100 books like Con/Artist

By Tony Tetro, Giampiero Ambrosi,

Here are 100 books that Con/Artist fans have personally recommended if you like Con/Artist. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World's Stolen Treasures

Tim Maleeny Author Of Hanging the Devil

From my list on planning an art heist.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been fascinated by art, not just the paintings themselves but their historical significance, the personalities behind the canvas, and the seemingly arbitrary value placed on one artist’s work versus another. Writing my latest novel, Hanging the Devil, was a chance to delve into the illicit side of the art world, where forgers and smugglers consort with organized crime. I’ve been an award-winning mystery author for more than a decade—this is my sixth novel—and the great thing about writing crime fiction is the chance to get lost in the research and learn something new, so writing this novel was a great excuse to visit museums, talk to experts, and plan a heist!

Tim's book list on planning an art heist

Tim Maleeny Why did Tim love this book?

Robert K. Wittman is the founder of the FBI Art Crime Team, and any one of his undercover adventures could be the plot for a box office thriller. Over the course of his career Wittman not only recovered hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth a stolen property, he protected priceless masterpieces from being lost forever. 

When I first began doing research for a novel about art theft, it was clear the global market for stolen masterpieces is incredibly complex, an underground network of smugglers, master forgers, and organized crime syndicates. To get my facts straight I needed a navigator, and this book immediately put me on the right track.

Wittman’s backstory and relentless drive to make art crime a priority within the FBI, as Italy has done with its Carabinieri Art Squad, is an inspiring story on its own, and many of his cases would feel right at home in…

By Robert K Wittman, John Shiffman,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Priceless as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Wall Street Journal called him “a living legend.” The London Times dubbed him “the most famous art detective in the world.”
 
In Priceless, Robert K. Wittman, the founder of the FBI’s Art Crime Team, pulls back the curtain on his remarkable career for the first time, offering a real-life international thriller to rival The Thomas Crown Affair.   
 
Rising from humble roots as the son of an antique dealer, Wittman built a twenty-year career that was nothing short of extraordinary. He went undercover, usually unarmed, to catch art thieves, scammers, and black market traders in Paris and Philadelphia, Rio and…


Book cover of The Gardner Heist: The True Story of the World's Largest Unsolved Art Theft

Tim Maleeny Author Of Hanging the Devil

From my list on planning an art heist.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been fascinated by art, not just the paintings themselves but their historical significance, the personalities behind the canvas, and the seemingly arbitrary value placed on one artist’s work versus another. Writing my latest novel, Hanging the Devil, was a chance to delve into the illicit side of the art world, where forgers and smugglers consort with organized crime. I’ve been an award-winning mystery author for more than a decade—this is my sixth novel—and the great thing about writing crime fiction is the chance to get lost in the research and learn something new, so writing this novel was a great excuse to visit museums, talk to experts, and plan a heist!

Tim's book list on planning an art heist

Tim Maleeny Why did Tim love this book?

The biggest unsolved art crime is the 1990 robbery of the Isabella Gardner Museum in Boston, during which two men disguised as policemen stole 13 works of art worth an estimated $500 million.

Not one of the stolen paintings has been recovered, and rumors about their whereabouts and the identity of the thieves continue to fuel investigations across the globe. This book is a rapid-fire read and a terrific crash course in the many challenges involved in tracing lost art, let alone ever catching the thieves.

When writing a mystery novel that opens with an audacious museum heist in the very first chapter, it’s probably a good idea to research the biggest museum robbery in history. The Gardner heist shocked the art world and revealed how many museums around the world have shockingly bad security protocols relative to most office buildings, let alone a bank, even though priceless art is…

By Ulrich Boser,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Gardner Heist as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Shortly after midnight on March 18, 1990, two men broke into the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston and committed the largest art heist in history. They stole a dozen masterpieces, including one Vermeer, three Rembrandts, and five Degas. But after thousands of leads, hundreds of interviews, and a $5 million reward, not a single painting has been recovered. Worth as much as $500 million, the missing masterpieces have become the Holy Grail of the art world and their theft one of the nation's most extraordinary unsolved mysteries. Art detective Harold Smith worked the theft for years, and after his…


Book cover of Stealing Rembrandts: The Untold Stories of Notorious Art Heists

Tim Maleeny Author Of Hanging the Devil

From my list on planning an art heist.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been fascinated by art, not just the paintings themselves but their historical significance, the personalities behind the canvas, and the seemingly arbitrary value placed on one artist’s work versus another. Writing my latest novel, Hanging the Devil, was a chance to delve into the illicit side of the art world, where forgers and smugglers consort with organized crime. I’ve been an award-winning mystery author for more than a decade—this is my sixth novel—and the great thing about writing crime fiction is the chance to get lost in the research and learn something new, so writing this novel was a great excuse to visit museums, talk to experts, and plan a heist!

