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The argument for its removal was that as the exhibition charged a fee, a financial benefit was being realised by this piece of unworked ivory.

I think this raises an interesting and potentially devastating point which the government – in its haste to introduce a near total ivory ban – is overlooking.

If you take that precedent and then apply it under the new proposed ban, then every museum and public display in the country that makes a charge or receives ‘a financial benefit’ from its collections could, legally, display only antique objects containing ivory which met the stringent de minimis or 100-year-old portrait miniature exemptions, or were over 100 years old and deemed among ‘the best and most important’ of their type.

One assumes that they would all need to be individually registered and assessed – possibly by the members of the very museums that own them – and the correct fees paid.

The argument might be proposed that every object within a museum collection was of cultural importance and they would automatically be deemed exempt. But there are many domestic objects within our museums (rightly, so I might add) and surely exempting them might stand as a precedent for every similar object to come onto the market?

It would seem perverse for a board of museum curators to grant exemptions for their own domestic objects but not equivalent ones in private hands.

I am not even going to touch on the burdensome logistics that this may entail or the costs to the country’s museums, which may run into many (wasted) millions.

However, I am deeply worried that the next step in this frenzied cultural war against any historic object fashioned from ivory will be the removal of works of art from public display, either voluntarily or – as in this case – through the unwitting consequences of an ill-conceived and executed piece of legislation.

It may seem ridiculous to some to suggest this. But is it any more ridiculous than those who proposed a ban on gothic reliquaries to save elephants in the wild sounded just four short years ago?