Third-generation journalist Karl E. Meyer has died at the age of 91. Long before the general public became aware of the chicanery in the art world, Meyer, a longtime foreign correspondent and editorial writer at The Washington Post and The New York Times and the Editor of the World Policy Journal, was calling them to task.
In 1974 his book The Plundered Past: The Story of the Illegal International Traffic in Works of Art was one of the earliest accounts of the rapacious plundering of antiquities brought about by the insatious appetites of dealers collectors and museums. In his book he criticised many in the art world, including those in prominent positions at important museums and institutions for their acquisitive over ethical tendencies, calling to task the professed patrons and protectors of the art world.
His old-fashioned, shoe-leather reporting, combined with scholarly sensibilities and reportorial enthusiasm made all of his books about heritage accessible.
Speaking about the importance of the past Meyer wrote:
“Every archaeological site is like a time capsule...when such a time capsule is destroyed, either by a looter or a bulldozer, the loss is total. One cannot grow another Indian mound.”
Meyer is survived by his third wife, whom he married in 1989, and by three children from his second marriage, Ernest, Heather and Jonathan Meyer, three granddaughters and his sister, Susan L. Meyer.