Published: May 5, 2016
HARTFORD, CONN. — A broad coalition of antiques dealers, auctioneers, institutions and residents have succeeded — at least temporarily — in blocking attempts to legislate a ban on the sale and trade of antique ivory in the state of Connecticut. On May 4, the House session ended with proposed bill HB5578 never coming up for a vote. “The efforts in emailing, calling and personally lobbying the legislators made all the difference, our voices were heard loud and clear,” said Colchester antiques dealers Arthur Liverant and Kevin Tulimieri of Nathan Liverant and Sons.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to the efforts of Director Thomas Loughman and senior curator Linda Roth of the Wadsworth Atheneum for their constant support and tenacious opposition,” said the dealers. “Even though the Atheneum received a blanket exemption, they clearly understood the harmful effects this proposed legislation would have on countless genuine antiques and historic artifacts. They acted in defense of the cultural heritage of Connecticut and have earned the respect of historians, antiques collectors and antiques dealers statewide.
Much credit for opposing the bill in the House of Representatives goes to Rep. Mitch Bolinsky of the 106th Assembly District (Newtown). Bolinsky took it as his personal mission to educate both Republicans and Democrats on the true science behind activist claims that there is a connection between the current senseless slaughter of elephants by ivory poachers and the historical artifacts that were created more than 100 years ago. Emphasizing that the proposed bill was not so much defeated as “not called,” Bolinsky told Antiques and The Arts Weekly, “Not having something bad happen can be considered a victory. We [both proponents and opponents] have a common enemy in the illegal trafficking of ivory and rhinoceros horn and it needs to be stopped. I’m hoping that we can work together in a non-adversarial way to get the right thing done, be fair to business and eliminate the illegal ivory trade.”
Said Rosie DeStories of Fairfield Auction of Monroe, Conn., “It was great how [Mitch] looked at all the scientific reports, investigative reporting and the data, then had the guts to stand up for this cause, unlike most politicians who like to straddle the line.” Added Liverant and Tulimieri, “His untiring efforts to clearly convey the reasons for our opposition to his colleagues are beyond admirable. Rep. Bolinsky was joined by our senior legislator, Rep. Linda Orange of Colchester, who worked diligently to allow our voices to be heard. Her defense of common sense legislation and attention to the concerns of her constituents is a shining example of state government at its best.”
The dealers echoed Bolinsky’s concern, however, that the ivory ban issue will not go away. “The proponents of the ivory ban are well organized and well funded, it will certainly be back again next year. Hopefully we can use this opportunity to create balanced ivory legislation in Connecticut, that will both protect the endangered species of Africa and the historic artifacts of our past,” said the Colchester dealers. “These two efforts are not mutually exclusive.”
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