Mazur: Deeper Into The Dillon-Euphronios Nexus
Deeper Into Dillon-Euphronios Nexus With Historian David N. Gibbs
By Suzan Mazur
"With virtuosity and unflinchingly high standards he fulfilled many roles -- collector, donor, benefactor, trustee, acquisition committee chairman -- and most significantly -- Museum President (1970-78) and Chairman of the Board of Trustees (1977-83). . . . With dedication and passion, he pursued an obsessive desire for his favorite art institute to become the greatest institute in the world." -- Metropolitan Museum of Art remembers C. Douglas Dillon in the New York Times. Photo credit: ARTKNOWS]
I first met University of Arizona political science professor David N. Gibbs about a year ago while researching a story about the Patrice Lumumba matrix. Dr. Gibbs spent a couple of years in Africa in the Peace Corps(Niger, 1979-1980) where his fascination with US-Africa political intrigues began.
After receiving a BA in political science from George Washington University and MA in Government from Georgetown University, Gibbs pursued the subject for his MIT PhD thesis: "Private Interests and International Conflict: A Case Study of U.S. Intervention in the Congo". It soon grew into a book, The Political Economy of Third World Intervention : Mines, Money, and U.S. Policy in the Congo Crisis .
Among the many important articles he has produced is the "Guide to Using Declassified Documents", which also discusses FOIA requests. Gibbs is the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation grant and others. He has written extensively on US foreign policy in subSaharan Africa, Afghanistan and the former Yugoslavia. Gibbs is finishing a new book, to be titled, The Myth of Humanitarian Intervention: America, Europe and the Collapse of Yugoslavia, 1990-2001.
On his University of Arizona web page he shares the following student evaluation of a course he taught in Spring 2004 called "What is Politics?":
"I believe that the university should check into David Gibbs. He is an anti-American communist who hates America and is trying to brainwash young people into thinking America sucks. He needs to go and live in a Third World country to appreciate what he has here. Have him investigated by the FBI. FBI has been contacted."
Author, University of Arizona History and Political Science Professor David N. Gibbs
Our interview follows.
Suzan Mazur: The late financier C. Douglas Dillon, who you refer to in numerous places in your book, was handed the presidency of the Metropolitan Museum of Art some years after he left Washington following the Kennedy assassination. Dillon had been JFK's Treasury Secretary (and only Republican cabinet member). As such he was also in charge of the Secret Service assigned to protect Kennedy in Dallas on the day he was murdered - by Lee Harvey Oswald, according to Dillon's testimony to the Warren Commission.[ Scoop: Suzan Mazur: The Euphronios C Douglas Dillon Nexus].
Dillon's name has popped up recently because he and former Met Director Tom Hoving were handed Italy's priceless Euphronios bowl, at JFK airport in August 1972, by antiquities dealer Bob Hecht and Hecht is now on trial in Rome for antiquities trafficking. Title to the Euphronios was just returned to Italy in February of this year per an agreement, although the piece remains on two-year loan to the Met (possibly longer).
Why do you suppose Dillon was handed the presidency of the Met in the first place?
David Gibbs: There's a long tradition of physical objects of art being associated with money since they are tradable. Very rich people have always had an interest in art, partly to burnish their credentials by being associated with something other than money, I suppose. Having higher aspirations is a type of status.
Suzan Mazur: Do you think politically Dillon was sort of played out because he'd been in charge of the Secret Service assigned to Kennedy in Dallas and Kennedy was now dead? He left Washington under a cloud - needed to move in another direction?
David Gibbs: The Kennedy assassination is something I've avoided discussing like the plague just because there's so much information and so much of it contradictory. No really definitive explanation I've seen really answers all the questions. I kind of leave it at that.
Suzan Mazur: Dillon was Chairman of Dillon, Read following WWII until he joined the Eisenhower administration as Under Secretary for Economic Development. He continued as Director of Dillon, Read (now SBC Warburg Dillon Read) until his death in 2003.
Finance guru Catherine Fitts, another former Director of Dillon, Read brings us up to date in her recent six-part series for Narco News about Dillon, Read's investments in the prison industry, beginning in the1990s at a time that the crack cocaine epidemic hit America's inner cities. Narco News: Dillon, Read & Co. Inc. and the Aristocracy of Prison Profits
David Gibbs: That's interesting. I didn't know. It's a profitable area.
Suzan Mazur: Yes. What a coincidence.
You mention in your book that Dillon, Read and Company was a Rockefeller-associated firm. How were Dillon, Read and the Rockefellers connected and do they still have ties?
David Gibbs: I don't have enough information about the current situation, but the investment bank was linked to the Rockefellers in the late1950s. During that period, Dillon, Read floated a $15 million bond issue for the colonial Congo government.
Suzan Mazur: Dillon was also Chairman & Director of the Rockefeller Foundation (1971-1975) while he was Met President (Met Pres. 1970-78; Met Chrm. 1977-83; member Met Acquisition Committee continuous from 1970), and Director of the family business at Dillon, Read. Is there a conflict of interest here?
David Gibbs: I'm not sure.
Suzan Mazur: Let me go further. How would Dillon's links to the US Intelligence community be relevant to the Met's acquisitions of looted art? He had also been in on the development of the OSS, the precursor to the CIA, and was Naval Intelligence during WWII.
I'm referring to the antiquities that Met Ancient Near East expert Oscar White Muscarella has cited coming out of South East Asia and Africa where the Rockefeller Foundation was on a mission to help those cultures.
David Gibbs: I wasn't aware of this.
Suzan Mazur: You also say in your book that the Rockefeller Foundation provided aid to the Congo in a variety of areas including English language instruction. That would have been in 1971 and Dillon was already at the Met then as President while serving as Chairman of the Rockefeller Foundation.
David Gibbs: Are you saying there was an effort to procure stolen art? Sounds plausible to me.
Suzan Mazur: The Rockefeller
Foundation is supposed to be
"committed to fostering knowledge and innovation to enrich and sustain the lives and livelihoods of poor and excluded people throughout the world" and it particularly identifies Southern Africa and Southeast Asia on its web site as areas of focus. It further spells out its mission saying: "a community's art and artists, its culture and spirituality are assets that help enable its people to renew and survive".
Conflict of interest?
David Gibbs: Based on the information you present this would appear an obvious conflict of interest.
Suzan Mazur: Oscar Muscarella has said: "The Far East department is packed with stolen objects. . . . Hundreds and hundreds from temples and tombs from all over Cambodia, Thailand, China, just to decorate vitrines in the Metropolitan Museum of Art," and that "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."
Dr. Muscarella has told me more recently that the Rockefellers also supported the plunder of pieces from Southeast Asia -- some of which fill New York's Asia Society walls -- and that there are "absolutely things from the Rockefeller Collection among the African objects. I looked in two cases and stopped there, just to establish that there were more than one. But there are a number of them. The Met did acquire Rockefeller material from Africa at least in the 1970s. There may be other dates."
David Gibbs: Great stuff [from Muscarella].
Suzan Mazur:The Met doubled in size under Dillon's hand, adding the American Wing, the Temple of Dendur (Muscarella calls the Met's Greek & Roman Department the "Temple of Plunder") in the Sackler Wing, the Robert Lehman Wing and the Michael C. Rockefeller Wing -- named for the son of Nelson Rockefeller who vanished in New Guinea.
Do you see a conflict of interest?
David Gibbs: Yes, I do. To abuse the Rockefeller Foundation's supposedly humanitarian activities as a subterfuge for looting art for the Met or any other museum would be an extreme case of conflict of interest.
It is also worth mentioning, in passing, that US officials from this era also were interested in high culture for its propaganda value. If you read the book, Who Paid the Piper?: CIA and the Cultural Cold War: Books , there's a lot about the CIA's promotion of jazz and modern art in Europe during the Cold War. This was very sophisticated propaganda.
The idea was that jazz had a widespread popularity in urban areas during the 50s, especially in western Europe. It was also viewed as politically progressive music in some circles, including some Communist circles. It was produced by the oppressed people of the United States, mostly Black, etc. And US officials saw an opportunity to show something that was authentically American and would be received in a positive way, thus advantageous in winning the Cold War.
Suzan Mazur: In retrospect, I think the "American couture" fashion shows I modeled in in the Arabian/Persian Gulf in 1976 celebrating America's bicentennial actually fall into this category. [ Scoop: Suzan Mazur: John Deuss - The Manhattan projects]We were invited by the Pahlevis and Al Sabahs to present America's best designer collections at a time when the Gulf was just opening up. We did shows at the Royal Tehran Hilton - later headquarters for the Iranian Revolution - and appeared on Iranian national television. In Kuwait we presented before an audience at the American Embassy as well as at the Kuwait Equestrian Club, which I revisited covering the Gulf War; it served briefly as Joint Information Bureau headquarters.
Former CIA Director Richard Helms was US Ambassador to Iran at the time and he attended our fashion gala at the Hilton, the proceeds of which went to the Queen mother's favorite children's charity. We also know from the Iran Contra investigation that Helms was planning to go into the fashion business with associates in Iran.
David Gibbs: This fits in rather nicely with the overall picture of the Cold War, whereby the US sought to export American culture as an instrument of foreign policy. This generally worked well in Europe. However, the idea of western-style fashion shows in Iran and the Gulf most likely had a counterproductive effect. I can't imagine the general population of Iran viewing American couture shows in a positive light, and the whole thing probably worked to the advantage of Khomeini and the revolutionaries.
Suzan Mazur: In your book you quote Harold Lasswell, "Often the phrase "national interest" is used when what is meant is that a certain bank wants the State Department to do something." You pick up on Douglas Dillon's trail post WWII in relation to the mineral-rich Congo, when he is Ike's Under Secretary. And you note the bond issue, already mentioned, which Dillon, Read floated for the colonial government. Are we talking about a conflict of interest?
David Gibbs: Of course. Public officials often have extensive ties to private corporations through previous employment and family ties. Because of these revolving door connections, officials are biased; they then advance specific private interests with which they are personally associated, often in ways that have little to do with national security or any reasonable definition of public interest. In general, this is not illegal. As a general point, revolving door relationships constitute one of the main sources of corporate power in Washington.
With regard to Dillon's role in the Congo -- basically, Dillon's family investment bank had a long-standing positive relationship with colonial interests in the Congo and that probably did bias him in favor of those interests. I believe that during the Congo crisis, these business ties influenced his policymaking in favor of the Katanga secession.
Suzan Mazur: What was Dillon's view of Patrice Lumumba, the Congo's first democratically elected leader, later assassinated?
David Gibbs: In the Senate hearings in the 1970s, Dillon acknowledged that he was quite negative on Lumumba. He certainly was part of the policy that was across the board anti-Lumumba.
Whether he was involved in the actual plot to assassinate him or not, I don't know. I haven't seen anything on that. But certainly, he was a key player in the policy that led to Lumumba's downfall and ultimately to his death.
Suzan Mazur: And that would have involved the situation regarding Congo's copper-rich Katanga province? What was his position on Katanga?
David Gibbs: Dillon's position was, "Don't close the door on Katanga." Officially US policy was opposed to Katanga secession and view it as illegal. I don't think any country in the world recognized it as officially independent. Under the table, however, the Eisenhower administration was backing Katanga secession.
Suzan Mazur: What about Belgium?
David Gibbs: I don't believe Belgium actually had an embassy there or formally recognized it. Informally many countries recognized it, de facto. But for public purposes, the US clearly opposed the secession. And some I think naive historians looked at the public record and still argue that the Eisenhower administration was hostile to a Katanga secession, which was not the case.
The CIA was working with French intelligence to ferry Fouga Magisters, French fighter planes to a nascent air force for the mercenary-directed army of Katanga. The CIA used South Sea Airways to transport the planes. And by 1961, as I note in my book, several hundred White mercenaries - including former SS soldiers and Italian Fascists - also served in the Katangese gendarmerie.
Suzan Mazur: Did Dillon ever recover the $15 million his company loaned the Congo?
David Gibbs: Yes he did, in 1961 I believe, in the early part of the Kennedy Administration. The Congo central government had defaulted on all of its loans to creditors shortly after independence. Documents I found and mentioned in my book said that one - and only one - creditor was repaid. That was Dillon, Read and Company. There were, of course, political reasons for it. Dillon was a key member of the Kennedy foreign policy apparatus and the Congolese realized that they had to appease him.
Suzan Mazur: Wasn't there talk of a bigger Dillon, Read loan as well? In one of your footnotes I believe you mention that in 1959, one of Dillon, Read's representatives said they could float loans there in the amount of $200 million?
David Gibbs: There were also a series of syndicated loans in the 1970s of a very large scale in the hundreds of millions that were orchestrated by a number of different syndicates in which the Rockefellers were deeply involved.
Suzan Mazur: What other US firms through their legal representatives were invested in the Congo around this time and were these business interests tantamount to US government policy? Meaning Lumumba had to go.
David Gibbs: The most important private sector player that I can find with regard to the Congo was Maurice Tempelsman, the president of Leon Tempelsman & Son - his family-owned diamond, etc. trading company.
[Maurice Tempelsman and his son later acquired a controlling interst in Lazare Kaplan International, which is now the US's largest diamond broker. It is also Tempelsman's only SEC-registered company.]
Suzan Mazur: Are you talking about the time of the Lumumba assassination?
David Gibbs: That's right.
Suzan Mazur: Templesman's big influence happened later, right?
David Gibbs: Well both. From the time of the 1950s, basically.
Mazur: This was before 1963 when Belgian businessman
Mark Garsin represented Tempelsman in the Congo.
[ Scoop: Suzan Mazur: Mr. Garsin from Kinshasa
Scoop: Tempelsman's Man In Kinshasa Emends Lumumba Story ]
David Gibbs: It was slightly before that, yes, during the 1950s. Tempelsman was somebody who as a young man was part of a group of business figures who sought investments not just in Congo but elsewhere in Africa. But they were stymied by colonial administrations from doing so.
Suzan Mazur: I'm interested also in some of the other businesses then involved in Congo -- Rockefellers, the bankers and their legal representatives, the Dulles brothers, etc.
David Gibbs: The Belgians had always governed one of the largest and most profitable colonies in Africa. The Belgians were concerned that other more powerful countries would push them out of the Congo. And to guard against that possibility, the Belgian colonial interests would sell stock or give advantageous business opportunities to politically powerful businessmen in other countries, including the US. It was a calculated strategy of giving a piece of the action to potential interlopers and it dated back to the early part of the 20th Century, during King Leopold. And it followed throughout.
With this strategy, some key American figures were brought in. The Rockefellers were brought in. They had a large range of service stations in the form of Socony-Vacuum Oil Company, now the Mobil part of Exxon-Mobil. Socony-Vacuum was Rockefeller-controlled at this time. They were given very substantial marketing rights in Katanga.
Later, in the 70s, both First National City and Chase Manhattan, historically Rockefeller-controlled, were the leading US banks in the Congo. And Rockefeller banks also financed Tempelsman's ventures there.
The International Basic Economy Corporation (IBEC), also Rockefeller-controlled, gained some investments. So you had a range of Rockefeller investments. The Rockefellers were obviously a very politically important family. And that is why the Belgians invited them into their colony. And there were a number of others, mostly with Republican connections.
