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I Was Vermeer: The Rise and Fall of the Twentieth Century's Greatest Forger

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I Was Vermeer: The Rise and Fall of the Twentieth Century's Greatest Forger Cover

ISBN13: 9781582345932
ISBN10: 1582345937
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Review-A-Day

"Appropriately enough, I Was Vermeer is not what it seems. It is neither expose nor exposition. It is a moral tale well turned: almost a proverb. It is not new, but it is all true....I Was Vermeer is a skillful book, but not deep. Frank Wynne is a lucid introducer of the life and work but he sometimes takes economy too far. The encounter with the Nazis is rushed, and van Meegeren's 'questionable politics' slightly skimped." Alex Danchev, The Times Literary Supplement (read the entire TLS review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The astonishing story of the Dutch con man whose modern "Vermeers" fooled the world.

Frank Wynne's remarkable book tells the story of Han van Meegeren, a paranoid, drug-addicted, second-rate painter whose Vermeer forgeries made him a secret superstar of the art world. During van Meegeren's heyday as a forger of Vermeers, he earned the equivalent of fifty million dollars, the acclaim of the world's press, and the satisfaction of swindling Hermann Göring himself, trading the Nazi commander one of his forgeries in exchange for the return of hundreds of looted Dutch paintings. But he was undone by his very success, thriving so noticeably during World War II that when it ended, he was arrested as a Nazi collaborator. His only defense was to admit that he himself had painted the Old Masters that had passed through his hands — a confession the public refused to believe, until, in a huge media event, the courts staged the public painting of what would be van Meegeren's last "Vermeer."

I Was Vermeer is a gripping real-life mystery that exposes the life and techniques of the consummate art forger; the fascinating work of the experts who try to track down the fakes; and the collusion and ego in the art establishment that, even today, allow forgery to thrive. Wry, amoral, and plotted like a thriller, it is the first major book in forty years on this astonishing episode in history.

Review:

"In this intriguing if dry biography, Wynne recounts how Dutch forger Han van Meegeren successfully passed off more than a dozen bogus works — including, most famously, The Supper at Emmaus in 1937 — as authentic Vermeers, Halses and de Hooches. Van Meegeren, who favored the style of the old Dutch masters just as modernism was hitting its stride, decided to embarrass his forward-looking critics by creating and selling his own 'Vermeer.' He continued his charade until he was forced to admit his crimes in 1947 while defending himself against a separate charge of treason. Wynne takes great care in explaining just how the increasingly paranoid and drug-addicted van Meegeren managed to fool the international art community, including a technical breakdown of how van Meegeren employed plastic to create the antique look of cracked craquelure in his canvases. Wynne also ruminates on how the arrogance of the art world — of critics like Abraham Bredius who were so confident in their ability to spot fakes that they brushed aside X-rays and other modern tests, as well as collectors desperate for authenticity — fuels the market for forgeries. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"An astutely rendered and delicious tale of an infamous forger." Booklist

Review:

"A spectacular story of vengeance and fraud told with verve and style....The forger's trajectory from wealthy charlatan to national hero makes for delicious reading. Wynne employs all the devices of an expert roman policier." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"[A] remarkable story that is part mystery, part adventure, part biography, and part courtroom drama. [Wynne's] thorough research and accomplished writing style bring this unique event in art history to the general public. Highly recommended." Library Journal

Review:

"Mr. Wynne's prose occasionally lapses into squirmingly purple nonsense, especially when he broaches our dubious hero's experience of the sexual....Still, the narrative has a propulsive drive, and the story moves along at a merry clip." Wall Street Journal

Synopsis:

Wynne's remarkable book tells the story of Han van Meegeren, a paranoid, drug-addicted, second-rate painter whose Vermeer forgeries made him a secret superstar of the art world — and along the way, it reveals the collusion and ego that, even today, allow art forgery to thrive.

