RT Book, Whole DB /z-wcorg/ DS http://worldcat.org ID 32778487 LA English T1 Beautiful loot : the Soviet plunder of Europe's art treasures A1 Akinsha, Konstantin., Kozlov, Grigorii., Hochfield, Sylvia., PB Random House PP New York YR 1995 SN 0679443894 9780679443896 AB In what has been called one of the most important pieces of investigative journalism ever undertaken in the art world, Konstantin Akinsha and Grigorii Kozlov tell the story of how the Russians stole millions of art objects from European museums and private collectors in the final days of World War II and hid them away for fifty years. The Nazi confiscation of art from Jewish families and occupied countries has been well documented, but the story of what happened to the art after the Nazis were defeated in 1945 was virtually unknown until recently. Secret "trophy brigades" were established early in 1945, with specific instructions from Stalin to remove art from Germany and ship it back to the USSR on special trains. This operation began while the fighting was still going on and was conducted at a frenzied pace for several months. It was the most prodigious transport operation of artworks in the history of mankind. Trophies were being removed from Germany as late as 1948. Works by such masters as Botticelli, El Greco, Goya, Delacroix, Picasso, Velazquez, Matisse, Renoir, Raphael, Rembrandt, Rubens, Titian, and Degas made their way to the Soviet Union. It was not until the late 1980s, when the Soviet Union began to dissolve, that it was possible to piece together this story. Akinsha and Kozlov were instrumental in revealing it to the West and in forcing Russian authorities to acknowledge the existence of the secret depositories. The Hermitage exhibited its collection of previously hidden Impressionist paintings early in 1995, but the Russians have been adamant in their refusal to return the stolen things, and the fate of the trophy art continues to be hotly debated.