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The Art Thief

2.99  ·  Rating Details ·  2,210 Ratings  ·  442 Reviews
The disappearance of a priceless Caravaggio and the famous 'White on White' by Malevich heralds the start of a series of seemingly unconnected art thefts across Europe. Piecing the clues together, Jean-Jacques Bizot and Harry Wickenden soon realize that the apparently random thefts are actually part of a single master plan.
Paperback, 308 pages
Published August 1st 2008 by Pocket Books (first published 2007)
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Community Reviews

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Mar 07, 2008 Kristin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: elementary school language arts classes - examples of how not to write a book
Shelves: rubbish
The author (a term I use loosely) should stick to his day job - although in reading his profile, I believe he may not have one!!!

Did this man have an editor? He acknowledges one at the close. If indeed an editor exists with respect to the compilation of this book, perhaps he/she could have borrowed the author's thesaurus. A sample of editorial comments could then have included such notes as this:

"Mr. Charney, It is with most unfeigned sincerity that I present you with these palaverous, verbose,
Nov 04, 2007 Roberta added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Shelves: books-i-loathed
The Art Thief is an amateurish novel that lectures against romanticizing art theft while doing exactly that. The author is described in publicity material as the founding director of an international think tank on art crime with a board of trustees that “includes the respective art squad heads of the FBI, Carabinieri, and Scotland Yard, as well as renowned museum, art world, and criminology specialists.” They may not have read his novel. The book is populated with slapstick national stereotypes ...more
Nov 18, 2007 Julia rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This was just painful. What started out as somewhat interesting factoids about art history and art theft turned into patronizing speeches by so-called characters in this book. I admit to skipping about 50 pages in the middle, with absolutely no detriment to the plot. Stolen canvases, auctions at Christie's, paintings hidden under other art, it all seemed so promising.
Feb 16, 2009 Catherine rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
If I could have give this book no stars or half a star I would have...
I picked this book up for all the wrong reasons and I paid for it.

The only part I liked about the book was the background discussion on art and the great artists (and the description of the great meals the two french characters kept eating!); otherwise, the plot, the characters, the narrative, and the ending (ugh!) were horrid. Entirely unsatisfying.

The author is so self-indulgent in this book. He obviously wrote himsel
Jan 06, 2009 Heather rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is essentially a mystery, a genre that I am rather unqualified to rate appropriately. Overall, I think the mystery aspect of the book was entertaining and not overtly obvious, so probably successful.

More than that, however, I adored this book. It is easily one of the best I have read. Of course, all of my reasons are selfish and probably not applicable to most people. This book appealed to all of my favorite things.

It made me feel smart. Scattered, untranslated phrases in French and It
Jul 28, 2015 Gerald rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Noah Charney is a professor of art history and an expert in fine art forgery and theft. And in this novel he proves himself to be a sly spinner of detective yarn. The Art Thief is a tale of brain-teasing complexity involving multiple, interconnected forgeries and thefts of historic paintings from several institutions. And its resolution necessarily involves multiple detectives and forensic experts, each as colorful and eccentric in his own way as Inspector Clouseau.
The victims – museum curators
Jan 16, 2009 Vulva rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I began reading this book, positive that I was going to hate it. I come from the Art History field, and you'd be surprised how many people just massacre art works with false information, or far-fetched ideas (Da Vinci Code, anyone?).
I was surprised to find accurate interpretations and readings; from an Art History point of view, all of his information was spot-on, and I couldn't help but smile at his various bits of information thrown in there.
That being said, the book built some momentum, and t
Ross Cavins
Nov 19, 2010 Ross Cavins rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Could not finish. This book is too bloated with facts and "as you know Bob"s ... I care nothing for the characters because there are approximately 342 of them.

Plus, after reading all the hooty-tooty art stuff that the author just had to prove he knew, that picture of him on the back of the book makes me want to punch him in his high-class artsy-fartsy nose.

If I wanted to be subjected to lecture after lecture of dry facts, I'd go back to school. Seriously, in the small portion of the book I could
Yvonne (Fiction Books)
“Great suspense and attention to detail, although some genre confusion”

Well! where to start with this review ? …

I guess this is one of the best examples I have come across, of why book reviewing can be such a subjective process and so personal to the reviewer.

‘The Art Thief’ has received some very mixed reviews, not all of which have been objective, or even particularly pleasant to read, if you were author, Noah Charney. Nonetheless, if they are comments which indicate the true feelings and thou
May 21, 2008 Keeley rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I am not sure how I feel about this book. It was well written and the plot was thick and vibrant. The end completely caught me by surprise, I never guessed who the bad guys were. But the end was cut too short. I am still trying to piece together all that happened. I was really dissappointed by the amount of f-words the author used. I think it shows a lack of intelligence and creativity that all they can do is profane left and right. It was a huge problem for me. But I looked past that to see how ...more
Ben Babcock
Noah Charney knows a lot about art. His writing, however, leaves much to be desired.

