In 1969, on the eve of its centennial celebration, Boston's Museum of Fine Arts announced a major coup: it had acquired an unknown and uncatalogued painting attributed to the great Renaissance master, Raphael.
The acquisition made headlines around the world and was a huge accomplishment for the MFA's charismatic director, Perry T. Rathbone. But it quickly plunged him into a tangled legal controversy. Italian investigators claimed it was stolen. International art historians claimed it was fake. Rathbone faced questions from a federal grand jury, then U.S. customs officers arrived at the MFA with orders to seize the painting and return it to Italy. Rathbone was forced to resign.
Perry T. Rathbone's daughter, Belinda, was a young art student in Boston at the time. Now, decades later, she's written a book about her father and the infamous painting. It's called "The Boston Raphael, A Mysterious Painting, an Embattled Museum in an Era of Change and a Daughter's Search for the Truth."
Belinda Rathbone, biographer, historian and author of "The Boston Raphael, A Mysterious Painting, an Embattled Museum in an Era of Change and a Daughter's Search for the Truth." She tweets @BelindaRathbone.
- "In February of 1971, Perry Rathbone, director of the Museum of Fine Arts, was fighting fires on too many fronts to count. An exhibition called 'Earth, Air, Fire, and Water: the Elements' had just opened at the museum. Straightaway it ran into trouble."
This segment aired on December 15, 2014.