Rogues' Gallery Part 10

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Rogues' Gallery



Rogues' Gallery Part 10




Four months later, Burden wasn't among the speakers against the master plan at the four-hour Parks Department hearing before an audience of six hundred. They demanded to know every detail of the Lehman bequest, hailed decentralization, called the museum monstrous, and hissed at the plan to remove the grand staircase. Hoving was outraged-most of all when he learned that museum employees had applauded the anti-master-plan forces.



Hoving was caught between two staff factions, neither of which liked him. On one side were the conservative curators led by Bothmer and appalled by Hoving's ambition, hubris, and especially his disdain for them. They thought Hoving was playing a zero-sum game; for him to win, his curators would have to accept second place. On the other side were those Bothmer disdained almost as much, less-lofty staffers who reflected the turmoil in the larger world.



The Met may have been behind the times, but it was not exempt from them. At the same time Hoving was fighting for his master plan, a battle was beginning on another front as well. In 1970, the educational material coordinator, Judith Blitman, who'd just turned thirty, started to feel frustrated that women staffers were paid less and promoted more slowly than their male counterparts. She was not alone. Other women had come up against arcane and unfair policies regarding maternity leave, and discontent galvanized them. "People started asking, does the museum need a staff a.s.sociation?" says the curator Jessie McNab Dennis. Though the guards and maintenance staff paid by the city had a union, no other employees did.



Early in 1969, Blitman read about a young lawyer who'd taken Time Inc. to court for discrimination against women-and won. To the Met's chagrin, he was hired to represent the nascent women's group and that summer asked members to write memos that he could boil down into a list of demands. By the time of the meeting at the American Museum of Natural History, he was issuing them. McNab Dennis was there that night and applauded when a speaker deplored the sort of architecture championed by the museum's board. "When I looked up, there was Hoving," she later said.



"I've been watching you," Hoving said ominously.



The lawyer, Dominick Tuminaro, found that "women with equivalent backgrounds took three to nine times longer" to win promotions, he says. After the museum lawyers proved unwilling to negotiate with him, he took his case to New York's attorney general, and after a brief investigation the museum denied it had broken the law but agreed not to do it again, and to set up a women's forum to hear charges of s.e.x discrimination. "There was an easing," says McNab Dennis, "but no one was really pleased."



The grumbling and organizing continued, and a staff group met outside the museum and insisted that if Hoving wanted to treat them like a university senate, then they wanted job protections equivalent to tenure, salaries comparable to those in universities, and the right to know about major policy decisions in advance. Summaries of what was said at the meeting were soon on Hoving's desk. His reaction was likely not expected.



In May 1972, Hoving announced layoffs and blamed them on a $1.5 million budget deficit. The museum had run in the red for four years. The trustees had only raised $21 million from themselves and their friends to pay for the master plan. Admission was down, the city was retrenching, a strike at a plant had cut into merchandise revenues, the Dorotheum's sales were down. The trustees insisted that Hoving balance the budget and agreed when he decided to cut staff and programs, though they feared that decision would land them in trouble again. They were right.



When a list of forty-three names of those who'd quit, retired, or been laid off hit Hoving's desk, he scrawled across the top, "Why not more?" Sixty-three people were finally let go. The ax was aimed at the primarily female education and catalog departments. None of Hoving's inner circle lost their jobs of course. Sympathetic curators like John Walsh wrote an open protest letter and joined a picket line in the pouring rain. The line went up as the board arrived for a meeting. "Brooke Astor's car pulls up," recalls a striker. "She gets out, hair done, in a beautiful raincoat, hears the chants, stops, looks, and goes in." d.i.c.k Dilworth paused long enough to tell the Times Times he was sorry, but the layoffs were long overdue. he was sorry, but the layoffs were long overdue.139 The new staff a.s.sociation complained to the National Labor Relations Board, and in May 1973 the museum settled for some back pay with some of the fired, a vote on whether the staff wanted to join the munic.i.p.al employees' union (they did not), and again, no admission of wrongdoing. Two years later, the s.e.x-discrimination deal with the New York attorney general was amended, and the museum promised to hire more minorities and women. The first female guard in the museum's history, a former cosmetician, was finally hired in March 1975. Tuminaro, who'd won the first agreement, now feels it was a token victory. "It shook things up a little bit, but there's always a question of what you accomplished and whether more could have been," he says. "There's an incentive to settle with a public inst.i.tution and a very powerful board of elite individuals."



Which likely explains why, that same summer, Heckscher agreed to let the museum start charging admission, after the board said it was facing its third straight year of deficits. Henry Ittleson, who'd been made an honorary trustee even though Bobbie Lehman objected to him, came up with a way to increase revenue without running afoul of the museum's lease or state law, which mandated free-admission days. Immediately, the museum began experimenting with a pay-what-you-wish-but-you-must-pay-something policy for two special exhibits (for which it already had permission to charge a $1 entrance fee) and found that the average contribution was about seventy cents. Hoving extended the policy to the Cloisters that summer and the main building in the fall. The colored b.u.t.tons still used today were suggested by one of the fifty-four letters the museum received about the experiment; half the writers were opposed to it, but many of the rest were supportive. Early in 1971, Dillon told Heckscher the extra income was paying for extended hours. "So every year or so we'd raise the suggested price," says the CFO, Herrick. The policy remains in effect today (although the museum's signs play up the $20 fee, not the pay-what-you-wish part, and foreign-language signs omit that suggestion altogether). Ever since, protesters have sporadically come to the museum to hand out pennies, "suggesting" a one-cent admission.



IN THE WEEKS FOLLOWING THE MEETING AT THE A AMERICAN Museum of Natural History, the master-plan debate continued throughout the city. In advance of a Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing, Rosenblatt drew up lists of potential supporters and opponents (noting such details as their ethnic and religious affiliations and political debts to Hoving). Museum of Natural History, the master-plan debate continued throughout the city. In advance of a Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing, Rosenblatt drew up lists of potential supporters and opponents (noting such details as their ethnic and religious affiliations and political debts to Hoving).140 One of the names on that list of potential supporters was Carter Burden. Hoving was sure he'd won the young councilman over. One of the names on that list of potential supporters was Carter Burden. Hoving was sure he'd won the young councilman over.



