Melting clock of a memoir about the author’s experiences selling Dalí works—some authentic, many not—during those heady recent decades when the merest splatter or signature attributed to the Spanish artist was as hot as a subprime mortgage.
He’s telling things the way he remembers them, declares convicted Belgian conman turned author Lauryssens (The Man Who Invented the Third Reich, 1999, etc.). Freeing himself from the troublesome bonds of fact by acknowledging that his myriad pages of dialogue are “recreated,” he presents his life on an impressive platter, apparently hoping that readers will attend to the fine china rather than the rancid meat it holds. If the author is to be trusted (beware: He conned buyers virtually to the end), he was plucked as a young man from a cheese factory to be a Hollywood reporter for Panorama, a Belgian weekly. He never went to California; instead, he fabricated stories, including an apocryphal interview with Dalí that launched him onto the fast lane of the fine-art freeway. Working for a man with the ethics of a starving predator, Lauryssens was soon passing himself off as a Dalí authority and making major bucks in numerous art swindles. The gullible arrived like eager sheep, according to the author, who writes fondly of the lavish lifestyle they enabled him to enjoy. He jetted about and stayed in multistar hotels. He married a nice woman; it didn’t last. He sired some children, professing to love them as he was hauled off to jail. He found himself in the circle of Dalí intimates, who shared with him their stories of rampant forgery and the artist’s notorious sex circuses. Readers beware: The language is explicit in this wild and woolly account; we learn what devices were put into which people under what conditions.
Crass, callous, sordid and cynical—thus, utterly true to the spirit of Dalí and a certain bestseller. Already in the works, a film with Al Pacino and Cillian Murphy: scary.