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Hot Art: Chasing Thieves and Detectives Through the Secret World of Stolen Art

3.81  ·  Rating Details  ·  345 Ratings  ·  58 Reviews
OCo Winner of the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Crime Nonfiction
The Thomas Crown Affair meets "The Devil in the White City" in this fast-paced, character-driven story that breaks open the secrets of international art theft
A major work of investigative journalism, "Hot Art" is also Joshua Knelman's tale of the young reporter chasing a story idea that turns out to be a globe
ebook, 304 pages
Published September 1st 2011 by Douglas & McIntyre (first published March 1st 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 967)
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Lance Charnes
Dec 04, 2013 Lance Charnes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of White Collar
One of the main problems with nonfiction is that it can read like…well, like nonfiction. Given that the real world is stranger and more random than anything we can think up in a novel, there’s no good reason for this.

Hot Art doesn’t have this problem. The opening chapter – with the author riding along with LAPD detectives en route to an antique-store burglary in West Hollywood – reads like the start of a detective novel, and I fully expected Harry Bosch or Elvis Cole to be waiting at the scene.
Jul 10, 2016 Anca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing
I just never trusted antique stores because there was no history for those art objects. Many artists get no credit for antique art objects as it's easy for names to be forgotten in the midst of history so I'll buy art from the artist directly and I prefer digital art because I'm a minimalist when it comes to dwelling.
I started reading this book as research for a mystery series set in the art world and I had no idea what I was getting myself into. My intuition was right: art objects are the firs
Oct 28, 2012 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this more or less straight ahead journalism of the world of art theft. It's a story well-told, and Knelman talks to some pretty interesting people, thieves (or at least one thief) as well as police, and it's a fascinating story. I don't think it's incredibly mind-blowing or anything-- it's no Orchid Thief, let alone a book by D'Agata, but that's not what I wanted. I was mostly curious about what thieves do with art once they've got it, and how they are caught, and this book answ ...more
Steven Buechler
May 31, 2012 Steven Buechler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A well-researched and fascinating read.

Page 14:
It was just after midnight when the phone rang.
A stranger's voice said, "It's -, You've been looking for me."
The name he'd given me clicked. Yes. I'd been looking for him.
"I thought you were in jail," I said.
"I was," he replied. "Now I'm out."
Then the art thief lised off a few details about my education and professional life. He told me he knew where I lived, and proved it by reciting my address.
"I've done my research," he said.
He agreed to a meeti
Daniel Currie
I won this in a Goodreads Giveaway. Thanx!

This book starts out introducing us to a few keys players in the art theft world, on both sides of the law. It does an excellent job of taking us into the world of the thief and the detective s well as buyers and sellers.

It paints a very good picture of exactly what is stolen, why, and what happens to it.

But... after about 100 pages or so, we have the idea. There aren't that many ways to steal and get rid of stolen art. They are covered very well in th
John McDonald
The writer must have refused to listen to his editor, or he had an editor who wouldn't stand up to his client, or simply was not up to the task of editing. The book is a fine example of the writer and editor not collaborating effectively on organizing matters and defining precise thoughts the author wants to communicate.

Early in my career as a lawyer, I conducted investigations for a regulatory agency that licensed broadcast stations in the U.S. and enforced laws and regulations designed to enha
Feb 21, 2013 Debbie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is an interesting topic that made me want to know more about world of art theft. The book is long on interviews and short on the individual theft information. The subject is worth reading but I didn't enjoy this author's writing. Pictures of the art mentioned would have been nice. We read this for book club and had a good discussion. There was lots of google searches; Paul still has his blog and Detective Lazarus is worth searching.
Jul 04, 2012 Jenny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed Knelman's sweeping look at the shockingly dirty world of art and antiquities dealing. His research spanned several continents and years, calling upon the expertise of law enforcement agents, thieves, and collectors alike. As one of his more colorful sources says, "Once you start thinking about this subject, you will never be able to stop thinking about this subject." Knelman proves that to be true in under 350 pages.
Kim Behnke
Oct 26, 2012 Kim Behnke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hot Art offers a very thorough examination of the fastinating world of stolen art and antiquities. The scope of the black market for art truly shocked me and I will now think twice when visiting galleries and art shows. The book reads like a true crime novel and many of the bizarre anecdotes Knelman shared will stay with me for a long time. If you're interest in art or in true life detective stories you will definitely enjoy this book.
Jun 05, 2012 Kim rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, canadian
During the first 50 or so pages, I had high hopes for this book. It was a fascinating insight into the underground world of stolen art. However, the rest of the book was incredibly repetitive. None of the people he interviewed for the remainder of the book brought any new information to the table, leaving me bored. I couldn't even finish this one, despite my best attempts, and that's saying something for me.
Oct 25, 2012 Anita rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Though generally skeptical of such claims as "spellbinding", this is the kind of narrative journalism that makes me want to throw such claims around. It's smart, thoughtful, fascinating, and an excellently told story. It's a page turner, but it's not just a page turner.
Geri Hoekzema
Jun 05, 2013 Geri Hoekzema rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I always suspected that you have to be really smart to be an effective art thief, but I never knew just how smart until I read this book. The stories of how some of the less smart crooks have been caught are funny.
Jul 30, 2015 Kimberly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love reading about art crimes. I find them fascinating, but I'm not sure why. I think this quote from the book says it perfectly:

"Once you start thinking about this subject, you will never be able to stop thinking about it. Every time a painting is stolen somewhere in the world and you read about it in the news, you will feel compelled to think about it, and to know where that painting went. It grabs you and never lets you go." - p. 321

Overall, a very enjoyable and informative read about the a
Thomas Edmund
Hot Art started with the promised heat of the title. Everyone likes non-fiction that challenges common misconceptions about a subject and art theft is no different. Knelman dances between cops and robbers in his personal interviews and stories about the global blackish market for art.

