The Art Forger: A Novel
B. A. Shapiro
Almost twenty-five years after the infamous art heist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum—still the largest unsolved art theft in history—one of the stolen Degas paintings is delivered to the Boston studio of a young artist. Claire Roth has entered into a Faustian bargain with a powerful gallery owner by agreeing to forge the Degas in exchange for a one-woman show in his renowned gallery. But as she begins her work, she starts to suspect that this long-missing masterpiece—the very one that had been hanging at the Gardner for one hundred years—may itself be a forgery. The Art Forger is a thrilling novel about seeing—and not seeing—the secrets that lie beneath the canvas.
“It won’t be as you imagine, I promise you that. There is no shame. I am offering you a job that is actually quite boring and tedious.” “I don’t need a job,” I declared, as I moved toward the door. “I am a married woman.” Again, the mischievous eyes. “Then not a job. The painting will be my gift to you for doing me this great honor.” A gift. I stood motionless, facing the door as my thoughts whirled. Edgar Degas was offering to make me a gift of one of his paintings. A gem for my collection,
immediately sorry for speaking so crudely, but Beatrice didn’t seem to notice, or if she did, to care. “Did you ever hear of cognitive dissonance?” she asked. “No.” “Basically, it’s a theory that people subconsciously reinterpret their motives and actions in a way that makes them feel better about themselves afterward. And then they start to believe that the basis of the reinterpretation is also true.” Sounded just like Isaac. “So,” I said slowly, “you’re telling me that even though they
a wall of shelving—Isaac’s studio, unlike mine, had been designed by an architect and built by a master carpenter—and pulled out the largest canvas. It had been sized and was ready to accept paint, so I put it on the easel. “What color do you see?” “Claire . . .” “Time as the fourth dimension,” I said. “A running river, the future ahead, the past behind, yet all existing simultaneously. What color for the underpainting?” I grabbed a can of turpentine and began poking around his paint tubes.
you can count on me. That we’re in this together. As soon as you get out we can start to fight—” “I’m not getting out. They’ve told me that much. Flight risk.” His mouth squeezes into a grimace. “The Gardner heist.” “But these things can change, right? What does your lawyer say? Are they filing motions or whatever they do? I can check with another lawyer for you if you want.” “You’ve got to stay out of it. You haven’t done anything wrong, and you’ve got to keep it that way. The less contact
classes, done a lot of research. I relied on known techniques.” I look at Rik, whose eyes are wide. “Used my notes, my experience, how-to forgery manuals.” Alana’s lips are taut. “Are you telling me you created the After the Bath that’s hanging downstairs by following instructions in a paint-by-numbers book?” “I guess that’s kind of true,” I admit. “Plus an oversized oven and a bit of phenol formaldehyde.” Alana’s eyes narrow. “Is this some kind of joke?” “I wish.” “Let me get this