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The Art Forger, by B.A. Shapiro

Keep Me In Suspense Book Group: The Art Forger

The Keep Me In Suspense!: a Mystery/Thriller Book Group met in July to discuss The Art Forger, by B.A. Shapiro. Although The Art Forger does not immediately present itself as a strict adherent to the mystery/thriller genre it does nonetheless keep the reader in suspense with its various twists and turns. The New York Times Book Review called it a “nimble mystery” and Kirkus a "cleverly plotted art-world thriller/romance with a murky moral core."

Almost twenty-five years after the infamous art heist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum still the largest unsolved art theft in history one of the stolen Degas paintings is delivered to the Boston studio of a young artist.

Claire Roth has entered into a Faustian bargain with a powerful gallery owner by agreeing to forge the Degas in exchange for a one-woman show in his renowned gallery. But as she begins her work, she starts to suspect that this long-missing masterpiece the very one that had been hanging at the Gardner for one hundred years may itself be a forgery.

The Art Forger is a thrilling novel about seeing and not seeing the secrets that lie beneath the canvas. (Publisher’s Description)

The book group rated The Art Forger 3.9 out of 5 stars.

Shapiro’s debut literary thriller is carefully crafted and well researched and keeps the reader guessing. The story is told in alternating viewpoints, moving back and forth in time, by means of the fictional letters Isabella Stewart Gardner writes to her niece, the flashbacks of Claire’s past art world scandal involving her artist lover, and the present as Claire forges a stolen Gardner Museum Degas painting and prepares for her one woman art show.

We all agreed that some of the most interesting and fascinating parts of the story was “watching” Claire’s process of forging the stolen painting and through that taking her own art to another level. The Art Forger explores the darker side of human nature, the prices people are willing to pay, and the lies they are willing to tell themselves in order to achieve their ambitions.

If you enjoy art or an engaging thriller then you will enjoy this book and it definitely proved to be a great discussion book!

Check out some of the read-a-likes and related books we came up with.


The Art Forger: A Novel by B. A. Shapiro
Amazon Says: Almost twenty-five years after the infamous art heist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum—still the largest unsolved art theft in history—one of the stolen Degas painti more...
Amazon Says: Almost twenty-five years after the infamous art heist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum—still the largest unsolved art theft in history—one of the stolen Degas paintings is delivered to the Boston studio of a young artist. Claire Roth has entered into a Faustian bargain with a powerful gallery owner by agreeing to forge the Degas in exchange for a one-woman show in his renowned gallery. But as she begins her work, she starts to suspect that this long-missing masterpiece—the very one that had been hanging at the Gardner for one hundred years—may itself be a forgery. The Art Forger is a thrilling novel about seeing—and not seeing—the secrets that lie beneath the canvas.  less...
Amazon

Amazon Says: According to Vasari, the young Michelangelo often borrowed drawings of past masters, which he copied, returning his imitations to the owners and keeping originals. Half a mill more...
Amazon Says: According to Vasari, the young Michelangelo often borrowed drawings of past masters, which he copied, returning his imitations to the owners and keeping originals. Half a millennium later, Andy Warhol made a game of "forging" the Mona Lisa, questioning the entire concept of originality. Forged explores art forgery from ancient times to the present. In chapters combining lively biography with insightful art criticism, Jonathon Keats profiles individual art forgers and connects their stories to broader themes about the role of forgeries in society. From the Renaissance master Andrea del Sarto who faked a Raphael masterpiece at the request of his Medici patrons, to the Vermeer counterfeiter Han van Meegeren who duped the avaricious Hermann Göring, to the frustrated British artist Eric Hebborn, who began forging to expose the ignorance of experts, art forgers have challenged "legitimate" art in their own time, breaching accepted practices and upsetting the status quo. They have also provocatively confronted many of the present-day cultural anxieties that are major themes in the arts. Keats uncovers what forgeries--and our reactions to them--reveal about changing conceptions of creativity, identity, authorship, integrity, authenticity, success, and how we assign value to works of art. The book concludes by looking at how artists today have appropriated many aspects of forgery through such practices as street-art stenciling and share-and-share-alike licensing, and how these open-source "copyleft" strategies have the potential to make legitimate art meaningful again. Forgery has been much discussed--and decried--as a crime. Forged is the first book to assess great forgeries as high art in their own right. less...
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Amazon Says: It's a story that made Dutch painter Han van Meegeren famous worldwide when it broke at the end of World War II: A lifetime of disappointment drove him to forge Vermeers, on more...
Amazon Says: It's a story that made Dutch painter Han van Meegeren famous worldwide when it broke at the end of World War II: A lifetime of disappointment drove him to forge Vermeers, one of which he sold to Hermann Goering, making a mockery of the Nazis. And it's a story that's been believed ever since. Too bad it isn't true. Jonathan Lopez has drawn on never-before-seen documents from dozens of archives to write a revelatory new biography of the world’s most famous forger. Neither unappreciated artist nor antifascist hero, Van Meegeren emerges as an ingenious, dyed-in-the-wool crook who plied the forger's trade far longer than he ever admitted—a talented Mr. Ripley armed with a paintbrush. Lopez also explores a network of illicit commerce that operated across Europe: Not only was Van Meegeren a key player in that high-stakes game in the 1920s and '30s, landing fakes with powerful dealers and famous collectors such as Andrew Mellon, but he and his associates later offered a case study in wartime opportunism as they cashed in on the Nazi occupation. The Man Who Made Vermeers is a long-overdue unvarnishing of Van Meegeren’s legend and a deliciously detailed story of deceit in the art world. less...
Amazon

