“She was a symbol,” he said. “And she died for others.”
August 21, 2015 8:09 AM   Subscribe

Marion True, former curator at the Getty, discusses the charges of looting leveled against her in 2005. “The art is on the market. We don’t know where it comes from. And until we know where it comes from, it’s better off in a museum collection. And when we know where it comes from, we will give it back.”
posted by PussKillian (6 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Great article... True is an interesting case, where I think both that she's guilty (and it's good to see that she recognizes that her financial relationship with donors was really inappropriate) and that she was unfairly railroaded. I had to read and debate the Getty situation a bunch in a "highlight on ethics" section of my art history grad program. Chasing Aphrodite, the book mentioned towards the end of this article, has lots of jaw-dropping examples of awful behavior on the parts of all sorts of people at the Getty, well beyond Marion True.

Also: the Getty Villa is fucking fantastic and must be seen, even with the asterisks and question marks attached to much of the collection.
posted by the phlegmatic king at 8:26 AM on August 21, 2015 [4 favorites]

The level of casual everyday criminality among the rich always amazes me. That she went down for being so gauche as to borrow money from a wealthy patron makes it even funnier.
posted by srboisvert at 9:39 AM on August 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Part of what's so nuts about Chasing Aphrodite is that it documents crazy levels of casual everyday criminality at the Getty going back for decades. Their original antiquities curator was running a pretty open tax-dodge for anybody who wanted to help him out a little.
posted by the phlegmatic king at 10:45 AM on August 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Is Chasing Aphrodite worth the read? It's on my list but I haven't gotten to it yet.
posted by PussKillian at 11:35 AM on August 21, 2015

I liked it. There are sloggy stretches, but if you bull through them you always get to more holy-shit-no-way bad behavior. If you're into art or museums at all, it sheds a lot of light on hidden corners.
posted by the phlegmatic king at 11:37 AM on August 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

I just finished reading Chasing Aphrodite. Good stuff.

Much like reading about high-level moles like Aldrich Ames or Kim Philby, the sheer mass of evidence suggests that so many people got away with so much because there were so many petty crimes and political maneuvers that the big scandalous crimes just got lost in the background.

Marion True comes off less as guilty but scapegoated (which she was), and more like a truly tragic figure. She was still involved in dirty dealings SIMULTANEOUSLY while trying to get a new standard of ethics in place. Comes off more like a tale of addiction, which is pretty much how the notoriously stingy Getty himself viewed his own art collecting.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 3:29 PM on August 27, 2015

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