Chasing Aphrodite: The Hunt for Looted Antiquities at the World's Richest Museum

Chasing Aphrodite The Hunt for Looted Antiquities at the World s Richest Museum In recent years several of America s leading art museums have voluntarily given up their finest pieces of classical art to the governments of Italy and Greece The monetary value is estimated at over

  • Title: Chasing Aphrodite: The Hunt for Looted Antiquities at the World's Richest Museum
  • Author: Jason Felch Ralph Frammolino
  • ISBN: 9780151015016
  • Page: 250
  • Format: Hardcover
  • In recent years, several of America s leading art museums have voluntarily given up their finest pieces of classical art to the governments of Italy and Greece The monetary value is estimated at over half a billion dollars Why would they be moved to such unheard of generosity The answer lies at the Getty, one of the world s richest and most troubled museums, and scandalIn recent years, several of America s leading art museums have voluntarily given up their finest pieces of classical art to the governments of Italy and Greece The monetary value is estimated at over half a billion dollars Why would they be moved to such unheard of generosity The answer lies at the Getty, one of the world s richest and most troubled museums, and scandalous revelations that it had been buying looted antiquities for decades Drawing on a trove of confidential museum records and frank interviews, Felch and Frammolino give us a fly on the wall account of the inner workings of a world class museum and tell the story of the Getty s dealings in the illegal antiquities trade The outlandish characters and bad behavior could come straight from the pages of a thriller the wealthy recluse founder, the cagey Italian art investigator, the playboy curator, the narcissist CEO but their chilling effects on the rest of the art world have been all too real, as the authors show in novelistic detail Fast paced and compelling, Chasing Aphrodite exposes the layer of dirt beneath the polished fa ade of the museum business.

    One thought on “Chasing Aphrodite: The Hunt for Looted Antiquities at the World's Richest Museum”

    1. We think of museums as quiet places run by brainy, arty people in tweed coats or sensible shoes, talking in MFA-speak. We don’t think of them as hotbeds of sex, betrayal, fraud, money-laundering, fencing stolen objects, political turmoil and intrigue. But as Chasing Aphrodite shows, a major American museum could be the setting for a fine soap opera, or Law & Order franchise.Chasing Aphrodite focuses on Los Angeles’ Getty Museum and Trust, the richest museum in the world, and thirty years [...]

    2. If you are into museums, history and archaeology then this is a book you will enjoy. It explains how one of the richest museums amassed its massive collection and how it lost it, why it lost it and how this was a cautionary tale to US museums to amend their acquisitions policies from them on.

    3. THis is one of those books that makes your jaw drop open after a few pages and remain there for the remainder of the book. It is a testimony to this book's attention-grabbing power that I read half of it during a nighttime transatlantic flight - hardly ideal reading circumstances.The book describes in detail how museums, especially the Getty Museum in LA, bought antique Roman and Greek art under that type of "don't ask don't tell policy". That is, the curators acquiring the art assumed that, if [...]

    4. This is an excellent book. The tale within of the downfall of the Getty Museum in California that was seduced by the illicit antiquities trade is an eye-opening tale to lay-persons such as myself who naively believed all antiquities in museums were there by honorable and sanctioned means. The book is well-written and engaging. My only complaint about the book is its ending. While former Getty curator Marion True was left to twist in the wind when the Italian government began prosecuting her for [...]

    5. This book focuses on the infighting and shady dealing of the Getty Museum in looted antiquities, mainly from Greece and Italy. But it also exposes the problem museums and private collectors generally create by supporting what, at least until recently, was a very poorly regulated area. Because museums and other collectors would pay almost any amount for the right statues, pottery etc. a huge market created an incentive to loot tombs, archaelogical sites, anyplace the material could be dug up. Thu [...]

    6. This was a fascinating read, I had no idea of this dark side of museum artifact collecting. The end got confusing, who was asked to leave the Getty museum, who was still on the board, who was consulting a lawyer, etc. The first half of the book was excellent, detailing the slippery slope, some deceitful and dubious collectors, how looting works and how there was a "dealer" who would sell the antiquities for a large profit to collectors and museums. I don't know how a museum specialist could unkn [...]

    7. The final third of this book stressed me out so much that I was certain any minor rule-breaking I've done at work was going to come back and haunt me. The story was fascinating, detailed, and engagingly written. What most struck me, though, was the incestuous tightness of the elite world of CSU and UC presidents, museum trustees, board members, major corporation heads, etc. Those revelations (to me, anyway) bothered me even more than the moral questions that came up around looted antiquities.

    8. Written in the typically plain style of most books written by journalists (in my experience that means some repetition and not quite enough technical bits), it's thorough, I would only wish for more photos. (I almost always want more than a book includes but this is about artwork after all.) It's thought-provoking about the ethics of collecting and what belongs to whom but remains neutral.

    9. A great behind the scenes look at the Getty Museum in LA. How its collections were acquired and the problems the museum and its staff experience as a result of the not so clean artifacts that are purchased and displayed. I suggest reading about the actual case in the LA Times before you begin the book.

    10. Pretty darn good! Terrifying how high this corruption ran and it'll put a chill in your heart to read what people are capable, but simply a must-read, especially museum folks. Knocked down a star because it got a bit too convoluted at the end and seemed a bit rushed, but just fantastic.

    11. I've been on an archaeological ethics kick lately. I just finished this book, "Chasing Aphrodite." Before that I read "Who Owns Antiquity?" by James Cuno, President and director of The Art Institute of Chicago. And before that, I read "Finders Keepers" by Craig Childs, a naturalist and desert environmentalist. They offer a point-counterpoint analysis of the complex issue of just what should we do with archaeological finds? Do they belong in a museum for all to see, an archaeologist's laboratory [...]

    12. Any interest in a story that involves tax-evasion, Swiss bank accounts, imaginary archaeologists, the mafia, bribery, money-laundering, art thieves, reclusive billionaires, ethically challenged CEOs, obsessed police investigators, and the world’s most incredible archaeological treasures?Pulitzer Prize finalists Jason Felch and Ralph Frammolino offer up just that in Chasing Aphrodite: The Hunt for Looted Antiquities at the World’s Richest MuseumThis is the story of the Getty. Truth is strange [...]

    13. No one who has read Thomas Hoving's books is going to be too surprised by this book which recounts the story of how the curators at the Getty Museum bought stolen artifacts for years before getting called on it. The funny thing is that the author says right near the very beginning of the book something about the Getty scandal bringing an end to the age of piracy -- which certainly isn't true. The traffic in stolen artifacts is alive and well. According to an article in this week's Money magazine [...]

    14. Whoooooo is this a good book. It dives into the decades long scandal centered around the Getty Museum in California, who engaged in years of purchasing of illicit antiquities that were looted from dig sites around Italy and Greece in the 1970s-90s. The amount of greed, disfunction and open misconduct by officials at this institution at the time, as this book details, is truly jaw dropping. I also enjoyed how the authors widen their scope at points to talk about the larger pattern of improper acq [...]

    15. Thoroughly researched, well written, and informative. It's a little disappointing that Marion True's motivations and reasoning remain mysterious to the end, but I understand why the authors didn't want to speculate.

    16. Very similar to the Medici Conspiracy, but solely about the Getty Museum's role in the stolen antiquity trade. A must-read if you are a fellow hater of Marion True.

    17. Horrifying account of antiquities and how they end up in our museums. Made me rethink paying to see them.

    18. The surprisingly hard-to-put-down Chasing Aphrodite traces how the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles built its impressive collection of classic artifacts along with its impressive reputation, only to see it crack in the wake of accusations of participating in an antiquities black market.Jason Felch and Ralph Frammolino build the book from their initial articles in the Los Angeles Times. The reports were finalists for the Pulitzer Prize in Investigative Journalism after the articles exposed the [...]

    19. Jason Felch and Ralph Frammolino, have produced an extraordinary look at the Getty Museum and its problems with stolen antiquities from Italy and Greece in their book, "Chasing Aphrodite". They go behind-the-scenes of the art/museum world; a world filled with shady deals, outright forgeries, money laundering, and backstabbing that will challenge the previously held view of the genteel world of art collecting.J Paul Getty, billionaire and antiquities collector, founded a museum to house his colle [...]

