Books About Art Theft
ART AND CRIME: EXPLORING THE DARK SIDE OF THE ART WORLD
By: Noah Charney
Through the use of case histories and careful examinations., this book presents the first interdisciplinary essay collection on the study of art crime, and its effect on all aspects of the art world. Contributors discuss art crime subcategories, including vandalism, iconoclasm, forgery, fraud, peace-time theft, war looting, archaeological looting, smuggling, submarine looting, and ransom. The contributors offer insightful analyses coupled with specific practical suggestions to implement in the future to prevent and address art crime. This work is of critical importance to anyone involved in the art world, its trade, study, and security.
ART THEFT AND FORGERY INVESTIGATION: THE COMPLETE FIELD MANUAL
By: Robert E. Spiel
This comprehensive training manual gives you a heads-up grounding in the techniques used to conduct art theft and forgery investigation. Chapters include: User’s Guide and Art World Reconnaissance, The Victim Interview, The Offenders, Solutions and Recoveries.
ART THEFT AND THE CASE OF THE STOLEN TURNERS
By: Sandy Nairne
In 1994 two important paintings by J.M.W. Turner—then valued at twenty-four million pounds—were stolen from a German public gallery while on loan from the Tate Gallery in Britain. In this vivid, personal account, Sandy Nairne who was then Director of Programs at the Tate and became centrally involved in the pursuit of the paintings and the negotiations for their return, retells this complex, 8-year, cloak-and-dagger story, which finally concluded in 2002 with the pictures returning to public display at the Tate.
CHASING APHRODITE: THE HUNT FOR LOOTED ANTIQUITIES AT THE WORLD’S RICHEST MUSEUM
By: Jason Felch and Ralph Frammolino
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 the 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 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.
CRIMES OF THE ART WORLD
By: Thomas D. Bazley Ph.D.
On a March night in 1990, two men posing as police officers were let into Boston’s Gardner Museum. Nearly 20 years later, they and $300 million dollars worth of stolen paintings remain at large, making the heist not only the largest art theft ever, but the largest unsolved one as well.
DIPLOMACY AND DIAMONDS: MY WARS FROM THE BALLROOM TO THE BATTLEFIELD
By: Joanne King Herring and Nancy Dorman-Hickson (Contributor)
She’s been dirt poor; she’s been filthy rich. Rich was more fun. She married three times, divorced twice, found her true love, and lost him to cancer. At twenty-one, she was told she would soon die. She lived. Doctors said she’d never be able to have children. She had ’em. She’s bargained with God, dictators, and Democrats. She’s partied with princes, presidents, premiers, Barbara Walters, Anwar Sadat, Margaret Thatcher, Tom Hanks, and Francisco Franco . . . though not all at the same time. She captivated powerful men with her feminine charm, and then persuaded them toward unlikely political alliances through her formidable intelligence. She waltzed with Prince Philip in Buckingham Palace, dressed in men’s clothes and smuggled herself in a barrel across the Pakistani border, threw a Roman-themed party so extravagant it was featured in Life magazine, and survived a Soviet gunship attack in the mountains of Afghanistan.
GALLERY OF FOOLS: THE TRUE STORY OF A CELEBRATED MANHATTAN ART THEFT
By: Jerome Tuccille
After returning from a vacation in California with his wife and family, the narrator is reluctantly drawn into a crime involving the theft of eight Impressionist masterpieces from a Manhattan art gallery being perpetrated by members of his family. At the end he only escapes by the grace of a benevolent deity. In June 2007, one of the paintings, Monet’s “Nympheas,” sold at auction in London for $36 million. The narrator tries to find redemption in a quixotic political campaign for Governor of New York, only to have his life unravel before his eyes in a way he could not have foreseen. The failure of his campaign and the arrest of members of his family for their involvement in the crime lead to near financial ruin and the destruction of his marriage. In the end, he gets back on his feet, reunites with his wife, and finds his way back on to the path of redemption.
HEADHUNTERS (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard)
By: Jo Nesbo
Roger Brown is a corporate headhunter, and a master of his profession. But one career simply can’t support his luxurious lifestyle and his wife’s fledgling art gallery. One night, at an art opening he meets Clas Greve, who is not only the perfect candidate for a major CEO job, but also, perhaps, the answer to his financial woes: Greve just so happens to mention that he owns a priceless Peter Paul Rubens painting that’s been lost since World War II—and Roger Brown just so happens to dabble in art theft. But when he breaks into Greve’s apartment, he finds more than just the painting. And Clas Greve may turn out to be the worst thing that’s ever happened to Roger Brown.
HOT ART: CHASING THIEVES AND DETECTIVES THROUGH THE SECRET WORLD OF STOLEN ART
By: Joshua Knelman
Hot Art traces Joshua Knelman’s five-year immersion in the shadowy world of art theft, where he uncovers a devious game that takes him from Egypt to Los Angeles, New York to London, and back again, through a web of deceit, violence, and corruption. With a cool, knowing eye, Knelman delves into the lives of professionals including Paul, a brilliant working-class kid who charmed his way into a thriving career organizing art thefts, and LAPD detective Donald Hrycyk, one of the few special investigators worldwide who struggle to keep pace with the evolving industry of stolen art. As he becomes more and more immersed in this world, Knelman learns that art theft has evolved into one of the largest black markets in the world, which even Interpol and the FBI admit they cannot contain. Sweeping and fast-paced, Hot Art takes readers into a criminal underworld like no other.
LOOT: THE BATTLE OVER THE STOLEN TREASURES OF THE ANCIENT WORLD
By: Sharon Waxman
For the past two centuries, the West has plundered the treasures of the ancient world to fill its great museums, but in recent years the countries where ancient civilizations originated have begun to push back, taking museums to court, prosecuting curators, and forcing the return of these priceless objects. Sharon Waxman brings us inside this high-stakes conflict, from the great cities of the West to Egypt, Turkey, Greece, and Italy, as these countries face down the Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum, the British Museum, and the J. Paul Getty Museum. She shows how the actions of a few determined and implacable characters may yet strip these museums of some of their most valuable treasures.
MUSEUM OF THE MISSING: A HISTORY OF ART THEFT
By: Simon Houpt and Julian Radcliffe
Offering a thrilling introduction to the underworld of stolen art, this investigation reveals the little-known story of modern art theft and shows how the legitimate art market, with its hyped auctions and landmark sales, has ignited criminal interest in these high-end pieces. The photographs, illustrations, and case studies give a fascinating and detailed behind-the-scenes account of the major thefts during the past hundred years—ranging from Edvard Munch’s The Scream and looting during World War II and the Iraq wars to a brazen and bizarre theft of a two-ton bronze Henry Moore sculpture. A gallery lists the estimated value of each stolen piece, painting an overview of the cultural, historical, and economic losses.
PRICELESS: HOW I WENT UNDERCOVER TO RESCUE THE WORLD’S STOLEN TREASURES
By: Robert K. Wittman and John Shiffman
Former FBI agent Wittman, who created the agency’s Art Crime Team and pursued a lifelong interest in antiques and collectibles, goes undercover to hobnob with infamous art thieves. The ineffective, the stupid, the clever, and the dangerous; Wittman befriends them all, in order to betray them, a fact that causes him a certain amount of angst. Among other challenges are bumbling agency bureaucrats and government turf wars when attempting to recover stolen art abroad. A fatal car accident that Wittman was involved in early in his career shaped his perspective: “I understood that because someone made a mistake in judgment, it doesn’t make him evil. My newfound ability to see both sides of a situation-to think and feel like the accused-was invaluable.” Wittman keeps the narrative interesting, and reveals himself as something of a renegade: “Under the FBI’s strict undercover rules, you’re only supposed to work one case at a time. I never followed that rule.” Keep the lies to a minimum, he advises, and avoid working in your home town.
PROVENANCE: HOW A CON MAN AND A FORGER REWROTE THE HISTORY OF MODERN ART
By: Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo
A decade-long art scam that sullied the integrity of museum archives and experts alike is elegantly recounted by husband-and-wife journalists Salisbury and Sujo. In 1986, when struggling painter and single father John Myatt advertised copies of famous paintings, he never imagined he’d become a key player in one of Britain’s biggest art frauds. Myatt soon met John Drewe, who claimed to be a physicist and avid art collector. Soon Drewe, a silver-tongued con man, was passing off Myatt’s work as genuine, including paintings in the style of artists like Giacometti and Ben Nicholson. When buyers expressed concern about the works’ provenance, Drewe began the painstaking process of falsifying records of ownership. Posing as a benefactor, Drewe even planted false documents in the archives of London’s Tate Gallery, but suspicious historians and archivists eventually assisted Scotland Yard in bringing him to justice. Salisbury and Sujo evoke the plush art world and its penetration by the seductive Drewe as well as the other players in this fascinating art drama.
