Praise for Possession

"'Collecting is a curious behavior.' With this unassailable thesis, Erin L. Thompson begins her riveting investigation...fascinating... treasure trove of a book... absorbing and bizarre... Possession is more than an antiquarian romp."—Willard Spiegelman, Wall Street Journal

"This slim volume is just bursting with read-them-to-a-friend anecdotes of collectors who'd stop at nothing. . . . Art is passion; Thompson understands. . . . The marvelous Possession offers a savvy history of passion as politics, a delightful collection of collectors and a love of art that might just send you to a museum."—Genevieve Valentine, NPR Books

"Timely and immensely enjoyable; . . . a cavalcade of history’s most ardent lovers of the antique. . . . Thompson’s brilliantly told tales create a sparkling tableau that invites further reflection on the politics of even the most solipsistic collectors."—James Delbourgo, The Atlantic Online

As America’s only full-time professor of art crime, I study the damage done to humanity’s shared heritage through looting, theft, and the deliberate destruction of art. I have discussed art crime topics in The New York Times and on CNN, NPR, Al Jazeera America, and the Freakonomics podcast. My book, Possession: The Curious History of Private Collectors, is now out from Yale University Press.

Currently, I am researching the ways in which terrorist groups both sell and destroy art in order to support their genocidal campaigns; the legalities and ethics of digital reproductions of cultural heritage; and forensic archeology - what we learn about ourselves and our future from the bodies of the ancient dead. 

A copy of my CV is available here.

I can be reached at