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Tina Brown:

“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."

Christopher Hitchens:

“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."

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October 07, 2009

Egypt Cuts Ties with Louvre Over Artifact Return

Hi all. I've been away building TheWrap for most of this year. "Loot" is now out in paperback, I"m delighted to tell you. Wanted to let you know I"ll be appearing in San Francisco later this month to speak about the book at the Fall Antiquities Fair. Details to follow.

This news comes courtesy of the AP -- our friend Zahi Hawass in Egypt has decided to make good on his many threats to Western museums over the years. He has cut ties with the Louvre - and cancelled an upcoming talk in Egypt by respected French Egyptologist Christian Ziegler - because the French museum will not return four reliefs from Luxor.

There is an amusing scene with Ziegler in 'Loot,' who at the time still headed the Egyptian Department at the Louvre. And Hawass has amusing things to say about her in the book.

Egypt cuts ties with France's Louvre museum

By PAUL SCHEMM

Associated Press Writer

CAIRO (AP) -- Egypt's antiquities department has severed its ties

with France's Louvre museum because it has refused to return what

are described as stolen artifacts, an official statement declared

Wednesday.

The ruling means that no archeological expeditions connected to

the France's premier museum will be allowed to work in Egypt.

Already a lecture in Egypt by a former Louvre curator has been

canceled.

"The Louvre Museum refused to return four archeological reliefs

to Egypt that were stolen during the 1980s from the tomb of the

noble Tetaki," near the famed temple city of Luxor, the statement

said, quoting antiquities head Zahi Hawass.

Christiane Ziegler, the former director of the Louvre's

Egyptology department, acquired the four reliefs last year and

displayed them, said the statement. She will now not be allowed to

give a scheduled lecture in Egypt.

Upon taking the helm of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities

in 2002, Hawass made recovering stolen Egyptian antiquities a

priority.

He issued a regulation, that he says was agreed to by all major

international museums including the Louvre, banning the acquiring

or display of stolen antiquities.

Hawass has made several high profile requests from the world's

museum for the return of Egyptian artifacts.

At the top of Hawass' request list are the bust of Nefertiti --

wife of the famed monotheistic Pharaoh Akhenaten -- and the Rosetta

Stone, a basalt slab with an inscription that was the key to

deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphics. The bust is in Berlin's

Egyptian Museum; the Rosetta Stone is in the British Museum in

London.

Hawass said Egypt also was seeking "unique artifacts" from at

least 10 museums around the world, including the Louvre in Paris

and Boston's Museum of Fine Arts.

Hawass also has written to request the bust of Anchhaf -- the

builder of the Chephren Pyramid -- from the Museum of Fine Arts in

Boston, and the statue of Hemiunu -- nephew of the Pharaoh Khufu,

builder of the largest pyramid -- from Germany's Roemer-Pelizaeu

museum.

Hawass long has sought items taken from Egypt, recently

succeeding in winning the return from France of hair stolen from

the mummy of Ramses II.

AP-ES-10-07-09 0847EDT

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