The Lost Chalice: The Epic Hunt for a Priceless Masterpiece
Hardcover – 352 pages
A pulse-pounding real-life chase for an ancient masterpiece of immeasurable value . . .
Sotheby's. New York City. June 19, 1990.
Nothing of its kind had been sold to the public in more than a century. On a warm June evening on Manhattan's Upper East Side, with the auction-house showroom crammed with the wealthy, the curious, and the press, history was made when an anonymous man in a green golf sweater paid an unprecedented three quarters of a million dollars to win the twenty-five-hundred-year-old chalice. After that night, this historical artifact disappeared, its whereabouts a mystery. Until now.
It is among the most prized of antiquities: the Greek artist Euphronios's wine cup depicting the death of Zeus's son Sarpedon at Troy. Lost for more than two millennia, the chalice—one of only six of its kind found intact—mysteriously surfaced in the collection of a Hollywood producer, who then sold it to a Texas billionaire. Coveted by obsessed private collectors, dealers, and museum curators, it was also of intense interest to the Italian police, who believed it belonged to their country, where it had first been dug up earlier in the twentieth century.
In this breathtaking tale of history, adventure, and intrigue, archaeologist and journalist Vernon Silver pieces together the extraordinary tale of the lost cup and offers a portrait of the modern antiquities trade: a world of tomb raiders, smugglers, wealthy collectors, ambitious archaeol-ogists, rapacious dealers, corrupt curators, and international law enforcement. Spanning twenty-five hundred years, The Lost Chalice moves from the mythic battlefield of the Trojan War to the countryside of twentieth-century Tuscany, the dusty libraries of Oxford University to the exhibition halls of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, the cramped law-enforcement offices of the Carabinieri to the tony rooms of New York's auction houses to solve the mystery of the world's rarest masterpiece.
As Silver learns, the discovery of the chalice exposes another riddle—and an even greater missing treasure. Epic and thrilling, The Lost Chalice is a driving true-life detective story that illuminates a big-money, high-stakes, double-dealing world, which is as fascinating as it is unforgettable. Silver's thrilling tale opens a window onto Italian history, culture, and life rarely seen.