Matthew Bogdanos

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Matthew Bogdanos
Matthew Bogdanos speaking at pentagon press briefing on Sept. 10, 2003
Nickname(s)"pit bull"[1]
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
Years of service1980–88, 2001–05, 2009–10 (active)
1988–2001, 2006–08 (reserve)
Rank Colonel
Battles/warsOperation Desert Storm
Operation Enduring Freedom
Operation Iraqi Freedom
AwardsBronze Star[2]
National Humanities Medal
Other workAssistant D.A., author, boxer

Colonel Matthew Bogdanos is an Assistant District Attorney in Manhattan (since 1988), author, boxer, and a retired colonel in the United States Marine Corps.[3][4] Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, Bogdanos deployed to Afghanistan where he was awarded a Bronze Star for actions against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. In 2003, while on active duty in the Marine Corps, he led an investigation into the looting of Iraq's National Museum, and was subsequently awarded the National Humanities Medal for his efforts. Returning to the District Attorney’s Office in 2010, he created and still heads the Antiquities Trafficking Unit, “the only one of its kind in the world.” He had previously gained national attention for the prosecution of Sean Combs, who was acquitted of weapons and bribery charges in a 2001 trial stemming from a 1999 nightclub shootout.[5]


Bogdanos attended Don Bosco Preparatory High School in New Jersey and later Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. He holds a bachelor's in classical studies from Bucknell and a degree in law from Columbia University Law School. He also has a master's degree in Classical Studies from Columbia University and another Master's in Strategic Studies from the United States Army War College.[6][7][8]


Bogdanos is one of a set of twins born and raised in New York to a Greek father, Konstantine, and a French mother, Claire. He is one of four children. Growing up he waited tables in his parents' Greek restaurant, Deno's Place, in lower Manhattan.

Bogdanos enlisted into the United States Marine Corps Reserve in January 1977, while still a freshman. In 1988, he resigned from active duty to join the Manhattan district attorney's office.[6] Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, Bogdanos returned to full-time active duty.[9][10]

In 1996, Bogdanos led a counter-narcotics action on the Mexico–United States border, he was active during Operation Desert Storm and served in South Korea, Lithuania, Guyana, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kosovo.[10] In 2001, he was part of a law enforcement, counter-terrorism team deployed to Afghanistan, where he was awarded a Bronze Star for actions against Al-Qaeda for, according to the bronze Star citation, "seizing unexpected opportunities and relying on his personal courage often at great personal risk.

In March 2003, he was promoted to colonel and deployed to Iraq as head of the team. During his stint in Iraq, the Iraq Museum in Baghdad was sacked and thousands of valuable antiquities were stolen.[11][12] For over five years Bogdanos led a team to recover the artifacts. Up to 2006, approximately 10000 artifacts were recovered through his efforts.[4][13] Antiquities recovered include the Warka Vase and The Mask of Warka.[2][6] Bogdanos wrote a memoir, Thieves of Baghdad: One Marine's Passion for Ancient Civilizations and the Journey to Recover the World's Greatest Stolen Treasures, which he co-wrote with William Patrick. The book chronicles his efforts to recover the missing Iraqi artifacts.[9] In November 2005, he was awarded a National Humanities Medal from President George W. Bush for his efforts to recover the artifacts.[4][14][15] He has also received the 2004 Public Service Award from the Hellenic Lawyers of America, the 2006 Distinguished Leadership Award from the Washington DC Historical Society, and a 2007 Proclamation from the City of New York, among other awards.[12][16] Deployed to Afghanistan in 2009 with NATO counter-insurgency forces, he was released back into the Marine Reserves in September 2010, and returned to the District Attorney's Office.[10]

