers in Mayfair, where the egg will be displayed to the public for only the second time, from April 14 to 17.
'Holy Grail of art and antiques'
McCarthy said he had no warning about the visit. 
"A gentleman had walked in wearing jeans, a plaid shirt and trainers. His mouth was just dry with fear," McCarthy said, to the extent that he could barely speak. "He handed me a portfolio of photographs, and there was the egg, the Holy Grail of art and antiques."
Though he had not handled the egg itself, McCarthy said, he was "buzzing from top to toe." He flew to the man's home to see the object in person and confirmed that it was indeed the Third Imperial Egg.
The finder "just can't believe his luck," McCarthy said. "It's almost an affirmation of his existence that this happened to him."

Inspection of King Tut’s Tomb Reveals Hints of Hidden Chambers

Secret doors may conceal the burial chamber of Queen Nefertiti, but tantalizing clues await further testing.

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An elevated view of King Tut’s tomb shows two walls that may contain concealed doors leading to other rooms.

By Peter Hessler, National Geographic

LUXOR, Egypt—Nearly a century after the rediscovery of King Tut’s tomb ignited a worldwide craze for Egyptology, new findings could turn out to be almost as stunning.

On Monday, after a group of Egyptian and foreign archaeologists examined the famous tomb, Egypt’s antiquities minister confirmed that they found evidence suggesting the existence of two previously undiscovered rooms.  “This indicates that the western and northern walls of Tutankhamun’s tomb could hide two burial chambers,” minister Mamdouh Eldamaty told the Egyptian state press.

(Learn more about King Tut's tangled family tree.)

“To be honest, I feel numb,” Nicholas Reeves, the archaeologist who first proposed the existence of the hidden rooms, said in his Luxor hotel room, after inspecting the tomb. “This has been part of my life now on a daily basis for more than a year.”

(Read about the mystery of King Tut's death.)

Earlier this year, Reeves published a paper in which he claimed that the tomb of Tutankhamun, an 18th-Dynasty pharaoh who died around 1323 B.C., includes two doorways that were plastered and painted over.

In Reeves’s theory, these doorways are among several clues suggesting that the tomb was originally built for another ruler—Nefertiti, the principal wife of Akhenaten, who is believed to have fathered Tutankhamun with another wife.

Read more: Inspection of King Tut’s Tomb Reveals Hints of Hidden Chambers

Modigliani's 'Reclining Nude' sells for $170 million at Christie's

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Auctioneers at Christie's expected Modigliani's "Reclining Nude" to go for $100 million.

"Reclining Nude," the century-old painting by Amedeo Modigliani, sold for $170,405,000 at a Christie's auction on Monday.

There were five bidders for the work and the auction lasted nine minutes. The Long Museum of Shanghai, founded by collectors Lui Yiqian and his wife Wang Wei, is the new owner of the painting.

This is the second-highest price for a painting sold at auction. Christie's had hoped the painting, made in 1917 and 1918, would fetch $100 million.
Christie's said the painting "caused a scandal" when Modigliani exhibited it nearly 100 years ago in Paris. Police were "outraged by the content of the show" and ordered it closed.

Now art is a hot commodity.

Roy Lichtenstein's 1964 pop art "Nurse," one of his signature comic book style paintings made with colored dots, sold Monday for $95,365,000. That's an auction record for Lichtenstein.

Read more: Modigliani's 'Reclining Nude' sells for $170 million at Christie's

The Thrill of Treasure Hunting . . .

new untouched royal tomb peru gold 68843 600x450South America's Earliest Empire

Photograph by Daniel Giannoni

Images of winged, supernatural beings adorn a pair of heavy gold-and-silver ear ornaments that a high-ranking Wari woman wore to her grave in the newly discovered mausoleum at El Castillo de Huarmey in Peru.

The Wari forged South America's earliest empire between 700 and 1000 A.D., and their Andean capital boasted a population greater than that of Paris at the time. Today, Peru's Minister of Culture will officially announce the discovery of the first unlooted Wari imperial tomb by a team of Polish and Peruvian researchers. In all, the archaeological team has found the remains of 63 individuals, including three Wari queens.

—Heather Pringle

Published June 27, 2013

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