Photograph of Erin Thompson, a white woman with short brown hair, sitting in front of a large charcoal drawing.

Professor Thompson holds a J.D. from Columbia Law School and a Ph.D. in Art History from Columbia University (both 2010). She also has a certificate in Global Business Law conferred in a joint program with Columbia Law, the Institut d’Études Politiques, and Paris I (Sorbonne), and graduated in 2002 with a B.A. in Art History and Philosophy from Barnard College (magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa).



As America’s only professor of art crime, I study the black market for looted antiquities, art forgery, museum theft, the ethics of digital reproductions of cultural heritage, art made by detainees at Guantánamo Bay, and a variety of other overlaps between art and crime.

My most recent book, Smashing Statues: The Rise and Fall of America’s Public Monuments (Norton 2022), traces the turbulent history and abundant ironies of our monuments. I have written and spoken about the science of public art, the history of protests, the legal barriers to removal of controversial art, and examples of innovative approaches to the problem in venues including Art in America, Hyperallergic, Smithsonian Magazine, bitch, and the New York Times.

My first book, Possession (Yale 2016), explored the history of the private collecting of Greek and Roman antiquities; NPR said that it “realigns our own sensibilities about art" and named it a Best Book of 2016.

Scholarly Work

See my website,, for an up-to-date list of my scholarly and general audience publications.