The book improved much throughout the course of the story. It started out as an uninteresting, rather dull story with disparate characters. Charney employs some rather unusual metaphors and descriptive phrases. At the very end of the story, when all is revealed and the mystery solved, one can look back and say, "Oh yes, this all comes together, how interesting."

Unfortunately, in order to get to that point, the re
Jim Leckband
Jan 20, 2016 Jim Leckband rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
"Sunlight dipped toward the horizon, over pencil-sketch trees calligraphed into the impossible blue of the sky, tinged a burnt scarlet. The moon was already aloft, its craterous yin-yang hanging in the premature daylit night."


"Delacloche and Bizot, like an icicle and the puddle below it, stepped out of the elevator, behind a bank clerk. She led them past a security guard, and through an iron gate, along a faded mint-green-carpeted hall, through smells of must and musk and dust, and dusk s
Feb 14, 2009 Joanne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mixed reviews. The info on the art world was great fun. Icons, symbols, art theft, history of paints, etc. - all fascinating. The plot was convoluted and the characters okay. If you enjoy fine art and a peek behind the scenes, you'd probably enjoy this book. There are lots of twists and turns.
Jul 03, 2008 Katy-Del rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The overall heist story, I found that interesting. But I really didn't like the lectures I was forced to wade through to get to the plot. Every character with the least bit of knowlege about art, has to expound at length, and I just found myself skimming and skipping these pages. Which is strange, because the subjects they lectured about are ones I find interesting and ones that I have read about in non-fiction, but I was totally uninterested in them in the way they were presented here.

Noah Cha
Julie H.
Feb 24, 2009 Julie H. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Three seemingly unrelated art thefts in Rome, Paris, and London are deftly interwoven. Character development and dialogue are first-rate, as are the real-world insights offered into art history and art theft. The reader is treated to an engaging story that juxtaposes the seeming iconoclasm of Malevich with the richly symbolic work of Caravaggio. While the story is fiction, the author's knowledge of the world of art crimes is first-hand. Charney is the founder of the Association for Research into ...more
Jan 21, 2010 Christine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010-reads
Mr. Charney has a degree in art history as well as being an expert in art crimes. He brings both those areas of knowledge to this book in an entertaining way. Three pieces of art are stolen under mysterious and very clever circumstances, causing both the Italian and British police and the art experts in the book to chase in circles to discover what is going on. The story was good, with a surprise (at least to me) ending but what really drove this book for me was the characters, any one of which ...more
Oct 14, 2009 Amanda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pop-fiction
The story of this book I liked - art history, foreign locations, mystery. What I didn't like was the author's tone - it's as if he was really glad to have published his book. There was just a weird overuse of language that got annoying. It would be like instead of saying "he leaned over", the author would say "he bent his torso at a forty-five degree angle..." It got annoying, but all in all, it was a nice quick read that I was happy to be occupied by for a few days.
I haven't been so captivated by a book and new author for a long time. Mr. Charney gives us an education in art and thievery and morality in addition to a mystery.

Much of the book is about authentication revolving around two stolen paintings White on White and Caravaggio's Annuciation - and philosophical renderings about art, what we value, what is in our museums, why collectors collect. After reading the book, I question whether all of the paintings we value in museums are authentic. And Mr. Ch
Liz Greer
Da Vinci Code-style art theft romp. No body count but just as many twists and turns, crosses and double crosses, although for all that it is actually a bit of a dull read. You figure out pretty early on that the fakes are real, the real ones are faked, and that most of the characters are implicated somehow. Beyond that I wasn't really bothered about exactly who what and why. It's difficult to care about the fates of characters who are frankly fairly two-dimensional, and so stereotyped it is at t ...more
Wesley Paine
Jun 27, 2011 Wesley Paine rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Should have been my kind of book: a mystery about art, museums, auction houses. And there are passages that I really liked: discussions of iconography, the process of painting and how to read a painting, the value of a work of art, forgeries and provenance, art conservation. But the writing is so bad that all else pales in comparison (which makes me wonder if the passages I enjoyed, which were much better written, were regurgitated from lecture notes from the author's student days at the Courtau ...more
Sep 29, 2008 Anne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading two non-fiction books by Edward Dolnick, I came across this fiction book about three seemingly unrelated art thefts - a Caravaggio from a Baroque church, a Malevich from the Malevich Society, and a recent acquisition from the National Gallery. As the police and art investigators across countries track down the stolen works, they find themselves wading through museums, private galleries, and auction houses in an effort to distinguish the forgeries from the authentic. Like Dolnick, C ...more
Jun 24, 2009 RunRachelRun rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very good read - I always appreciate it when an author sprinkles in another language and doesn't include the translation. Don't look at the back cover of this book - Noah just looks annoyed that you've picked up his book and that you might take it home, a home that perhaps doesn't live up to his ruthlessly thought-out self-presentation. i can't figure out who he reminds me of... In any case, smart boy who's written a pretty dandy read. I do like it that he seems to have aged his main character ...more
Jun 05, 2009 Elsi rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, read-in-2009
I still don't know whether I'd recommend this book or not. I enjoyed it -- for the most part -- but it left me feeling off-kilter. I'm not sure I can even explain why it failed to satisfy. It could be because there were a lot of characters and I found it difficult to keep up with who was who and who did what. It could be because the author would stick in big words -- gratuitously -- almost to show off that he was an intellectual.

