Thursday, October 15, 2009


Forgery has always fascinated me, and after posting about The Man Who Made Vermeers: Unvarnishing the Legend of Master Forger Han van Meegeren in June, David Byron (the Official Art Historian Of Dubious Quality) e-mailed and recommended False Impressions: The Hunt For Big-Time Art Fakes as an excellent introduction into the world of art forgery.

He was right. The book is completely fascinating, and while author Thomas Hoving clearly has a colossal ego, his writing is also incredibly entertaining. I had no idea that such a large percentage of high-profile art is forged, and the techniques to both create and detect forgeries are so complex that they make art fraud as fascinating a subject as espionage.

I also stumbled across an outstanding book on counterfeiting. The Art of Making Money: The Story of a Master Counterfeiter is the life story of Art Williams Jr., who successfully counterfeited millions of dollars of U.S. currency over 14 years. Counterfeiting, at its highest levels, is as much art as craft, and the details of his operation are completely fascinating. Author Jason Kersten's interviews with Williams also reconstructed in detail the lifestyle of the counterfeiter, where adrenaline was a large part of the appeal.

This is the most interesting book on counterfeiting that I've ever read, and it's a wonderful read.

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