Category Archives: Events

Tonight: Reading at Barnes & Noble in Thousand Oaks, CA

Barnes and Noble Thousand Oaks

To celebrate the official release of Chasing Aphrodite, the authors will be reading and signing books at Barnes & Noble in Thousand Oaks, California on Tuesday.

The event was organized by Sandy Stelle, B&N’s #1 Bookseller last year. Sandy is a big fan and encouraged us to write the book years ago. We’re grateful for her support and the help of the entire B&N staff there.   

What: Reading and Signing.

Where: 160 South Westlake Boulevard, Thousand Oaks, CA 91362

When: 7pm

Chase Over: Aphrodite Crosses Final Finish Line

In Wednesday’s Los Angeles Times, Jason Felch reports on the ceremony officially inaugurating the Getty’s controversial statue of Aphrodite in its new museum home in Aidone, a small hill town in central Sicily.

“A chaotic scrum of politicians, journalists, townspeople and two Getty officials crowded into the small museum in a former Capuchin monastery to see the 7-foot statue of limestone and marble, which the Getty bought in 1988 for $18 million despite signs that the statue had been recently looted and smuggled out of Italy.”

The statue’s return to the land where it was believed to looted from more than 30 years ago has ignited dreams of economic revival in Aidone, where ironically many locals supplement their meager incomes by plundering and selling off ancient artifacts from nearby Morgantina, one of the Mediterranean’s most productive archaeological sites.

The limestone-and-marble goddess remained impassive in the face of the chaos and pomp of the day. She was celebrated by hundreds of citizens who braved the cold drizzle to hear two bands dressed in elaborate uniforms and speeches by local officials sporting with red, white and green sashes. Inside the Aidone museum, a children’s choir serenading politicians. Celebrants were rewarded with free Aphrodite postcards, Aphrodite t-shirts and Aphrodite note pads. Across from the museum, a Aphrodite souvenir shop was doing a brisk business in imitation Aphrodite Greek vases, Aphrodite dishes and Aphrodite cigarette trays.

Read the full story here.

Chasing Aphrodite’s European debut

On the eve of Aphrodite’s official return home, co-authors Jason Felch and Ralph Frammolino gave a presentation at a Sicilian university tracing the odyssey of the ancient statue from illicit excavation to controversial debut at the J. Paul Getty Museum and its symbolic role in the recent scandal that rattled the American art establishment.

“Felcholino,” as we were once dubbed by an arts blogger, were guests of Kore University in Enna, about 30 kilometers from when the Getty’s Aphrodite was dug up nearly 30 years ago. More than 150 students, faculty and local public officials attended the May 16 event, which served as the official debut for the book in Europe.

We recounted oil tycoon J. Paul Getty’s “addiction” to ancient art and how his eponymous museum inherited both his money and compulsion. Its $18 million purchased of the cult statue signaled the museum’s foray into an art market awash in looted artifacts.

The Getty’s voracious purchase of dodgy material led to the 2005 criminal indictment of its antiquities curator by a Roman court, triggering a scandal that revealed to what extent American museums had lied about patronizing the black market.

The presentation was made a day before the Fifth Century BC statue was officially inaugurated in its own room of the nearby Aidone museum. The event was covered by local and national Italian media, including one of Italy’s largest television networks.

The most popular question: Did they ever feel their lives were in danger from the Mafia?

“Even those we talked to, those considered ‘dangerous people,’ were gracious in the finest Italian tradition,” said Ralph.

Jason added: “We never had any direct threats but then again sometimes your life can be threatened and you won’t know about it.”

Afterward, we were treated to a sneak peekof the statue in its new home and a tour of the Morgantina dig site, form where many now believe the goddess was looted.

The Goddess Goes Home

Co-authors Ralph Frammolino and Jason Felch are in central Sicily this week to help locals celebrate the return of the Getty’s statute of Aphrodite. On May 16th we’ll be giving a presentation on Chasing Aphrodite at Kore University, which is sponsoring an academic conference on the goddess. The following day, we’ll be at the Aidone Archaeological Museum for the inaugurationof the exhibition celebrating the return of the goddess.

The view of Mt Etna from the ruins of Morgantina, in the center of Sicily. As in ancient times, the region is considered the bread basket of Europe, known for its fertile volcanic soil.

The Getty’s looted goddess will now live in a 17th century Capuchin monastery that is home to other objects found in the nearby ruins of Morgantina, an ancient Greek settlement.

The museum is now home to several other masterpieces of ancient art that once resided in American museums: the “Morgantina Silvers” from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and two marble busts representing Demeter and Persephone, which were owned by New York diamond magnate and collector Maurice Tempelsman. Local officials hope these masterpieces will help transform a sleepy village in the heart of Italy’s southern island into a center for archaeological tourism. We anticipate crowds of locals, a brass band or two, tears, wine and laughter as Sicily celebrates the return of its long lost goddess.

We’ll be posting news and pictures from the road. Meanwhile, you can find pictures from our 2007 reporting trip to the region here.

Chasing Aphrodite debuts at the LA Festival of Books

Join us this weekend, April 30 and May 1, at the at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books for the debut of Chasing Aphrodite. At 1 p.m. on Sunday we’ll be speaking on a panel moderated by LA Times editor Russ Stanton, “From the Front Page to the Book Shelf.” (The location will be SAL 101, event code 2043.) We’ll have advance copies of the book for sale and will stick around after the panel to sign copies and chat. On both Sat and Sunday you can find advance copies for sale at Skylight Books (Booth #84), near the USC Stage on Trousdale Parkway.

More info on the largest book festival in the country can be found here. See you there!

LA Festival of Books Panel: From Front Page to Book Shelf

Co-authors Jason Felch and Ralph Frammolino will be on a panel discussing Chasing Aphrodite at the Festival of Books on Sunday, May 1st at 1 p.m. The panel is titled “From Front Page to Book Shelf.”  We’ll have early-release copies of Chasing Aphrodite for sale, and the discussion will be followed by a book signing. See you there!

More info at:

Event: Reclaiming Looted Art

On Friday, March 11 co-author Jason Felch spoke about Chasing Aphrodite and Italy’s efforts to reclaim looted art from the Getty Museum at Loyola Law School in downtown Los Angeles. The panel was part of a day long event, “Remnants of Genocide: Reclaiming Art and other Heirlooms Lost in Atrocities.” Details can be found here:

If you are interested booking the authors for a similar event, contact them at


Join us at the Los Angeles Festival of Books

Chasing Aphrodite will not officially be released until May 24th, but we’ll have early copies for sale on April 30th at this year’s Festival of Books, where the authors will be among the featured speakers. Join us!

More info here: