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The Art Detective: Fakes, Frauds, and Finds and the Search for Lost Treasures

3.7  ·  Rating details ·  931 Ratings  ·  136 Reviews

The art world has never seemed quite so treacherous, so beguiling, and so much fun as in this collection of stories from the original "art detective."

What separates a masterpiece from a piece of junk? Thanks to the BBC's Antiques Roadshow and its American spin-off, everyone is searching garage sales and hunting online for hidden gems, wondering whether their attics contain

MP3 Book, 0 pages
Published June 10th 2010 by Tantor Media, Inc. (first published May 28th 2009)
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Lance Charnes
Sep 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers looking for the print spinoff from Antiques Roadshow
When you go to a car dealer, you can be reasonably sure that Toyota or BMW or Ford is, indeed, a Toyota or BMW or Ford. The dealer doesn't have to trace the VIN through the whole supply chain back to the factory to confirm the nameplate's legit. Simple.

Not so much for buying art. Rembrandt didn't put serial numbers on his paintings. Famous artists had schools and followers who learned how to paint or sculpt the way the master did, started or helped with the master's works, maybe knocked off a ca
Mar 15, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Debbie Gibson
Shelves: art
Mould is a little too casual and chatty for my taste, although I'm sure I'd enjoy him on Antiques Roadshow. I'm interested in the topic - art restoration, misattributions, connoisseurship, the detective work of finding out who really painted something - but I'd rather either see it done on the telly, or read more academic works about it. The book, though small, has two sections of color plates, which is nice. Without them I think it would be exceedingly boring. With them, we can compare before a ...more
Ed Smiley
As an art freak I enjoyed this book.

The episodes were of varying interest to me, what I found most fascinating was the "bad restorer" problem.

Say you have a 17th century masterpiece but with a bit of damage. Now if you were clever, you could just paint the damaged areas. But that takes an annoying amount of patience. Instead, just slather a bunch of paint over the area and keep blending until it sort of looks OK but obliterating a large amount of the original work, and maybe this happens a coup
Jul 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this book, but I will say, it's definitely a niche book, so to speak. I was acquainted with Philip Mould through the British Antiques Roadshow. I always enjoyed his segments, and I have a large interest in art, art history, and the art market, so it seemed like a good fit for me. I found all the "cases" very interesting and I enjoyed Mould's style of writing. He has a very rich vocabulary, which is rarely encountered in our world today, and I found that particularly refreshing. Ad ...more
Jason Golomb
Jun 07, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received "The Art Detectives" as part of the Goodreads First Read program.

I'm not an art connoisseur by any stretch, although I do have my tastes and don't mind the occasional museum stroll. I love history and I love a good story. When you combine art, history and terrific storytelling, you come out with a book like "The Art Detectives" by Philip Mould.

The book is structured around 6 specific paintings, and the mysteries that surround/surrounded them. Mould is a fantastic writer. He's clear, c
Aug 31, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011-reads
Mr. Mould is a dealer is British art and Old Masters as well as being a featured art expert on BBC episodes of The Antiques Road Show. He is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on British portraiture. One would think this would lead to a stuffy textbook like approach to his writing. Nothing could be further from the truth. As the reader gets to know Mr. Mould through his book it becomes quite obvious that he truly enjoys what he does and writes about it with enthusiasm and quite often ...more
Jul 09, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
When I first received this book through the first-reads program, I had expected a collection of stories chronicling the rarified world of the museum setting. Instead Philip Mould, shows that although the glamour of the art world does exist, behind the museum walls there are restorers, scholars, and collectors who are truly passionate about art and dedicate themselves to seek out lost treasures.

Part-history lesson, part-detective novel, the author traveled far and wide and found himself in a dil
Feb 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a fascinating book. The author worked on Antiques Roadshow, and also owns a gallery where he and his coworkers handle everything from restoration to purchases to authentication. This book follows some of what Mould considers his most interesting cases-I particularly found interesting the Norman Rockwell Hoax, which read like a mystery with all its twists and turns, and the Queen Elizabeth portrait, which contained a lot of fascinating royal history. While I did occasionally get bogged do ...more
I think this book's title is somewhat misleading.
I was expecting a book on international art scandals, and this isn't quite it.
A better title would have been "Some Interesting Stories from My Life As An Art Dealer".
That's what this book is, an art dealer who tells us about some of the interesting things that happened to him in his career. It's a perfectly fine book and I still enjoyed it, but the title over-hypes it as having a much broader spectrum than it actually has.
Chatty, intriguing reminiscences from an art dealer who specializes in British historical portraits. Includes descriptions of forgeries, lost masterpieces, thefts, eccentric collectors, and world travels. Someone with a background in art history would probably find this too basic, but I enjoyed it.
Sep 02, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art-history
This book is the "thrill of the hunt" in print with the best possible results, of art with historical significance. As someone who enjoys perusing estate sales for the "big find" and art history, this little book was a quick, satisfying read.
This is a great, succinct little read featuring a nice cache of fascinating art world stories as shared by Philip Mould, a long time British art dealer and truly, art investigator. Covered here are the miraculous discoveries of old master works hidden beneath musty overpaint spotted by Mould and his associates' quick eyes, a infamous case of Norman Rockwell forgery evidently committed by one of the artists'. close friends, the miraculous discovery of a Winslow Homer watercolor in a dump and iden ...more
Jun 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I've always been a little obsessed with art and literature academia sorts of mysteries, and this book presents many that the art dealer/author has encountered in his personal life. Fun and fascinating.
Sarah Bowers
Leaves me lukewarm. The last two chapters were the most interesting, although it ends without resolution.
Oct 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It reads much like a mystery novel, which is incredibly fun. The history, and science behind art detection is fascinating!
Mar 22, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art-music
Listened to on CD on drive to Portland.