Amazon Says: Immortalized by Henry James in print and by John Singer Sargent on canvas, Isabella Stewart Gardner has remained an elusive original whose independent life and work shocked th more...
Amazon Says: Immortalized by Henry James in print and by John Singer Sargent on canvas, Isabella Stewart Gardner has remained an elusive original whose independent life and work shocked the Boston aristocracy she married into. Based on extensive new research, this is the first biography of Isabella Gardner in 30 years. It reveals the many strands of her life as a cultural maverick and as muse and mentor, friend and patron to writers, musicians and artists such as James, Sargent, Lady Gregory, Bernard Berenson, Elsie De Wolfe, Martin Loeffler, Julia Ward Howe, Okakura Kakuzo, Henry Adams, T.S. Eliot and Paul Manship.The climax of her life came after her husband's death in 1898, when she designed and built an innovative museum in the form of a Venetian palazzo and, with the legendary art historian Bernard Berenson, created America's first great private art collection.The Art of Scandal is the story of a striking woman of great force and character and of the Boston she lived in, from the Brahmins of Beacon Hill to the newly emerging ethnic communities and the little-known gay subculture. Isabella Gardner emerges as one of the most evocative figures of America's gilded age. less...
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The Gardner Heist by Ulrich Boser
Amazon Says: “Boser cracks the cold case of the art world’s greatest unsolved mystery.”—Vanity Fair “The True Story of the World’s Largest Unsolved Art Theft,” The Gar more...
Amazon Says: “Boser cracks the cold case of the art world’s greatest unsolved mystery.”—Vanity Fair “The True Story of the World’s Largest Unsolved Art Theft,” The Gardner Heist by Ulrich Boser is a fascinating account of a brazen and amazing criminal act—a book that could help police and investigators solve the mystery of the 1990 break-in and burglary at Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. “A tantalizing whodunit” (Boston Globe) and a “riveting, wonderfully vivid account [that] takes you into the underworld of obsessed art detectives, con men, and thieves” (Jonathan Harr, author of The Lost Painting), The Gardner Heist is true crime history at its most spellbinding. less...
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Amazon Says: A Kirkus Reviews' Best of 2011 Fiction and a Library Journal Best Mystery of 2011What happens when you mix a Parisian street orphan, a hot-tempered Spanish forger, a beautiful more...
Amazon Says: A Kirkus Reviews' Best of 2011 Fiction and a Library Journal Best Mystery of 2011What happens when you mix a Parisian street orphan, a hot-tempered Spanish forger, a beautiful American pickpocket, an unloved wife, and one priceless painting?The charming Eduardo de Valfierno makes a very respectable living in Argentina fleecing the nouveau rich—they pay him to steal valuable pieces of art, and Valfierno sells them flawless forgeries instead. But when Eduardo meets the beautiful Mrs. Hart on his latest con, he takes a risk that forces him back to the city he loved and left behind—Paris. There he assembles his team of con artists for their final and most ambitious theft, one that will enable them to leave the game forever: The Mona Lisa. But when a member of the team turns up missing, and Mr. Hart shows up in Paris, Valfierno and his crew must stay one step ahead of a relentless police inspector, endure a devastating flood, and conquer their own doubts to keep the priceless painting in play—and survive. Based on the actual theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre in 1911, and published on the 100th anniversary of the crime, Stealing Mona Lisa is a sophisticated, engaging caper, complete with a richly imagined group of con artists and a historical mystery that will keep you guessing until the very end.Stealing Mona Lisa is a Kirkus Reviews Best of 2011 Mysteries title. One of Library Journal's Best Mystery Books of 2011 less...