Synopsis:

Frank Wynnes remarkable book tells the story of Han van Meegeren, a paranoid, drug-addicted, second-rate painter whose Vermeer forgeries made him a secret superstar of the art world—and along the way, it reveals the collusion and ego that, even today, allow art forgery to thrive. During van Meegerens heyday as a forger of Vermeers, he earned 50 million dollars, the acclamation of the worlds press, and the satisfaction of swindling the Nazis. His canvases were so nearly authentic that they would almost certainly be prized among the catalogue of Vermeers if he had not confessed. And, no doubt, he never would have confessed at all if he hadnt been trapped in a catch-22: he had thrived so noticably during the war that when it ended, he was quickly arrested as a Nazi collaborator. His only defense was to admit that he himself had painted the remarkable “Vermeers” that had passed through his hands—a confession the public refused to believe, until, in a huge media event, the courts staged the public painting of what would be van Meegerens last “Vermeer.” I Was Vermeer is an utterly gripping real-life mystery, capturing both the life of the consummate art forger, phenomenally skilled and yet necessarily unrecognized, and the equally fascinating work of the experts who identify forgeries and track down their perpetrators. Wry, amoral, irreverent, and plotted like a thriller, it is the first major book in forty years on this astonishing episode in history.
Frank Wynne is a writer and award-winning literary translator. Born in Ireland, he has lived and worked in Dublin, Paris, Amsterdam, London, Buenos Aires and currently lives in San José, Costa Rica. He has translated more than a dozen major novels, among them the works of Michel Houellebecq, Frédéric Beigbeder, Pierre Mérot and the Ivorian novelist Ahmadou Kourouma. A journalist and broadcaster, he has written for the Sunday Times, the Independent, the Irish Times, Melody Maker, and Time Out.
Frank Wynnes book tells the story of Han van Meegeren, a paranoid, drug-addicted, second-rate painter whose Vermeer forgeries made him a secret star of the art world.  Along the way, it reveals the collusion and ego that, even today, allow art forgery to thrive. During van Meegerens heyday as a forger of Vermeer, he earned fifty million dollars, the acclamation of the worlds press, and the satisfaction of swindling the Nazis. His canvases were so nearly authentic that they would almost certainly be prized among the catalogue of Vermeer's if he had not confessed. And, no doubt, he never would have confessed at all if he hadn't been trapped in a catch-22: he had thrived so noticably during the war that when it ended, he was quickly arrested as a Nazi collaborator. His only defense was to admit that he himself had painted the remarkable "Vermeers" that had passed through his hands—a confession the public refused to believe until, in a huge media event, the courts staged the public painting of what would be van Meegeren's final "Vermeer."

I Was Vermeer is an utterly gripping real-life mystery, capturing both the life of the consummate art forger, phenomenally skilled and yet necessarily unrecognized, and the equally fascinating work of the experts who identify forgeries and track down their perpetrators. Wry, amoral, irreverent, and plotted like a thriller, it is the first major book in forty years on this astonishing episode in history.

"Wynne blends reportorial skill with a love of irony to tell van Meegeren's life story . . . Crime thriller or forgery primer, this intriguing read also proves another epigram: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."—Bookpage 

 

"A spectacular story of vengeance and fraud told with verve and style by British journalist Wynne . . . The incredible story of how Dutch painter Han van Meegeren avenged himself on supercilious art critics by becoming an expert forger of Vermeer and fooling the Nazis conveys a valuable lesson in how we see, notes Wynne in this methodical, suspenseful tale . . . The forger's trajectory from wealthy charlatan to national hero makes for delicious reading. Wynne employs all the devices of an expert roman policier."—Kirkus Reviews

 
“Some real-life stories are more fantastic than anything Hollywood can invent. That a mid-20th-century artist could create forgeries that fooled the entire art world is the extraordinary story of Dutch art forger Han van Meegeren. Recognizing that very few Johannes Vermeer paintings were known in his time and that there were no known early Vermeers, Meergeren realized he could create works that could not be compared to any authenticated Vermeer. Those fakes fooled everyone: art scholars, museum curators, and Nazi Reich Marshal Hermann Goring included. Meegeren's deception was only discovered when he confessed it in court to save himself. London-based journalist and literary translator Wynne uses his journalistic skills to present a remarkable story that is part mystery, part adventure, part biography, and part courtroom drama. His thorough research and accomplished writing style bring this unique event in art history to the general public. Highly recommended.”—Eugene C. Burt, Library Journal

