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Fake! The Story of Elmyr de Hory, the Greatest Art Forger of Our Time

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3.73  ·  Rating Details ·  297 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
An extraordinary story.
Hardcover, 243 pages
Published June 1st 1969 by Mcgraw-Hill (first published January 1st 1969)
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Matt
Aug 01, 2010 Matt rated it really liked it
Life really is more amazing than fiction. Maybe…hold that thought.

This book is about the life of Elmyr de Hory, who was born into a family of Hungarian aristocrats before landing in a Nazi concentration camp during WWII. He escaped death through a series of mysterious events and then traveled across Europe studying art and hobnobbing with all sorts of interesting people. Elmyr (pronounced el-MEER) was supposedly on the outer periphery of the artists and writers who frequented Gertrude Stein’s sa
...more
Doug
Aug 22, 2010 Doug rated it liked it
I’m not even trying to separate my reaction to this book from the backstory: Irving, a novelist (a fraudster, in other words, because a novel is a pack of lies upon the credibility of which its success depends), here offers a purportedly non-fictional book about art forger Elmyr de Hory (a profession which combines fraud and confidence trickery). Irving’s follow-up act was to himself forge documents as part of writing the purported autobiography of Howard Hughes, which struck me as ballsy, if be ...more
Eric Cartier
Jul 21, 2015 Eric Cartier rated it really liked it
Borrowed via the University of Maryland Libraries' excellent Interlibrary Loan system, and to be read in honor and celebration of the Orson Welles centennial. Irving and de Hory are the central figures in Welles' masterful essay film "F For Fake", my favorite Welles picture.
Claire
Apr 07, 2014 Claire rated it really liked it
After visiting the Art Forgers exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts in Springfield, MA., and having seen Elmyr de Hory fakes, this book served not only as great entertainment, but a fascinating account of the "greatest art forger of our time", an artist who forged masters for twenty years, and circulated a thousand works of art. The author, Clifford Irving, met de Hory when they both resided on the island of Ibiza. I considered this book cautiously, as Irving himself was accused of fraud after he ...more
Mary
Dec 27, 2014 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
Very entertaining story of a vary talented art forger and his two 'agents'. Fernand and Raul were not so much agents as bosses. They kept Elmyr on a short string, just enough income to maintain his gentlemanly life style and demanded that he produce more forgeries before they would send more cash. Before that Elmyr did his own marketing in Europe and then on an 11 year spree in the US, milking the museums and galleries in one town until suspicions arose and then escaping to another art market un ...more
Carrie
Aug 15, 2013 Carrie rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle
This is an entertaining look at a career forger's life, relationships, and experience in the art world, both as a legitimate artist and as a forger. I loved it. The book is well-researched; the author was friends with Elmyr de Hory (the forger) and verified (to the extent possible) de Hory's accounts of events in his life. De Hory was a global traveler during his forging years, so the book takes us all over the world and describes his interactions with artists, art dealers, and eventually his "p ...more
Paul
Jul 12, 2016 Paul rated it liked it
Probably as good an account in written form of Elmyr's life as we are going to get. The author's postscript at the end of the book contains admissions of changing some of the facts to protect various identitities, so there remains some doubt as to the complete veracity of the work. The storytelling is strightforward, and for those seeking deeper insight into Elmyr and forgery in the art world and beyond should check out Welles' excellent film F for Fake.
Judith
A testament to an author too enamored of his subject

Irving seems to have taken Elmyr's account at face value, so this bio is only interesting as a fictional tale, since virtually everything about Elmyr has been subsequently refuted. Interesting take on the narcissism required to be a great artist as well as consummate con man.
Cathy
Jul 20, 2014 Cathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a fun read--I initially thought that maybe it would be boring. But I found it fascinating. I enjoyed reading about how art forgery is done. Art forgers are great artists too! There's some controversy over how much of this book is untrue and invented by the author, but much of it did happen and is documented. It was a fun look into the art world.
Bernard C Edmunds
The convergence of three audacious lives

A flamboyant but insecure painter discovers a talent for mimicry and falls under the spell of a pair of jet-setting hucksters who turn his fakes into millionaire lifestyles all over the world. Fast moving and enormously entertaining.
Elizabeth
Jun 19, 2013 Elizabeth rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
After recently seeing Orson Welles' F for Fake and even more recently teaching a course on hoaxes, this book seemed right up my alley. Irving (who went on to perpetuate his own hoax about an exclusive Howard Hughes biography) here pens the tale of Elmyr de Hory, an art forger who made a fortune adding minor works to the cannons of masters from Renoir to Matisse. Elmyr is quite the character (as anyone already familiar with Welles movie will attest). However, for all of the intrigue that filled t ...more
Hraabe
Jun 10, 2014 Hraabe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Engaging...

