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The disappearance of a priceless Caravaggio in Rome and the famous 'White on White' by Russian painter, Kasimir Malevich, in Paris heralds the start of a series of seemingly unconnected art crimes across Europe. Fitting the pieces together as they follow a trail of bluffs and double-bluffs, bizarre clues and intellectual puzzles, Inspector Jean-Paul Bizot in Paris and Harry Wickenden of the Metropolitan Police come to realize that what at first appears a spate of random thefts is all part of a single master plan, and that they are being led ever deeper into a baffling conspiracy. This fiendishly clever debut thriller takes us behind the scenes of the elite fine art world of auction houses, academia and museums to offer a fascinating view of art history, witty, fast-paced dialogue and an ever-surprising plot that twists its way from Rome to Paris to London and back again.
Jan van Eyck's Ghent Altarpiece is on any art historian's list of the ten most important paintings ever made. Often referred to by the subject of its central panel, The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, it represents the fulcrum between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. It is also the most frequently stolen artwork of all time. Since its completion in 1432, this twelve-panel oil painting has been looted in three different wars, burned, dismembered, forged, smuggled, illegally sold, censored, hidden, attacked by iconoclasts, hunted by the Nazis and Napoleon, used as a diplomatic tool, ransomed, rescued by Austrian double-agents, and stolen a total of thirteen times. In this fast-paced, real-life thriller, art historian Noah Charney unravels the stories of each of these thefts. In the process, he illuminates the whole fascinating history of art crime, and the psychological, ideological, religious, political, and social motivations that have led many men to covet this one masterpiece above all others.
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