ROGUES’ GALLERY: THE SECRET STORY OF THE LUST, LIES, GREED, AND BETRAYALS THAT MADE THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART
By: Michael Gross
For more than a century, the coupling of art with commerce has made New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art the world’s most glamorous whore, according to this sprawling history. Gross, a veteran chronicler of the rich and beautiful (Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women), highlights the relationship between the directors and curators who amassed the Met’s collection—fakes and questionably acquired antiquities included, he notes—and its patrons. In his telling, the exchange of money for prestige (contributor John D. Rockefeller wanted good publicity after striking workers were massacred at the family’s Ludlow mine) is a tawdry business, with the museum’s high-toned seduction of well-heeled egotists, who in turn felt betrayed when newer collections impinged on their own galleries.
Not the best-curated of exhibitions, Gross’s thematically unfocused chronicle is overstuffed with the details of fund drives, building plans and bequests; some figures feel like they were profiled mainly because there were juicy anecdotes about them—a rarity in tight-lipped Met circles—not because their doings are especially illuminating. Still, browse long enough and you’ll find behind-the-scenes dirt and an intriguing look at the symbiosis of culture and cash.
SEVEN DAYS IN THE ART WORLD
By: Sarah Thornton
The art market has been booming. Museum attendance is surging. More people than ever call themselves artists. Contemporary art has become a mass entertainment, a luxury good, a job description, and, for some, a kind of alternative religion.
In a series of beautifully paced narratives, Sarah Thornton investigates the drama of a Christie’s auction, the workings in Takashi Murakami’s studios, the elite at the Basel Art Fair, the eccentricities of Artforummagazine, the competition behind an important art prize, life in a notorious art-school seminar, and the wonderland of the Venice Biennale. She reveals the new dynamics of creativity, taste, status, money, and the search for meaning in life. A judicious and juicy account of the institutions that have the power to shape art history, based on hundreds of interviews with high-profile players, Thornton’s entertaining ethnography will change the way you look at contemporary culture.
STEALING BEAUTY: FIVE TALES OF ART THEFT
By: Simon Worrall
In this collection of True Crime stories, critically acclaimed author Simon Worrall takes us on a wild ride into the high-octane world of art thieves and the undercover detectives who hunt them. Shifting from the USA to France, Stockholm to Panama, with stops along the way in London and Buenos Aires, these tautly constructed stories put the reader inside a world of sting operations and wire taps, as we follow the trail of a stolen Rembrandt from Sweden to Florida; or a Cezanne from Massachusetts to Panama. On the way, we meet a fascinating cast of characters: broken-hearted collectors and disreputable auction house experts; gun-toting thugs and heroic cops.
” A fascinating peek through the keyhole into the deadly, secret world of art theft. A True Crime stand-out!”
STEALING HISTORY: TOMB RAIDERS, SMUGGLERS, AND THE LOOTING OF THE ANCIENT WORLD
By: Roger Atwood
Roger Atwood knows more about the market for ancient objects than almost anyone. He knows where priceless antiquities are buried, who is digging them up, and who is fencing and buying them. In this fascinating book, Atwood takes readers on a journey through Iraq, Peru, Hong Kong, and across America, showing how the worldwide antiquities trade is destroying what’s left of the ancient sites before archaeologists can reach them, and thus erasing their historical significance. And it is getting worse. The discovery of the legendary Royal Tombs of Sipan in Peru started an epidemic. Grave robbers scouring the courntryside for tombs–and finding them.
Atwood recounts the incredible story of the biggest piece of gold ever found in the Americas, a 2,000-year-old, three-pound masterpiece that cost one looter his life, sent two smugglers to jail, and wrecked lives from Panama to Pennsylvainia. Packed with true stories, this book not only reveals what has been found, but at what cost to both human life and history.