At the policy level, the Eisenhower Administration had an array of key decision makers, who had investments in the Congo, and this group included, of course, Dillon as Ike's Under Secretary of State.
Suzan Mazur: And these companies were legally represented by. . .
David Gibbs: There was a Swedish company, LAMCO, that was represented by the New York law firm Cleary, Gottlieb, which has Democratic connections.
There were actually two sets of investors in the Congo. Two big blocks. One block I'll call the pro-colonial block. They were the ones who the Belgians brought in on advantageous terms. And the intention was to give them a piece of the action, so to speak, and then they would be political allies of Belgium if Belgium had problems. And for the most part it worked.
These businesses were closely connected to the power figures of the Eisenhower Administration and were very pro-Belgian for the most part in policy, as well as pro-Katangan. Belgium basically sponsored Katanga.
And since Lumumba was hostile to the Katanga secession and hostile to the Belgian position, it is not surprising that US policy wound up being anti-Lumumba as well.
Now opposed to this was a group of companies primarily American but also Swedish companies that had always tried to get into Africa - Congo in particular, but other parts of Africa as well - but had been blocked from doing so by the colonial powers. These companies regarded the colonial government as negative from the standpoint of their interests. And so they formed ties to. . .
Suzan Mazur: American law firms.
David Gibbs: Democratic law firms. Paul, Weiss especially.
Suzan Mazur: And Cleary Gottlieb.
David Gibbs: That's right.
Suzan Mazur: But Sullivan & Cromwell, which represented AMAX Mining in Congo, is not considered a Democratic law firm.
David Gibbs: No, it's not. I believe they're Republican. AMAX Mining was an interesting case. AMAX mining was headed by Harold Hochschild, who was indeed a Liberal Democrat.
Suzan Mazur: And you say in your book that Hochschild had long collaborated with the CIA especially in Africa and was well known to CIA Director Allen Dulles (Eisenhower & Kennedy Administrations).
David Gibbs: He was as well a close personal friend of Adlai Stevenson and it seems that he was ideologically a Liberal Democrat.
Suzan Mazur: Now Stevenson was also a lawyer for Tempelsman.
David Gibbs: He was much closer to Tempelsman than he was to Hochschild.
Suzan Mazur: And Ted Sorenson, JFK's speech writer, was also a lawyer for Tempelsman. And for Mobutu! You say in your book that Mobutu hired Sorenson in 1967 to represent the Congo in a dispute with Belgian companies.
David Gibbs: Correct. After the end of the Kennedy Administration, Sorenson for many years into the 1970s at least, was a lawyer for Tempelsman and worked at the law firm of Paul, Weiss.
So AMAX Mining's chief Harold Hochschild, in the case of Katanga, backed Katanga secession and AMAX did have influence with Allen Dulles. Certainly he was in correspondence with Dulles. And Hochschild was connected to Dulles through the law firm; AMAX's legal work was handled through Sullivan & Cromwell. Sullivan & Cromwell, in turn, was connected to the Dulles brothers - John Foster and Allen.
John Foster Dulles, who had been US Secretary of State and later a senior partner of S&C, was dead at this point. His replacement, Christian Herter, also had business ties to the Congo. But Allen Dulles, as Director of the CIA, remained a key player. He was definitely connected to AMAX through his ties with Sullivan & Cromwell.
Suzan Mazur: You mention that Tempelsman acted as a broker for Standard Oil of Indiana: "Tempelsman in association with former [Eisenhower] Treasury Secretary [Robert B.] Anderson began to act as a broker for numerous investors in the Congo. Tempelsman and Anderson represented the following companies: Standard Oil of Indiana, Goodyear, Libby Pineapple, Aluminum Company of America, and Morrison-Knudson."
David Gibbs: Yes. Anderson was the Treasury Secretary under Eisenhower. Very corrupt and eventually indicted and convicted in the 1980s. The Eisenhower Administration, itself, was deeply corrupt in the old fashioned sense of the word.
