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Suzan Mazur: The Euphronios C Douglas Dillon Nexus

C. Douglas Dillon: The Euphronios, The OSS And The Assassination Of JFK

By Suzan Mazur

On August 31, [Bob] Hecht arrived with the [Euphronios] vase in a crate and, according to one account, handed it over to [C. Douglas] Dillon and [Tom] Hoving at Kennedy International Airport. At any rate, the bill of sale bears that date. The [Met] Acquisitions Committee of the trustees approved the purchase twelve days later.
--John L. Hess, The Grand Acquisitors

C. Douglas Dillon - Photo Harvard Gazette

Metropolitan Museum director Philippe de Montebello now refers to it as an "impropriety". He seems to believe that the "grand acquisitors" are off the hook following the Met signing an agreement with Italy regarding title transfer back to Italy of the Euphronios vase and other highly important looted antiquities.

De Montebello is mistaken. The arm-twisting of Italy to sign on the dotted line and absolve all guilt on the part of the Met has merely opened another window into the corruption of the US political system through the involvement of late exofficio C. Douglas Dillon.

Dillon first picked up the Euphronios at JFK in 1972 accompanied by Met director Tom Hoving from dealer Bob Hecht; Hecht is now facing antiquities trafficking charges in Rome. Dillon chaired the Met acquisitions committee at the time of the Euphronios purchase and served on its finance committee besides holding the position of Met president.

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As a Jupiter Island, Florida neighbor of Prescott Bush, US President George W. Bush's grandfather, Dillon was also part of America's shadow government - and a major US intelligence figure. It appears that he simply chose to look the other way as Hecht handed over the looted vase to him and Hoving at JFK in August 1972.

For all his good deeds, Prescott Bush's son, US President and former CIA Director George H.W. Bush, awarded Douglas Dillon the Medal of Freedom in July 1989. [ LINK Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipient C. Douglas Dillon]

Finance guru Catherine Fitts reminds us in her excellent series now running on Narco News that Dillon helped "Wild Bill" Donovon start up the OSS (Office of Strategic Services), the forerunner of the CIA. [LINKS Narco News: Dillon, Read & Co. Inc. and the Aristocracy of Prison Profits: Part I
Narco News: Dillon, Read & Co. Inc. and the Aristocracy of Prison Profits: Part II]

Dillon was also Naval Intelligence during WWII. Bob Hecht was a Navy man as well during the war, and according to Hecht's former Rodeo Drive antiquities partner, Bruce McNall, was rumored to be a spy. Meaning that Dillon and Hecht winked at one another at the time of the Euphronios hand-off.

Bob Hecht, heir to the Hecht department store money, had been president of the Haverford College German club prior to the war. He spoke enough German that he would have been valuable at intercepts.

Click for NAMEBASE Social Network Diagram for DILLON C DOUGLAS

Douglas Dillon was born in Geneva, Switzerland in 1909 (disqualifying him from serving as US President); he died in 2003. [LINK Paid Notice: Deaths DILLON, C. DOUGLAS - New York Times]

Dillon graduated from Harvard with honors and remained closely associated with the university throughout his life. He was Director of Dillon, Read, the New York investment bank, prior to WWII. Following the war he was appointed by President Eisenhower as Ambassador to France, and then to be Under Secretary of State.

As Ike's Under Secretary of State, Dillon advised the Senate's Church committee in 1960 about the threat posed by Patrice Lumumba, the Congo's first democratically elected leader, who was assassinated, saying Lumumba was a "very difficult if not impossible person to deal with, and was dangerous to the peace and safety of the world". [ LINK Scoop: Tempelsman's Man In Kinshasa Emends Lumumba Story ]

The late author Jon Kwitny, who I had the pleasure of knowing in the 1980s, commented on Dillon's statement:

"How far beyond the dreams of a barefoot jungle postal clerk in 1956 that in a few short years he would be dangerous to the peace and safety of the world! The perception seems insane, particularly coming from the National Security Council, which really does have the power to end all human life within hours."

Newly elected President John F. Kennedy asked Dillon to join his cabinet as treasury secretary on the recommendation of another Jupiter Islander, Robert Lovett, the Brown Brothers Harriman partner of Prescott Bush. Lovett had declined Kennedy's cabinet offer but later advised President Lyndon Johnson to terror bomb civilians in Vietnam, a policy he successfully pushed in WWII as Assistant Secretary of War (Air).

