Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Man Who Made Vermeers

I recently read one of the most interesting books that I've read in a long time. Titled The Man Who Made Vermeers: Unvarnishing the Legend of Master Forger Han van Meegere, it's the story of the man who may be the most famous and successful forger in art history.

Originally, Han van Meegeren was arrested after WWII for allegedly selling stolen art treasures to the Nazis (Hermann Goering, in particular). His defense, which emerged only after some time spent in captivity, was that he'd actually painted the pictures himself, and as they were forgeries, no crime was committed.

Like all forgers, however, his story is far more complex and far more difficult to unwind than that. And art forgery in general, much to my surprise, has much in common with hacking.

This book is absolutely riveting reading, and the complexities and frailties of humans are on full parade display here. It is a wonderful, compelling piece of writing, and it very much makes me want to study the history of art forgery.

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