Robert Hecht Jr. dies at 92; controversial dealer in classical antiquities
When Robert E. Hecht Jr. arrived at the loading platform of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in the fall of 1972, he was carrying a large wooden box and was escorted by an armed guard.
Inside the box was perhaps the finest Greek vase to survive antiquity, a masterpiece that would soon be making headlines around the world.
The Met had agreed to pay a record $1 million for the ancient work. Hecht said it had been in the private collection of a certain Lebanese gentleman.
But when Met director Thomas Hoving heard the story, he scoffed: "I bet he doesn't exist."
Indeed, as Hecht later revealed in his unpublished memoir, he had just bought the vase from "loyal suppliers" who had dug it up from ancient tombs outside Rome and smuggled it out of Italy....
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