HarperCollins|October 15, 2012|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-1-61620-132-6
On March 18, 1990 thirteen works of art today worth over $500 million were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. It remains the largest unsolved art heist in history, and Claire Roth, a struggling young artist is about to discover that there is more to this crime than meets the eye.
Making a living reproducing famous artworks for a popular online retailer and desperate to improve her situation, Claire is lured into a Faustian bargain with Aiden Markel, a powerful gallery owner. She agrees to forge a painting, a Degas masterpiece stolen from the Gardner Museum in exchange for a one-woman show in his renowned gallery. But when that very same long-missing Degas painting is delivered to Claire’s studio, she begins to suspect that it may itself be a forgery.
Her desperate search for the truth leads Claire into a labyrinth of deceit where secrets hidden since the late nineteenth century may be the only evidence that can now save her life.
Claire Roth lives in a studio apartment in Boston and works for Reproduction.com. Her job is to copy the works of old art masters which are sold to well-healed clients. Claire copies the works of such famous painters as Degas, which is her specialty, Cullion, Sakhai, and others.
The Art Forger is not only entertaining but teaches us about the world of art and for someone like me who knew nothing of the subject when I picked up the book, has really opened my eyes and provided me with a lot of fascinating information that I had no previous knowledge of.
Claire is very good at what she does but is shunned by the art community when she takes the credit for a painting that her art professor and lover won an award for. So, she eeks out a living by legally copying masterpieces – you literally cannot tell that these are copies as Claire is so talented.
One day, a man named Aiden Markel, who is the owner of a very prominent art gallery approaches Claire and offers her a show in his gallery if she agrees to copy a Degas painting that was stolen in an art heist a long time ago but was never found. Claire isn’t sure she wants to get involved and neglects to question Aiden how “he” came to have this original in his possession. Aiden promises Claire that he is going to sell the forgery and then return the original to the museum from where it was originally stolen. Claire does some research on old methods of testing paintings to see if they are original or fake. Once her testing is complete, Claire doesn’t think the painting she is to copy is the original. She doesn’t need to be shunned by the art community more than she already has and also doesn’t want to end up in jail.
Claire become blackballed when her famous lover, Isaac Cullion sank into a severe depression and wasn’t able to complete a very prestigious commission for the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Claire’s love for Isaac propelled her to use his brushes and paint an absolute masterpiece for him and signs his name to it. The lie is revealed and causes a very messy scene which ends up claiming Isaac’s life and Claire’s so-called reputation.
“After the Bath” is the Degas painting that Claire is to forge which was only one of thirteen paintings stolen from the Gardner Museum. Claire really suspects what Aiden thinks is the original is also a forgery. One of the three women in the painting just doesn’t seem right in her pose and the brushstrokes circle in the wrong direction, making this, in Claire’s mind, a “forgery of a forgery.”
This entire story is phenomenal and ingeniously plotted. I thought I had it figured out but I was dead wrong! I thought Ms. Shapiro presented a well-rounded tale of this famous art heist and would highly recommend The Art Forger to anyone. There is mystery, suspense, love, and betrayal all packed into one fast-paced, seamless read. Well-done!!