Reviews

Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

In light of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's recent decision to return a rare-and by the Italian government's contention, stolen-vase painted by the Greek master Euphronios, Watson and Todeschini's colorful account of Giacomo Medici, an antiquities dealer found guilty of looting last year, and his illegal business dealings, is wonderfully prescient. Making sense of a lengthy catalogue of legal, artistic and forensic documentation, the authors meticulously map out Medici's underground network of middlemen and tombaroli, or tomb robbers, and link them to corrupt dealers such as Robin Symes as well as to established cultural institutions including Sotheby's, the John Paul Getty Museum and the Met-asserting that Medici supplied most, if not all, of the major collections of classical antiquities that have been established since WWII. Though Watson (Sotheby's: The Inside Story) and Todeschini often become overly indignant when decrying their story's villains and frequently bog down the narrative with long-winded dialogue and paper trail excerpts, they are at their best when chronicling the international adventures of various investigators, such as the Carabinieri Art Squad's raids on various Italian criminals to recover lost loot. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Choice
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.

Repatriation of ancient Greek and Roman antiquities to Italy, Greece, and Egypt is the thorniest and most complex issue in the American museum world today. This book is the fullest, most complete account of recent events in the finding, selling--and often return--of these works of art. The story of the "midnight," unauthorized, and unscientific excavation of these works from Italian tombs and the long, complicated chain of tomb robbers, shadowy middlemen, affluent gallery owners, wealthy private collectors, and curators, directors, and scholars at some of the world's most prominent museums and universities is fascinating and depressing in its revelation of how deep-seated the desire to acquire major works of art can be, and what people will do to satisfy that passion. The scale of the operation, the number of objects involved, and, often, their outstanding quality make this book relevant to anyone interested in how museums work. The primary author, Watson, is an experienced and respected journalist. The book includes a detailed dossier on selected works, good endnotes, and small but serviceable photographs of the players and places involved. ^BSumming Up: Essential. General readers; lower-division undergraduates through graduate students. F. W. Robinson Cornell University


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

The sense of wonder experienced when contemplating the beauty and miraculous survival of an ancient Greek vase will be profoundly altered by this vigorous expose of criminal antiquities dealing. Investigative reporter and art crime specialist Watson and researcher Todeschini chronicle the astonishing exploits of Giacomo Medici, a nefarious Italian antiquities dealer and mastermind, as they accompany Colonel Roberto Conforti, head of the Carabinieri Art Squad, over the course of a complicated eight-year investigation. Writing with the zest and seduction of the finest crime novelists, Watson and Todeschini meticulously explicate every phase of Conforti's operation as he and his dedicated agents gradually unveil a well-organized circle of tomb raiders, smugglers, dealers, and, most shockingly, their scandalously complicit high-profile customers, including renowned collectors, premier auction houses, and world-class institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The authors offer an invaluable primer in antiquities, describe the looting of thousands of ancient tombs and the loss of irreplaceable archaeological sites, skewer disreputable curators, and decry the fate of some of the finest objects ever produced by humankind in a dramatic, fascinating, and rightfully indignant report on outrageous avarice and crimes against civilization. --Donna Seaman Copyright 2006 Booklist