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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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January 23, 2009

Egypt Demands Artifacts Return from Sweden

From BBC News:


Egypt has asked Sweden for the return of 212 artefacts taken out of the country in the 1920s.

Egypt's chief archaeologist Zahi Hawass said they were taken in an "illegal manner" by Swedish collector Otto Smith from locations like Saqqara and Luxor.

He said lawyers for the country's Council of Antiquities have contacted Sweden's Ostergotlands County Museum.

The museum confirmed Egypt was seeking to recover about 200 items, but was awaiting a formal request.

Museum director Maria Jansen said she had been contacted by the Egyptian Embassy in Stockholm about the matter, but could not comment further.

She said the items were one of the museum's most "important" collections.


Mr Smith took the objects home to Sweden with him, and after his death his family gave the pieces to the Ostergotlands Museum, asking the museum to look after them, according to Mr Hawass.

Mr Hawass claimed the museum displayed some of the artefacts in its restaurant, which caused damage and neglect.

He added that the Smith family has now accused the museum of breach of contract and also wanted the pieces returned to Egypt.

The family could not immediately be reached for comment.

Mr Hawass said the objects include items from the pharaonic era and ancient Egyptian Coptic pieces.


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