This was fun. Most of the books I have read on art detection is about determining that a piece is counterfeit, this book is about proving that a piece is authentic. The author is on the British Antiques Road Show and has the showmanship that might have been tiresome but he is able to pull it off. My favorite piece was the last one – a Winslow Homer found by a junkyard.
Oct 03, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really interesting. A bit snooty, which is actually fun rather than out of place, since you're spying on the elite world of people who restore and/or buy paintings worth millions. The narrator of the audio version attempts rather abysmal American and Dutch "accents" which are wildly distracting.
Iowa City Public Library
I’m just about finished reading The Art Detective: Fakes, Frauds and Finds, and the Search for Lost Treasures by Philip Mould. The author is the host of BBC’s Antiques Roadshow, and also runs a showroom in London that specializes in British portraiture, among other things. Throughout his career, he’s had many encounters with obvious works of art; somewhat more interesting to the general public, however, are the times when he’s found a hidden gem, a carefully disguised fake, or an outright amazin ...more
Dec 28, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tedi Mason
Jun 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First things first - I got this book for free as an advanced copy from the publisher. This fact in no way influenced my feelings on the book other than I'm always happy to receive free books in the mail.

My liberal arts education took me to Vienna, Austria in 2003 where I took an art history course. Honestly, my only real insight into Art, with a capital "A". The premise of this book intrigued me but I was still a little leery about whether it would all just fly over my head. Happily, it did not.
Jun 16, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art
I've read so many anecdotes about new paintings by someone who had been dead for hundreds of years being discovered, or paintings getting lost. Mould's book gave me some insight into how that happens. As it turns out, I'm even more naive about the art world than I realized. (For instance, it never occurred to me that a painting of, say, Elizabeth I could be owned by a private collector).

The art world is astounding. High-stress, high prices, high-pressure restoration work. I can't imagine the ner
May 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
A high-stakes art dealer often on the British Antiques Roadshow describes several instances of detecting or uncovering both frauds and treasures. He covers the unsuspected hoard of an eccentric New England collector, the true story behind a famously fake Rockwell, a portrait of Queen Elizabeth I that would be worth millions if genuine, a missing Rembrandt, a Homer discovered in the trash, a lost Gainsborough, and more. He covers a lot about how art dealers and buyers try to determine whether or ...more
Jul 11, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was interesting. I don't know if I would give it a full 4 stars. ALMOST 4. Maybe 3.75. But it was very interesting to read how dealers investigate and learn all they can about these paintings before they buy them. And then usually, there is extensive restoration that needs to be done. Apparently, people would just take paintings and PAINT OVER them if they felt like it. Sometimes it was to cover up nudity, sometimes it was to change a political view of the subject. Or sometimes it was ...more
Jun 03, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received this book in a goodreads first reads giveaway.
Philip Mould's book was a nice overview of artwork and the problems that pieces of art and art dealers face. Although this book was not what I had expected, the narratives were intriguing and captivated the reader. I was particularly interested in the conservation aspect of the book that was presented to the reader and the changes that paintings undergo throughout their lifetime. Despite the fact that the book read more like a narrative th
Oct 06, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So far I'm still listening. Wasn't sure if this would be ok to listen to or if I would keep wanting to look something up which isn't easy while driving.

I'll keep you posted.

The audio was very easy to listen. The author is one of the original Traveling Antique show appraisers in Great Britain. His specialty is art. He has uncovered several masterpieces from varying artists in odd circumstances. One he found on ebay. Out of curiousity I looked at old painted oil portraits. Sure don't know how he f
Jun 15, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
1. I won an advance copy (i.e. uncorrected proof) from a goodreads raffle. Color me excited.

2. I've been looking for good summertime reading. Not necessarily fluff, but on the escapism side. (I need to start my preparatory reading for the PhD program in fall.)

3. I liked the book. Mr. Mould is knowledgeable and he gives thorough details of the context for each story. He's also conversational enough (I imagine this is what makes him an excellent expert on Antiques Roadshow) to make the more techni
*I won this on goodreads first reads. Thank you!

This book lay dormant for years in my room after I started reading the introduction. It's not that it started out in a boring way, but I had so many other books to review under time limits, plus moving to a different state, etc.

I decided to pick this book back up, and I'm glad I did. The true stories of paintings that unfolded were fascinating, from the people who owned them, to scraping away paint to reveal original paint below. The book mentione
Hope Squires
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 11, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amazing! Philip Mould takes you through six different paintings and how their true identities were uncovered. A Norman Rockwell that hung in a museum for years was actually a fake. One man kept e-mailing and complaining that it was a forgery, everyone wrote him off as a flake- only he was right the whole time! I learned that Rembrandt sold his self-portraits for profit during his life. And that if they wern't moving it wasn't uncommon for him to have a student update it with the latest fashions ...more
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