“In this intriguing . . . biography, Wynne recounts how Dutch forger Han van Meegeren successfully passed off more than a dozen bogus works—including, most famously, The Supper at Emmaus in 1937—as authentic Vermeers, Halses and de Hooches. Van Meegeren, who favored the style of the old Dutch masters just as modernism was hitting its stride, decided to embarrass his forward-looking critics by creating and selling his own ‘Vermeer. He continued his charade until he was forced to admit his crimes in 1947 while defending himself against a separate charge of treason. Wynne takes great care in explaining just how the increasingly paranoid and drug-addicted van Meegeren managed to fool the international art community, including a technical breakdown of how van Meegeren employed plastic to create the antique look of cracked craquelure in his canvases. Wynne also ruminates on how the arrogance of the art world—of critics like Abraham Bredius who were so confident in their ability to spot fakes that they brushed aside X-rays and other modern tests, as well as collectors desperate for authenticity—fuels the market for forgeries.”—Publishers Weekly

Synopsis:

Frank Wynne's remarkable book tells the story of Han van Meegeren, a paranoid, drug-addicted, second-rate painter whose Vermeer forgeries made him a secret superstar of the art world--and along the way, it reveals the collusion and ego that, even today, allow art forgery to thrive. During van Meegeren's heyday as a forger of Vermeers, he earned 50 million dollars, the acclamation of the world's press, and the satisfaction of swindling the Nazis. His canvases were so nearly authentic that they would almost certainly be prized among the catalogue of Vermeers if he had not confessed. And, no doubt, he never would have confessed at all if he hadn't been trapped in a catch-22: he had thrived so noticably during the war that when it ended, he was quickly arrested as a Nazi collaborator. His only defense was to admit that he himself had painted the remarkable "Vermeers" that had passed through his hands--a confession the public refused to believe, until, in a huge media event, the courts staged the public painting of what would be van Meegeren's last "Vermeer." I Was Vermeer is an utterly gripping real-life mystery, capturing both the life of the consummate art forger, phenomenally skilled and yet necessarily unrecognized, and the equally fascinating work of the experts who identify forgeries and track down their perpetrators. Wry, amoral, irreverent, and plotted like a thriller, it is the first major book in forty years on this astonishing episode in history.

About the Author

Frank Wynne is a writer and award-winning literary translator. Born in Ireland he has lived and worked in Dublin, Paris, Amsterdam, London, Buenos Aires and currently lives in San José, Costa Rica. He has translated more than a dozen major novels, among them the works of Michel Houellebecq, Frédéric Beigbeder, Pierre Mérot and the Ivorian novelist Ahmadou Kourouma. A journalist and broadcaster, he has written for the Sunday Times, the Independent, the Irish Times, Melody Maker, and Time Out.

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rollyson2002, August 20, 2012 (view all comments by rollyson2002)
Art history is a matter of provenance; art collecting an affair of prestige. Commerce in art is the ineluctable confluence of provenance and prestige. Han van Meegeren (1889��"1947), a talented painter who despised the work of modernists such as Picasso, understood that he could only succeed as an artist by obliterating himself and becoming his 17th-century avatar, Vermeer.

To Han, as Frank Wynne calls him throughout this lively biography, "I Was Vermeer: The Rise and Fall of the Twentieth Century's Greatest Forger." Vermeer's radiant realism was the very embodiment of the highest art. Ironically, Vermeer's own reputation rose most rapidly in the early 20th century ��" largely through the efforts of a Dutch critic, Abraham Bredius ��" even as artists were abandoning the kinds of verisimilitude Vermeer perfected.

While Han's own work languished for lack of critical attention, critics hungered for more Vermeers, a slight body of work now reckoned to include no more than 35 or so paintings. Bredius speculated that because Vermeer's reputation had only recently risen, there might well be other Vermeers that a discerning critic might discover.

So it was that Han set out to create a veritable Vermeer. Possessed of extraordinary skill, Han also was fired by a desire to humiliate critics who had shunned his own work. To prove them fools, however, he had to do more than paint like a genius. He had to re-create the paints Vermeer employed, find just the right 17th-century canvas he could strip of its paint, reproduce in depth the crackling (fine lines) that grace the work of Old Masters, and harden the painting's surface so that it could withstand various tests designed to ascertain whether a canvas had indeed aged over time.

Finally, Han had to choose just the right subject matter. Here he was at his cunning best, choosing "The Supper at Emmaus," which he would pass off as a rare example of Vermeer's middle period, a work that would fill the gap between the artist's early and late periods.

