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eBay and the Economics of Looting

May 8th, 2009 by Chris Strauber

Charles Stanish of UCLA, writing for, has a fascinating description of eBay’s surprisingly positive effect on the black market for antiquities. It turns out the eBay, rather than making it easier to run a black market for real antiquities, has instead helped flood the market with reasonably high quality yet inexpensive fakes. By the operation of Gresham’s Law, the fakes are destroying the market for the really expensive actual antiquities…which are expensive because they are risky and expensive to acquire and sell.

Tisch owns several of Stanish’s works on Peruvian archaeology.

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