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

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  377 ratings  ·  44 reviews
An extraordinary story.
Hardcover, 243 pages
Published June 1st 1969 by Mcgraw-Hill (first published January 1st 1969)
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3.77  · 
Rating details
 ·  377 ratings  ·  44 reviews

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Mar 29, 2008 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
Aug 22, 2010 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
Caterina Pierre
Aug 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
For a class I am teaching on the history of fakes and forgeries, I decided to read Irving's Fake (1969), a book mentioned in Orson Welles film F for Fake. I felt that it was a page-turner, and a fascinating study of a man, Elmyr de Hory, whose talent as a forger and taste for the finer things in life led him into a life of dubious dealings. There maybe is a bit too much Legros and Lessard, the two con men who led to his ultimate downfall, at the end of the book. But it also adds to the excitemen ...more
Eric Cartier
Jul 08, 2015 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.
Dec 31, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
I tried, I really did.

I've read a few books about forgers, some of them you're amazed by all the work the forger went through for his pieces to pass muster. Some, you're on the side of the detective, trying to find the elussive fake. In this book, I simply felt bad for the forger and how he seemed to be taken advantage of, and at the same time, mad at him for putting himself in that position.

I couldn't finish it, though. In the end, even if the story is an interesting one, if the writing gets in
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Extremely entertaining and for the most part amusing story of the greatest art forger who ever lived...even many of the artists he copied were fooled. His works ended up in museums, books and private collections. It sure does make you question why some people’s work becomes famous and sought-after, while most others remain in obscurity, if all it takes to make something valuable is basically the right signature. And of course many of the artists whose work eventually goes for millions never see ...more
A fascinating story of Elmyr de Hory, art forger extraordinaire from his youth in art school as the child of wealthy parents to his career as a forger whose work was often claimed by the artists themselves. De Hory went by a variety of names and lived and worked throughout Europe, the USA, Australia. His life is so extraordinary that it would be hard not to write a book that keeps the reader gripped. I was though, especially in the beginning, the writing leaves something to be desired. It does i ...more
Jan 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
The fascinating story of how Elmyr de Hory managed to make a living forging the work of famous artists, not only making copies authenticated by experts, but painting original artworks in the style of Renoir, Picasso, and all of the Impressionists.
Jun 02, 2013 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
Apr 07, 2014 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
Nov 29, 2014 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
Jun 19, 2013 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
Jul 04, 2016 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.
Jun 07, 2013 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!
Jun 11, 2013 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.
Erica Leigh
Aug 03, 2013 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.
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.
Jul 13, 2014 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.
Jan 05, 2014 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.
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.
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.
Mar 21, 2014 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.
Jun 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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.
Kate Alexis
Jan 26, 2013 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".
Aaron the Pink Donut
Sep 05, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art, biography
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.
Barbara Landers
Jun 17, 2013 rated it it was ok
The topic was fascinating, the writing not so great.
Beverly Hollandbeck
Dec 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Fascinating and captivating. I couldn't put it down, wondering what would happen next to this band of thieves.
Bethany Gaddy
Jan 23, 2011 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!
Sep 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
A true and extraordinary tale of an unbelievable individual.
Mar 28, 2008 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 was the author of 20 published books & just released 12 of his works as Kindle/Nook eBooks; he was currently writing a memoir called Around the World in 80 Years.