Reccomendations for an art theft novel?
July 11, 2012 10:58 AM   Subscribe

Can you recommend a novel that features art theft, forgery or other fine art-related crimes?

I've been able to find a fair amount of non-fiction/true crime on my own, but nothing in the fiction department. I'm looking for something like The Thomas Crown Affair(1999) in book form.
posted by Gin and Comics to Media & Arts (41 answers total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
Robertson Davies, What's Bred in the Bone
posted by pickypicky at 11:03 AM on July 11, 2012 [4 favorites]

Not an adventure/thriller novel but art forgery is a big theme of What's Bred in the Bone by Robertson Davies .
posted by Marauding Ennui at 11:05 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Might I recommend Confess, Fletch.
posted by playertobenamedlater at 11:08 AM on July 11, 2012

An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin
posted by mikepop at 11:09 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

More like deviousness, not exactly crime, so not sure if this is what you're looking for, but possibly Headlong by Michael Frayn.
posted by littlecatfeet at 11:11 AM on July 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

Daniel Silva has written a series of novels about Gabriel Allon, an art restorer in the employ of an Israeli government spy agency. Some of these books feature thinly-disguised references to famous paintings as plot elements. The Rembrandt Affair is a notable one.
posted by DandyRandy at 11:13 AM on July 11, 2012

The Sacred Art of Stealing by Christopher Brookmyre. It's kind of part of a series, but it stands perfectly well on its own.
posted by Jakey at 11:22 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Stealing Mona Lisa by Carson Morton.

Dancing Aztecs by Donald E. Westlake.

Nobody's Perfect by Donald E. Westlake.

The Charlie Mortdecai trilogy by Kyril Bonfiglioli.

Doors Open by Ian Rankin.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:23 AM on July 11, 2012

It Happened In Boston? Definitely has the art forgery and theft themes you want, and also shares the Boston location with Thomas Crown. Not a caper or thriller. Something different and interesting, though.
posted by Right On Red at 11:26 AM on July 11, 2012

Iain Pears's novels about Flavia de Stefano, a detective on the Italian National Art Theft squad, and her boyfriend Jonathan Argyll, an English art historian and sleuth are quite good; The Bernini Bust and Last Judgment are two I remember enjoying.

Seconding the recommendation for The Sacred Art of Stealing! Christopher Brookmyre is awesome (and doesn't have a publisher in the US anymore, so it is not so easy to get your hands on his writing here, poo).
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:27 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, and Dawn Powell's The Wicked Pavillion. Not a mystery, but an amazing comedy of manners about the New York art scene in the 1950s.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:29 AM on July 11, 2012

On the lighter side of mystery fiction, the first Cat Who novel is about art forgery. The Cat Who Could Read Backwards by Lilian Jackson Braun.
posted by ThisKindNepenthe at 11:34 AM on July 11, 2012

One of the short stories in this collection involves art forgery, not the act itself, but a case involving a real and forged art work.

He did two other books I'm aware of, Nobody's Perfect and Dancing Aztecs.

I loved this movie but didn't find a novel version of it. :(

I've heard A Cup of Light is excellent, it's on my to read list.

This is on my "waiting for a B/N nook edition or a good day at the used book store" list ...

Non art forgery, of course, is discussed in Catch Me if You Can.
posted by tilde at 11:39 AM on July 11, 2012

Not sure if you'd be interested in young adult fiction, but Heist Society by Ally Carter is about teenage art thieves.
posted by wsquared at 11:48 AM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Book of Evidence by John Banville involves art-theft and lying and murdering.
posted by Francolin at 11:52 AM on July 11, 2012

Gold Marilyn, by Lia Skidmore.
posted by trip and a half at 11:59 AM on July 11, 2012

Not a novel (although it reads like one!) but the true story of an elaborate art forgery scheme and a fascinating, page-turning read: Provenance. Partnership between a con man who manufactured provenance - bills of sale, reviews, catalogs etc to validate the forgeries his artist partner-in-crime created.
posted by leslies at 12:04 PM on July 11, 2012

Sabina Murray, Forgery

(If you want to branch out into literary forgery, check out Peter Ackroyd's The Lambs of London and Peter Carey's My Life as a Fake.)
posted by thomas j wise at 12:05 PM on July 11, 2012

Another not-a-novel: False Impressions by Thomas Hoving. The man has the chops to detect forgeries and the writing ability to describe them in an engaging manner.
posted by jet_silver at 12:07 PM on July 11, 2012

