Art & Crime: The Fight Against Looters, Forgers, and Fraudsters in the High-Stakes Art World

Seven Stories Pr. Jan. 2022. 416p. tr. from German by Paul David Young. ISBN 9781644211199. $35. CRIME
Koldehoff and Timm’s (Falsche Bilder, Echtes Geld, or “Fake Paintings, Real Money,” which hasn’t been translated from German) ambitious work sets a lofty goal, seeking to illustrate the many ways in which high-profile art and criminal activity overlap. However, in its attempt to cover a huge swath of history and human behavior, the narrative becomes somewhat dry despite coverage of exciting topics such as black-market trade and museum heists. Koldehoff and Timm make clear that the intersections of art and crime are multifaceted, and they effectively examine the relevant issues but don’t go further than surface-level details. Some of the best chapters cover the questionable art dealings of high-profile figures like Donald Trump and Imelda Marcos; the exploration of Nazi Germany’s impact on the art world is especially well written. However, because much of the book eschews the human-interest elements that most often draw readers to true crime, the stories can feel unsatisfying. Readers, whether art enthusiasts or novices, will undoubtedly learn something new from this volume, but it’s not as memorable an experience as it could be.
VERDICT Readers interested in the art trade will benefit most from Koldehoff and Timm’s work. Those seeking a true crime experience can find more engaging works elsewhere.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing