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Author Archive: "B. A. Shapiro"

Art Forgery as Novel Inspiration

It was just a bit after midnight on March 18, 1990, and the city of Boston hadn't even begun to recover from a raucous St. Patrick's Day celebration, when two men, dressed as police officers, bound and gagged two guards at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. They spent 81 minutes ripping paintings from their frames, then threw them into their rusty Datsun hatchback and drove away with 13 pieces of art today worth over $500 million. The heist remains the largest art theft in history.

The cache included priceless masterpieces such as Rembrandt's The Storm on the Sea of Galilee, Manet's Chez Tortoni and Vermeer's The Concert. Despite thousands of hours of police work, a lapsed statute of limitations, and a $5 million reward, none of the art has ever been recovered.

As a longtime Boston resident, the heist always fascinated me, and I wondered how I might write a novel about it. So I began spinning "what ifs." What if one of those priceless paintings wasn't priceless at all? What if Rembrandt didn't paint Storm of Galilee? What if some unknown artist did instead? Would the painting ...


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