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Amazon Says: Richly drawn and sharply observed, A Nearly Perfect Copy is a smart and affecting novel of family and forgery set amidst the rarefied international art world.   Elm Ho more...
Amazon Says: Richly drawn and sharply observed, A Nearly Perfect Copy is a smart and affecting novel of family and forgery set amidst the rarefied international art world.   Elm Howells has a loving family and a distinguished career at an elite Manhattan auction house. But after a tragic loss throws her into an emotional crisis, she pursues a reckless course of action that jeopardizes her personal and professional success. Meanwhile, talented artist Gabriel Connois wearies of remaining at the margins of the capricious Parisian art scene, and, desperate for recognition, he embarks on a scheme that threatens his burgeoning reputation. As these narratives converge, with disastrous consequences, A Nearly Perfect Copy boldly challenges our presumptions about originality and authenticity, loss and replacement, and the perilous pursuit of perfection.  less...
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Amazon Says: After graduating from Harvard Law with his closest friend John McKedrick, Michael Knight takes a job with his mentor, legendary trial attorney Lex Devlin, while John becomes s more...
Amazon Says: After graduating from Harvard Law with his closest friend John McKedrick, Michael Knight takes a job with his mentor, legendary trial attorney Lex Devlin, while John becomes sole associate of a notorious mob lawyer. Michael never lost hope that John McKedrick would escape to cleaner pastures -until John is murdered in a car bombing bearing the signature of his questionable clientele. How could two friends who were so close have taken such wildly divergent paths?In the wake of McKedrick's murder, three men who took their own deviating paths will meet for the first time in forty years. Matt Ryan, a priest, Dominic Santangelo, a mafia don, and Lex Devlin put the past aside to focus on a present concern: Dominic's son has been charged with John McKedrick's murder. At Lex's urging, Michael Knight reluctantly agrees to represent the alleged bomber. In building a defense, Michael is drawn into a high-stakes art fraud that leads him from the seediest parts of Boston to the sophisticated Amsterdam inner sanctum of international crime. less...
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Amazon Says: Chaz Wilmot makes his living cranking out old-master parodies for ads and magazine covers. When he's offered a job restoring a Venetian palace fresco, he is at first, skeptica more...
Amazon Says: Chaz Wilmot makes his living cranking out old-master parodies for ads and magazine covers. When he's offered a job restoring a Venetian palace fresco, he is at first, skeptical—he immediately sees it is more a forgery than a restoration. But he is soon seduced by the challenge and throws himself into the work, doing the job brilliantly.This feat attracts the attention of Werner Krebs, a shady art dealer who becomes Wilmot's friend and patron. Wilmot is suddenly working with a fervor he hasn't felt in years, but without warning, he finds himself reliving moments from his past—not as memories but as if they are happening all over again. Soon, he believes he can travel back to the 17th century where he lived as the Spanish artist Diego Rodriguez de Silva Velazquez. Wilmot begins to fantasize that as Velazquez, he has created a masterpiece and when the painting actually turns up, he doesn't know if he painted it or if he imagined the whole thing.Little by little, Wilmot enters a secret world of gangsters, greed and murder, with his mystery patron at the center of it all, either as the mastermind behind a plot to forge a painting worth hundred of millions, or as the man who will save Wilmot from obscurity and madness.Miraculously inventive, this book cements Gruber's reputation as one of the most imaginative and gifted writers of our time. less...
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