THE GRAND ACQUISITORS by John L. Hess

THE GRAND ACQUISITORS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The first book length vernissage (there has been the John McPhee New Yorker piece, cited and credited here) of Hoving of the Metropolitan Museum although the other acquisitors of the title remain in the background as perfunctorily and almost anonymously as they serve as trustees. Definitely a wheeler as well as something of a swinger, his own best publicist and worst enemy, Hoving became the steward of the Met declaring ""your eye is king"" if only to leave you wondering where his head was during the improprieties to follow: the various acquisitions (he still firmly insists he had to ""upgrade and refine the quality of the collections""), de-acquisitions (the disgraceful unloading of various valuable paintings from Picasso to El Greco down to other artifacts) or ""re-accessioning"" after some of his moves were questioned -- the two most dubious being his private transactions with the Marlborough Galleries (""Welcome to Marlborough Country"" as one soured curator said) and the purchase of an Attic vase of debatable provenance, let alone legality. Hess, a New York Times reporter who worked closely with John Canaday on much of this, has told the story simply but then it doesn't need to be improved on.

Pub Date: March 27th, 1974
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin