This Forbes article (link below) gives Peter Aldrich's ideas on antiquities from the view-point of a collector. I don't agree with the feasibility of most of his suggestions, but it's important to keep the debate going about how to clean up the antiquities market.
I had a chat recently with a journalist writing a piece about collecting antiquities for the FT. We stuck to discussing the collectors who had chosen to make their collections public - Leon Levy & Shelby White, George Ortiz, Christian Levett - and how attitudes of collectors to looters had changed.
There's a lot of 'bad press' about collectors on some blogs, seemingly linking them directly to looting. The truth is that most collectors are trying to go out of their way to buy material that was not looted, and they know that if items turn out to be looted they'll have to return them - and will loose the money they paid for the item. So in financial terms it's simply not worth buying smuggled art.
Mrs White has returned a few items to Greece and Italy in recent years, but as a percentage of the collection she and her late husband put together, this is minute. She and her husband have funded excavations, publications and a great deal of scholarship - although her critics tend to forget this.
Levett is actively collecting on a large scale, and going out of his way to buy pieces with solid provenances: he's also displaying part of his collection in his Mougins Museum of Classical Art, so clearly feels secure in his belief that they were not looted.
I took the time out to wonder, if I were a collector, what would I do differently, because we academics always like to critique how we'd do things better ... But as much as I hate to admit it Levett's a model collector, doing it by the book.
There are some dodgy collectors out there buying pieces they know to have been dug up clandestinely and smuggled, but most of those are, as far as I'm aware, in the Middle East and Asia (notably Japan). No serious Western collector would, for example, go near any of the antiquities recently looted from Benghazi.