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Sean Flynn
A passion for art, a perilous pursuit

First of three parts 'I'm being arrested." Roxanna Brown, a renowned expert in Southeast Asian ceramics, was whispering into the hotel telephone. Downstairs in the lobby, her host, University of Washington professor Bill Lavely, didn't know what to do. He had flown Brown, a 62-year-old museum director, in from Bangkok to give a lecture at an academic conference in Seattle. Lavely paced the lobby for 10 minutes before going up to Brown's room and knocking tentatively on her door. A few minutes later, she emerged, flanked by four federal agents. She walked stiffly with a cane, limping because of a prosthetic right leg. She looked haggard and frail, Lavely...