STEALING REMBRANDTS: THE UNTOLD STORIES OF NOTORIOUS ART HEISTS
By: Anthony M. Amore and Tom Mashberg
In Stealing Rembrandts, art security expert Anthony M. Amore and award-winning investigative reporter Tom Mashberg reveal the actors behind the major Rembrandt heists in the last century. Through thefts around the world—from Stockholm to Boston, Worcester to Ohio—the authors track daring entries and escapes from the world’s most renowned museums. There are robbers who coolly walk off with multimillion dollar paintings; self-styled art experts who fall in love with the Dutch master and desire to own his art at all costs; and international criminal masterminds who don’t hesitate to resort to violence. They also show how museums are thwarted in their ability to pursue the thieves—even going so far as to conduct investigations on their own, far away from the maddening crowd of police intervention, sparing no expense to save the priceless masterpieces.
STEALING THE MYSTIC LAMB: THE TRUE STORY OF THE WORLD’S MOST COVETED MASTERPIECE
By: Noah Charney
Jan van eyck’s ghent altarpiece is on any art historian’s list of the ten most important paintings ever made. Often referred to by the subject of its central panel, the adoration of the mystic lamb, it represents the fulcrum between the middle ages and the renaissance. It is also the most frequently stolen artwork of all time.
Since its completion in 1432, this twelve-panel oil painting has been looted in three different wars, burned, dismembered, forged, smuggled, illegally sold, censored, hidden, attacked by iconoclasts, hunted by the nazis and napoleon, used as a diplomatic tool, ransomed, rescued by austrian double-agents, and stolen a total of thirteen times.
In this fast-paced, real-life thriller, art historian noah charney unravels the stories of each of these thefts. In the process, he illuminates the whole fascinating history of art crime, and the psychological, ideological, religious, political, and social motivations that have led many men to covet this one masterpiece above all others.
THE ART DETECTIVE: FAKES, FRAUDS, AND FINDS AND THE SEARCH FOR LOST TREASURES
By: Philip Mould
What separates a masterpiece from a piece of junk? Thanks to the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow and its American spin-off, everyone is searching garage sales and hunting online for hidden gems, wondering whether their attics contain trash or treasures. In The Art Detective, Philip Mould, one of the world’s foremost authorities on British portraiture and an irreverent and delightful expert for the Roadshow, serves up his secrets and his best stories, blending the technical details of art detection and restoration with juicy tales peopled by a range of eccentric collectors, scholars, forgers, and opportunists.
Peppered with practical advice, each chapter focuses on one particular painting and the mystery that surrounds it. Mould is our trusty detective, tracking down clues, uncovering human foibles and following hunches until the truth is revealed. Mould is known for his ability to crack the toughest puzzles and whether he’s writing about a fake Norman Rockwell, a hidden Rembrandt, or a lost Gainsborough, he brings both the art and the adventure to life. The Art Detective is memoir, mystery, art history, and brilliant yarn all rolled into one.
THE ART OF THE HEIST
By: Myles J. Connor and Jenny Siler
From New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, to the Smithsonian Institution in D.C., to Boston’s Museum of Fine Art, to dozens of regional museums throughout the United States, no museum was off-limits to legendary art thief Myles Connor. He has used every technique in the book, from breaking and entering, to cat burglary, to false identities and elaborate con jobs. He once even grabbed a Rembrandt off a wall in broad daylight and simply ran like hell. His IQ is at genius level, and his charm is legendary. The fact that he was in jail at the time of the famous robbery of the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum—which remains the largest art theft in American history—has not stopped the FBI from considering him a top suspect in that still unsolved robbery.
How did the son of a decorated policeman grow up to become one of Boston’s most notorious criminals? How did he survive a decades-long feud with the Boston police and the FBI? How did he manage to escape one jail sentence with a simple fake gun carved out of soap? How did he trade the return of a famous Rembrandt in exchange for early release from another sentence?
The Art of the Heist is a roller-coaster ride of a life, by a man who was drawn to misadventure at every turn. As a promising young rock star, Myles Connor started collecting Japanese swords and weapons. Soon his collection expanded through less than legitimate means, and his education in European masters and modern artists accelerated. Disguised as an art collector, he spent time in the archives of museums far and wide, and visited after hours to take advantage of what he learned by day.
THE FORGER’S SPELL: A TRUE STORY OF VERMEER, NAZIS, AND THE GREATEST ART HOAX OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY (P.S.)
By: Edward Dolnick
As riveting as a World War II thriller, The Forger’s Spell is the true story of Johannes Vermeer and the small-time Dutch painter who dared to impersonate him centuries later. The con man’s mark was Hermann Goering, one of the most reviled leaders of Nazi Germany and a fanatic collector of art.