In 2006, he tried to form a New York task force to prosecute antiquities trafficking. He was initially rebuffed by his immediate bosses at the Manhattan District Attorney's Office. When Cyrus Vance Jr. became District Attorney in 2010, he authorized Bogdanos to prosecute antiquities trafficking, but with no additional resources assigned. For the next six years, he and Special Agent Brenton Easter, a federal agent with Homeland Security investigations, worked dozens of cases, including one of the largest seizures of stolen antiquities in U.S. history, more than 2600 idols valued at more than $143 million and seized from renowned New York dealer Subhash Kapoor who is on trial in India and awaiting extradition to New York. By 2017, Bogdanos and Easter were making so many antiquities trafficking cases, that Bogdanos was sleeping in his office. When supervisors alerted District Attorney Vance, he approved the creation of the first-of-its-kind Antiquities trafficking Unit consisting of prosecutors, federal agents, New York City detectives, and specialized analysts.  Since then, the Unit has grown to 16 personnel. Since 2010, Bogdanos and his team have convicted a dozen traffickers, seized more than 4000 antiquities valued at more than $200 million, and repatriated more than 2000 antiquities to almost two dozen countries. Among the seizures was a golden first-century-B.C. Egyptian coffin that the Metropolitan Museum of Art had acquired for $4 million and was made famous when Kim Kardashian posed for a photo next to the coffin at the 2018 Met Gala.[17][18]

As a Senior Trial Counsel in the District Attorney's Office, Bogdanos still prosecutes homicides, what he describes as being "connected to the worst moment in people's lives." In 2015, Bogdanos successfully convicted pharmaceuticals executive Gigi Jordan for poisoning her 8-year-old autistic son, Jude, by forcing him to ingest hydrocodone, ambien, and Xanax, washing them down his throat with orange juice and vodka. Jordan was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 18 years in prison. In 2019, Bogdanos convicted Roderick Covlin of murdering his wealthy wife, Shele Covlin, for her money. Covlin tried to frame his 9-year-old daughter for the murder, but Bogdanos successfully disproved that defense. Covlin was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.[19][20]

Bogdanos is also a former middleweight boxer with almost 30 amateur fights and is still boxing, with a record of 10-2 since his 40th birthday. Along with another Assistant District Attorney, fellow U.S. Marine officer Al Peterson, he co-founded a Charity Boxing Foundation called Battle of the Barristers that has raised more than $1 million for wounded veterans and children at risk.[21][22]

Personal life[edit]

Bogdanos has four children with his wife, Claudia Tuchman Bogdanos, a lawyer at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan. One of his sons, Michael, is also a Marine Infantry Officer.[23][24]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Military awards[edit]

Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
1st Row Defense Superior Service Medal w/ 1 oak leaf cluster Bronze Star
2nd Row Defense Meritorious Service Medal Meritorious Service Medal Joint Service Commendation Medal Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal
3rd Row Joint Service Achievement Medal Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal Joint Meritorious Unit Award w/ 3 oak leaf clusters Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation w/ 1 service star
4th Row Selected Marine Corps Reserve Medal w/ 3 service stars National Defense Service Medal w/ 1 service star Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal Afghanistan Campaign Medal w/ 1 service star
5th Row Iraq Campaign Medal w/ 3 service stars Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal Global War on Terrorism Service Medal Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal
6th Row Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon w/ 2 service stars Navy & Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon w/ 4 service stars Marine Corps Recruiting Ribbon Armed Forces Reserve Medal w/ 4 mobilizations

Other awards[edit]

  • Ellis Island Medal of Honor – May 2011[25]
  • Grand Marshal, Greek Independence Day Parade, New York City – 2010[25]
  • City of Philadelphia Proclamation – February 2009[25][26]
  • New York City Proclamation – April 2007[25]
  • Distinguished Leadership Award, Washington DC Historical Society – June 2006[25]
  • National Humanities Medal, from President George W. Bush, White House – November 2005[25][26]
  • Hellenic Lawyers Association Public Service Award – November 2004[25]