As summer turned to fall, and the new fountains outside the museum were turned on, the battle heated up. The landmarks commission approved the Dendur enclosure but rejected the Lehman Wing. It was on to the City Council hearing, where Hoving counted on Burden's support. But the hearing was contentious, with Hoving accused of hypocrisy, the trustees of elitism, Nelson and Michael Rockefeller of exploitation of African artists, and museum donors of making Central Park a monument to their own egotism. The anti-museum forces were led by Burden, who the Times Times said played the role of "grand inquisitor," questioning the museum's good faith, calling its outreach plans window dressing and the board members present (Dillon and Gilpatric) unrepresentative, accusing it of catering to a cultural elite, and comparing the Lehman Wing to a monument to a Roman emperor. Before the meeting was over, Hoving admitted that the trustees were "almost totally unrepresentative of the people we serve," and Dillon had promised to do something about that and to take no more land in Central Park-even if the museum could proceed. said played the role of "grand inquisitor," questioning the museum's good faith, calling its outreach plans window dressing and the board members present (Dillon and Gilpatric) unrepresentative, accusing it of catering to a cultural elite, and comparing the Lehman Wing to a monument to a Roman emperor. Before the meeting was over, Hoving admitted that the trustees were "almost totally unrepresentative of the people we serve," and Dillon had promised to do something about that and to take no more land in Central Park-even if the museum could proceed.141 In the weeks to come, the battle continued in dueling letters to the editor from Burden and Dillon. At the end of October, Burden introduced a bill demanding Heckscher withhold his approval until more questions were answered. Instead, in January 1971, Heckscher approved the Lehman pavilion conditioned on the trustees' agreement to add the two garden court entrances, to make more loans to neighborhood inst.i.tutions, and to never again ask to build outside the borders of the master plan.142 Burden and a number of others announced plans to sue to overturn Heckscher's "illegal act." Burden and a number of others announced plans to sue to overturn Heckscher's "illegal act."



On the surface at least, Hoving seemed to relish the fuss. But behind the scenes, some trustees were lobbying to fire him-and do the unthinkable, replace him with George Trescher. Trescher had descended into a funk after the end of the centennial. When he got wind of the rumors, he decided to go for it, making little power plays for the job, including setting up a private event for Charlie Wrightsman after Hoving ordered him not to.



Hoving won the fight with Trescher, who left the museum in 1971 to set up his own events and marketing firm, which he ran to great success until his death in 2003. But Hoving lost the last remnants of Wrightsman's patronage. "He said, 'Eighty-five percent of the time you're really a genius; 15 percent you're a piece of s.h.i.t and I can't stand you,' " Hoving recalls. "I said, 'Charlie, I'd reverse the percentages when I think of you.' And he slapped me on the back." Trescher was replaced by Edward Warburg, a grandson of the investment banker Jacob Schiff who'd made the arts his life's work after studying under Paul Sachs at Harvard. Dillon stuck by Hoving through it all. Dillon also backed Hoving's decision to alter the Great Hall plan and build two large shops there (they opened in 1979), "transforming the Met-subtly and gradually, so as to blunt the inevitable flak-into a retail store of the finest quality," Hoving would later recall.143 Dillon was wholeheartedly in favor of the expansion of the reproduction "factory" developed by Brad Kelleher, the Met's resident retail genius. "When curators turned up their noses," Herrick says, "I told them, 'This helps pay your salary.' " Sadly, Kelleher's success caused more problems between Tom and Walter Hoving, after Tom approached some of Tiffany's vendors to make museum merchandise. Walter was furious. Dillon was wholeheartedly in favor of the expansion of the reproduction "factory" developed by Brad Kelleher, the Met's resident retail genius. "When curators turned up their noses," Herrick says, "I told them, 'This helps pay your salary.' " Sadly, Kelleher's success caused more problems between Tom and Walter Hoving, after Tom approached some of Tiffany's vendors to make museum merchandise. Walter was furious.



But it was in the big things that Dillon really excelled. And the biggest were writing checks to cover the deficit, year after year, and directing traffic at the intersection of Hoving, the board, and the public. With a manner the museum historian Karl Meyer called "emollient," Dillon "came to the aid of his besieged director and adroitly quelled criticism both from within and from without."144 Three months after Trescher's departure, the lawsuit brought by the Munic.i.p.al Art Society and the Parks Council to stop the Lehman Wing was finally thrown out of court, the museum's 1878 lease was upheld, and the way was cleared for construction to begin. Good as their word, Dillon and Hoving fulfilled several of their promises that year, allotting a board seat to a representative of each of New York's five boroughs. Redmond sent Dillon a long letter griping that it was a hasty, unsound decision. But it brought the museum its first black trustee, Arnold Johnson, owner of a women's clothing store in Harlem, where he was a civic leader (Johnson would eventually make it onto the executive committee).* Dillon also sent Heckscher a letter stating the museum's intention to never expand its perimeter again. Dillon also sent Heckscher a letter stating the museum's intention to never expand its perimeter again.



Though budgeted at $8 million, the Lehman pavilion came in for less due to a slowdown in the construction industry. The same week that a crew began clearing its site behind a fence painted with murals to discourage anti-museum graffiti, Dillon began the museum's latest capital fund-raising drive-an effort to raise $75 million, half to pay for buildings, the rest for curators, a doc.u.mentation center (never realized), and various education and outreach efforts, sending a fund-raising firm out to see major donors like the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. A Rockefeller fund official sharply criticized the high-handed rhetoric in the proposal and noted it was unlikely that the fund would make any more large gifts. That may be because Hoving had just called Governor Rockefeller "a cheap grifter" when he refused to pay $2 million for the Michael Rockefeller Wing, blaming his decision on the cost of his failed presidential run in 1968.



Luckily, Nelson's stepmother had just died and left the museum $5 million, with $1 million earmarked for the wing. Brooke Astor had stepped in to cover the rest, and an additional $1 million was raised when Hoving proposed building a profit-making parking garage beneath the wing. Construction began in the spring of 1973, with the museum advancing the $3.75 million cost out of its endowment. The garage paid for itself in three years and after that made "huge amounts of money," Rosenblatt said. When he left in 1986, it was netting $1 million a year.145 Though it had financial problems of its own, the city's contributions to the museum's operations had continued to rise to $2.3 million, and that would provide the peg for Carter Burden's next beef with the museum; though that sum covered only a fifth of the cost of operating the museum, it represented a quarter of all the money allocated to fifteen city-supported cultural inst.i.tutions, and Hoving estimated that the Met would need close to $3 million a year by 1976, when the new wings were to be finished. Despite Burden's protests, after his election as Lindsay's successor as mayor, Abe Beame "left the money in the capital budget even though the city was going bankrupt," says Hoving. "I hit him where he lived and opened my presentation with a slide of a big American flag and a line I stole from The G.o.dfather The G.o.dfather, 'It's time to honor America.' "



In fact, the political wind had changed with Beame, and the funds to build came fairly easily. Decisions about the museum's budget were no longer political footb.a.l.l.s. "We had a duty to support [museums] as ornaments of a world capital of culture," says Beame's comptroller, Harrison "Jay" Golden.



