This is Carlos Picon, the curator of the Greek galleries, in front of a beautifully restored fresco from a home in southern Italy, only about 1,000 years old. This photo was taken on the day of the press preview of the new Greek and Roman galleries. He told me of the new collection: "We are being more transparent, even with the people who normally would like to remain anonymous.”
“Sharon Waxman has written a compelling page turner about the world of antiquities and art-world skulduggery. She manages to combine rigorous, scholarly reporting with a flair for intrigue and personality that gives Loot the fast pace of a novel. I enjoyed it immensely."
“Sharon Waxman’s Loot is the most instructive as well as the most intelligent (and the most entertaining) guide through the labyrinth of antiquity and the ways in which the claims of the departed intersect with the rights of the living.”
"Loot is a riveting foray into the biggest question facing museums today: who should own the great works of ancient art? Sharon Waxman is a first-rate reporter, a veritable Euphronios of words, who not only explores the legal and moral ambiguities of the conflict but brings to life the colorful -- even outrageous -- personalities facing off for a high noon showdown over some of the world’s iconic works of art. Vivid, witty, and delightful, this book will beguile any reader with an interest in art and museums."
“Sharon Waxman approaches her subject with the passion of a great journalist and the rigor of a scholar. It may never again be possible for some of us to walk down the halls of the Louvre or the British Museum or the Metropolitan without a vague sense of disquietude, a frisson of wonder about the provenance of some of their showcase works of ancient art.”
Karl E. Meyer, author of The Plundered Past and co-author of Kingmakers: The Invention of the Modern Middle East:
"Sharon Waxman’s Loot is indispensable for everyone concerned with the illicit trade in smuggled antiquities. She exposes the self-serving humbug that too often afflicts both affluent possessors and righteous nationalists and shows that we all have a stake in getting an honest account of how great objects came to rest in our grandest museums."
April 22, 2007
Beautiful. Breathtaking. Inspiring. I was in New York all last week, in part to be present for the opening of the new Greek and Roman galleries at The Met. The galleries, vast and spacious, have made room for no less than half of the Met's classical antiquities collection, which has been hauled out of mothballs and is now on view, gloriously, to the public. Read NYT critic Michael Kimmelman's view of the galleries here. The entire week seemed to be consecrated to one gala party, press preview, cocktail visit or another, peopled by the pearl-and-silk crowd of Manhattan. I was there because the Met, and the controversy over some of the antiquities in its collection, will be an integral part of the book that I'm working on, "Stealing From the Pharaohs." The Met is working hard to dispel the notion that there is any shadow of dispute over the provenance of its collection, and that the mission of museums is not in doubt. But it is a subject of debate, and the Met is correct to engage in it. Even now, the museum has on view two pieces it has loaned from collector Shelby White, that the Italian government wants to see returned. Watch this space, more to come on this.