Suzan Mazur: Like Dillon, Templesman is also an antiquities collector. And the Italians have for some time been after Tempelsman's marble heads, hands and feet from statues of Greek goddesses Demeter and Persephone, which they say are from Morgantina, Sicily -- site of a Greek colony that flourished for 300 years prior to a Roman invasion in 211BC.
The marble pieces were sold to him by dealer Robin Symes, who the Italians are also after for antiquities trafficking along with Bob Hecht and former Getty Museum curator Marion True. However, despite pleas from Sicilian schoolchildren to Tempelsman, there has been no public announcement that he has returned the marbles. Several other pieces of apparently looted Italian art sold to him by Hecht and Symes, Tempelsman resold to the Getty in 1985 for $10.2 million. What is your response to this?
David Gibbs: I'm a specialist in certain aspects of Tempelsman's activities, but this isn't something I've looked at carefully. As a general point, a lot of Tempelsman's investments have been in politics in terms of how he spends his time and money. He basically traffics in his political influence to a large extent.
Suzan Mazur: So the antiquities are a show piece. Look what I have.
David Gibb: Big show piece. Plus I assume there's always the speculative value and I think it very likely that Tempelsman was interested in this aspect of art as well. Consider the fact that he's in the diamond business. That's a glamor industry. And one of the advantages of having his relationship with Jacqueline Onassis was that she was a glamorous figure.
Suzan Mazur: A jewel.
David Gibbs: Another jewel, exactly.
Suzan Mazur: And now we have the current Met director Philippe de Montebello -- and the American Council for Cultural Policy headed by the Met's former lawyer from the Euphronios acquisition days - appearing to be on a mission to convince the public that it's okay that American museums have looted the cultural property of the rest of the world.
The antiquities "syndicate" has been staging "Who Owns Art" shows in New York (New School, Asia Society) and Washington (National Press Club) with de Montebello arguing that the Met-Italy accord could serve as "an example," i.e., that for the magnanimous gesture of returning title to the cultural patrimony of Italy, etc. - keeping pieces on long-term loan instead (wink wink) - museums in general will fill the void with more and more antiquities from source countries on long-term loan. At the National Press Club he called for a conference of victim countries and international museum heads to establish "new rules".
There's another one of these campaign events coming up at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. How much these cultural war games are officially sanctioned so far is unclear. But perhaps they are in synch with your observations about the CIA and art.
You served in the Peace Corps. How do these kinds of manipulative tactics play out in the rest of the world in terms of "animosity" to the US?
David Gibbs: Well, quite naturally, activities by the US in terms of covert operations, in terms of questionable business activities, rapacious US investors, etc., all elicit negative reactions to US foreign policy. We've seen a very dramatic example of that recently.
Suzan Mazur: Anger, hostility, "terrorism"?
David Gibbs: Obviously, yes, because it encourages these reactions. It virtually guarantees them.
Suzan Mazur: Do you see such greed dying with the waning of the "Old Guard"?
David Gibbs: You mean people like Dillon dying?
Suzan Mazur: Yes.
David Gibbs: Oh, of course not. Every generation has its greedy elements. Culturally speaking the idea that greed is a positive force has increased dramatically in my lifetime. And the newer generation, if not greedier, certainly is much less subtle in expressing its desire for wealth. It's more tolerated now than it used to be.
Actually, I'd say the Old Guard showed some restraint. In other words, they felt it necessary to temper their rapacity because if they didn't, they could compromise potential earning power and future credibility. I think that sense of long term enlightened self-interest is just about gone.
Suzan Mazur's stories on art and antiquities have been published in The Economist, Financial Times, Connoisseur, Archaeology (cover) and Newsday. She covered developments in science and technology in Africa (Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia) in the 1980s for Omni magazine. Her reports have also appeared on PBS, CBC and MBC. She has been a guest on McLaughlin, Charlie Rose and various Fox Television News programs. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org