Private donors felt the same, but still there were difficult negotiations over the money for the wing to hold the Temple of Dendur-and repercussions from them would shake the museum in years to come. The root of the problem was buried deep in the secretive Rorimer years. In November 1963, Dr. Arthur M. Sackler-the creator of modern drug marketing whose company would later develop and market the opium-based painkiller Oxy-Contin146-offered to pay for new galleries to house Chinese art, donate part of his collection of Chinese jades and porcelain, an area in which the museum was weak, and buy four large Chinese sculptures it had purchased decades before at cost and then give them back to the museum, all in exchange for naming the new galleries for his family.147 In that sleepy era, bagging Sackler was a coup. In that sleepy era, bagging Sackler was a coup.



In 1966, he negotiated a second deal with Rorimer, who gave him a cavernous storage room above the museum's auditorium for the storage and cataloging of his private collection by a private curator. The deal gave Sackler free guards and fire protection, saved him the cost of insurance, and was so secret only top museum officials knew about it. The enclave even had its own phone number that bypa.s.sed the museum switchboard. Rorimer hoped it would induce Sackler to give the majority of the five thousand objects stored there to the museum. Curiously, the stickler Redmond didn't object to that unusual deal.



Sackler had just taken possession of his secret room when the newly installed Hoving invited him in for a chat and asked for more money. Then, in 1972, after Lila Wallace refused to pay for the Dendur enclosure, Dillon and Hoving asked Sackler for $3.5 million, using his well-known interest in Middle East peace as a lure to get him to pay for a home for the Egyptian temple. In 1973, the lengthy negotiation was still going on when the Art Commission approved the structure. Only then did Hoving realize he needed another $1.4 million to build the foundation. Dillon ended up footing that bill, anonymously.



Excavation was well under way when a deal with Sackler was finally signed in June 1974, just after the Board of Estimate and the City Council held their final vote on the master plan, approving Beame's $3 million allocation for a new American wing. By the time ground was broken for that in July (Joan Payson kicked in $5 million and got the ceremonial shovel, $5 million more had been promised from individuals and foundations, and businesses like AT&T, Corning, Exxon, and IBM committed $1.4 million), the sh.e.l.l of the Lehman wing was finished, the garage beneath the Rockefeller Wing was under construction, and the Dendur foundation-which would eventually hold employee parking, loading docks, storage, a vault, an environmental chamber, and a hydraulic lift topped by a concrete platform for the temple itself-had been laid. Though work on the American Wing would be frozen for a year by political opposition-Hoving came to think that Carter Burden and Carol Greitzer, a liberal in the City Council, would have voted against the Garden of Eden had he supported it-all would eventually proceed.



Sackler and his brothers finally agreed to pay for not only the Dendur temple enclosure but also Asian art and archaeology galleries, offices, and laboratories. But they drove a hard bargain: The wing was to be named the Sackler Wing, the temple enclosure the Sackler Gallery for Egyptian Art, and the galleries the Sackler Galleries for Asian Art, with each of the three Sacklers' names listed. "They insisted on having the M.D.'s on there," said Rosenblatt, who would later joke that all that was missing was a note of their office hours.148 The museum also promised that whenever any of those s.p.a.ces were referred to, individual nods to each of the three brothers would be included; that if the Sacklers chose to give more Asian or Egyptian art, s.p.a.ce would be cleared for its permanent exhibition; that catalogs of the Sackler collections would prominently feature their names; that their beneficence would be mentioned whenever there was an event in the wing or an object from it mentioned in the Bulletin; Bulletin; that all photographs and reproductions would reference the Sackler name; and that any press releases would be subject to their approval. Unfortunately, the donation was to be paid out over twenty years, so in the end the museum had to raise construction money elsewhere. The true value of the gift was far less than it first seemed. that all photographs and reproductions would reference the Sackler name; and that any press releases would be subject to their approval. Unfortunately, the donation was to be paid out over twenty years, so in the end the museum had to raise construction money elsewhere. The true value of the gift was far less than it first seemed.



Though they gave in to them, Sackler's demands rubbed the trustees the wrong way. He also wanted a seat on the board and, when one wasn't forthcoming, he decided he was a victim of anti-Semitism-even though, as Rosenblatt later observed, in the Dillon era "they ran out of WASPs with money, so now they have every rich Jewish real estate mogul on the board."149 In 1978, just after Hoving left the museum, Sol Chaneles, a criminal justice professor at Rutgers University, uncovered the existence of the Sackler enclave, inspiring another investigation by New York's attorney general. This time, the museum got off with a mild scolding, and Sackler was cleared of any wrongdoing, and his art remained in the enclave for several more years. Dillon and company "weren't entirely distressed" by the investigation, the journalist Jesse Kornbluth wrote, hoping the bad publicity would nudge Sackler closer to donating his treasures to the Met. But instead, the opposite occurred. Sackler started thinking of cheating on the Met two years before his wing opened. And if revenge is a dish best served cold, then Washington, D.C., would soon taste a gourmet feast, losing Dendur but getting more out of Sackler than New York.



In 1982, Hoving's successor, Philippe de Montebello, would be rocked by the news that Sackler, then sixty-nine, was giving $4 million and a thousand of his best Asian objects to the Smithsonian Inst.i.tution-which had offered to build what would become the Washington Mall's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery to house them-and another big batch of art and money to Harvard's Fogg.



Even after Sackler's betrayal of the Met was announced, Montebello gave lip service to his desire to get some of what remained of Sackler's collection. But in the months that followed, Sackler's grievances against the Met piled up. In 1982, he approached Hoving, who'd gone to work as the editor of Connoisseur Connoisseur magazine, to publish an expose aimed at getting rid of Montebello. magazine, to publish an expose aimed at getting rid of Montebello.



Sackler presented Hoving with a litany of the complaints that had led to his deal with the Smithsonian. He thought Ashton Hawkins, who'd made the Dendur deal, had kept him off the board and obscured his own role in the negotiation by claiming Sackler took advantage of the museum; he was furious over the way the museum was using the "sacred" Dendur enclosure for parties, calling a recent private dinner for the fashion designer Valentino "disgusting;" and he thought a photo of Montebello in a fashion magazine denigrated the museum.150 Sackler seemed particularly vexed by the preponderance of h.o.m.os.e.xuals on the museum staff. Tuminaro, the labor lawyer, had noted the museum's gay mafia and felt it partly explained the pattern of discrimination against women there. At one point, Dillon asked Hoving to inst.i.tute a secret gay quota for curators. "I roared with laughter when he left," he says. "All the big gays were in the administration administration, and he had no idea who they were! We loved having gays around. They were smart and funny as h.e.l.l."



Sackler had a terrible relationship with Montebello-and a quarter century later, his lawyer still betrays the ill will. "Philippe decided he didn't have time for Arthur," Michael Sonnenreich says. "If you're a director and you have a donor, you spend time." It didn't matter that Sackler was abrasive. "So what?" Sonnenreich says. "Do you think most people who give money are easy to get along with?" So the Met lost the Sackler collection. "That's life," Sonnenreich barks.



