PublicAffairs, 2006. Hardcover. Item #300539
379 pages. B/W photographs. First edition (first printing). Near fine in a near fine dust jacket.
The story begins, as all stories do in good crime thrillers, with a botched robbery and a police chase. Eight Apulian vases, of the fourth century BC, were discovered in the swimming pool of a German-based art smuggler. More valuable than the recovery of the vases, however, was the discovery of the smuggler's card index detailing his deals and fellow dealers. It revealed the existence of the furtive tombaroli -tomb raiders-who stole classical artifacts, and a clandestine network of dealers and smugglers who spirited them out of Italy and into the hands of wealthy collectors and museums.
Peter Watson, a distinguished former investigative journalist of the London Sunday Times and author of two previous exposes of art world scandals, traces the networks and names the key figures who have depleted Europe of its classical treasures. Among the looted items are the irreplaceable and highly collectable vases of Euphronios, the equivalent in their field to the sculptures of Bernini or the paintings of Michelangelo. Their journey takes them through the doors of some of the world's greatest institutions: Sotheby's auction house, the Getty Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts Bostons, the British Museum, the Berline Museum of Classical Antiquities, the Miho Museum in Japan and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
When the news networks around the world began to broadcast the events of the trial of a former curator at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles in 2005, they stumbled across the corner of a thirty-year conspiracy. Filled with colorful characters and hum drama. The Medici Conspiracy completely and authoritatively exposes the latest version of one of the oldest cons in the world: theft, smuggling, and duplicitous dealing-all in the name of art. With this definitive revelation of the chain of corruptions, the world of antiquities dealing and museum collections will never be the same again.