The ransom of Russian art

by John McPhee

Paper Book, 1994





New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1994.


In the 1960s and 1970s, an American professor of Soviet economics forayed on his own in the Soviet Union, bought the work of underground "unofficial" artists, and brought it out himself or arranged to have it illegally shipped to the United States. Norton Dodge visited the apartments of unofficial artists in at least a dozen geographically scattered cities. By 1977, he had a thousand works of art. His ultimate window of interest involved the years from 1956 to 1986, and through his established contacts he eventually acquired another eight thousand works - by far the largest collection of its kind. John McPhee investigates Dodge's clandestine activities in the service of dissident Soviet art, his motives for his work, and the fates of several of the artists whose lives he touched.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member Whicker
McPhee assumes the reader will have a working knowledge of Russian art and artists. Interesting but a bit to list-like in certain passages. Does not go into detail on the actual smuggling of art, a result of the subject's (Norton Dodge) unwillingness to reveal details.
LibraryThing member mbach
A book about my former boss, Norton Dodge, and his furitive efforts to smuggle art out of the former Soviet Union. There isn't a great deal of details about how the art was removed, as Norton has not reveled his methods, but there is a charming story about Norton and his efforts to preserve the art that the Soviets deemed unworthy.… (more)


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