Art and Crime
“Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.” Leonardo da Vinci
Andrea visited The Ringling Museum the other day, which had her thinking about what would happen if a work of art was stolen from the collection. Art heists are serious business, often with dangerous consequences. According to the FBI, art and cultural property crime—which includes theft, fraud, looting, and trafficking across state and international lines—leads to billions of dollars in losses every year. That type of statistic also opens the door to a trove of stories concerned with the crime of art. Here are six novels that will have you drawing your own conclusions.
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch is required reading in the category of stolen art novels. A young New Yorker grieving his mother's death is pulled into a gritty underworld of art and wealth in this "extraordinary" and beloved Pulitzer Prize winner.
Portrait of an Unknown Woman by Daniel Silva
Stylish, sophisticated, and ingeniously plotted, Portrait of an Unknown Woman is a wildly entertaining journey through the dark side of the art world--a place where unscrupulous dealers routinely deceive their customers and deep-pocketed investors treat great paintings as though they were just another asset class to be bought and sold at a profit.
Portrait of a Thief by Grace D. Li
Ocean's Eleven meets The Farewell in Portrait of a Thief, a lush, lyrical heist novel inspired by the true story of Chinese art vanishing from Western museums; about diaspora, the colonization of art, and the complexity of the Chinese American identity.
The Art Forger by B. A. Shapiro
Almost twenty-five years after the infamous art heist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum--still the largest unsolved art theft in history--one of the stolen Degas paintings is delivered to the Boston studio of a young artist. The Art Forger is a thrilling novel about seeing--and not seeing--the secrets that lie beneath the canvas.
Stealing Mona Lisa by Carson Morton
Based on the actual theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre in 1911, Stealing Mona Lisa is a sophisticated, engaging caper, complete with a richly imagined group of con artists and a historical mystery that will keep you guessing until the very end.
Woman on Fire by Lisa Barr
A gripping tale of a young, ambitious journalist embroiled in an international art scandal centered around a Nazi-looted masterpiece—forcing the ultimate showdown between passion and possession, lovers and liars, history and truth.