In the predawn gloom of a February day in 1994, two thieves entered the
National Gallery in Oslo. They snatched one of the world's most famous
paintings, Edvard Munch's The Scream, and fled with their $72
million trophy. The thieves made sure the world was watching: the Winter
Olympics, in Lillehammer, began that same morning. Baffled and humiliated,
the Norwegian police called on the world's greatest art detective, a
half-English, half-American undercover cop named Charley Hill.
In this rollicking narrative, Edward Dolnick takes us inside the
art underworld. The trail leads high and low, and the cast ranges from
titled aristocrats to thick-necked thugs. Lord Bath, resplendent in ponytail
and velvet jacket, presides over a 9,000-acre estate. David Duddin, a
300-pound fence who once tried to sell a stolen Rembrandt, spins exuberant
tales of his misdeeds. We meet Munch, too, a haunted misfit who spends his
evenings drinking in the Black Piglet Café and his nights feverishly trying
to capture in paint the visions in his head. The most compelling character
of all is Charley Hill, an ex-soldier, a would-be priest, and a complicated
mix of brilliance, foolhardiness, and charm. The hunt for The Scream
will either cap his career and rescue one of the world's best-known
paintings or end in a fiasco that will dog him forever.
The narrative's frequent detours to other crimes and engaging escapades from Hill's past elevate this work above last year's similar The Irish Game by Matthew Hart.
The various digressions slow the pace a little as we wait for Dolnick to get back to the story of The Scream, which needs no embellishment in its extraordinary twists, screw-ups, coincidences, and quick thinking on the part of Hill and his team of experienced undercover cops.....Overall, a picaresque tale.
Dolnick attempts to disabuse readers of the notion that art thieves are glamorous, yet he can't help but contribute to our fascination with art crime because the stories he tells are so full of daring, bizarre twists, and unsolved mysteries.
Arthur Golden, author of Memoirs of a Geisha
Outstanding...fascinating, expertly told, with characters as crisply-drawn as any Rembrandt, and...intrigue...found only in a thriller.
Mary Roach, author of Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers The Rescue Artist is a masterpiece. Engrossing, entertaining, often surreally hilarious.
Gerard O'Neill, co-author of Black Mass: The Irish Mob, the FBI, and a Devil's Deal
A fast-paced and beautifully written romp through the world of big-time art crime....A rollicking good ride.
Norway's most popular artist,
died in 1944, aged 81. He was a
painter, lithographer, etcher
and wood engraver, most famous
for his paintings of The
Scream. . He created five different variations of
The Scream (4 paintings and
one lithograph) which is
fortunate as the Norwegians do
seem to have a habit of losing
them. In 1994 one was stolen
from Oslo's National Gallery,
and then in 2004 another
version was stolen from the
Munch Museum (a tempura
on cardboard version) along with
Three men have been convicted of
the 2004 theft but the painting
has not been recovered. You
can read the fascinating story
of the 1994 theft (which reads
like something out of an
Inspector Clouseau movie) and...
On March 18, 1990, thirteen works of art worth today over $500 million were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. It remains the largest unsolved art heist in history, and Claire Roth, a struggling young artist, is about to discover that there's more to this crime than meets the eye.
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