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A Monthly Culture Matrix For the Cosmopolitan Traveler

Art Bust

Available on Apple Podcasts / Podcasts

In the podcast Art Bust, host Ben Lewis, a British documentarian and journalist, tells stories about the sleazy ways con artists make and deal art that ends up in museums like the Met. Scandals get an episode or two, and the crimes covered range from art forgery to coffin raiding to wire fraud. While the people behind the swindles don’t emerge looking too good, the rich collectors and museums—who can be persuaded to overlook sketchy authentication if the deal is good enough—sometimes come off looking far worse. My favorite episode, “The Golden Coffin,” details how a photo of Kim Kardashian standing next to a gold Egyptian coffin at the 2018 Met Gala helped expose an antiquity-looting-and-trafficking ring. In the end, the Met had to return the coffin, which left the museum via motorcade to board a private plane to Cairo, where it went on display. The curators involved with signing off on the coffin’s fabricated export license are still acquiring ancient Egyptian art for the museum. —J.D.

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