Lowell's Blackberry

From: sdanielson@__
Sent: Friday, August __, 2009 11:21 AM
To: Dr. William Lowell
Subject: RE: Titimur Follies

Actually, I do know something about that, since Gerasimov's name came up in some boxes I was reading this winter. (Working on the KGB's sale of art to private Western hands for private Western hard currency in the mid-'60s - definitely a book in it if I can follow some leads, but I'm more afraid of the collectors shutting me down than the FSB. Otherwise nothing can stop me going totally Conquest on this story!) Dug up my notes after we talked last night, here's the skinny (transcribed out of handwriting even you couldn't read!):

In late '42, two items out of M.M.G.'s excavation catalog were requisitioned: a pair of ceramic jars containing manuscripts ("Persian lang., re: cosmology/astronomy/astrology" — all I know, sorry). Odd thing: it was SMERSH that wanted them. Not in their usual line of business. Someone much higher up wanting them for personal reasons? Still kind of unusual. Even the seminarian wasn't interested in medieval Islam that I've ever heard of. Anyhow, not even the usual explanation of 'military secrets' or 'national defense' was given in the memo I came across, just a notice to turn them over.

Then in '63, the same catalog number and label for these items shows up in a KGB memo that lists items being bundled and offered to Western art collectors (part of the fundraising drive that I'm looking at). It's definitely not in the GIM collection that I can find, or in any of the Soviet/Russian musuem union catalogs (such as they are). So they probably went West and into some private hoard (Paris or NY most likely) back in the Khrushchev era.

Honestly this isn't one of the cases I'm looking to follow up on, but I'll let you know if I cross paths with the jars/MSS again. Would be interesting to know how they got from military to KGB custody during those twenty years. If you're coming through Moscow in the next two weeks, look me up — then I'm back to the States.

Good luck with the spooks out there in your beloved darkest Asia — and remember: the East is a delicate matter!


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