“The Lost Chalice: The Epic Hunt for a Priceless Masterpiece,” just published by William Morrow, makes a first-class page turner out of the stolen krater’s travels from ancient Greece to Etruscan Italy to New York and then back here — and of the travails of another work also by the sublime Euphronios, a kylix, or chalice, which was looted from the same spot here in Cerveteri, a town northwest of Rome.
Vernon Silver, a 40-year-old American journalist and a doctoral student in archaeology at Oxford, wrote the book. “This is the whole illicit antiquities trade writ small,” he said a few days ago. “The two works started out in the hands of the same Greek artist, 2,500 years ago, ended up going through the same shady Italian dealer by different routes to America, one the public route, the other underground, and both end up back here in Italy.”
The tale is one neither Met officials nor Italian authorities will be pleased to find so conscientiously recounted.