The Forger's Spell
A True Story of Vermeer, Nazis, and the Greatest Art Hoax of the Twentieth Century
By Edward Dolnick
(Harper, Hardcover, 9780060825416, 368pp.)
Publication Date: July 2008
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
As riveting as a World War II thriller, The Forger's Spell is the true story of Johannes Vermeer and the small-time Dutch painter who dared to impersonate him centuries later. The con man's mark was Hermann Goering, one of the most reviled leaders of Nazi Germany and a fanatic collector of art.
It was an almost perfect crime. For seven years a no-account painter named Han van Meegeren managed to pass off his paintings as those of one of the most beloved and admired artists who ever lived. But, as Edward Dolnick reveals, the reason for the forger's success was not his artistic skill. Van Meegeren was a mediocre artist. His true genius lay in psychological manipulation, and he came within inches of fooling both the Nazis and the world. Instead, he landed in an Amsterdam court on trial for his life.
ARTnews called Dolnick's previous book, the Edgar Award-winning The Rescue Artist, "the best book ever written on art crime." In The Forger's Spell, the stage is bigger, the stakes are higher, and the villains are blacker.
“This account by Dolnick…is especially strong in plot development and characterization. It also has a unique point of view”
“Edward Dolnick’s Forger’s Spell gives us a well-researched and highly readable account of the underworld of forgers, corrupt dealers, and collectors in Nazi occupied Europe. . . . Wonderful theater, full of fascinating stories, this is a great cautionary tale for all in the art world.”
Who can resist the story of a great scam--especially when the markis art-greedy Hermann Goering and the author is an Edgar winner?
-Publishers Weekly (Staff Picks)
“Pacing and prose as gripping as those of the best mystery novelist. . . . The Forger’s Spell is simply spellbinding.”
“Dolnick…tells his story engagingly and with a light touch. He has a novelist’s talent for characterization, and he raises fascinating questions.”
-New York Times Book Review
“Riveting new art thriller. . . . Likely to captivate not just readers moved by war, art, and the art of deception, but anyone interested in human vanity and our sometimes baffling ability to see only what we want to see.”
-Christian Science Monitor
Vividly portrays a staggeringly successful Dutch art forger. . . . Dolnick covers it all. . . . Dolnick’s zesty, incisive, and entertaining inquiry illuminates the hidden dimensionsand explicates the far-reaching implications of this fascinating and provocative collision of art and ambition, deception and war.
“An engaging and highly amusing account of a clever craftsman. . . . On all those levels this is a delightful foray into art history and psychology”
-St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“This is the first book on art forgery that really gets to the bottom of the Han van Meegeren tale of chicanery and double dealing. A spirited and provocative read.”
“When it comes to forgery and its ability to fascinate . . . Edward Dolnick has hit the mother lode. . . . Dolnick more than does it justice, drawing on his knowledge of a wide range of subjects.”
-Los Angeles Times
“The Forger’s Spell is an excellent read, a swift and astute narrative written from many complex perspectives to great effect.”
“Gripping historical narrative. . . . Dolnick, a veteran science writer, knows his way around a canvas. . . . The Forger’s Spell has raised provocative questions about the nature of art and the psychology of deception.”
-Washington Post Book World
Mesmerizing account. . . . Dolnick brings his expertise in art theft, criminal psychology and military history to a scintillating portrait. . . . Polished, fast-paced narrative. . . . Compelling prose. . . . Energetic and authoritative.
-Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“A fascinating analysis of the forger’s technique and a perceptive discussion of van Meegeren’s genius at manipulating people. . . . Compelling look at how a forger worked his magic.”
-Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Dolnick brilliantly re-creates the circumstances that made possible one of the most audacious frauds of the 20th century. And in doing so Dolnick plumbs the nature of fraud itself . . . an incomparable page turner.”
“Dolnick weaves a lot of fascinating information into a highly readable narrative. . . . The Forger’s Spell is a terrific story.”