Stolen, Smuggled, Sold

On the Hunt for Cultural Treasures

Book Description

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 typeset 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.

About Moses, Nancy

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.