It was an almost perfect crime. For seven years a no-account painter named Han van Meegeren managed to pass off his paintings as those of one of the most beloved and admired artists who ever lived. But, as Edward Dolnick reveals, the reason for the forger’s success was not his artistic skill. Van Meegeren was a mediocre artist. His true genius lay in psychological manipulation, and he came within inches of fooling both the Nazis and the world. Instead, he landed in an Amsterdam court on trial for his life.
THE GARDNER HEIST: THE TRUE STORY OF THE WORLD’S LARGEST UNSOLVED ART THEFT
By: Ulrich Boser
Shortly after midnight on March 18, 1990, two men broke into the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston and committed the largest art heist in history. They stole a dozen masterpieces, including one Vermeer, three Rembrandts, and five Degas. But after thousands of leads, hundreds of interviews, and a $5-million reward, not a single painting has been recovered. Worth a total of $500 million, the missing masterpieces have become the Holy Grail of the art world and one of the nation’s most extraordinary unsolved mysteries.
Art detective Harold Smith worked on the theft for years, and after his death, reporter Ulrich Boser inherited his case files. Traveling deep into the art underworld, Boser explores Smith’s unfinished leads and comes across a remarkable cast of characters, including the brilliant rock ‘n’ roll art thief; the golden-boy gangster who professes his innocence in rhyming verse; the deadly mobster James “Whitey” Bulger; and the Boston heiress Isabella Stewart Gardner, who stipulated in her will that nothing should ever be changed in her museum, a provision followed so closely that the empty frames of the stolen works still hang on the walls. Boser eventually cracks one of the biggest mysteries of the case and uncovers the identities of the men who robbed the museum nearly two decades ago.
THE IRISH GAME: A TRUE STORY OF CRIME AND ART
By: Matthew Hart
The Irish police knew right away that the mastermind was a Dublin gangster named Martin Cahill. Yet the great plunder —including a Gainsborough, a Goya, two Rubens, and a Vermeer— remained at large for years. Cahill taunted the police with a string of other crimes, but in the end it was the paintings that brought him low. The challenge of disposing of such famous works forced him to reach outside his familiar world into the international arena, and when he did, his pursuers were waiting.
The movie-perfect sting that broke Cahill uncovered an astonishing maze of banking and drug-dealing connections that redefined the way police view art theft. As if that were not enough, the recovery of the Vermeer—by then worth $200 million—led to a remarkable discovery about the way Vermeer achieved his photographic perspective.
The Irish Game places the great theft in Ireland’s long sad history of violence and follows the thread that led, as a direct result of Cahill’s desperate adventures with the Russborough art, to his assassination by the IRA. With the storytelling skill of a novelist and the instincts of a detective, Matthew Hart follows the twists and turns of this celebrated case, linking it with two other world-famous thefts—of Vermeer’s “The Concert” and other famous paintings at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, and of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” at the National Gallery of Norway in Oslo. Sharply observed, fully explored, The Irish Game is a masterpiece in the literature of true crime.
THE LOST PAINTING: THE QUEST FOR A CARAVAGGIO MASTERPIECE
By: Jonathan Harr
An Italian village on a hilltop near the Adriatic coast, a decaying palazzo facing the sea, and in the basement, cobwebbed and dusty, lit by a single bulb, an archive unknown to scholars. Here, a young graduate student from Rome, Francesca Cappelletti, makes a discovery that inspires a search for a work of art of incalculable value, a painting lost for almost two centuries.
The artist was Caravaggio, a master of the Italian Baroque. He was a genius, a revolutionary painter, and a man beset by personal demons. Four hundred years ago, he drank and brawled in the taverns and streets of Rome, moving from one rooming house to another, constantly in and out of jail, all the while painting works of transcendent emotional and visual power. He rose from obscurity to fame and wealth, but success didn’t alter his violent temperament. His rage finally led him to commit murder, forcing him to flee Rome a hunted man. He died young, alone, and under strange circumstances.
Caravaggio scholars estimate that between sixty and eighty of his works are in existence today. Many others–no one knows the precise number–have been lost to time. Somewhere, surely, a masterpiece lies forgotten in a storeroom, or in a small parish church, or hanging above a fireplace, mistaken for a mere copy.
