Lecture: Colonel Matthew Bogdanos, Author of "Thieves of Bagdad"



6 p.m., Friday, November 18, 2011
Fairfield University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts

Image: Matthew BogdanosIn the wake of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the world watched in dismay as thieves took advantage of the chaos to loot the priceless treasures housed in the Iraq Museum. Marine Colonel Matthew Bogdanos led the U.S. task force to investigate the pillaging. He will share his story on Friday, November 18, 2011, at 6 p.m. at Fairfield University's Regina A. Quick Center (Kelley Auditorium). At this encore appearance - Bodganos spoke at the Quick Center in April 2006 - the Colonel will reflect on that investigation and on what has changed in the realm of art theft and looting in war zones in the intervening five years.

General admission ticket-holders to Bogdanos's presentation - which has been made possible by the trial law firm of Stratton Faxon, Fairfield University's Bellarmine Museum of Art as well as the institution's Departments of Art History, Classics, English and International Studies in addition to a number of other private and corporate donors - will receive a free signed copy of the Colonel's widely acclaimed Thieves of Baghdad: One Marine's Passion to Recover the World's Greatest Stolen Treasures (Bloomsbury USA, 2006). Written with William Patrick, this book tells the riveting story of how Bogdanos applied his skills as a Marine, investigator, and student of classical history to rescue the antiquities and investigate the thefts. During the Iraq Museum looting, almost 15,000 items were stolen, including the Sacred Vase of Warka, the world's oldest known carved stone ritual vessel; the Mask of Warka, sometimes called the "Mona Lisa of Mesopotamia"; and the treasure of Nimrud, a collection of more than 1,000 pieces of gold jewelry from the eighth and ninth centuries B.C.

Colonel Matthew Bogdanos, a native New Yorker, was raised waiting tables in his family's Greek restaurant in Lower Manhattan. A former middleweight boxer who joined the U.S. Marine Corps at 19, he left active duty in 1988 to join the New York County District Attorney's Office. Remaining in the Marine Corps Reserves in the 1990's, he led a counter-narcotics operation on the Mexican border and served in Desert Storm, South Korea, Lithuania, Guyana, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Kosovo.

Losing his apartment near the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, he joined a counter-terrorism task force in Afghanistan, where he received a Bronze Star for actions against al-Qaeda. He then served in the Horn of Africa and three tours in Iraq - leading the investigation into the looting of Iraq's National Museum - before deploying again to Afghanistan in 2009. Exposing the link between antiquities trafficking and terrorist financing, and presenting those findings to the United Nations, Interpol, British Parliament, and the Peace Palace in The Hague, he received a National Humanities Medal from President Bush for his work recovering more than 6,000 of Iraq's treasures in eight countries.

He holds a classics degree from Bucknell University; law degree and master's in Classics from Columbia University; and master's in Strategic Studies from the Army War College. In addition to dozens of military awards, he received the 2004 Public Service Award from the Hellenic Lawyers of America, the 2006 Distinguished Leadership Award from the Washington DC Historical Society, a 2007 Proclamation from the City of New York, a 2009 Proclamation from the City of Philadelphia, was Grand Marshal of the 2010 Greek Independence Day Parade, a 2011 Ellis Island Medal of Honor recipient, and was included in a book covering the two dozen "great opening and closing arguments of the last 100 years."

Returning to the DA's Office in October 2010, he still boxes and continues the hunt for stolen antiquities. All royalties from his book, Thieves of Baghdad, are donated to the Iraq Museum.

General admission to the lecture is $15 per ticket, $10 for Fairfield University faculty and staff, $5 for students with a valid ID. All ticket holders will be presented with a free signed copy of Thieves of Baghdad at the door.

Tickets are available through the Quick Center Box Office: (203) 254-4010, or toll-free 1-877-ARTS-396 (1-877-278-7396). Tickets can also be purchased online at fairfield.edu/quick.

The Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts is located on the campus of Fairfield University at 1073 North Benson Road in Fairfield, Connecticut. Entrance to the Quick Center is through the Barlow Road gate at 200 Barlow Road. Free, secure parking is available. Access for people with disabilities is available throughout the Quick Center for audience members and performers. Hearing amplification devices are available upon request at the Box Office. Fairfield University is located off exit 22 of Interstate-95. For further information and directions, call (203) 254-4010 or 1-877-278-7396, or visit fairfield.edu/quick.

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Media Contact: Mike Horyczun, (203) 254-4000 ext. 2647, mhoryczun@fairfield.edu

Posted on October 12, 2011

Vol. 44, No. 75