The trick was to get Bredius to authenticate the painting. Shrewdly Han worked through intermediaries, friends he coached to tell the tale of how this painting belonged to a Dutch family that preferred to remain anonymous because they had been forced to smuggle it out of Italy, fearing the Fascists would confiscate it. Better that the Dutch government buy this masterpiece in hope it would remain in Holland.

Han's initial plan was to disclose the forgery as soon as the painting sold, in 1937. But he was a reckless and extravagant man who quickly went through the fortune he acquired for the forgery. Living the good life meant more forgeries and millions of dollars for Han. Even Herman Goering was swindled, a ruse which, unfortunately for Han, ended the forger's career.

Right after the war the Dutch were eager to punish collaborators, and Han found himself in prison because of his dealings with Goering. It took Han some time to tell the truth. So convinced were certain critics that they stuck by their attributions. What nonsense, they cried, the idea that an inferior artist could produce a Vermeer! But Han set about creating another Vermeer while serving a sort of house arrest, thus proving his bona fides ��" an odd word, to be sure, to use in connection with a forger.

Han never served his sentence, dying in 1947 shortly after his trial. In the end, he hardly seemed a criminal at all to the Dutch. One journalist wrote, "It is not the Vermeers, but the experts who authenticated them that are fakes." The journalist even proposed erecting a statue to Han van Meegeren, collecting funds for a work that was never built.

Mr. Wynne misses certain opportunities that a student of art history might have explored. What about Han's scorn for the critics? Although he was able to dupe the greatest Vermeer expert in the world, Han got lucky, since Bredius, then in his 80s with failing eyesight, was perhaps not in top form. At the same time, there were always critics who saw through Han's Vermeers. Like other forms of criticism, art criticism is only as good as the critic.

Han's success, however, raises other significant questions about art and art criticism. Do we, for example, stand in awe of the Mona Lisa because we know we are supposed to stand in awe of the Mona Lisa, because generations of admirers have done so? Walter Pater suggested that such works of art derive their value not merely from what is actually on the canvas but from what the beholder brings to the painting. Similarly, Oscar Wilde, Pater's student, suggested in "The Critic as Artist" that art's value is a matter of projection ��" that in order for the critic to say something valuable about the work of art he has to re-create it, so that, in effect, he is an artist.

Han may have in one sense conned the critics, but in another way (according to Wilde) he affirmed art. Had Han not confessed, countless people would still be admiring his Vermeers ��" as one critic whom Mr. Wynne invokes suggests. The biographer also notes that other forgeries remain on museum walls, while still others are attributed to the wrong artists.

Frank Wynne tells Han's story well, although how well it is hard to say. He clearly relies on other biographies, including several in Dutch, a language that the biographer apparently knows well. He includes a bibliography but no source notes. Especially troubling are the long dialogues between Han and others. Do these conversations come from other biographies? And if so, how accurate are they? And how strange that a biography of a forger should provoke troubling questions about its own provenance!
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781582345932
Subtitle:
The Rise and Fall of the Twentieth Century's Greatest Forger
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Author:
Wynne, Frank
Subject:
General
Subject:
History - General
Subject:
Artists, Architects, Photographers
Subject:
Painters
Subject:
Art forgers
Subject:
Criminals & Outlaws
Subject:
History : General
Subject:
Meegeren, Han van
Subject:
Vermeer, Johannes - Forgeries
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Publication Date:
October 3, 2006
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
8-pg color insert
Pages:
288
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.50 in

Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Art » Forgery
Arts and Entertainment » Art » History and Criticism

