A Fatal Fire, The Kgb, And A Lawsuit

CELEBRATED author John McPhee's The Ransom of Russian Art got pretty good reviews. But not from former Russian dissident Ilya Levin, who has filed a $6 million federal suit in New York claiming McPhee libeled him. Levin says the 1994 book--which details how dissidents' paintings were spirited out of the Soviet Union--implies he conspired with the KGB in the mysterious 1976 demise of a major Russian dissident artist. Also named: publisher Farrar Straus & Giroux and The New Yorker, which printed an excerpt.

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