Anne's Reviews > The Rescue Artist: A True Story of Art, Thieves, and the Hunt for a Missing Masterpiece

The Rescue Artist by Edward Dolnick
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Sep 13, 08

Read in September, 2008

After reading and loving Dolnick's book, The Forger's Spell, last month, I was eager to read his much acclaimed book about art theivery, The Rescue Artist. The book focuses on the 1994 theft of Edvard Munch's ubiquitous painting, The Scream, from the National Gallery in Oslo, Norway. The theft itself seemed relatively amateurish, but nothing compared to the lack of security in the museum. The Scream was housed on the second floor of the museum right next to a window. There were no security cameras in the gallery room, and the painting itself hung on the wall - not enclosed by glass or attached to any type of alarm system. Dolnick's book follows the joint efforts of the Norway police and Scotland Yard to devise a plan to re-purchase the painting from the criminals. Along the way, Dolnick provides an in-depth history of high-profile art theft cases, undercover detective work, and the internal politics of police squads that put the recovery of stolen art belonging to billionaires on the back burner in favor of "real" crimes that need to be solved. The Scream is such a haunting image - it doesn't matter how many times it's reproduced or parodied - I find it mesmerizing everytime I see it in a book or on a postcard. The idea that such a prized piece could be stolen with seemingly little effort is amazing - and that people were able to orchestrate a sting to recover it is no less dramatic. The Rescue Artist is much more dry than The Forger's Spell and is not told with as much suspense. But, it is still meticulously researched and informative about the art world and it was an intriguing study of the lengths people will go to - to make millions and to have a unique treasure all to themselves.
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