Matthew Bogdanos: The Looting of the National Museum of Iraq

Jun 17, 2009

Matthew Bogdanos is an assistant District Attorney in Manhattan and a Marine Reserve Colonel
Credit Manhattan District Attorney's Office

Matthew Bogdanos, an assistant District Attorney in Manhattan and a Marine Reserve Colonel, has long been angry at the looting of antiquities from museums in the Middle East by terrorists.

He points out that the money the terrorists received from selling the artifacts stolen from the National Museum of Iraq during the war there was used to purchase weapons that were used against American soldiers. “The trade in illegal antiquities funded the insurgency in Iraq,” he said in an interview seven years ago in Conversations with Allan Wolper.

In a recent conversation, he said nothing had changed. The sanctuaries of the artifacts remain targets of insurgents. What bothers Bogdanos the most is the fact that academics and collectors are so anxious to handle and examine the antiques that they are willing to authenticate them, making it easy for the thieves to sell them.

Bogdanos, who graduated from Columbia with a law degree and a masters degree in classics, is credited as the leader of an elite group of Marine volunteers with recovering thousands of the stolen treasures taken from the Iraqi museum. Afterwards, former President George W. Bush awarded him the National Humanities Medal.

Bogdanos wrote about that experience in a book called Thieves Of Baghdad: One Marine’s Passion to Recover The World’s Greatest Stolen Treasures, that he co-authored with William Patrick.