Tim's book list on planning an art heist

Tim Maleeny Why did Tim love this book?

Rembrandt was incredibly prolific and well known in his lifetime, unlike so many artists whose fame only followed their deaths.

Both his reputation and the value of his paintings have continued to grow in the centuries since he died, so the combination of ubiquity and name recognition makes Rembrandt’s paintings particularly attractive to art thieves.

Quickly recognizable and easily appraised, a stolen Rembrandt is exactly the kind of black market currency professional criminals value most, whether using it for collateral during a deal, holding it for ransom until the museum pays, or selling it illicitly to a private collector.

One of the stolen masterpieces in my novel is a Rembrandt, so this book was invaluable in understanding the ambition and scope of modern art crimes. The problem of profiting off something that everyone knows is stolen turns out to be a minor challenge if you know the perfidious players working…

By Anthony M. Amore, Tom Mashberg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Stealing Rembrandts as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Art security expert Anthony M. Amore and award-winning investigative reporter Tom Mashberg reveal the actors behind the major Rembrandt heists in the last century. Through thefts around the world - from Stockholm to Boston - the authors track daring entries and escapes from the world's most renowned museums. There are robbers who coolly walk off with multimillion dollar paintings; self-styled art experts who fall in love with the Dutch master and desire to own his art at all costs; and international criminal masterminds who don't hesitate to resort to violence.


Book cover of The Rescue Artist: A True Story of Art, Thieves, and the Hunt for a Missing Masterpiece

Tim Maleeny Author Of Hanging the Devil

From my list on planning an art heist.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been fascinated by art, not just the paintings themselves but their historical significance, the personalities behind the canvas, and the seemingly arbitrary value placed on one artist’s work versus another. Writing my latest novel, Hanging the Devil, was a chance to delve into the illicit side of the art world, where forgers and smugglers consort with organized crime. I’ve been an award-winning mystery author for more than a decade—this is my sixth novel—and the great thing about writing crime fiction is the chance to get lost in the research and learn something new, so writing this novel was a great excuse to visit museums, talk to experts, and plan a heist!

Tim's book list on planning an art heist

Tim Maleeny Why did Tim love this book?

The art underworld is a place where cultured curators consort with common criminals, museum directors rub shoulders with career cops, and the long-fingered hand of organized crime lurks in the shadows.

The only way to navigate this broken landscape is by following someone who knows the terrain, so when an Oslo museum was robbed of its most priceless treasure—Edvard Munch’s Scream, they turned to Charley Hill, art detective. Hill could have walked right out of a novel, a colorful character that makes this nonfiction investigation read more like a heist novel.

This book won the prestigious Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for true crime, so it was high on my list when doing research for writing an art mystery. The pacing makes it a delight to read, and the twists and turns of the investigation reveal the countless ways the art world remains ripe for exploitation and…

By Edward Dolnick,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Rescue Artist as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the predawn hours of a gloomy February day in 1994, two thieves entered the National Gallery in Oslo and made off with one of the world's most famous paintings, Edvard Munch's Scream. It was a brazen crime committed while the whole world was watching the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer. Baffled and humiliated, the Norwegian police turned to the one man they believed could help: a half English, half American undercover cop named Charley Hill, the world's greatest art detective.

The Rescue Artist is a rollicking narrative that carries readers deep inside the art underworld --…


Book cover of Art Forgery: The History of a Modern Obsession

Noah Charney Author Of The Devil in the Gallery: How Scandal, Shock, and Rivalry Shaped the Art World

From my list on art crime.

Why am I passionate about this?

Back in 2006, a New York Times Magazine feature article about me announced that I had essentially founded the field of the study of art crime, while still a postgraduate student. I’m often mentioned as the world’s leading authority on the history of art crime and I’ve been a professor teaching the subject for more than a decade (I’m not actually that old). I also founded ARCA, the Association for Research into Crimes against Art, the world’s first think tank and research group on art crime. We launched the first academic journal on the subject, The Journal of Art Crime, as well as the first academic study program, the ARCA Postgraduate Program in Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection, which runs every summer in Italy. I’m also the author of more than a dozen books, many best-sellers, and one a Pulitzer finalist. I write on art crime for TED Ed videos, I host TV programs on the subject, and I recently curated a virtual exhibit of lost art called Missing Masterpieces.

Noah's book list on art crime

Noah Charney Why did Noah love this book?

This book is part philosophy, part on art and forgery. Most approaches, my own included, to art forgery are art historical and criminological. This one is readable and thoughtful and fun but focuses on the big ideas behind the scenes.

