The Art Forger

by B.A. Shapiro

The Art Forger is a novel inspired by a Hollywood-style art museum robbery that took place in Boston in 1990. It is about a struggling artist who is offered a lot of money and a career-changing opportunity if she will create a forgery from one of the stolen paintings.

She takes possession of an original Degas painting in her studio. Or does she? As she studies details of the painting, she begins to doubt its authenticity. Is she forging a forgery?

While this is primarily a story about the artist, there is an element of detective story toward the end.

Museum-founder Isabella Stewart Gardner is also a character in the novel, in the form of letters to her niece written while traveling in Europe during the late 19th Century.

I don’t read a lot of fiction, but this book was highly recommended to me and I enjoyed it.  The robbery took place at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum while I was a student at Northeastern University, just a few blocks away. I had visited the museum several times during my college years.

The Gardner Museum robbery remains unsolved. If you are interested in a nonfiction book about the crime, check out The Gardner Heist: The True Story of the World’s Largest Unsolved Art Theft by Ulrich Boser.

The forgery process described in the story is based on the methods used by Dutch artist Han van Meegeren. There’s a book about him called The Man Who Made Vermeers: Unvarnishing the Legend of Master Forger Han van Meegeren by Jonathan Lopez.

Shapiro, Barbara A. The Art Forger: A Novel. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2013. Buy from