I Was Vermeer: The Rise and Fall of the Twentieth Century's Greatest Forger
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Product details 288 pages Bloomsbury Publishing PLC - English 9781582345932 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In this intriguing if dry biography, Wynne recounts how Dutch forger Han van Meegeren successfully passed off more than a dozen bogus works — including, most famously, The Supper at Emmaus in 1937 — as authentic Vermeers, Halses and de Hooches. Van Meegeren, who favored the style of the old Dutch masters just as modernism was hitting its stride, decided to embarrass his forward-looking critics by creating and selling his own 'Vermeer.' He continued his charade until he was forced to admit his crimes in 1947 while defending himself against a separate charge of treason. Wynne takes great care in explaining just how the increasingly paranoid and drug-addicted van Meegeren managed to fool the international art community, including a technical breakdown of how van Meegeren employed plastic to create the antique look of cracked craquelure in his canvases. Wynne also ruminates on how the arrogance of the art world — of critics like Abraham Bredius who were so confident in their ability to spot fakes that they brushed aside X-rays and other modern tests, as well as collectors desperate for authenticity — fuels the market for forgeries. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "Appropriately enough, I Was Vermeer is not what it seems. It is neither expose nor exposition. It is a moral tale well turned: almost a proverb. It is not new, but it is all true....I Was Vermeer is a skillful book, but not deep. Frank Wynne is a lucid introducer of the life and work but he sometimes takes economy too far. The encounter with the Nazis is rushed, and van Meegeren's 'questionable politics' slightly skimped." (read the entire TLS review)
"Review" by , "An astutely rendered and delicious tale of an infamous forger."
"Review" by , "A spectacular story of vengeance and fraud told with verve and style....The forger's trajectory from wealthy charlatan to national hero makes for delicious reading. Wynne employs all the devices of an expert roman policier."
"Review" by , "[A] remarkable story that is part mystery, part adventure, part biography, and part courtroom drama. [Wynne's] thorough research and accomplished writing style bring this unique event in art history to the general public. Highly recommended."
"Review" by , "Mr. Wynne's prose occasionally lapses into squirmingly purple nonsense, especially when he broaches our dubious hero's experience of the sexual....Still, the narrative has a propulsive drive, and the story moves along at a merry clip."
"Synopsis" by , Wynne's remarkable book tells the story of Han van Meegeren, a paranoid, drug-addicted, second-rate painter whose Vermeer forgeries made him a secret superstar of the art world — and along the way, it reveals the collusion and ego that, even today, allow art forgery to thrive.
"Synopsis" by ,
Frank Wynnes remarkable book tells the story of Han van Meegeren, a paranoid, drug-addicted, second-rate painter whose Vermeer forgeries made him a secret superstar of the art world—and along the way, it reveals the collusion and ego that, even today, allow art forgery to thrive. During van Meegerens heyday as a forger of Vermeers, he earned 50 million dollars, the acclamation of the worlds press, and the satisfaction of swindling the Nazis. His canvases were so nearly authentic that they would almost certainly be prized among the catalogue of Vermeers if he had not confessed. And, no doubt, he never would have confessed at all if he hadnt been trapped in a catch-22: he had thrived so noticably during the war that when it ended, he was quickly arrested as a Nazi collaborator. His only defense was to admit that he himself had painted the remarkable “Vermeers” that had passed through his hands—a confession the public refused to believe, until, in a huge media event, the courts staged the public painting of what would be van Meegerens last “Vermeer.” I Was Vermeer is an utterly gripping real-life mystery, capturing both the life of the consummate art forger, phenomenally skilled and yet necessarily unrecognized, and the equally fascinating work of the experts who identify forgeries and track down their perpetrators. Wry, amoral, irreverent, and plotted like a thriller, it is the first major book in forty years on this astonishing episode in history.
Frank Wynne is a writer and award-winning literary translator. Born in Ireland, he has lived and worked in Dublin, Paris, Amsterdam, London, Buenos Aires and currently lives in San José, Costa Rica. He has translated more than a dozen major novels, among them the works of Michel Houellebecq, Frédéric Beigbeder, Pierre Mérot and the Ivorian novelist Ahmadou Kourouma. A journalist and broadcaster, he has written for the Sunday Times, the Independent, the Irish Times, Melody Maker, and Time Out.
Frank Wynnes book tells the story of Han van Meegeren, a paranoid, drug-addicted, second-rate painter whose Vermeer forgeries made him a secret star of the art world.  Along the way, it reveals the collusion and ego that, even today, allow art forgery to thrive. During van Meegerens heyday as a forger of Vermeer, he earned fifty million dollars, the acclamation of the worlds press, and the satisfaction of swindling the Nazis. His canvases were so nearly authentic that they would almost certainly be prized among the catalogue of Vermeer's if he had not confessed. And, no doubt, he never would have confessed at all if he hadn't been trapped in a catch-22: he had thrived so noticably during the war that when it ended, he was quickly arrested as a Nazi collaborator. His only defense was to admit that he himself had painted the remarkable "Vermeers" that had passed through his hands—a confession the public refused to believe until, in a huge media event, the courts staged the public painting of what would be van Meegeren's final "Vermeer."