By Thierry Lenain,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Art Forgery as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The obsession with art forgery appears to be a relatively recent phenomenon. In Art Forgery, the author's aim is not to suggest new methods of detection, but rather to look at the genealogy of faking and to interrogate the anxious, sometimes neurotic, reactions triggered in the modern world of art by these clever frauds. Thierry Lenain considers the idea of authenticity in the Middle Ages, when the issue of false relics and miracles often arose: if a relic gave rise to a cult, it would be considered as genuine even if it had evidently been 'forged'. Similarly, the seventeenth and…


Book cover of The Art Forger

Elisabeth M. Lee Author Of Young PRB: A Novel of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood

From my list on artists by non-artists.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a history major and artist I noticed a style of illustrations and paintings that popped up in history books, novels, and poetry collections. I found that the paintings and drawings were just scratching the surface. The lives and struggles of the artists known as Pre-Raphaelites were just as intriguing as the art. I have traveled to the many locations that the Pre-Raphaelites frequented to follow in their footsteps. I've even tried to copy their wet white painting style and was awed by the patience they must have had. I appreciate many art styles and enjoy being transported into the lives of the artists by authors as interested in art and history as I am. 

Elisabeth's book list on artists by non-artists

Elisabeth M. Lee Why did Elisabeth love this book?

Art forgery has always fascinated me. The idea that you can create a 'new' work by an old master and then, maybe, get away with it. Claire is a struggling artist whose one chance at fame had been stolen by a lover. Reduced to painting reproductions of famous paintings for clients to hang in their home she is approached by an art dealer to secretly forge a Degas painting. The money is good enough to silence her scruples and when the painting arrives she immediately recognizes that it is one of the paintings stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum. Already she is having doubts but after beginning her study of the painting she suspects that it, too, is a forgery. Forged art has never been so compelling.

By B.A. Shapiro,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Art Forger as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Almost twenty-five years after the infamous art heist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum - still the largest unsolved art theft in history - one of the stolen Degas paintings is delivered to the Boston studio of a young artist. Claire Roth has entered into a Faustian bargain with a powerful gallery owner by agreeing to forge the Degas in exchange for a one-woman show in his renowned gallery. But as she begins her work, she starts to suspect that this long-missing masterpiece - the very one that had been hanging at the Gardner for one hundred years - may…


Book cover of The Art Whisperer

Jennifer S. Alderson Author Of The Lover's Portrait

From my list on amateur sleuths searching for lost art.

Why am I passionate about this?

Europe’s finest masterpieces drew me from Seattle, Washington to the Netherlands, where I earned a master’s degree in art history. During my study, the restitution of artwork that had been looted during WWII was a hot topic, and one that deeply fascinated me. Ultimately, my classes and work for several Dutch cultural institutions inspired me to write my series of art history mysteries.

Jennifer's book list on amateur sleuths searching for lost art

Jennifer S. Alderson Why did Jennifer love this book?

Alix London is the spunky lead character in Charlotte Elkins’ four-novel-long series of art mysteries. Alix is an art restorer with a sordid past, who is helping a rich Seattle businesswoman build up an art collection. The Art Whisperer is a fantastic story about forgeries, restoration, museum politics, and murder. Elkins is able to describe the art world in such a way that even those not interested in art history would enjoy this book and series. 

By Charlotte Elkins, Aaron Elkins,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Art Whisperer as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When art conservator Alix London spots a forgery, she knows trouble will follow. So she's understandably apprehensive when her connoisseur's eye spots something off about a multimillion-dollar Jackson Pollock painting at Palm Springs's Brethwaite Museum-her current employer.

Alix is already under fire, the object of a vicious online smear campaign. Now the Brethwaite's despicable senior curator, obsessed with the "maximization of monetized eyeballs," angrily refuses to decommission the celebrated Pollock piece. But it's only when a hooded intruder attacks Alix in her hotel room that the real trouble begins. And when FBI Special Agent Ted Ellesworth-with whom Alix had inadvertently,…


Book cover of Long Time Coming

Shelley Costa Author Of A Killer's Guide to Good Works

From my list on where great art leads to even greater crimes.

Why am I passionate about this?

One of the advantages of growing up in New Jersey is the proximity to the museums in New York City. What great school field trips! And I really believe that’s where my love for art and history began. My cathedrals are art museums, great libraries, Civil War battlefields, wilderness shorelines – experiencing these places lifts me out of the dailiness of life, reminds me of struggle, greatness, and excellence. I guess it was just a matter of time before my sweet spot as a writer and reader is the point of intersection between great art and terrible crimes. Things worth writing about. 

Shelley's book list on where great art leads to even greater crimes

Shelley Costa Why did Shelley love this book?

When an uncle – presumed killed in the Blitz – turns up after serving nearly forty years in an Irish prison, he tells a story about having been one of the thieves of Picasso paintings stolen from a diamond merchant in Antwerp in 1939. At clever work in this tale are forgers, revolutionaries, and family members out to recover their treasure or their family honor. I have known for a long time that what I love most – more than mere murder mysteries – are what I call novels with murder. For me, the story has to be a beautifully realized bit of writing, and a murder is just one feature of it.