Prizewinning author Jonathan Harr embarks on an spellbinding journey to discover the long-lost painting known as The Taking of Christ–its mysterious fate and the circumstances of its disappearance have captivated Caravaggio devotees for years. After Francesca Cappelletti stumbles across a clue in that dusty archive, she tracks the painting across a continent and hundreds of years of history. But it is not until she meets Sergio Benedetti, an art restorer working in Ireland, that she finally manages to assemble all the pieces of the puzzle.
THE MAN WHO LOVED BOOKS TOO MUCH: THE TRUE STORY OF A THIEF, A DETECTIVE, AND A WORLD OF LITERARY OBSESSION
By: Allison Hoover Bartlett
Rare-book theft is even more widespread than fine-art theft. Most thieves, of course, steal for profit. John Charles Gilkey steals purely for the love of books. In an attempt to understand him better, journalist Allison Hoover Bartlett plunged herself into the world of book lust and discovered just how dangerous it can be.
Gilkey is an obsessed, unrepentant book thief who has stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of rare books from book fairs, stores, and libraries around the country. Ken Sanders is the self-appointed “bibliodick” (book dealer with a penchant for detective work) driven to catch him. Bartlett befriended both outlandish characters and found herself caught in the middle of efforts to recover hidden treasure. With a mixture of suspense, insight, and humor, she has woven this entertaining cat-and-mouse chase into a narrative that not only reveals exactly how Gilkey pulled off his dirtiest crimes, where he stashed the loot, and how Sanders ultimately caught him but also explores the romance of books, the lure to collect them, and the temptation to steal them. Immersing the reader in a rich, wide world of literary obsession, Bartlett looks at the history of book passion, collection, and theft through the ages, to examine the craving that makes some people willing to stop at nothing to possess the books they love.
THE MEDICI CONSPIRACY: THE ILLICIT JOURNEY OF LOOTED ANTIQUITIES—FROM ITALY’S TOMB RAIDERS TO THE WORLD’S GREATEST MUSEUMS
By: Peter Watson and Cecilia Todeschini
The story begins, as many stories do in good thrillers, with a botched robbery and a police chase. Eight Apuleian vases of the fourth century B.C. are discovered in the swimming pool of a German-based art smuggler. More valuable than the recovery of the vases, however, is the discovery of the smuggler’s card index detailing his deals and dealers. It reveals the existence of a web of tombaroli—tomb raiders— who steal classical artifacts, and a network of dealers and smugglers who spirit them out of Italy and into the hands of wealthy collectors and museums. Peter Watson, a former investigative journalist for the London Sunday Times and author of two previous exposés of art world scandals, names the key figures in this network that has depleted Europe’s classical artifacts. Among the loot are the irreplaceable and highly collectable vases of Euphronius, the equivalent in their field of the sculpture of Bernini or the painting of Michelangelo. The narrative leads to the doors of some major institutions: Sothebys, the Getty Museum in L.A., the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York among them. Filled with great characters and human drama, The Medici Conspiracy authoritatively exposes another shameful round in one of the oldest games in the world: theft, smuggling and duplicitous dealing, all in the name of art.
THE MONUMENTS MEN: ALLIED HEROES, NAZI THIEVES AND THE GREATEST TREASURE HUNT IN HISTORY
By: Robert M. Edsel and Bret Witter
At the same time Adolf Hitler was attempting to take over the western world, his armies were methodically seeking and hoarding the finest art treasures in Europe. The Fuehrer had begun cataloguing the art he planned to collect as well as the art he would destroy: “degenerate” works he despised.
In a race against time, behind enemy lines, often unarmed, a special force of American and British museum directors, curators, art historians, and others, called the Momuments Men, risked their lives scouring Europe to prevent the destruction of thousands of years of culture.
Focusing on the eleven-month period between D-Day and V-E Day, this fascinating account follows six Monuments Men and their impossible mission to save the world’s great art from the Nazis.
THE RAPE OF EUROPA: THE FATE OF EUROPE’S TREASURES IN THE THIRD REICH AND THE SECOND WORLD WAR
By Lynn H. Nicholas
The cast of characters includes Hitler and Goering, Gertrude Stein and Marc Chagall–not to mention works by artists from Leonardo da Vinci to Pablo Picasso. The story in this superbly researched and suspenseful book is that of the Third Reich’s war on European culture and the Allies’ desperate effort to preserve it.
