The story begins, as stories do in all 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 tombarolitomb 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.
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About the Author
Peter Watson writes for the New York Times and has written weekly columns on the art market for the London Sunday Times, Observer and Evening Standard. In June 1997, he was appointed Research Associate at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research in the University of Cambridge. He is the author of The Caravaggio Conspiracy, From Manet to Manhattan,and Sotheby's: The Inside Story. Cecilia Todeschini is a researcher and translator who has worked for the BBC, ITV, CBS, ABC, and NBC. She has covered papal conclaves as well as the great mafia trials in Italy among many other subjects.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The Medici Conspiracy: Organized Crime, Looted Antiquities, Rogue Museums based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Journalists Peter Watson and Cecilia Todeschini offer up a timely and riveting account of the vast conspiracy to procure and trade in looted antiquities in their just-released book The Medici Conspiracy: The Illicit Journey of Looted Antiquities, from Italy's Tomb Raiders to the World's Greatest Museums. This book reads at times like a thriller novel, describing the descent of Italy's Art Squad on apartments and Swiss warehouses in search of looted goods. While it also, at times, reads like a trial transcript (the duo quote them at some length), its plodding moments are well offset by its periods of action.I have often said that Miles Harvey's book The Island of Lost Maps should be required reading for anyone who works with rare books/maps/etc. Watson and Todeschini's work should be the same for anyone in the museum field, particularly if one happens to deal with antiquities. This is the sordid tale of a great web that encompasses tomb raiders, unscrupulous dealers and middle-men, the great auction houses of England and America, and some of the most important museums in the world.Watson and Todeschini find it difficult at times to disguise their disgust for the subjects of their work, particularly those (i.e. curators at the Getty, the Met, etc.) who ought to know better. Some might criticize these expressions of contempt; I won't do so - if anything, they're too muted. (I should say here that my views on the looting or theft of antiquities and other cultural artifacts are rather draconian - Hammurabi's Code somehow seems appropriate for those who engage in such activities).The story that this book tells is still ongoing, with several of the subjects (including former Getty curator Marion True) still on trial and other cases on appeal. Nonetheless, I have no reservations about recommending it to anyone whose interests run to art, antiquities, or true crime.
No. Me and marc arm mad at each other and jave beennot talking for a week
I loved this book