Anne's Reviews > The Forger's Spell: A True Story of Vermeer, Nazis, and the Greatest Art Hoax of the Twentieth Century

The Forger's Spell by Edward Dolnick
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's review
Aug 14, 2008

it was amazing
Read in August, 2008

The Forger's Spell is the true story of Han van Meegeren, a not-so-great painter living in Holland during the Nazi occupation. What van Meegeren lacked in artistic talent, he more than made up for in his skills of psychology deception. When his own paintings couldn't sell, he turned to forging those of Johannes Vermeer (the Dutch painter of Girl with the Pearl Earring fame). He swindled over $30 million dollars from investors, much of it from German war criminals. Dolnick's book is a perfect mix - he gives the history of WWII and the Nazi's penchance for plundering great works of art - as well as the history of Holland and its place in the war. He tells the biographies of van Meegeren, noted art critics of the time, and the key buyers. He goes into detail about forgery techniques (telling anecdotes along the way of other forgeries) and presents an amazing story of how van Meegeren could pull off such a fantastic hoax. I found everything about this book so exciting. Unlike many of the suave criminals in heist movies, van Meegeren is not a very likeable character, but when matched against Hitler and snobby art collectors, you can't help but cheer for the guy. A must read for anyone who loves art and a good con.
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