I Was Vermeer is an utterly gripping real-life mystery, capturing both the life of the consummate art forger, phenomenally skilled and yet necessarily unrecognized, and the equally fascinating work of the experts who identify forgeries and track down their perpetrators. Wry, amoral, irreverent, and plotted like a thriller, it is the first major book in forty years on this astonishing episode in history.

"Wynne blends reportorial skill with a love of irony to tell van Meegeren's life story . . . Crime thriller or forgery primer, this intriguing read also proves another epigram: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."—Bookpage 

 

"A spectacular story of vengeance and fraud told with verve and style by British journalist Wynne . . . The incredible story of how Dutch painter Han van Meegeren avenged himself on supercilious art critics by becoming an expert forger of Vermeer and fooling the Nazis conveys a valuable lesson in how we see, notes Wynne in this methodical, suspenseful tale . . . The forger's trajectory from wealthy charlatan to national hero makes for delicious reading. Wynne employs all the devices of an expert roman policier."—Kirkus Reviews

 
“Some real-life stories are more fantastic than anything Hollywood can invent. That a mid-20th-century artist could create forgeries that fooled the entire art world is the extraordinary story of Dutch art forger Han van Meegeren. Recognizing that very few Johannes Vermeer paintings were known in his time and that there were no known early Vermeers, Meergeren realized he could create works that could not be compared to any authenticated Vermeer. Those fakes fooled everyone: art scholars, museum curators, and Nazi Reich Marshal Hermann Goring included. Meegeren's deception was only discovered when he confessed it in court to save himself. London-based journalist and literary translator Wynne uses his journalistic skills to present a remarkable story that is part mystery, part adventure, part biography, and part courtroom drama. His thorough research and accomplished writing style bring this unique event in art history to the general public. Highly recommended.”—Eugene C. Burt, Library Journal

“In this intriguing . . . biography, Wynne recounts how Dutch forger Han van Meegeren successfully passed off more than a dozen bogus works—including, most famously, The Supper at Emmaus in 1937—as authentic Vermeers, Halses and de Hooches. Van Meegeren, who favored the style of the old Dutch masters just as modernism was hitting its stride, decided to embarrass his forward-looking critics by creating and selling his own ‘Vermeer. He continued his charade until he was forced to admit his crimes in 1947 while defending himself against a separate charge of treason. Wynne takes great care in explaining just how the increasingly paranoid and drug-addicted van Meegeren managed to fool the international art community, including a technical breakdown of how van Meegeren employed plastic to create the antique look of cracked craquelure in his canvases. Wynne also ruminates on how the arrogance of the art world—of critics like Abraham Bredius who were so confident in their ability to spot fakes that they brushed aside X-rays and other modern tests, as well as collectors desperate for authenticity—fuels the market for forgeries.”—Publishers Weekly

"Synopsis" by ,
Frank Wynne's remarkable book tells the story of Han van Meegeren, a paranoid, drug-addicted, second-rate painter whose Vermeer forgeries made him a secret superstar of the art world--and along the way, it reveals the collusion and ego that, even today, allow art forgery to thrive. During van Meegeren's heyday as a forger of Vermeers, he earned 50 million dollars, the acclamation of the world's press, and the satisfaction of swindling the Nazis. His canvases were so nearly authentic that they would almost certainly be prized among the catalogue of Vermeers if he had not confessed. And, no doubt, he never would have confessed at all if he hadn't been trapped in a catch-22: he had thrived so noticably during the war that when it ended, he was quickly arrested as a Nazi collaborator. His only defense was to admit that he himself had painted the remarkable "Vermeers" that had passed through his hands--a confession the public refused to believe, until, in a huge media event, the courts staged the public painting of what would be van Meegeren's last "Vermeer." I Was Vermeer is an utterly gripping real-life mystery, capturing both the life of the consummate art forger, phenomenally skilled and yet necessarily unrecognized, and the equally fascinating work of the experts who identify forgeries and track down their perpetrators. Wry, amoral, irreverent, and plotted like a thriller, it is the first major book in forty years on this astonishing episode in history.
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