In the end, the Met got Asian art of its own from Dillon and a couple of his neighbors, Charlotte and John Weber (she was a Campbell's soup heiress), whom Dillon recruited to buy a collection that rivaled Sackler's. But Sackler got more: not just a museum of his own, but respect. Though he was called controversial, manipulative, and demanding, museum directors competed to see who could lavish more praise on him, and by the time he died, his donations had transformed his reputation. Instead of reporting on him for their obituaries in 1987, both the New York Times New York Times and the and the Washington Post Washington Post focused on his generosity, basing their accounts of his life on a biography the focused on his generosity, basing their accounts of his life on a biography the Post Post admitted was provided by Sackler's office. admitted was provided by Sackler's office.



TOM H HOVING'S M METROPOLITAN M MUSEUM WOULD BE A LONG, slow reveal. The Lehman Wing opened in May 1975 to a fierce round of criticism of the museum's wrongheaded pandering to a donor's desires. New Islamic galleries opened that fall, followed by new Egyptian galleries and, in September 1978, the Sackler Wing, which was both condemned as a barren gymnasium and hailed as an instant landmark. Then came the Rockefeller Wing, the new European paintings galleries above it named for the Lazard Freres trustee Andre Meyer, and the American Wing-all open by 1980-and only then, the museum's southwest corner. When the $26 million Lila Acheson Wallace Wing opened there in 1987, repurposed from a decorative arts wing to a modern art wing, Hoving's museum would be virtually complete, its three mismatched sides wrapped in limestone and gla.s.s.* The master plan "seems to make real sense at last," the critic Paul Goldberger wrote. The master plan "seems to make real sense at last," the critic Paul Goldberger wrote.151 Its success was the greatest accomplishment of Hoving's tenure as director, yet it was Montebello who presided over it. Its success was the greatest accomplishment of Hoving's tenure as director, yet it was Montebello who presided over it.



Hoving's mistakes leeched a lot of the joy from his accomplishments. His biggest mistakes, he thinks, began after the master plan was approved and he started looking for new worlds to conquer. Hoving had always seen himself as a Grand Acquisitor, not a builder-and knew that acquisition was not a game for the weak. "Art collecting is all about greedy social-climbers and parvenus who virtually steal the stuff away from weaker people and countries," he wrote.152 Over the next few years he would help hide the circ.u.mstances of one great purchase, known as the Lydian h.o.a.rd, found just before he became director, and preside over another, the Greek antiquity known as the Euphronios krater, that would plague the museum for thirty years. By 1975, when Hoving's reign began to wind down, the trustees likely longed for the days when their biggest problems were radicals and roaches. Over the next few years he would help hide the circ.u.mstances of one great purchase, known as the Lydian h.o.a.rd, found just before he became director, and preside over another, the Greek antiquity known as the Euphronios krater, that would plague the museum for thirty years. By 1975, when Hoving's reign began to wind down, the trustees likely longed for the days when their biggest problems were radicals and roaches.



Hoving's successes led to scandals. In November 1970, he bought the Diego Rodriguez de Silva Velazquez painting Juan de Pareja Juan de Pareja, "a dignified portrait of a black man [technically, a mulatto], a free, fully formed individual," says Botwinick; what better way to show the Met was a champion of equal rights. Dillon approved it without consulting the board-the $5.592 million purchase was presented as a fait accompli.



How would the museum pay for such an extravagance when it had been running up deficits for nearly four years? Six members of the acquisitions committee contributed, but only $750,000. The rest came from the princ.i.p.al of an acquisition fund. Of that, $2 million was to be repaid over fifteen years from the income of another fund-a move that required an amendment to the museum's bylaws. Redmond, as usual, was outraged. Time Time magazine called it a mortgage on the museum's buying power. But a plan was already under discussion to pay it off and had been announced in general terms in Dillon's introduction of the master plan, though it slipped by unnoticed. Acutely aware that "art had to be disposed of now that the finite limits of physical growth had been set by the Master Plan," Hoving had "instructed each curator to comb through magazine called it a mortgage on the museum's buying power. But a plan was already under discussion to pay it off and had been announced in general terms in Dillon's introduction of the master plan, though it slipped by unnoticed. Acutely aware that "art had to be disposed of now that the finite limits of physical growth had been set by the Master Plan," Hoving had "instructed each curator to comb through all all his or her holdings with an eye to what secondary and duplicate material [could] be weeded out." his or her holdings with an eye to what secondary and duplicate material [could] be weeded out."153 There was about to be a ma.s.s sell-off of museum property. There was about to be a ma.s.s sell-off of museum property.



Deaccessioning had been going on for years. It was made easier in 1968, when the purchasing committee was renamed and given power to accept and reject gifts and to sell things worth under $25,000. By the spring of 1971, the process had begun, each item noted in the minutes of the acquisitions committee along with its value, whether it was a purchase or a gift, and who'd given it; the March list included gifts from Morgan, de Forest, Rockefeller, and Blumenthal, as well as three Claude Monet paintings valued at $40,000 to $50,000 apiece. In June, the trustees decided to sell a collection of about ten thousand coins the museum owned, worth more than $1 million.



That fall, Hoving and Rousseau saw a Francis Bacon retrospective in Paris and decided the Met had to have one. "Tom desperately wanted one," says Rosie Levai, Rousseau's a.s.sistant; her husband's family controlled the Marlborough galleries, Bacon's dealer. Geldzahler's acquisition budget was meager, though, so he suggested selling a batch of paintings, among them The Tropics The Tropics by the painter known as Le Douanier Rousseau (no relation to Ted) because the Met had two similar works. Geldzahler was so desperate to acquire modern art he'd once listed the items the trustees had caused him to lose: a Matisse cutout, a drawing by Arshile Gorky, a Jasper Johns white flag, a Brancusi, Rauschenberg's by the painter known as Le Douanier Rousseau (no relation to Ted) because the Met had two similar works. Geldzahler was so desperate to acquire modern art he'd once listed the items the trustees had caused him to lose: a Matisse cutout, a drawing by Arshile Gorky, a Jasper Johns white flag, a Brancusi, Rauschenberg's Rebus Rebus. "It was crushing, crushing, but it didn't stop me," he said.154 Now, he wanted a Bacon. Now, he wanted a Bacon.



In November, Rousseau, the chief proponent of the cull, added forty-four paintings to the sell list, many quite valuable, including the museum's first Cezanne, View of the Domaine Saint-Joseph View of the Domaine Saint-Joseph, bought by Bryson Burroughs from the 1913 Armory Show; works by Corot, Courbet, Sisley, p.i.s.sarro, Manet, Redon, Renoir, Seurat, Signac, Pica.s.so; a Vuillard that had been a gift from Bobbie Lehman; and a van Gogh worth at least $1 million. The public was in the dark about the sell-off.



