an blog | AJBlog Central | Contact me

My LA Public Radio Commentary on “Chasing Aphrodite” (Hear It Now)

Warren Olney, host of “Which Way, L.A.?”

I’m a bit player in this one, which also includes Ralph Frammolino, co-author with Jason Felch of the new book on the Getty’s past antiquities scandals; and Ron Hartwig, the Getty Trust’s vice president for communications.

Our segment on Chasing Aphrodite (for which I bring up the rear) should air at about 7:06 p.m., LA time (10:06 p.m., NYC time) on KCRW‘s “Which Way, L.A.?” You can listen live, here.

: The podcast is now embedded and the end of this post.]

Assuming that all my comments are included, you’ll hear me mention one of the things that saddened me the most in reading this exhaustively researched, inside-story account of the Getty’s troubled past: its blows to the reputations of two respected museum professionals—former Getty Museum directors John Walsh and Deborah Gribbon. In painful (sometimes anonymously sourced) detail, “Chasing Aphrodite” reports on how much Walsh and Gribbon knew about the dicey recent histories of the Getty’s antiquities and how little they did to stop such dubious purchases (or, later, to come clean about them).

That said, I don’t regard Italian prosecutor Paolo Ferri as the hero that Felcholino make him out to be. I’ll never forget this conversation that I had with Ferri when we were both speakers at a UNESCO-sponsored antiquities conference in Athens.

Here’s what the now retired Italian prosecutor told me about the unduly prolonged criminal proceedings against True (which finally ended last fall, after five years, when Italy’s statute of limitations had run):

I used to worry about how long it was taking. But the more it lasts, the more will be the shame.

Frammolino today told Warren Olney of “Which Way, L.A.?” that “the ultimate aim” of the Italians was “to get these things back.” But a subsidiary aim was to torture, for as long as possible, the Sacrificial Curator, Marion True, even after it was clear that the objects Italy sought were indeed returning to Italy.

Below is the podcast. Ours is the second segment, at about 8:36 into the program. (You won’t hear me weigh in until Warren questions me at about 22:38.)

an ArtsJournal blog