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THE ART FORGER by B.A. Shapiro


by B.A. Shapiro

Pub Date: Oct. 23rd, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-61620-132-6
Publisher: Algonquin

A cleverly plotted art-world thriller/romance with a murky moral core.

That nobody knows anything seems to be Shapiro’s (The Safe Room, 2002, etc., as Barbara Shapiro) assessment of art authentication, given the number of misdetected paintings strewn through her engrossing if unlikely story. In Boston, painter Claire Roth has spent three years dealing with the guilt and scandal of her involvement with Isaac Cullion, whose breakthrough work, 4D, she painted for him when he was blocked. After the picture became a success, Cullion refused to acknowledge Claire’s involvement, and her objections plus the attendant rumors led to his suicide and her vilification. Since then, she has survived financially by painting reproductions, so when influential gallery owner Aiden Markel arrives with a bizarre proposal—her own show if she will forge a copy of a Degas, one of the pictures stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum—she says yes. As she works, Claire and Aiden become lovers, but she doesn’t tell him about her discovery that the stolen Degas is itself a copy. This knowledge is Claire’s lifeline when the finished forgery is discovered, Aiden and then Claire are both arrested, and only she can save them.

Despite a shaky premise, this is convincingly researched, engaging storytelling. Intelligent entertainment.