Art museum director Gary Vikan lays bare the messy underbelly of museum life in his revealing memoir Sacred and Stolen. From looted antiquities and crooked dealers to fakes, inside thefts, bribery, and failed exhibitions, Vikan’s revelations are both shocking and sometimes comical.
A Minnesota kid who started out as a printer’s devil, Vikan ended up as the director of The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. Sacred and Stolen details his quest to bring the “holy” into the museum experience as he struggles to reconcile his passion for acquiring sacred works of art with the suspicion that they were stolen.
Among the cast of characters on his many adventures are the elegant French oil heiress, Dominique de Menil, the notorious Turkish smuggler, Aydın Dikmen, and his slippery Dutch dealer, Michel van Rijn.
Sacred and Stolen is a truly eye-opening account of art dealing in the modern world.
“Not since Thomas Hoving made the mummies dance has there been such a lively and engaging look at the inner workings of a major museum.”
—James Bradburne, Director, Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan
“Gary Vikan’s wonderful, insightful memoir lifts the curtain and provides an invaluable, honest, and engaging glimpse behind the scenes of the museum world. A must-read for anyone interested in museums, curating, and collecting.”
—Dr. Noah Charney, best-selling author of The Art of Forgery
“One-upping fictional art whodunits, Gary Vikan shares a variety of nerve-racking real life experiences to provide new insights into the world of art museum directors. Lurking behind all that Technicolor museum glamour are many shades of gray, a fascinating cast of characters, and lots of intrigue.”
—Tom Freudenheim, former Director of the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Worcester Art Museum; former Assistant Secretary for Museums, Smithsonian Institution