It may not be the human-rights story following the recent nursing lawsuits in San Diego, but a San Diego Art Gallery is in hot water with the law. In a case which has already seen 1.3-million dollars in confiscated pieces removed from the gallery, criminal allegations are being flung.
Ivory, a coveted item among traders and poachers is outlawed as a sale item in the United States, and specifically in California since the ban in 2016. The gallery allegedly offered the sale of hippo teeth, elephant tusks and more. Ivory, which is still worth major money on the black market and among traders of rare goods has been sold in California despite the ban, but never at this professional level.
The San Diego attorney’s office is overseeing the case and has made it known that they won’t tolerate the use of ivory in sales items, calling it both reprehensible and senseless and a pointless waste of endangered species of animals. The prosecution is meant to stand not only as a message to the gallery, but as a promise to others that this type of behavior won’t be tolerated.
From the Gallery
Victor Cohen, gallery owner, could spend up to a year behind bars due to the conviction. Cohen won’t be alone however, as Sheldon Kupersmith, a salesperson from the gallery, is also up on charges and could see a fine of up to $40,000. Currently, the gallery is refusing to comment to the press regarding the debacle, but sales reports show that at least two different artful pieces containing illegal ivory were sold last May, leading to some of the charges being brought.
Following approval for a search warrant, San Diego police confiscated more than 150 items containing ivory from the gallery. No matter what animal the ivory was collected from, it’s still considered illegal to sell in the state of California. There are some exceptions to this rule, including instruments for practicing music which were produced in the early 1970s or before. These instruments must have less than 20% ivory. Some antiques are also allowed to be sold despite ivory content, but only if ivory makes up less than 5% of the product.
A Safer Future
While the endangered species in question aren’t native to California, San Diegans have worked hard to encourage the rights of creatures big and small. Animal rights activists have already begun their efforts to reduce animal exploitation and the theft and resale of ivory by educating the public on practices of companies like the gallery. Support has been pouring in, favoring the new prosecution and the hopes that it will prevent future situations like this from evolving.
The gallery may have been closed, but this is one of many businesses around California and the world which still dabble in illegal animal goods. Until all these products are removed and these practices are eradicated, endangered species will continue to become endangered until one day they are altogether extinct.
Watch the story unfold to learn more about whether the gallery will make it through the case unscathed or close permanently.