But soon, word leaked of the museum's intention to invite sealed bids from a handful of dealers for some of the paintings and to sell others at auction. Private expressions of outrage came from curators at the Modern, from scholars like Francis Watson, and even from dealers who felt that whether the paintings were expendable or not, the impulsive Hoving was heading down a slippery slope. In mid-May, the New York Post New York Post printed a rumor that Ted Rousseau was being interviewed to replace him. printed a rumor that Ted Rousseau was being interviewed to replace him.



But the sell-off wasn't just Hoving's doing. The acquisitions committee, chaired by Houghton and including Astor, Fosburgh, Wrightsman, Andre Meyer, Frelinghuysen, Dillon, Payson, the banker Walter Baker, and Sulzberger, the New York Times New York Times publisher who was known as Punch, had approved the sales. After news of the deaccessioning reached the denizens of Culture Gulch, the publisher who was known as Punch, had approved the sales. After news of the deaccessioning reached the denizens of Culture Gulch, the Times Times culture writers seemed determined to test the boundaries of their freedom to annoy their publisher. culture writers seemed determined to test the boundaries of their freedom to annoy their publisher.



John Canaday drove the story. A former museum education man in Philadelphia, he was alternately charmed and appalled by Hoving and his "extremely disarming" but simultaneously arrogant and transparent attempts to manipulate him. Like Burden, he found Hoving condescending-but compelling. Late in February, without named sources or comment from the museum, Canaday published a Paul Revere-like call to arms, "Very Quiet and Very Dangerous," in his Sunday Times Times column, decrying the idea of painting sales. Citing the tax deductions donors take, and clearly offended by the secretive process, he called the move a betrayal of public trust. Hoving demanded the right to reb.u.t.tal and a week later, in the same s.p.a.ce in the Sunday paper, set out the case for, and the history of, deaccessioning. He t.i.tled it "Very Inaccurate and Very Dangerous." John Hess, a hotheaded reporter who would soon join the chase, later claimed Punch Sulzberger insisted on the unprecedented article by a news subject, and held the presses to run it. column, decrying the idea of painting sales. Citing the tax deductions donors take, and clearly offended by the secretive process, he called the move a betrayal of public trust. Hoving demanded the right to reb.u.t.tal and a week later, in the same s.p.a.ce in the Sunday paper, set out the case for, and the history of, deaccessioning. He t.i.tled it "Very Inaccurate and Very Dangerous." John Hess, a hotheaded reporter who would soon join the chase, later claimed Punch Sulzberger insisted on the unprecedented article by a news subject, and held the presses to run it.155 Punch was considered quiet, conservative, and unostentatious, though he did fly in a company jet. His aspect was bland, but he was forward-thinking and possessed of a certain heroism: the first attribute was expressed in his creation of the paper's popular lifestyle sections, the second in the bravery it took to print the Pentagon Papers. Despite this, Punch was not perceived as a business genius, an intellectual, or a cultural savant; he would have been the first to say he was none of those.



Sulzberger's election to the Met board still puzzles the former Times Times critic Hilton Kramer. "He didn't have a clue what the museum was doing," Kramer says. "His interest in art was nil." Clearly, Hoving and the trustees hoped that like his father, Punch would keep the critic Hilton Kramer. "He didn't have a clue what the museum was doing," Kramer says. "His interest in art was nil." Clearly, Hoving and the trustees hoped that like his father, Punch would keep the Times Times off their backs. Despite the off their backs. Despite the Times's Times's insistence on the separation of church and state, of editorial and advertising and of news and opinion, Punch was interested in what his paper printed and proved willing to edge close to those inviolable lines. insistence on the separation of church and state, of editorial and advertising and of news and opinion, Punch was interested in what his paper printed and proved willing to edge close to those inviolable lines.



During the Lehman Wing fracas, Punch had sent his cousin John B. Oakes, editor of the Times Times editorial page, two memos, the first asking him to refrain from publishing an editorial opinion until the Met board had reached a decision, and the second informing him the wing would be built and that he agreed it should be. "I would like us to come out positively for the construction," Punch suggested. But Ada Louise Huxtable, the architecture critic who sometimes wrote for the editorial page, sent Oakes a memo, too, warning that Culture Gulch was unanimous in its opposition to the plan. editorial page, two memos, the first asking him to refrain from publishing an editorial opinion until the Met board had reached a decision, and the second informing him the wing would be built and that he agreed it should be. "I would like us to come out positively for the construction," Punch suggested. But Ada Louise Huxtable, the architecture critic who sometimes wrote for the editorial page, sent Oakes a memo, too, warning that Culture Gulch was unanimous in its opposition to the plan.



It wasn't long before Punch wrote again, asking if he'd missed a prowing editorial and offering to write it himself. Oakes recorded what happened next in a memo for his files in April 1971: "In a conversation with AOS today, I persuaded him to drop his editorial idea on two basic grounds-1) as publisher he should not force an editorial through against the strong advice of the editor of the page and the latter's colleague, 2) as trustee of the inst.i.tution involved, he has an obligation over and above that just mentioned to separate the responsibilities of trustee from those of publisher of the New York Times New York Times. After hearing me out patiently, he agreed to drop the proposed editorial." The moment pa.s.sed. "I think that speaks very well for him," Oakes concluded.156 So, in hindsight, does Sulzberger's role in the deaccessioning story, and all that followed. Despite the insistence of some that his presence on the acquisitions committee indicates complicity in museum misdeeds, nothing Sulzberger did ever put the museum's interests ahead of the Times's Times's, unless, of course, as seems possible, he was actually trying to bring Hoving down by letting his reporters chip away at him. If true, he was in good and growing company. Francis Steegmuller, the author and Flaubert scholar, wrote Canaday after his column to say that Hoving had just told his wife, the novelist Shirley Hazzard, of a plan to "dispose of fourteen routine Monets." Routine Monets, she'd replied, was a contradiction in terms.157 Brooke Astor must have agreed. She told an art historian friend she was thinking of buying one, even though, as a trustee, that would have been illegal. Brooke Astor must have agreed. She told an art historian friend she was thinking of buying one, even though, as a trustee, that would have been illegal.



Virginia Lewisohn Kahn, whose mother gave the Gauguin, was angry, too. "It was not her intention to give the Metropolitan a negotiable security," she wrote to the Times. Times.158 Art in America Art in America decided it was vulgar to trade away a painting like another donor's van Gogh and put the name of its donor on "a painting she never saw and for which she might not have cared." decided it was vulgar to trade away a painting like another donor's van Gogh and put the name of its donor on "a painting she never saw and for which she might not have cared."159 Reporters generally mistrust powerful, secretive inst.i.tutions. And those organizations often mistake the press's pursuit of them for vendetta. In the spring of 1972, such tendencies were magnified. And by slapping Canaday in public, Hoving had made it personal. Given the climate of the times-just a few months earlier, the Nixon White House had formed a secret leak-plugging unit after the Times Times published the Pentagon Papers; three months after Canaday's first Hoving articles, those same plumbers were arrested breaking into Washington's Watergate-it's probably no wonder that Hoving began to think that Culture Gulch was determined to lynch him for published the Pentagon Papers; three months after Canaday's first Hoving articles, those same plumbers were arrested breaking into Washington's Watergate-it's probably no wonder that Hoving began to think that Culture Gulch was determined to lynch him for something something. Ted was also blamed; a joke went around that the museum had deaccessioned the wrong Rousseau.