From the Nazi purges of “Degenerate Art” and Goering’s shopping sprees in occupied Paris to the perilous journey of the Mona Lisa from Paris and the painstaking reclamation of the priceless treasures of liberated Italy, The Rape of Europa is a sweeping narrative of greed, philistinism, and heroism that combines superlative scholarship with a compelling drama.
THE RAPE OF MESOPOTAMIA: BEHIND THE LOOTING OF THE IRAQ MUSEUM
By: Lawrence Rothfield
On April 10, 2003, as the world watched a statue of Saddam Hussein come crashing down in the heart of Baghdad, a mob of looters attacked the Iraq National Museum. Despite the presence of an American tank unit, the pillaging went unchecked, and more than 15,000 artifacts—some of the oldest evidence of human culture—disappeared into the shadowy worldwide market in illicit antiquities. In the five years since that day, the losses have only mounted, with gangs digging up roughly half a million artifacts that had previously been unexcavated; the loss to our shared human heritage is incalculable.
With The Rape of Mesopotamia, Lawrence Rothfield answers the complicated question of how this wholesale thievery was allowed to occur. Drawing on extensive interviews with soldiers, bureaucrats, war planners, archaeologists, and collectors, Rothfield reconstructs the planning failures—originating at the highest levels of the U.S. government—that led to the invading forces’ utter indifference to the protection of Iraq’s cultural heritage from looters. Widespread incompetence and miscommunication on the part of the Pentagon, unchecked by the disappointingly weak advocacy efforts of worldwide preservation advocates, enabled a tragedy that continues even today, despite widespread public outrage.
Bringing his story up to the present, Rothfield argues forcefully that the international community has yet to learn the lessons of Iraq—and that what happened there is liable to be repeated in future conflicts. A powerful, infuriating chronicle of the disastrous conjunction of military adventure and cultural destruction, The Rape of Mesopotamia is essential reading for all concerned with the future of our past.
THE RESCUE ARTIST: A TRUE STORY OF ART, THIEVES, AND THE HUNT FOR A MISSING MASTERPIECE (P.S.)
By: Edward Dolnick
In the predawn hours of a gloomy February day in 1994, two thieves entered the National Gallery in Oslo and made off with one of the world’s most famous paintings, Edvard Munch’s Scream. It was a brazen crime committed while the whole world was watching the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer. Baffled and humiliated, the Norwegian police turned to the one man they believed could help: a half English, half American undercover cop named Charley Hill, one of the world’s greatest art detectives.
The Rescue Artist is a rollicking narrative that carries readers deep inside the art underworld — and introduces them to a large and colorful cast of titled aristocrats, intrepid investigators, and thick-necked thugs. But most compelling of all is Charley Hill himself, a complicated mix of brilliance, foolhardiness, and charm whose hunt for a purloined treasure would either cap an illustrious career or be the fiasco that would haunt him forever.
TURN RIGHT AT MACHU PICCHU: REDISCOVERING THE LOST CITY ONE STEP AT A TIME
By: Mark Adams
July 24, 1911, was a day for the history books. On that rainy morning, the young Yale professor Hiram Bingham III climbed into the Andes Mountains of Peru and encountered an ancient city in the clouds: the now famous citadel of Machu Picchu. Nearly a century later, news reports have recast the hero explorer as a villain who smuggled out priceless artifacts and stole credit for finding one of the world’s greatest archaeological sites.
Mark Adams has spent his career editing adventure and travel magazines, so his plan to investigate the allegations against Bingham by retracing the explorer’s perilous path to Machu Picchu isn’t completely far- fetched, even if it does require him to sleep in a tent for the first time. With a crusty, antisocial Australian survivalist and several Quechua-speaking, coca-chewing mule tenders as his guides, Adams takes readers through some of the most gorgeous and historic landscapes in Peru, from the ancient Inca capital of Cusco to the enigmatic ruins of Vitcos and Vilcabamba.
UNHOLY BUSINESS: A TRUE TALE OF FAITH, GREED AND FORGERY IN THE HOLY LAND
By: Nina Burleigh
In 2002, an ancient limestone box called the James Ossuary was trumpeted on the world’s front pages as the first material evidence of the existence of Jesus Christ. Today it is exhibit number one in a forgery trial involving millions of dollars worth of high-end, Biblical era relics, some of which literally re-wrote Near Eastern history and which could lead to the incarceration.