    20. Sometimes interesting reading with regard how rich people manage to overlook rampant theft and greed, and then to display art to themselves. Involves Getty museums' acquisition of statuary which clearly had been looted in Europe. Malibu poo-pooThe most interesting character was the Italalian prosecuting attorney who took them all down and got to have very good fish and chips over at Venice beach.

    21. Lovely! Clandestine.where the mafia meets the monied. Tedious, as I am not a fan of studying antiquities, however, remarkably written with undeniable knowledge and packed with information. Fascinated by the Harold Williams & Barry Munitz interplay. When Harold Williams stepped down, many departed and ran to other positions like UCLA and the Annenberg Foundation.

    22. We think of museums as quiet places run by brainy, arty people in tweed coats or sensible shoes, talking in MFA-speak. We don’t think of them as hotbeds of sex, betrayal, fraud, money-laundering, fencing stolen objects, political turmoil and intrigue. But as Chasing Aphrodite shows, a major American museum could be the setting for a fine soap opera, or Law & Order franchise.

    23. "Chasing Aphrodite" tells the tale of the (in)famous Getty Museum and their dangerous policy of curating looted and illegally exported ancient artifacts from the 1960s until the early 2000s. Jason Felch and Ralph Frammolino recreate these accounts through careful research of interviews, newspaper articles, transaction documents, and court depositions. While the main focus of the book is on the career of ex-curator Marion True, Felch and Frammolino also delve into the worlds of the Metropolitan M [...]

    24. "After such knowledge, what forgiveness?"The Getty is arguably one of the most well-endowed museums in existence. When Getty passed, his entire fortune and his stock portfolio went to his museum. What it had in money though it lacked in collections, which were sub-par at best. The curators at the Getty knew this, and put into action some dubious plans to better round out their collection.Some of the curators crimes include forging appraisals and provenance, giving false tax deductions, taking pe [...]

    25. Chasing Aphrodite: The Hunt for Looted Antiquities at the World's Richest Museum pick's up where Rogues' Gallery: The Secret History of the Moguls and the Money that Made the Metropolitan Museum leaves off. While Rogue's Galley traces the history of the Metropolitan Museum of New York and only lightly touches the story of certain objects believed to be purchased from looters, Chasing Aphrodite delves deeply into the murky history of the John P. Getty Musem in So. California. It starts from the b [...]

    26. Having lived in LA as a kid, I remember the Getty as one of my favourite places to visit (right up there with Disneyland); the location is beautiful, there are massive amounts of artwork and it's all free. I actually remember seeing some of the looted antiquities described in this book, which made this book all the more engaging for me. It's sad but not surprising to know that most of the artifacts in museums like the Getty have been looted and their archeological context reduced to footnotes in [...]

    27. A solid, readable account of acquisitional greed and hubris by the top antiguities museums, especially the Getty, and the effort by investigators to stem the tide of looted artworks. Like drug addicts, many wealthy American museums turned a blind eye to provenance and abetted in the dirty dealings of lotters, middlemen and curators. An amazing amount of wealthy shenanigans to avoid paying taxes involved as well (one wonders just how much better off the US treasury would be if all loopholes were [...]

    28. I read this book in anticipation of visiting the Getty Museum. I had a plane ride from Seattle to Southern California and I found this online at the Kindle store.Before reading this I never really thought too much about how museum's obtain their collections. I mean I did realize that over the centuries this or that country had plundered another country's art--I had seen the Egyptian obelisks all over Europe. But I never really tho0ught about what goes on behind the scenes at American museums.App [...]

    29. Wow! This is a great book. And, for non-fiction, it's quite a page-turner, too! If all non-fiction books were this well written and about investigation, I wouldn't need to read mysteries. However, the subtitle is a bit misleading. It makes it sound as though there was a time when no one knew there were looted artifacts in the museum. The subtitle should be more like "The Hunt for Honesty" or "The Hunt for Someone Willing to go Public" or "Scandals in the Art and in the Boardroom at the World's R [...]

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