I have always loved Goddard’s style, which is both elegant and readable. And murder, more than a puzzle, becomes a natural part of the lives he depicts. Known for his plot twists, he sets me down in…

By Robert Goddard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Long Time Coming as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Eldritch Swan is a dead man. Or at least that is what his nephew Stephen has always been told. Until one day Eldritch walks back into his life after 36 years in an Irish prison. He won't reveal any of the details of his incarceration, insisting only that he is innocent of any crime.

His return should be of interest to no-one. But the visit of a solicitor with a mysterious request will take Eldritch and his sceptical nephew fromsleepy seaside Paignton to London, where an exhibition of Picasso paintings from the prestigious Brownlow collection proves to be the starting…


Book cover of The Emperor's Soul

Jami Fairleigh Author Of Oil and Dust

From my list on fantasy featuring art-based magic.

Why am I passionate about this?

At heart, I believe every one of us is creative. It doesn’t matter if you express your creativity through words, notes, metal, wood, food, fabric, or paint. Personally, I love to sketch, paint, write, and sculpt. There is something magical about bringing your imagination to life and sharing it with the world! Our art allows us to share our emotions, dreams, memories, and culture with the world. As a fantasy author, I wanted to create a place where art can transform the physical world too. 

Jami's book list on fantasy featuring art-based magic

Jami Fairleigh Why did Jami love this book?

If you haven’t read anything by Brian Sanderson, this novella is a great place to start.

It is a fast read with a hopeful tone and satisfying ending. In this story, Shai is caught forging a priceless artifact. As punishment, she must forge a soul for the emperor who is in a coma. If her forgery doesn’t work, the empire will fall into chaos.

The magic of Shai’s forging is very cool; she creates stamps that can rewrite the nature of an object’s existence. The Emperor’s Soul spoke to me on a personal level. My stepmother is a Japanese artist, and I grew up watching her carefully seal her pieces with her custom, red stamp.

Highly recommended to anyone looking for that quick, feel-good punch that great fantasy can provide!

By Brandon Sanderson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Emperor's Soul as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the bestselling author of the Mistborn Trilogy and co-author of the final three books of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series comes the tale of a heretic thief who may be an Empire's only hope for survival.

Shai is a Forger: a foreigner who can flawlessly re-create any item by rewriting its history using skillful magic . . . although she's currently condemned to death after trying to steal the emperor's sceptre, she has one last opportunity to save herself. The emperor has barely survived an assassination attempt, he needs a new soul and, despite viewing her skill as…


Book cover of Contemporary Perspectives on the Detection, Investigation and Prosecution of Art Crime: Australasian, European and North American Perspectives

Gail Levin Author Of Edward Hopper: An Intimate Biography

From my list on the fate of the Edward Hopper Estate.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Distinguished Professor of art history at CUNY and biographer of artists. I grew up in Atlanta, attended college in Boston, and have worked in New York since my twenties. With a new Ph.D. in art history from Rutgers, I began as curator of the Hopper Collection at the Whitney Museum, assigned to produce a definitive catalogue of all Edward Hopper’s authentic art. His papers were missing except for his record books that recorded every time a work left for sale, loan, or gift. I traced each work as it left Hopper’s possession and discovered a massive number of undocumented artworks stolen from the estate, which the Whitney still wants to cover up.

Gail's book list on the fate of the Edward Hopper Estate

Gail Levin Why did Gail love this book?

I really like the discussion of the Metropolitan Museum’s celebrated acquisition of the ancient Greek Eurphronios Krater, which turned out to have been stolen from a tomb and had to be returned to Italy.

We read that even taking less valuable items “damages archaeological heritage, thereby compromising or weakening historical scholarship.”

I appreciate how this also applies to the unrelated minister who got into the Edward Hopper estate and who hid Hopper’s papers—5,000 documents—for 50 years, damaging their context, perhaps destroying some.

I wrote my biography and definitive catalogue of Hopper’s art without access to most of these papers. Now that I have seen most of them, I am relieved that my work retains its value. Fortunately, I found another source that provided many of Jo Hopper’s diaries.

By Duncan Chappell, Saskia Hufnagel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Contemporary Perspectives on the Detection, Investigation and Prosecution of Art Crime as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the world of law enforcement art and antiquity crime has in the past usually assumed a place of low interest and priority. That situation has now slowly begun to change on both the local and international level as criminals, encouraged in part by the record sums now being paid for art treasures, are now seeking to exploit the art market more systematically by means of theft, fraud and looting. In this collection academics and practitioners from Australasia, Europe and North America combine to examine the challenges presented to the criminal justice system by these developments. Best practice methods of…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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