Irving's characters are fully dimensional and the story line rationally organized and engaging. 'Fakes' is well worth the read. I'll consider reading more by this author.
Mae Wood
Jan 07, 2015 Mae Wood rated it really liked it
Not the most well-written novel, but fascinating. It itself another layer of the art of deception? If you like art forgery stories, I recommend this quirky book.
Nancy
Jan 05, 2014 Nancy rated it it was amazing
Loved this book. I was totally fascinated by de Hory's ability to make such a perfect rendition of a painting. Irving knew de Hory well and seemed to understand the motivation behind de Hory's criminal activity. This would make a terrific movie.
Erica Leigh
May 26, 2014 Erica Leigh rated it it was ok
I found many parts of this book interesting. I think it was a little repetitive, and perhaps more drawn out than it needed to be, but the life of de Hory was a bit convoluted itself. I didn't realize when I started the book that there was controversy around the author; and I admit, once I knew, I then questioned the validity of the research, and certainly the last two or three chapters.
Marc
Jun 11, 2013 Marc rated it really liked it
Interesting documentation of the career of one of the greatest art forgers of all time. It captures the art scene of the 50's and 60's around the globe. Without instant communication as afforded by today's internet, it is easy to see how these prolific artists and peddlers flooded the market with fake masterpieces.
Sandra
Jun 07, 2013 Sandra rated it liked it
I'm not finished with this book but I will continue.until.the.end. This book reads like a laundry list to me, and instead of being captivated by the life of this man, I am bored to tears with the repetitive writing style. I'm hoping it picks up, but I'm halfway into this guy's life and I hope he gets caught soon!
Sandy Munro
A fascinating portrait of the life and escapades of Elmyr de Hory. It's a page turner with real life characters that are almost too fantastic to be true. Insights into the world of high-priced are, galleries, and buyers and sellers. I believe it's out of print, but coming on Kindle soon.
Aaron the Pink Donut
Nov 16, 2007 Aaron the Pink Donut rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, art
An enthralling entertaining little book. Tells the true (an relative term with the author and the subject) story of one of the most prolific and successful art forgers of the 20th century. You will get some real insight about the way the art market works.
Sue
May 03, 2014 Sue rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Book was mentioned with regard to museum exhibit on fakes/forgeries. The author wrote book about famous art forger, but was as duplicitous as the forger himself. Irving never researched De Hory's claims & took him at his word. Easy to read fluff.
Kate Alexis
Jan 26, 2013 Kate Alexis marked it as to-read
Curious about this given that the author is Clifford Irving who was once named Time Magazine's "Con Man of the Year"... I'm skeptical of getting drawn into something that may end up being another "Hoax".
Enid
Oct 14, 2014 Enid rated it liked it
This book really grabbed me in the beginning and then again at the end. The middle sort of meandered around, and jumped back and forth in time almost randomly, sometimes within the same paragraph.
bethany malouf
May 15, 2012 bethany malouf rated it it was amazing


A masterful and intriguing work. I loved the details of the art process and how it all came to fall apart. What a wonderful world!
Evelyn Pryce
Oct 04, 2010 Evelyn Pryce rated it really liked it
Fun read, but especially if you're a rabid Orson Welles fan (this book is a version of "F for Fake" in printed form) or an art devotee.
Karen
Nov 15, 2015 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an interesting story of an artist who, unable to make a living with his own art, became A master forger of others' art.
Beverly Hollandbeck
Jan 30, 2015 Beverly Hollandbeck rated it really liked it
Fascinating and captivating. I couldn't put it down, wondering what would happen next to this band of thieves.
Renae
Mar 08, 2015 Renae rated it liked it
It was charming, smart, decent character development. But I didn't find it good enough to finish, so, that's that.
Kathryn Antman
Aug 23, 2014 Kathryn Antman rated it it was ok
Honestly I love this kind of book but this one bored me to putting it down.
Sara Fabulous
Aug 16, 2009 Sara Fabulous rated it liked it
Well written and an interesting story. I don't usually enjoy non-fiction, but the story was captivating enough.
Jayna
Mar 28, 2008 Jayna rated it really liked it
Read this, then rent Orson Welles' F is for Fake, for a good time. It'll spin your mind like a washing machine.
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Clifford Irving is the author of 20 published books & just released 12 of his works as Kindle/Nook eBooks; he is currently writing a memoir called Around the World in 80 Years.
More about Clifford Irving...

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