And it wasn't only the Times Times complaining. Hoving's critics were out for his scalp for changing the terms of the art world, for his "brutal disregard for custom, truth and even law," complaining. Hoving's critics were out for his scalp for changing the terms of the art world, for his "brutal disregard for custom, truth and even law,"160 for the populist centennial hoopla, for the imperial landgrab, for letting Henry turn the Great Hall into a dope den, all of it magnified by the joy and ego lift Hoving so obviously got from it all. The press had a good story and wouldn't let go. And Sulzberger showed no inclination to stop them. "He understood the limits," says Grace Glueck, another for the populist centennial hoopla, for the imperial landgrab, for letting Henry turn the Great Hall into a dope den, all of it magnified by the joy and ego lift Hoving so obviously got from it all. The press had a good story and wouldn't let go. And Sulzberger showed no inclination to stop them. "He understood the limits," says Grace Glueck, another Times Times culture section writer. Riding in the elevator with her one day, he joked, "Are you trying to get me in trouble with the boys over there?" culture section writer. Riding in the elevator with her one day, he joked, "Are you trying to get me in trouble with the boys over there?"



WAS THE MUSEUM FOR SALE? I IT SEEMED SO IN S SEPTEMBER 1972. Though Canaday had saved that first batch of paintings, Hoving wasn't deterred. First the coin sales were announced, then an October auction of 12 paintings, with another 123 to follow. 1972. Though Canaday had saved that first batch of paintings, Hoving wasn't deterred. First the coin sales were announced, then an October auction of 12 paintings, with another 123 to follow.



Then Canaday dropped another bomb: the museum had already started secretly selling paintings to the Marlborough Gallery, though the buyer remained anonymous for the time being; Geldzahler had also been secretly trading out items from his department, picking up a David Smith sculpture and a Diebenkorn painting. The Art Dealers a.s.sociation declared this kind of transaction a breach of trust.



More secrets emerged early in 1973, when John Hess, the dogged Times Times reporter, took the story over and in a series of nine articles published over three weeks showed what a can of worms it all really was. The Marlborough, an international network of galleries based in tiny Liechtenstein, was deeply involved in the Met's secret paintings sales. It was something new on the scene, huge, well financed, international, and sharp elbowed; it was being sued at the time for conflict of interest by the heirs of Mark Rothko, and would later pay a large settlement to his estate. reporter, took the story over and in a series of nine articles published over three weeks showed what a can of worms it all really was. The Marlborough, an international network of galleries based in tiny Liechtenstein, was deeply involved in the Met's secret paintings sales. It was something new on the scene, huge, well financed, international, and sharp elbowed; it was being sued at the time for conflict of interest by the heirs of Mark Rothko, and would later pay a large settlement to his estate.



The gallery was unpopular. So was the man who ran it, Frank Lloyd (who would be convicted of tampering with evidence in the Rothko lawsuit). Hess revealed that museum staffers had started calling Rousseau's department Marlborough Country. Another critic called Geldzahler's department a virtual branch of the gallery. "It is scandalous for public monies, indirectly siphoned via tax credits, to sustain dealers some of whom, voracious and conscienceless, demean the business," wrote Eleanor Munro in the New Republic. New Republic.161 Hess next revealed that the Met had breached bequest conditions when 34 pictures left to the museum by the eccentric collector Adelaide Milton de Groot had been sold; that an Ingres painting, Odalisque in Grisaille Odalisque in Grisaille, had been secretly shipped to Wildenstein in Paris for sale; that 147 more paintings, this time old masters, would shortly be auctioned; and that the catalog staff had been decimated by layoffs, leaving museum records incomplete (the department would never recover).



When the disappearance of the Ingres was revealed, the museum claimed it had only been sent to Paris for study by experts. Rousseau had decided it was not an Ingres, even though the painting had been bought in 1938 from the artist's widow's family. (It was returned, and its downgrade was ultimately reversed; Odalisque Odalisque remains in the collection, attributed to Ingres and his workshop.) Years later, Hoving admitted that he remains in the collection, attributed to Ingres and his workshop.) Years later, Hoving admitted that he had had tried to sell it. tried to sell it.162 Hess's next story revealed that the museum had given Marlborough art worth about $400,000 in trade for works worth only $238,000 at retail. Hess thought Marlborough had gotten a sweetheart deal; Rousseau countered that his valuations were exaggerated. Was Ted taking kickbacks, as some thought? "I never trusted curators," said Rosenblatt. "They were never well paid and their alliances with dealers [were] always so close." He suspected "most curators, at some point in their lives, have received some form of remuneration from dealers ... They have private collections of art that they couldn't possibly afford."163 An art insider even wrote to Canaday to say that Ted and Tom were on the take, and that Rosie Levai's employment at the Met was a "telling" detail that had been overlooked.164 Levai and Rousseau were also having an interoffice affair. But Levai says neither she nor her husband, who only played a supporting role at the gallery, knew about the art swap, "thank goodness"-at least until she joined Ted's damage-control team. "Every morning, we had to answer the articles because they were full of inaccuracies," she says. "I was called in one Sat.u.r.day to write up statements for Ted and Dillon. Every day you had to do battle. The press was hounding us." Levai and Rousseau were also having an interoffice affair. But Levai says neither she nor her husband, who only played a supporting role at the gallery, knew about the art swap, "thank goodness"-at least until she joined Ted's damage-control team. "Every morning, we had to answer the articles because they were full of inaccuracies," she says. "I was called in one Sat.u.r.day to write up statements for Ted and Dillon. Every day you had to do battle. The press was hounding us."



After ten days of battering, the museum blinked and gave Hess a list of all the objects it had recently sold and copies of appraisals for some of them. A leading group of art historians, teachers, and curators met with Rousseau and rebuked the museum for the sales. On the same day, Hess's work inspired another attorney general's investigation. Rousseau accused the Times Times of leading "a campaign against us." Instead of stopping, Hess continued to skewer the museum. of leading "a campaign against us." Instead of stopping, Hess continued to skewer the museum.



