Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Lost Chalice: The Epic Hunt for a Priceless Masterpiece-Vernon Silver

The Lost Chalice: The Epic Hunt for a Priceless Masterpiece
Vernon Silver
Morrow, Jun 2009, $26.99
ISBN: 9780061558283

Vernon Silver shines a spotlight over the shockingly cut-throat often illegal (by even renowned museums) competition for priceless ancient art by focusing on a kylix by famous ancient Greek artisan Euphronios. Twenty-four centuries ago the renowned potter created a chalice that vanished into ancient antiquity only to surface in 1971 when tomb robbers digging near Cerveteri, Italy, uncovered the Greppe Sant'Angelo tomb. The tombaroli thieves sold the piece to a dealer, who sold it to an American who sold it to the Metropolitan Museum for $1 million in 1972. It was purchased by a dealer in 1990 only to vanish again until 2008 when it was returned to Italy.

This is a fascinating though convoluted account that will shock and fascinate readers. Mr. Silver provides a deep look at art accountability, theft, and private and public sales as larcenous behavior including private “burials” has been the norm. THE LOST CHALICE is surprisingly exciting, insightful and stunning nonfiction.

Harriet Klausner

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