Possession by Erin Thompson
The Curious History of Private Collectors from Antiquity to the Present

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...the marvelous Possession offers a savvy history of passion as politics, a delightful collection of collectors and a love of art that might just send you to a museum.
-NPR

Synopsis

Whether it's the discovery of $1.6 billion in Nazi-looted art or the news that Syrian rebels are looting UNESCO archaeological sites to buy arms, art crime commands headlines. Erin Thompson, America's only professor of art crime, explores the dark history of looting, smuggling, and forgery that lies at the heart of many private art collections and many of the world's most renowned museums.
 
Enlivened by fascinating personalities and scandalous events, Possession shows how collecting antiquities has been a way of creating identity, informed by a desire to annex the past while providing an illicit thrill along the way. Thompson's accounts of history's most infamous collectors—from the Roman Emperor Tiberius, who stole a life-sized nude Greek statue for his bedroom, to Queen Christina of Sweden, who habitually pilfered small antiquities from her fellow aristocrats, to Sir William Hamilton, who forced his mistress to enact poses from his collection of Greek vases—are as mesmerizing as they are revealing.
 

About Erin Thompson

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Erin Thompson is assistant professor in the Department of Art and Music at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY.
 
Published May 28, 2016 by Yale University Press. 232 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction
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Reviewed by Genevieve Valentine on Jun 01 2016

...the marvelous Possession offers a savvy history of passion as politics, a delightful collection of collectors and a love of art that might just send you to a museum.

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