By mid-February, the Washington Post Washington Post declared the Met under seige. "Though the museum seems to expect awe, it often gets resentment," the paper wrote. "Provoked by all its vices-its ancient arrogance, its sn.o.bbery, its aura of infallibility-and not just by the disclosures, large segments of the art world have risen in rebellion. Some of the attacks are full of glee, of righteous indignation, and long-stored resentment. That largest, richest, most imperiously patrician of American art museums is getting its come-uppance." declared the Met under seige. "Though the museum seems to expect awe, it often gets resentment," the paper wrote. "Provoked by all its vices-its ancient arrogance, its sn.o.bbery, its aura of infallibility-and not just by the disclosures, large segments of the art world have risen in rebellion. Some of the attacks are full of glee, of righteous indignation, and long-stored resentment. That largest, richest, most imperiously patrician of American art museums is getting its come-uppance."165 All that was missing was Carter Burden, who'd taken a time-out after separating from Amanda, who sued him for divorce for cruel and inhuman treatment. Burden didn't get back on his high horse until the Hess series had run its course. Prompted, he said, by the "public deceit and dissimulation" of the deaccessioning, he introduced a bill in the council to force city-subsidized museums to disclose their finances and give advance notice of sales and exchanges and punish those that didn't with loss of subsidies. As the museum lobbied against him, Burden kept up his attacks, comparing Hoving to Richard Nixon. Finally, the museum won, and Burden lost interest, first in the museum, and then in politics, after unsuccessful bids for City Council president and for Congress. In the 1980s, he sold his contemporary art collection at a profit and began buying rare twentieth-century American books. In 1990, he bought an apartment across the street from the Metropolitan that he filled with twelve thousand volumes. After his death from heart disease in 1996 at age fifty-four, his family gave those and thousands more to the Morgan Library.



The paintings-sale drama ended, too, not with a bang but with a white paper. Hoving, Gilpatric, and Dillon all wore dark suits and white shirts as they presented it to the public in June 1973. As usual, the board promised to mend its ways, pay more attention to donors, stick to public auctions, get outside appraisals, and generally be more transparent. "It's a new era of disclosure," said the adaptable Hoving. The attorney general dropped his investigation, but said he'd be watching. And for once, the board admitted that it had made "a mistake" in trying to pull switcheroos on dead donors.



Dillon concluded his speech absolving the Times Times but accusing Hess of pursuing a vendetta. The reporter was transferred. "It wore thin after it went on for weeks and weeks, and next thing you know, Hess was writing about food," says another but accusing Hess of pursuing a vendetta. The reporter was transferred. "It wore thin after it went on for weeks and weeks, and next thing you know, Hess was writing about food," says another Times Times reporter. reporter.* But anyone who concluded that the But anyone who concluded that the Times Times was done picking on the museum wasn't paying attention. was done picking on the museum wasn't paying attention.



IT ALL STARTED WITH D DIETRICH VON B BOTHMER. IN 1967, 1967, HE HE complained that export laws in what are called source countries-the places where antiquities are dug up-had grown too restrictive. Masterpieces were the air his department breathed, but recently they'd been lost to limited purchase funds; and those it owned, like a bedroom with wall paintings from Boscoreale near Pompeii, had been out of sight for years due to lack of gallery s.p.a.ce. Privately, though, Bothmer was still buying the sorts of pieces he was talking about. One curator thinks that his rich wife gave the museum so much money he could do whatever he wanted. complained that export laws in what are called source countries-the places where antiquities are dug up-had grown too restrictive. Masterpieces were the air his department breathed, but recently they'd been lost to limited purchase funds; and those it owned, like a bedroom with wall paintings from Boscoreale near Pompeii, had been out of sight for years due to lack of gallery s.p.a.ce. Privately, though, Bothmer was still buying the sorts of pieces he was talking about. One curator thinks that his rich wife gave the museum so much money he could do whatever he wanted.



Beginning in 1966, just before Hoving returned, and into 1969, Bothmer bought a collection of more than two hundred artifacts in three batches from J. J. Klejman, a Polish-born New York dealer; it included gold and silver jewelry and objects, marble sphinxes, and wall paintings. Hoving's troubles with Bothmer may have begun when he told the board the objects were of dubious origin. Klejman, who was elected a museum benefactor that year, would later claim the stuff had first surfaced as "junk," bought from ignorant villagers who didn't know what it was. Hoving and Bothmer agreed that the purchases would not be announced or even displayed (except for a brief exhibition in which they were not identified). "It was a big joke between Dietrich and Tom that they called it the East Greek Treasure," says Michael Botwinick. There was in fact every reason to obscure what it was, where it came from, and how they'd gotten it.



The Turks called it the Lydian h.o.a.rd, and it came from Usak, in the ancient Lydian region of Turkey; the treasure was discovered in 1966 by grave robbers in several sixth-century-B.C. burial mounds constructed long before the Greeks conquered the area. The tombs had been plundered in a series of raids that year, and though some of the looters were arrested, most of the loot disappeared, smuggled out of the country. Klejman sold it to Bothmer for about $1.5 million. Among the donors who paid for it were Joyce von Bothmer ($114,000), Joan Payson ($49,351), Doug Dillon ($48,154), Houghton ($15,456), and Brooke Astor ($10,000).



Acquisitions committee meetings were fun, especially so back in the days when drinks were served during the deliberations. At one, Joan Payson and Brooke Astor pushed a $19,000 Islamic bowl back and forth, debating who should buy it. "What would I do with it?" Payson asked. "Wear it as a hat?" Egged on by Astor, she put it on her head and ended up paying for it. After that meeting, drinks were delayed until the committee's business was done. The night the so-called East Greek Treasure was approved must have been great fun, as the modern heirs of King Croesus, who reigned when the loot was made, discussed whether it had once been his.



It was a unique, incomparable collection. And even if it had to be locked away in storage until it cooled off, Bothmer could treasure it whenever he wished. He likely felt sure that his find would eventually see the light of day. Problem was, the hot properties never cooled off, because the looters left a lot behind, stole from each other, and then started pointing fingers, giving Turkish authorities a trail to follow.166 Burhan Tezcan, then Turkey's deputy director of antiquities, who had done excavations in the area, had been called in by Usak's mayor and realized what the stuff was. That led to a dealer in Izmir who called himself Ali Baba, who'd rounded up the treasure from the various looters and sold it to Klejman. But with the loot hidden in the bowels of the museum, the trail went cold. Tezcan wrote to the Met. No one responded. Burhan Tezcan, then Turkey's deputy director of antiquities, who had done excavations in the area, had been called in by Usak's mayor and realized what the stuff was. That led to a dealer in Izmir who called himself Ali Baba, who'd rounded up the treasure from the various looters and sold it to Klejman. But with the loot hidden in the bowels of the museum, the trail went cold. Tezcan wrote to the Met. No one responded.



Hoving and Bothmer knew they were in the wrong. "They knew from day one that it came from Turkey," says Oscar White Muscarella, a curator and archaeologist in the Ancient Near Eastern Art Department, who was asked to examine two frescoes from the h.o.a.rd and write a memo describing them. "I knew it was plundered from a Turkish tomb," he says. A curator from the Greek and Roman Art Department was sent to Turkey to examine the site, and he, too, wrote a memo about the criminal source of the h.o.a.rd; both doc.u.ments were buried in museum files.



