Ralph Frammolino on Chasing Aphrodite

Senta German speaks to journalist Ralph Frammolino about his new book co-authored with Jason Felch, Chasing Aphrodite: The Hunt for Looted Antiquities at the World’s Richest Museum from research to the writing process. Professor German recently reviewed the book for SAFE here. In this 50 minute conversation, Frammolino talks about the underhanded art dealings at the J. Paul Getty Museum and the complex scandal that unfolded. He discusses how the compulsion to own beautiful antiquities in Malibu, California, motivated tombaroli in Italy to loot ancient sites. He sheds light on the “smoking gun memo” and the moment that led prosecutors to indict the museum’s former antiquities curator Marion True. Frammolino’s description of the looters, middlemen, archaeologists, museum curators, prosecutors, journalists, who were all “Chasing Aphrodite,” is dazzling. The possibility that the statue may not depict Aphrodite after all (scholars now believe the figure is Persephone, Hera or Demeter) adds a touch of irony to the extraordinary saga. He describes the return of the statue to the Aidone Museum in Sicily in April 2011 (“She seems to be at home…”) and looks forward to a future in which long-term loans may lessen the need for American and European museums to acquire ancient objects. As Frammolino says: “Just like it takes a village to raise a child, often it takes a scandal to stop a bad practice.” Recording by Gary Pozner.
(June 02, 2011)

Ralph Frammolino on Chasing Aphrodite