Thursday, December 04, 2014

Book Review: Chasing Aphrodite

I just got around to reading Chasing Aphrodite: The Hunt for Looted Antiquities at the World's Richest Museum by Jason Felch and Ralph Frammolino. Anyone interested in the compliance aspects of the trade in cultural properties and antiquities should read this book. The details of the illicit trade and the evolution of thinking within the museum community are fascinating. The book is well researched and travels between illegal excavations in Italy to the NY apartments of wealthy collectors, and finally to the halls of the Getty Museum in California. There is not a lot of legal background here other than references to the 1970 UNESCO convention and the National Stolen Property Act. But, this is not a legal text. It is more about the culture of the antiquities trade.

From a legal perspective, this is a great case study on how our clients can sometimes self-blind and delude themselves into believing they have compliance. Or, more cynically, how companies can create the appearance of compliance (i.e., "compliance theatre") while not substantially moderating their behavior.

Here is information on the book: http://chasingaphrodite.com/
The authors have a Twitter feed at @chasingaphrodit

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