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Stolen, Smuggled, Sold

On the Hunt for Cultural Treasures

Nancy Moses

Stolen, Smuggled Sold: On the Hunt for Cultural Treasures tells the dark and compelling stories of iconic cultural objects that were stolen, smuggled or sold, and eventually returned back to their original owner.

There are many books about museum heists, Holocaust artwork, insider theft, trafficking in antiquities, and stolen Native American objects. Now, there’s finally a book for the general public that covers the entire terrain. The book includes full-color photos of the objects.

Stolen, Smuggled, Sold features seven vivid and true stories in which the reader joins the author as she uncovers a cultural treasure and follows its often-convoluted trail. Along the way author and reader encounter a cast of fascinating characters from the underbelly of the cultural world: unscrupulous grave robbers, sinister middlemen, ruthless art dealers, venal Nazis, canny lawyers, valiant academics, unstoppable investigative reporters, unwitting curators, and dedicated government officials. Stories include Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch Bauer 1, the typset manuscript for Pearl Buck’s The Good Earth, a ceremonial Ghost Dance short from the massacre at Wounded Knee, the theft of 4,800 historical audio discs by a top official at the National Archives, a missing original copy of The Bill of Rights, the mummy of Ramses I, and an ancient treasure from Iraq.

While each story is fascinating in and of itself, together they address one of the hottest issues in the museum world: how to deal with the millions of items that have breaks in the chain of ownership, suspicious ownership records, or no provenance at all. The issue of ownership touches on professional practices, international protocols, and national laws. It’s a financial issue since the illicit trade in antiquities and cultural items generates as much as $4 billion to $8 billion a year.

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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 184Size: 6 x 9
978-0-7591-2192-8 • Hardback • June 2015 • $34.00 • (£23.95)
978-0-7591-2193-5 • Paperback • March 2017 • $17.95 • (£11.95)
978-0-7591-2194-2 • eBook • June 2015 • $33.99 • (£23.95)
Nancy Moses is the author of the award-winning book Lost in the Museum: Hidden Treasures and the Stories They Tell (AltaMira Press 2008). She currently writes the "Power Lunch" column for the Philadelphia Business Journal in which she profiles influential women.

Nancy Moses began her career as a Program Chief at the National Endowment for the Humanities and then went on to top management positions at WQED-Pittsburgh Public Broadcasting, the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Philadelphia Studies, and the City of Philadelphia. Through her firm, Collaborations, Inc. and as an independent consultant, she has helped a wide variety of clients create heritage tourism entities and digital learning labs; launch international, environmental and civic initiatives; and establish new philanthropies.

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Nancy Moses has lived in Philadelphia since 1976 where she has been active in numerous boards and civic initiatives. Moses currently serves as Chair of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, an agency of state government. She holds Bachelors and Masters degrees in American Studies from The George Washington University.
Moses, author of Lost in the Museum: Hidden Treasures and the Stories They Tell (2008), considers the provenance of seven cultural treasures including Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch Bauer I (the subject of the film, Woman in Gold), a ceremonial Ghost Dance shirt from a victim of the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee, the mummy of Rameses I, and a typed manuscript of Pearl Buck’s The Good Earth. She reflects on the ethical issues that arose when these 'objects with institutional pedigrees . . . were removed in some way, legal or not.' The stories of these objects range from the dramatic to the heartbreaking to the venal (one is an account of the theft of historical audio discs by an official at the National Archives). In the final chapter, Moses reflects on the moral and legal questions of, in her words, 'who owns—and who should own—the world’s cultural treasures.' Museum goers may never look at an exhibit in quite the same way after reading this impassioned and engaging work.

There have been a spate of excellent books recently about the lost treasures of the Holocaust and Moses herself wanted to write about American museums returning the stolen artworks to their rightful owners. Turns out that even the museums who had returned stolen or looted art to its owners were reluctant to speak up as it raised questions about why they had the art to begin with. So Moses went a slightly different route and decided to try to track down a number of missing treasures – from paintings, to manuscripts, to mummies; in America, Europe and the Middle East. Readers follow along with Moses as she tracks down (or tries to track down) each artifact, meeting with the shady and underhanded and those determined to do the right thing. From outright robberies to the 'acquisition' of certain pieces taken from their country of origin to be 'proudly displayed' in an American on European collection. Moses is the real deal, with all the proper museum credential, but she’s also a hell of a writer and brings to mind Thomas Hoving and his splendid stories of shady museum dealings. Highly recommended.
The Books Lover's Best Friend

What comes strongly to mind when one has read this book is the sometime inhumanity of mankind, political scheming, overwhelming greed and the plain stupidity and arrogance of individuals who feel they can get away with their crooked behavior. This book is fast paced written by an author who is au fait with the world of archives, archivists, museums and the historical research needed for each subject. The preface is detailed; there are eight chapters each dealing with an individual 'Cultural Treasure', colour plates, sources, additional reading and an index. Perhaps there might be a future book on other treasures that have been stolen, smuggled and sold?
ImagineMag!: A South African Arts & Culture Magazine

[Stolen, Smuggled, Sold: On the Hunt for Cultural Treasures is] an interesting and well-written book which archive professionals in the UK and Ireland should consider reading.
Archives and Records: The Journal of the Archives and Records Association

Written like a true detective novel, Nancy Moses takes the reader on an informative trek though the high-stakes world of art crime and trafficking. She profiles the cases and actors who labor to profit from the illicit cultural property market and the detectives and agents that combat them.
Robert K. Wittman, retired FBI Special Agent, founder and former Senior Investigator, FBI National Art Crime Team, and author of the New York Times Best Seller Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World’s Stolen Treasures.

This book tells wonderful stories of the provenance and recovery of great artifacts. Part art appreciation, part history, part mystery story, each chapter is a gem of storytelling.
Nina Segre, Esq., Adjunct Professor, University of California, Hastings