Bothmer had plenty of experience with dicey dealers. Between 1950 and 1968, he had bought eight pieces from Robert Hecht, who would earn himself something of a shady reputation. In 1961, Italian authorities charged Hecht and others with receiving stolen property; fifteen years later, two of them were found guilty, but Hecht was acquitted. In 1962, Hecht was briefly arrested and later barred from Turkey for years after he flew from Izmir to Istanbul with a pocketful of Roman coins. And in 1963, his Italian residence permit was revoked after he was accused of equipping looters with electric saws to strip frescoes from tombs.167 Late in 1972, Hecht contacted Bothmer to say he'd come across something very special, so special that Bothmer didn't hesitate to pursue it. Late in 1972, Hecht contacted Bothmer to say he'd come across something very special, so special that Bothmer didn't hesitate to pursue it.



The object in question was a large, two-handled jug from the sixth century b.C., originally used by ancient Greeks and Etruscans to mix wine and water. Many such jugs, known as kraters, exist, but this one was special; it had been made by the potter Euxitheos and painted by Euphronios, one of the greatest vase painters. Euphronios's technique, painting pictures that can't be seen until a pot is fired, was almost magical.



In the mid-1960s, several Euphronios works appeared on the market, the first in a century. Hecht got his hands on at least three of them. One came with a provenance, albeit a shaky one: Hecht claimed he'd bought it in August 1971 from a somewhat mysterious Armenian art dealer in Beirut-a city known for being a laundry for smuggled goods. Another krater and a cup were almost certainly looted, late in 1971, from an Etruscan tomb near Cerveteri, north of Rome. Knowing Bothmer would kill to acquire a work by Euphronios, Hecht let him know he had an item of interest several months before the looted krater was dug up; he already had the Armenian's vase.



A few months later, the tombarolo tombarolo-or tomb robber-who'd found the second krater sold it, and it ended up in a dealer's Swiss bank vault, where Hecht saw it, bought it, and gave it to a Swiss restorer to reconstruct (for it had been broken, likely to facilitate smuggling out of Italy). The following February, Hecht wrote letters offering a krater to Bothmer, who wrote back that he and Hoving were interested. In April 1972, Hecht flew to New York and showed photos of the restored vase to Bothmer, Hoving, and Rousseau. In June, the group met Hecht in Zurich to see it in person. Hoving heard what he deemed "an imaginative tale" about the krater's provenance and demanded all the proof Hecht could offer. Years later, Hoving admitted that he knew instantly it had been looted and made a silent pact with Bothmer to avoid any knowledge of where it really came from.168 Rousseau, by Hoving's account, smelled a rat but didn't prevail. This was Bothmer's moment. Rousseau, by Hoving's account, smelled a rat but didn't prevail. This was Bothmer's moment.



Back in New York, Dillon gave his okay, and by summer's end Hecht had accepted $1 million, the highest price ever paid for an antiquity. At the end of August, he got on a plane and brought the krater to New York. Two weeks later, keeping his suspicions to himself, Hoving a.s.sured the board the vase was legitimate, and the trustees agreed to buy it.



The museum put it on display on Sunday, November 12, the day the purchase was announced in a story raving about the acquisition in, of all places, the New York Times New York Times. Hoving claims Sulzberger saw it as a perfect example of the rationale for deaccessioning, and a great cover story for his Sunday magazine, and somehow a freelancer got the a.s.signment, instead of one of the Culture Gulch crew.



In that story, Hoving was vague about where the krater came from, saying only that it had been in a private collection in England before World War I; the writer joked that the pot must have sprung from the head of Zeus. Initially, Hoving thought he'd pulled off a coup, since Canaday had been sidelined and the Euphronios story announced with all the importance and gravitas that the Times Times could convey. But Canaday was indignant, and not, like many, because of the huge price tag on the vase; he suspected that Hoving had paid it precisely because he knew he'd done something unethical, if not illegal. could convey. But Canaday was indignant, and not, like many, because of the huge price tag on the vase; he suspected that Hoving had paid it precisely because he knew he'd done something unethical, if not illegal.



Canaday and another reporter, David Shirey, started sniffing around and soon heard that in the antiquities field, the a.s.sumption was that the krater had been illegally dug up and smuggled out of Italy. People were so angry, Bothmer was denied election as a trustee of the Archaeological Inst.i.tute of America. But the culture reporters could get no further, so their editor, Arthur Gelb, decided to enlist an investigative reporter and put Nicholas Gage, a Mafia specialist, on the story. Gage approached it as a crime and in less than a month, traveling from Switzerland to Italy to Lebanon, put together most of the case that would send the krater home more than thirty years later.



Punch Sulzberger never raised an objection as, beginning on February 19, d.a.m.ning revelations emerged twelve days in a row, in as many as four Times Times stories a day. Hoving complained the coverage was more extensive than that given the bombing of Hanoi, but admitted, "I was convinced that the stories a day. Hoving complained the coverage was more extensive than that given the bombing of Hanoi, but admitted, "I was convinced that the Times Times team had rooted out the straight story." A triumphant Canaday, who simultaneously revealed the Met's purchase of the Lydian treasures, joked that Euphronios was the only artist to ever make the front page of the team had rooted out the straight story." A triumphant Canaday, who simultaneously revealed the Met's purchase of the Lydian treasures, joked that Euphronios was the only artist to ever make the front page of the Times Times ten days in a row. ten days in a row.



Hecht met with Hoving, Rousseau, and Ashton Hawkins, the museum's in-house lawyer, to a.s.sure them that the krater was on the up-and-up, and offered them $1.1 million if they wanted to return the vase. They didn't, but Hoving went home and burned the relevant pages from his diary. Not long after that, Oscar Muscarella told the Times Times he agreed with the Italians, and began giving lectures on looting. Hoving and Hawkins tried to fire him. he agreed with the Italians, and began giving lectures on looting. Hoving and Hawkins tried to fire him.*



Hecht stuck to his story, even after the Italians issued a warrant for his arrest in June 1973, having decided the Times Times was right. New York's attorney general announced another investigation of the museum, too. Hoving dismissed what he termed "the hot pot" affair as "a lot of hot air," but to many it was another example of mind-boggling arrogance. was right. New York's attorney general announced another investigation of the museum, too. Hoving dismissed what he termed "the hot pot" affair as "a lot of hot air," but to many it was another example of mind-boggling arrogance.169 Unfazed, Dillon p.r.o.nounced the hot pot "legal" in March 1973, even as he ordered up an in-house investigation. Several months later, Hoving received a letter from a modern art collector in Chicago, Muriel Newman, corroborating th





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