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The Man who Made Vermeers
It's a story that made Dutch painter Han van Meegeren famous worldwide when it broke at the end of World War II: A lifetime of disappointment drove him to forge Vermeers, one of which he sold to Hermann Goering, making a mockery of the Nazis. And it's a story that's been believed ever since. Too bad it isn't true.
Jonathan Lopez has drawn on never-before-seen documents from dozens of archives to write a revelatory new biography of the world's most famous forger. Neither unappreciated artist nor antifascist hero, Van Meegeren emerges as an ingenious, dyed-in-the-wool crook who plied the forger's trade far longer than he ever admitted--a talented Mr. Ripley armed with a paintbrush. Lopez also explores a network of illicit commerce that operated across Europe: Not only was Van Meegeren a key player in that high-stakes game in the 1920s and '30s, landing fakes with powerful dealers and famous collectors such as Andrew Mellon, but he and his associates later offered a case study in wartime opportunism as they cashed in on the Nazi occupation.
"The Man Who Made Vermeers" is a long-overdue unvarnishing of Van Meegeren's legend and a deliciously detailed story of deceit in the art world.