  • "Joint Interagency Coordination Groups: The First Step" (PDF). Joint Force Quarterly. March 2005. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 1, 2005.
  • Thieves of Baghdad is his first-hand account of his journey to recover Iraq’s lost treasures. His royalties from the sale of the book go to the Iraq Museum.
Bogdanos, Matthew; William Patrick (2005). Thieves of Baghdad: One Marine's Passion for Ancient Civilizations and the Journey to Recover the World's Greatest Stolen Treasures. Bloomsbury USA. ISBN 1-58234-645-3.
  • "Fighting for Iraq's Culture (Op-Ed)". New York Times. March 6, 2007.
  • "The Strategic Value of Heritage Training," with Dr. Laurie Rush" (PDF), Joint Force Quarterly, Second Quarter 2009
  • Casualties of War: The Looting of the Iraq Museum, Museum News, March–April 2006
  • "Casualties of War: Truth and the Iraq Museum", American Journal of Archaeology, April 2005
  • On the Trail of the Iraq Museum's Treasures, Wall Street Journal, 18 September 2003
  • Rothfield, Lawrence, ed. (2008). "The Way Ahead: a Five-Point Action Plan For Future Actions". Antiquities under Siege. Plymouth, United Kingdom: Altamira.
  • Schaeffer, Frank, ed. (2004). "Combat Afghanistan". Voices From The Front. New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers.
  • Leadership and the Bond that Ties, Marine Corps Gazette, December 2009
  • Till Death Do Us Part, Washington Post Op-Ed, 16 August 2009, archived from the original on 15 December 2013
  • The Gathering Storm, Marine Corps Gazette, May 2009
  • Duties That Are Best Shared, Washington Post Op-Ed, 1 March 2009, archived from the original on 15 December 2013
  • Transforming Joint Interagency Operations (PDF), National Defense University, Center for Technology and National Security Policy, August 2007
  • The Art of War, Marine Corps Gazette, June 2007
  • Interagency Operations: The Marine Specialty of this Century, Marine Corps Gazette, March 2006
  • Pieces of the Cradle, Marine Corps Gazette, January 2005
  • Joint Interagency Coordination: Every Tool in Our Arsenal, Army War College, July 2004
  • Pursuit of Excellence, Marine Corps Gazette, August 2001
  • Chancellorsville: You Can Lead a Horse to Water, Marine Corps Gazette, July 1997
  • Through Soldier's Eyes, Marine Corps Gazette, July 1997
  • Rothfield, Lawrence, ed. (2008). "See No Evil: Museums, Art Collectors & Black Markets They Adore". Antiquities under Siege. Plymouth, United Kingdom: Altamira.
  • Seidemann, Joel J., ed. (2004). "Celebrity Crime in the Spotlight". In the Interest of Justice: The Great Opening and Closing Arguments of the Last 100 Years. New York: Regan Books.
  • "Combating Global Traffic in Stolen Antiquities", Fordham International Law Journal, 31, February 2008
  • "Search and Seizure: A Reasoned Approach", Pace Law Review, 6 (4), Summer 1986
  • Finn Jr., Chester E.; Ravitch, Diane, eds. (2007). "Excellence for Its Own Sake". Beyond the Basics: Achieving a Liberal Education for All Children. Washington, D.C.: Thomas B. Fordham Institute.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Puff Daddy on Trial: The Players". Court TV Online. February 13, 2001. Archived from the original on 2008-04-18. Retrieved 2007-12-19.
  2. ^ a b "Tracking treasure". The Gazette. Retrieved 9 December 2013.
  3. ^ Renée Montagne. National Public Radio interview. "Chasing Down History and the 'Thieves of Baghdad". NPR.
  4. ^ a b c Bruce Cole. "Treasure Hunting in Baghdad - A Conversation with Matthew Bogdanos". Interview by the Director of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Archived from the original on 2015-04-02. Retrieved 2013-12-09.
  5. ^ Sabar, Ariel (2021-11-23). "The Tomb Raiders of the Upper East Side". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2022-09-11.
  6. ^ a b c Richardson, Clem (3 January 2005). "Modern Treasure Hunter". NY Daily News. Retrieved 9 December 2013. The Don Bosco Preparatory School graduate chose Bucknell University, and joined the Marines on Jan. 15, 1977, the second semester of his freshman year. 'They left me alone during the school year,' Bogdanos said. 'In the summers, I went to Officers Candidate school.'
  7. ^ Maykuth, Andrew. "On the plunder patrol.(Matthew Bogdanos)". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 9 December 2013.
  8. ^ "Matthew Bogdanos". 2012. Archived from the original on 12 March 2016. Retrieved 15 December 2013.
  9. ^ a b "Thieves of Baghdad: One Marine's Passion for Ancient Civilizations and the Journey to Recover the World's Greatest Stolen Treasures". Retrieved 9 December 2013.
  10. ^ a b c Bachman, Dwight (1 November 2012). "Decorated War Veteran Colonel Matthew Bogdanos at Eastern". Retrieved 10 December 2013.
  11. ^ McClelland, Eileen (Houston Chronicle) (March 17, 2006) "Treasure Hunter."
  12. ^ a b Ammons, Pat (6 February 2012). "Col. Matthew Bogdanos discusses lost art in first Huntsville Museum of Art 'Voices of Our Times' lecture series". Retrieved 10 December 2013.
  13. ^ Hobson, Katherine. US News & World Report (3 October 2004). "P.S. Do you have the Ark?". Archived from the original on 13 December 2013.
  14. ^ "Recovering History". Archived from the original on 2011-11-29.
  15. ^ "President Bush To Award The 2005 National Humanities Medals," "National Humanities Awards, 2005".
  16. ^ "Department of Defense Legacy Resource Management Program," "Cultural Resources Update, 2007" (PDF).[permanent dead link]
  17. ^ Mashberg, Tom (2021-11-17). "Looking for a Stolen Idol? Visit the Museum of the Manhattan D.A." The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-09-11.
  18. ^ "US charges art dealer for smuggling artifacts worth $143M". Daily Sabah. Associated Press. 2019-07-11. Retrieved 2022-09-11.
  19. ^ Remizowski, Ray Sanchez,Leigh (2014-11-05). "New York businesswoman guilty of manslaughter in son's death". CNN. Retrieved 2022-09-11.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  20. ^ Reiher, Andrea (2020-06-12). "Man Tried to Frame 13-Year-Old Daughter For Her Mother's Murder". Retrieved 2022-09-11.
  21. ^ Sabar, Ariel (2021-11-23). "The Tomb Raiders of the Upper East Side". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2022-08-31.
  22. ^ Journal, A. B. A. "These lawyers battle in the boxing ring as well as the courtroom". ABA Journal. Retrieved 2022-08-31.
  23. ^ Downey, Roger (9 October 2006). "Can Do! And Did". Retrieved 9 December 2013.
  24. ^ "Awards & Honors: 2005 National Humanities Medalist: Matthew Bogdanos". National Endowment for the Humanities. Retrieved 10 December 2013.
  25. ^ a b c d e f g "Eyewitness Identification in NY: Remaining Controversies, Emerging Issues and the Path Forward for Judicial Gatekeeping". National Academy of Continuing Legal Education. Retrieved 8 December 2013.
  26. ^ a b "Marine to discuss probe of Iraq Museum thefts". Fairfield Citizen. 6 November 2011.


  • Bogdanos, Matthew (April 2003). "Starred Review: Thieves of Baghdad". Publishers Weekly. ISBN 1582346453. Book review with short author profile.
  • Kennicott, Philip (January 22, 2006). "Book World: Thieves of Baghdad". Washington Post.
  • Rose, Mark (January–February 2004). "Conversations: Building Trust in Iraq". Archaeology. 57 (1). Retrieved 2007-12-19. A Manhattan D.A. recalls his investigation of the Baghdad museum looting
  • Zavis, Alexandra (Associated Press) (May 12, 2003). "Profile: Matthew Bogdanos". Guardian Unlimited. An eclectic colonel who once prosecuted P Diddy - and lost - is now hunting down Iraq's lost antiquities

External links[edit]