Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Dear Great Book Guru, I am so excited- I just received an email from the Sea Cliff Museum that Ines Powell is giving a lecture on early Italian Renaissance portraits next week. I have heard Ines speak many times and it is always such a treat. While I love art history, the intrigue that surrounds art collecting has also been a great interest of mine. Are there any new books on this subject? Interested in Intrigue

Dear Interested, Yes, I too look forward to Ines's lecture which will be Tuesday, March 13 at 7:30 in Village Hall. Last month while visiting the Getty Museum in California , I read CHASING APHRODITE, a book that offers more than a glimpse into the world of art collecting. While this might seem like a topic of limited interest to the general reader, it turned to be an amazing tale of greed, elaborate tax evasion schemes, hidden bank accounts, secret island paradises, shady grave diggers, aristocratic criminals, billionaire misanthropes, Nazi collaborators, and avaricious academics- a real page turner. Written by two investigative reporters, Jason Felch and Ralph Frammolino, the book traces the fortunes of the Getty Museum, as its staff and administrators, fueled by an enormous endowment, feverishly buy up ancient Greek and Roman art pieces . There are a myriad of fascinating characters but two stand out: Marion True, a Harvard educated art historian, who led the buying spree and ended up in the Italian courts for almost ten years, and, J. Paul Getty, the oil tycoon billionaire whose bizarre life style and lust for antiquities are at the root of this amazing "chase." Highly recommended!

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