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Rogues' Gallery: The Secret Story Of The Lust, Lies, Greed, And Betrayals That Made The Metropolitan Museum Of Art (2009)

by Michael Gross(Favorite Author)
3.23 of 5 Votes: 5
0767924886 (ISBN13: 9780767924887)
Broadway Books
review 1: Incredibly detailed account of the source and circumstances surrounding what must be almost every large donation ever made to the Met. It gets repetitive in parts, hashing out the details of courting the moneyed, contesting wills, willfully ignoring or working against obtaining anything "modern," and obtaining grey- or black-market antiquities, then dealing with the fallout of all of the above. I can understand the low ratings of other readers but I found it incredibly successful as a straight piece of reference, bookended by a detailed account of the author's ongoing battle with a bureaucracy determined to thwart him and his virtuous exposé journalism (by his account). I guess there are some ugly bits, especially regarding antiquities without provenance, money-grabbing t... moreactics, and in-fighting among curators, directors, and trustees, but I really didn't come across anything SO HORRIBLE as to explain the museum's apparent stonewalling of the author. Maybe that's the point, that whatever they're covering up is worse, but honestly, what kind of bureaucratic nonsense deserves that much protection? Everyone involved is human with all the associated foibles and failings expected, just blown up on a grand scale.Anyway, it can get a bit eye-glazing at points with its belabored attention to detail and worshipful tone of the museum's place in the city and the world, but I still found it a useful and necessary reference of a venerable institution.
review 2: Parts of this were fascinating but parts of it just plain dragged. I really think it needed a more thorough edit. For example, there was a very long section (at least it felt that way to me) about Rockefeller's dealings with the sculptor Barnard. I understand that there were personal dealings about a personal purchase of a sculpture that colored their dealing in acquiring the CLoisters for the MET, but it could've all been dispatched with a couple of sentences, not page after page. Unfortunately the book was largely like this. The most entertaining part was the mid 20th century, maybe because there were first-hand sources? Only a book to read if you're really interested in the topic, otherwise it can be rather plodding less
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Couldn't get through... Too long, too boring for summer. I'll try again in the winer.
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