Dillon was the only Republican in Kennedy's cabinet. As JFK's treasury secretary he was also in charge of the US Secret Service whose job it was to protect the president in Dallas on November 22, 1963 when Kennedy was assassinated [ LINK WARREN COMMISSION TESTIMONY OF C. DOUGLAS DILLON]:

General Counsel J. Lee Rankin: Can you tell us briefly the nature of your supervision of the Secret Service prior to the assassination?

Secretary C. Douglas Dillon: Yes. Prior to the assassination when I first took office as Secretary of the Treasury, I naturally tried to find out, in as much detail as seemed practical, how the various offices of the Department functioned. One of the important ones was the Secret Service. So I had a number of interviews with Chief Baughman who was the Chief of the Secret Service at that time. I got the general description from him of how the Secret Service operated, what their responsibilities were, what their problems were. After he retired, which was early, after I had only been there a few months, I spoke with the President about this matter - President Kennedy - and it was my responsibility to find a new Chief of the Secret Service.

He had known James Rowley very well as head of the White House detail, and he felt he would be an appropriate head of the Secret Service. I talked with Chief Baughman, and he thought there were two or three men, of whom Rowley was one, qualified to be head of the Secret Service, so I tided to appoint Rowley and thereafter talked with him considerably about the White House detail which he was more familiar with than Chief Baughman.

However, I did not in any sense conduct a day-to-day supervision, or close following, of its day-to-day operations. The Secret Service had been functioning for many years and the presumption from its record was that it had been functioning successfully. I think that the events that have developed since November have clearly shown that some of the procedures, many of them, need to be changed . . .

Mr. Rankin: Do you know of any credible evidence that would lead you or anyone to believe there was a conspiracy, foreign or domestic, involved in the assassination of President Kennedy?

Secretary Dillon: No. From all the evidence I have seen this was the work of one deranged individual.

Mr. Rankin: And who would that be?

Secretary Dillon: Lee Harvey Oswald. . . .

Mr. Rankin: Do you know of any evidence in regard to any connection between Jack Ruby and Lee Harvey Oswald?

Secretary Dillon: No, no.

- Warren Commission Testimony of C. Douglas Dillon, September 2, 1964

Dillon was also a member of the Rockefeller Commission investigating the CIA's Operation CHAOS activities in the US, which targeted the Women's Liberation Movement, Students for a Democratic Society, Grove Press, etc. The irony was that most of the members of the commission had significant intel connections, including of course, Dillon.

A portent of Dillon's activities at the Met was his gifting of the US supply of silver coins to the Silver Users Association. During Dillon's time at the Met, the museum would sell off thousands of its coins to help pay for the Euphronios purchase. Many of the coins wound up in the Hunt brothers collection and ultimately on the block at Sotheby's.

Dillon left Washington. He became president of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1970. Around the same time, he returned to Dillon, Read to serve as Chairman. And at some point he went into the wine business in France; the Dillon family still owns the Haut- Brion label.

So, all-knowing Dillon was clearly in a position to have realized who Bob Hecht was and what he (Dillon) was doing when he and Hoving carted away the Euphronios from the airport.

Oscar Muscarella has said Dillon also played a major role in the Met Asia department's plunder of hundreds and hundreds of pieces from "temples and tombs from all over Cambodia, Thailand, China, just to decorate vitrines in the Metropolitan Museum of Art . . . Dillon played a major role in that because he put up a lot of money to buy these, i.e., supported the plunder, paid the plunderers, saw that they were smuggled out. . ." [ LINK: Scoop: Antiquities Whistleblower Oscar White Muscarella]

Tom Hoving has himself established in his "hot pot" series for Art Net that he first met Hecht in 1956 in Rome and mentioned Hecht's bullying while at the American Academy there. Hecht was already on the FBI's radar regarding antiquities in the 1950s -- almost 20 years before the Euphronios purchase.

But while Hoving and all associated parties are now in the clear on the Met side of the Euphronios hand-off and regarding acquisition of other looted Italian antiquities, Hecht has been left holding the crate. Despite recent media reports like PBS's News Hour not mentioning Hecht as a co-defendant of former Getty museum curator Marion True in the antiquities trafficking trial in Rome, proceedings are scheduled to resume in early April, whether Hecht shows up or not.


Suzan Mazur's stories on art and antiquities have been published in The Economist, Financial Times, Connoisseur, Archaeology (cover) and Newsday. Some of her other reports have appeared on PBS, CBC and MBC. She has been a guest on McLaughlin, Charlie Rose and various Fox television news programs. Email:

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