Looking for new true crime books? Our true crime selector, Lynn, has two brand new true crime books about art thieves and con artists! Read more about them below and share your favorites art thief/con artist true crime book in the comments.
Art forger Tetro is known for his virtually perfect copies of works by such artists as Rembrandt, Dali, and Rockwell. Charged in the late 1980s with more than 40 counts of forgery, he eventually pleaded no contest to a drastically reduced number of charges. Tetro, born in 1950, is a self-taught artist, who, in his early years, copied famous paintings (often from library books) and put them up for sale at art fairs. But nobody wanted them, and he figured he knew why: he signed them with his own name. Inspiration struck when he read Fake!, Clifford Irving’s 1969 book about the notorious art forger Elmyr de Hory. As Tetro tells us, he thought, “I could do this.” And he did—better, perhaps, than anyone before or since. His memoir, cowritten with investigative journalist Giampiero Ambrosi, is absolutely fascinating, full of the kind of evocative writing and precise detail that brings an autobiography to life. He might have been doing something illegal, but it’s awfully hard not to like Tony Tetro. Like reformed con artist Frank W. Abagnale (Catch Me If You Can), he seems straightforward, open about his crimes, and just a bit proud of his success as a crook. A welcome addition to any true-crime shelf. From Booklist Online
Art Thief: A True Story of Love, Crime and a Dangerous Obsession by Michael Finkel
Finkel (The Stranger in the Woods, 2017) presents a roller-coaster read of hubris and romance, contradiction and despair. French art thief Stéphane Breitwieser’s story is full of epic highs that seem never-ending and crucial questions regarding his mental state and motivation. He is a man who “exempt[ed] himself from the rules of society.” Over nearly eight years, Breitwieser stole a work of art once every dozen or so days, amassing over 300 objects, including engravings, weapons, tapestries, and paintings. Acting on instinct, often spontaneously, improvising, and thrilled by the challenge, Breitwieser seems to have reveled in the exhilaration aroused by taunting the authorities. But he also comes across as lonesome, guided by passion and aesthetics, and obsessed with acquisition; he kept all that he stole. Is he criminally insane? Immature and spoiled? Certainly his unquenchable thirst for stealing art was indulged by the people who loved him and whom he loved, including his mother, and his crimes ultimately destroyed their lives. Finkel examines the circumstances that fed Breitwieser’s obsession and led to his downfall. From Booklist Online