But, there were some excellent scenes in the book. I particularly l
Jennifer Griffith
If you love art, this is a great book. The descriptions of the art pieces were so precise, I could see them perfectly in my mind. No small feat.

Maybe because I didn't read it all in one sitting, I had a little trouble keeping the characters and settings straight, even though the characterizations were fairly strong. There were just a lot of "main" characters, and the point of view jumped around a lot for me. That said, once the plot all started winding up I could see where he was going with it a
Jim Fonseca
An intriguing art mystery. A grand list of quirky characters: detectives (one a lot like Lt. Columbo), art professors, art gallery curators, professors, art experts. This is the art underworld of fakers, forges and thieves. Three paintings are stolen, disguised and auctioned off. Eventually one is found abandoned in a warehouse and one at a flea market. The plot is complicated and the mystery and motives somewhat implausible. The book is written from about a dozen points of view so it is often c ...more
Bözsi Claussen
I found this book interesting mainly for two reasons: 1/ it is an entangled and suspenseful mystery/detective story, but without a "main" detective; instead various experts end up discovering and piecing things together in much the same way a jigsaw puzzle set out on a table at Xmas might be worked on at any given moment by just one person, or two persons (not always the same two) or three or four. Each person is an expert in one major area: iconography of art; art museum curator; art theft poli ...more
Nov 12, 2016 Anna rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Don't bother.
This book is poorly written and riddled with unnecessary and absurd similes. It is pretentious, the plot and characters are underdeveloped and fall flat. The Scotland Yard detective is a blatant ripoff of Columbo.
This could easily have been written by a ten year old, just not as interesting.
The author is clearly trying to showcase his knowledge in art history, as most paragraphs are just definitions.
The overall effect is that Noah Charney is trying too hard.
The sole purpose of
I listened to this on audio MP3 and it definitely enhanced my experience. Simon Vance is a remarkably talented reader who brought focus and charm to the chaotic story and countless characters. Charney showed a lot of writing potential, especially with character development but this dude needed an editor. He possibly needed a dozen editors. The highlights of the book are in the descriptions of paintings and artists and in the sections where the characters discuss art theory. I savored those parts ...more
Oct 25, 2009 Melissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My review is of the audio version of the book, read by Simon Vance. This is an important element because I think he added so much by his performance.

This is a story of 3 art thefts that somehow converged together at the end. Noah Charney has written a clever story and his characters are very funny. BUT, I don't know if the characters would've been as funny silent on the page, as they came into life by Simon Vance. I loved the funny characters and they are worth listening just for that. Very Bri
Jul 27, 2010 Becky rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Not only was this not even good enough to throw across the room, I didn't even care to finish it-at 8 pages left. Those who know me will understand immediately that this book sucks. I ALWAYS finish a book, and with all that time invested I still couldn't give a rip about the ending.

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Art Crime: The Art Thief 1 9 Jun 01, 2012 09:19AM  
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Noah Charney holds degrees in art history from the Courtauld Institute of Art and Cambridge University. He is the founding director of the Association for Research into Crimes against Art (ARCA), the first international think tank on art crime. He divides his time between New Haven, Connecticut; Cambridge, England; and Rome, Italy.
More about Noah Charney...

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“Caravaggio to another. I’m sure that’s crossed Ariosto’s mind, Coffin considered. Wonder if he’s more focused on retrieving this one, or if he thinks it’s gone forever, like the Palermo Adoration. Coffin scanned the interior as he took his first step inside. Three officers, one detective, one frantic priest, one missing altarpiece. Three flanking chapels on either side of the nave, each with a piece of art or relic as the focal point, chairs aligned in each, and empty prayer candles, one confessional booth, made of dark, oiled wood, much younger than the church itself, curtain in the front right corner must lead to offices, no holy water in the font, telephone beside the entrance, alarm keypad, motion sensors two feet off the ground along the periphery and across the altar, no locks on the ground-floor windows, not good,” 0 likes
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