“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.”
Douglas Preston, author of The Monster of Florence:
"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."
Lucette Lagnado, author of The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit:
“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."
« New Policies on Antiquities |
| A Fan of 'Loot,' with thanks »
The debate over restitution of treasures from antiquity is only rarely troubled by facts, but recently some have emerged to embarrass the Greek government, and spark a response. Tourists and travel companies have been complaining that too many ancient sites, including Delphi, where the famed oracle sat upon Mount Parnassus, or Delos, the island where Apollo had his mythical home (pictured), are poorly maintained or too often closed to the public. Until complaints changed the policy this month, Delphi was only open until 1 pm; the museum of Delos was closed until last week for lack of staff, according to this account in the Guardian newspaper. "The situation at museums and sites around the country is bad," the culture minister, Michalis Liapis, conceded in parliament last week. "It has to be corrected." The government has quickly voted funds for extra staff for museums and sites that have been otherwise closed. But this is an ongoing problem in all the countries that have been clamoring for the return of their treasures from Western museums like the Metropolitan, the Getty, the Louvre, the British Museum. The problem is one of hypocrisy. Countries like Greece cannot justifiably demand the return of objects taken in recent decades by looters, or a century ago by imperial-minded "collectors," if they cannot adequately care for the objects and sites they already have. But reality is a harsh taskmaster. Caring for antiquities costs money. The answer lies not in pointing fingers, as is suggested by the article in the Guardian. The answer - the only possible answer - lies in recognition that the responsibility for preservation lies with us all. That concern, the concern over preservation, must take precedence over the issue of possession.