• Aphrodite of the Muckrakers

    Chasing Aphrodite: The Hunt for Looted Antiquities at the World’s Richest Museum is the story of how the J. P. Getty Museum has collected Greek and Roman antiquities since its inception in 1953, told from the inside out. The authors, Jason Felch and Ralph Frammolino, both reporters from the Los Angeles Times (Frammolino has since moved on), have assembled an extraordinary array of sources with which they tell a story the Getty wants no one to know: how the museum knowingly purchased looted and fake antiquities, misled foreign governments in their attempts to reclaim stolen property, laundered stolen antiquities through an illegal tax scheme and adopted extraordinarily conservative acquisitions policies while at the same time actively buying ...

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  • Good Guy or Bad Guy?

    A European art and antiquities collector recently opened a museum of his collection in France. His action to share the collection with the public is perhaps more admirable than hoarding it all in a private home. But it is the “compulsive collecting” in the first place that causes so many problems, and this article in particular glorifies his “philanthropy” while neglecting any realities about how these antiquities were brought to the market and acquired.

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  • Heritage, Looting and Vandalism in the Southwest US: The Good and the Bad

    Two new articles have come to my attention today, both courtesy of the Museum Security Network. The first article discusses the work just now beginning to restore the vandalised rock art of Red Rock Canyon, outside of Las Vegas; a “Sistine Chapel” of Fremont-culture rock art. The main perpetrator of the crime was arrested in December, and awaits a verdict on charges of placing gang-related graffiti; a crime that carries a possible five-year jail sentence and a fine of $100,000 dollars. The original reporting and damage assessment of this and similar vandalism events in the area have been previously discussed (here and here).

    Fortunately, donations poured in from all over as soon as the Bureau of Land Management and two NGOs ...

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