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April 1, 2011

Upcoming Book: "Chasing Aphrodite" to be Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on May 24

by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor

While covering the Getty's relationship with cultural property this week ("The Getty Bronze" and the Region of Marche"), I appreciated the excellent coverage on the same subject in the Los Angeles Times by Jason Felch who, with another journalist, Ralph Frammolino, is publishing a book next month, Chasing Aphrodite, subtitled "The Hunt for Looted Antiquities at the World's Richest Museum". Attitudes toward the collecting of antiquities have evolved in the past four decades since UNESCO's 1970 Convention which asked that museums and governments stop the purchasing of looted antiquities and ask more about the provenance and context of objects, but controversy has always reigned and The Getty, a resourceful and powerful entity, in addition to being a worldwide leader in conservation, has also a murky history in regards to part of its collection which changed its leadership in the past few years.

The book, the product of five years of investigative reporting, which can be pre-ordered now through here, comes out on May 24 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Felch and Frammolino tells the story of how officials of the J. Paul Getty Museum grappled with the question of acquiring looted Greek and Roman antiquities over 30 years, and the eventual indictment of the Getty's antiquities curator in 2005,' according to the press release. [Marion True, the indicted Getty official, had the charges dropped against her last year in Italy as the court case had dragged on for too long.]

Advance praise of the book includes a comment from Ulrich Boser, author of The Gardner Heist: The True Story of the World's Largest Unsolved Art Theft, and Jonathan Harr, author of The Lost Painting: The Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece.
"A thrilling, well-researched book that offers readers a glimpse into the back-room dealings of a world-class museum--and the illegal trade of looted antiquities. Chasing Aphrodite should not be missed,” Boser wrote.
“An astonishing and penetrating look into a veiled world where beauty and art are in constant competition with greed and hypocrisy. This engaging book will cast a fresh light on many of those gleaming objects you see in art museums,” Harr wrote.
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