The first problems began when information started repeating itself - OK typically it was from different sources, but it didn't make the book an enthralling read. If you pick up this book these are a few things you'l
Nov 26, 2014 Ann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An acquaintance is an exceptional artist who has always refused to sell in most galleries, except for a select few that work sensitively with the artists. After reading this book I now understand her hostility to the merchandising of art. The secretive nature of this industry is appalling and it is the artists who really lose in the end.

The writer does repeat himself and the book could have been streamlined, but still an intriguing read.
Stewart Deck
Multiple voices tell fascinating tales from the world of stolen art and antiques. The author frequently (and somewhat distractingly) reminds readers of how much he has worked to pull all of the threads and voices together, but the stories are interesting and work together to illustrate the world of how art goes missing and the challenges of recovering it.
Art crime reality in one lengthy, but interesting read.

Although Joshua Knelman can get a bit repetitive in his writing, I am aware it is to drive his point home. In a culture consumed by glamourized media and fancy Hollywood portrayals, the real world of art crime becomes buried under the romanticized fluff that we all have become accustomed to. It is no wonder that he wants to get the message clear- reality is far from The Thomas Crowne Affair yet none of us are aware. The art crime scene is m
Oct 24, 2011 C rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Excellent content and an extremely interesting look into the work of art and art theft.

Art is being treated as a commodity and people are stealing it to pay for drugs or other debts, while organized crime is using it to launder (EXTREMELY successfully) drug money/illicit funds. Knelman delves into the world of art theft and speaks with people on both sides of the law and around the world. They are all saying the same thing: art theft is on the rise, values are increasing, but the amount of time/
Jun 08, 2016 Deborah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Meh. Interesting subject, but the writing fell short. Initially I thought the book just needed a good editor, but soon realized the problems went well beyond that.
Sep 13, 2014 Kyle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
parts of this book feel like The Italian Job (describing how thieves steal famous art)... then it bogs down....
May 04, 2012 Writerlibrarian rated it really liked it
A good investigating piece of journalism on the very grey and mucky waters of the Art World. Knelman went on the hunt and interviewed most of the important players in the cat and mouse chase between the law and the criminals.

The art world is one of the last area where a hand shake and cash are the normal currency. The games played between the thieves, the art dealers, the auction houses and the clients are grey at best.

This is an informative and well written book, easy to access for the neophy
Mary Rose
A really excellent book. Knelman takes you from the FBI to the house of a notorious art thief, following how stolen art enters the market and where it goes next. He doesn't focus much on anything earlier than the 1960's, which is fine by me, and he's much more current than other books I've read on the topic. He's plenty critical of the unregulated art market, so don't expect an entirely fair treatment or much testimony from the dealers, curators, and auction houses that end up buying the stolen ...more
Ryan Schriml
Jun 01, 2015 Ryan Schriml rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Straight forward journalistic approach to a fascinating topic. Really enjoyed it.
Jen Fumarolo
This was an interesting look at the world of stolen and smuggled art and antiques. The author really loved to mention The Thomas Crowne Affair at least once per chapter, mostly to stress how the reality of this underworld is nothing like the fantasy of that film. That being said, I liked the bizarre characters that he encountered and the information he uncovers. It does amaze me that there are so few members of law enforcement that actually police this kind of crime around the world. I suppose y ...more
Debra Komar
Mar 06, 2015 Debra Komar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved it. Clean crisp writing with a lot of energy. Fascinating.
Scott Harris
Jun 22, 2013 Scott Harris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a really fascinating and surprising read, documenting the rather recently flourishing international stolen art network and the rather small clutch of criminal investigators specialized at routing it out. Knelman's somewhat cynical yet open approach to those he interviews provides a sense of legitimacy to the stories he's told, even noting the fact that every one of the people he interviews seems to planning a book of their own. Easy to see why he took home an Arthur Ellis for this piece ...more
Jen Johnson
Aug 06, 2012 Jen Johnson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting stuff, and part of the reason I never wanted to show art in a gallery (assuming they would even want my things ha!). The whole system of art as a business is so flawed as to be disgusting, but, imperfect people will never create a perfect world. Knelman does a great job of taking a step back and letting the stories tell themselves, almost as if the book had written itself. Obviously that is not true, credit is due to him for making sense of the chaos and threads of each crime's ...more
Aspen Junge
Well, this book ruined art heist movies for me-- it turns out that once you've stolen a piece of art, making money off of it is pretty easy, considering the largely unregulated art and antiquities market and the lack of coordinated effort by competing and underfunded law enforcement jurisdictions. The book is well-written and interesting, and is a decent introduction to the black and grey markets, and the law enforcement challenges they pose.
This one was a pretty good. It got a little repetitious towards the end and what's up with the twist with Detective Lazarus? Was she convicted of murder? I know it wasn't central to the story, but you can't throw that in right at the end and then not at least give some resolution.

It is amazing how easy it is to steal art. Ironically, it is usually more difficult to resell the art. I guess it serves the bad guys right.
Nov 23, 2012 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art, 2012
Missing from several of the art heist books on the book shelves is the sense of community and connections in the world of stolen art. usually the stories are about one case (Isabella Stewart Gradner, for example) or one group (The Italian police trying to stop grave robbers), but Hot Art connects the dots and shows how illegal/ stolen art makes the rounds. An interesting read for anyone interested in the art world.
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