There's a series of art-theft mysteries for kids by Blue Balliett, if you want something really light. Chasing Vermeer is the first one. Haven't read them myself, but the reviews are good.
posted by Flannery Culp at 12:10 PM on July 11, 2012

I know it's older, but I always had a special guilty pleasure entry for If Tomorrow Comes by Sidney Sheldon.
posted by liquado at 12:22 PM on July 11, 2012

One of the classic (good) Dick Francis mysteries, In the Frame.
posted by Corvid at 12:25 PM on July 11, 2012

Came in to say what Flannery Culp said above. Blue Balliett's books are great!
posted by mlle valentine at 12:29 PM on July 11, 2012

Faking It by Jennifer Crusie. Another of her excellent, funny, and well-written romances, this one centered around art and art forgery.
posted by PussKillian at 12:43 PM on July 11, 2012

The Dumas Club, by Arturo Perez-Reverte. Not a heavy read, yet far from brainless. It was adapted into The Ninth Gate in the cinema, but don't let that stop you, the book is a lot more enjoyable.
posted by Spanner Nic at 12:51 PM on July 11, 2012

Aaron Elkins is best known for the Gideon Oliver series featuring the physical anthropologist as protagonist, but he and his sometimes-co-author wife have had several about art topics featuring equally detailed histories and technical bits. A Dangerous Talent was published earlier in 2012, so I have not read it. Loot is a stand-alone thriller about WWII Nazi art thieving, I rememver really enjoying it.
posted by whatzit at 12:57 PM on July 11, 2012

IN keeping with Spanner Nic's suggestion of The Dumas Club (about book collecting, theft, forgery, secret societies) you can also try The Flanders Panel by the same author.
posted by Wink Ricketts at 1:06 PM on July 11, 2012

They are very light reading but the Vicky Bliss series of mysteries features art theft and forgery.
posted by pointystick at 1:40 PM on July 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

Doesn't answer the question, but Wired's non-fiction article about an art thief was outstanding:
Art of the Steal: On the Trail of World’s Most Ingenious Thief.
posted by cnc at 1:47 PM on July 11, 2012

The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova features someone who destroys a painting, and the plot revolves around why he did it.
posted by zeptoweasel at 1:52 PM on July 11, 2012

The World to Come by Dara Horn is about art theft, but not at all like The Thomas Crown Affair.
posted by snorkmaiden at 2:55 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ripley Under Ground, by Patricia Highsmith, is all about a art forgery scheme, and is wonderful.
posted by woolly pageturner at 3:03 PM on July 11, 2012

Peter Carey's Theft: A Love Story is deliriously good, and more intricately plotted than you might expect from someone who generally writes literary fiction.

The Recognitions, by William Gaddis, is most definitely not like The Thomas Crown Affair, but it is largely about art forgery, and it's a (difficult, frustrating, gorgeous) masterpiece that's abundantly worth reading, but only if you like experimental fiction.
posted by dizziest at 3:23 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

The World to Come is my favorite book and I highly recommend it. Not necessarily because of the art thievery though.
posted by missriss89 at 3:28 PM on July 11, 2012

The Burnt Orange Heresy, by Charles Willeford, is a crime novel about modern art. I think it's a masterpiece, and highly recommend it to anyone interested in dada and surrealism.
posted by wdenton at 4:29 PM on July 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Jeffrey Archer's Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less
posted by kjs4 at 5:08 PM on July 11, 2012

You rang?

Seconding Confess, Fletch
posted by Confess, Fletch at 8:54 PM on July 11, 2012

Thomas Pynchon's V has a significant section about art theft.
posted by OrangeDrink at 10:54 PM on July 11, 2012

I quite enjoyed the Lovejoy stuff by Jonathan Gash. Definitely art-related crimes, but maybe not quite in the way you're looking for.
posted by wrm at 2:23 AM on July 12, 2012

Just got done reading Headhunters by Jo Nesbo. I liked it quite a bit.

Note: I got it from the library for my Kindle. Easy peasy!
posted by wwartorff at 7:19 PM on July 12, 2012

wrm: "I quite enjoyed the Lovejoy stuff by Jonathan Gash. Definitely art-related crimes, but maybe not quite in the way you're looking for."

Definitely applicable (art forgery, ho!) and for goodness sake go for the books and not the TV show. It was just wrong, wrong, wrong.
posted by Lexica at 8:41 PM on July 12, 2012

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