The Medici Conspiracy: The Illicit Journey of Looted Antiquities from Italy's Tomb Raiders to the World's Greatest Museums

Peter Watson, Author, Cecilia Todeschini, Author . Public Affairs $26.95 (379p) ISBN 978-1-58648-402-6

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)

Reviewed on: 03/27/2006
Release date: 04/01/2006
Paperback - 407 pages - 978-1-58648-438-5
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