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

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | The Rescue Artist: A True Story of Art, Thieves, and the Hunt for a Missing Masterpiece.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Edward Dolnick(Author)

    Book details


In the predawn gloom of a February day in 1994, two thieves entered the National Gallery in Oslo. They snatched one of the world's most famous paintings, Edvard Munch's The Scream, and fled with their $72 million trophy. The thieves made sure the world was watching: the Winter Olympics, in Lillehammer, began that same morning. Baffled and humiliated, the Norwegian police called on the world's greatest art detective, a half-English, half-American undercover cop named Charley Hill.

In this rollicking narrative, Edward Dolnick takes us inside the art underworld. The trail leads high and low, and the cast ranges from titled aristocrats to thick-necked thugs. Lord Bath, resplendent in ponytail and velvet jacket, presides over a 9,000-acre estate. David Duddin, a 300-pound fence who once tried to sell a stolen Rembrandt, spins exuberant tales of his misdeeds. We meet Munch, too, a haunted misfit who spends his evenings drinking in the Black Piglet Café and his nights feverishly trying to capture in paint the visions in his head. The most compelling character of all is Charley Hill, an ex-soldier, a would-be priest, and a complicated mix of brilliance, foolhardiness, and charm. The hunt for The Scream will either cap his career and rescue one of the world's best-known paintings or end in a fiasco that will dog him forever.

The little-known world of art theft is compellingly portrayed in Dolnick's account of the 1994 theft and recovery of Edvard Munch's iconic painting The Scream. The theft was carried out with almost comical ease at Norway's National Gallery in Oslo on the very morning that the Winter Olympics began in that city. Despite the low-tech nature of the crime, the local police were baffled, and Dolnick (Down the Great Unknown; Madness on the Couch) makes a convincing case that the fortunate resolution of the investigation was almost exclusively due to the expertise, ingenuity and daring of the "rescue artist" of the title: Charley Hill, a Scotland Yard undercover officer and former Fulbright scholar who has made recovering stolen art treasures his life's work. Hill is a larger-than-life figure who seems lifted from the pages of Elmore Leonard, although his adversaries in this inquiry are fairly pedestrian. While the path to the painting's retrieval is relatively straightforward once some shady characters put the word out that they can get their hands on it, the narrative's frequent detours to other crimes and engaging escapades from Hill's past elevate this work above last year's similar The Irish Game by Matthew Hart. 16 pages of b&w and 8 pages of color photos not seen by PW. Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Adult/High School–A compelling account of the 1994 theft of one of the world's most famous paintings, The Scream. Dolnick focuses on the hero of the case, Scotland Yard's Art Squad specialist Charley Hill. Because of Hill's earlier success in retrieving stolen art treasures, he was charged with the difficult job of locating the painting and successfully retrieving it in its original condition. While the author keeps readers in suspense as he digresses frequently to tell the story of other notorious art thefts and art thieves, diligent readers will be treated to a nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat account of the painting's rescue. Along the way, Dolnick imparts a great deal of information not only about Edvard Munch, but also about the art world's surprisingly lax security measures and the lack of motivation on the part of authorities charged with retrieving art treasures. In spite of the asides, this is a tightly woven, fast-paced story. Teens interested in art and/or investigative journalism will enjoy this real-life whodunit.–Catherine Gilbride, Farifax County Public Library, VA Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Book details

  • PDF | 288 pages
  • Edward Dolnick(Author)
  • Harper (June 28, 2005)
  • English
  • 3
  • Arts & Photography

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Review Text

  • By triple g man on March 13, 2015

    If I had to do it over again, I'd pass on this one...just not my cup o'tea. If you have an abiding interest in art, you may find it captivating. I care not for art or artists. I'm German but I'm a philistine. I especially was turned off by the ingratiating way the author painted the lead detective. He was nothing special to me, unless an oversized ego can be called 'special.' In the book he was fancied somewhere between Sherlock Holmes and Dirty Harry.

  • By Becky B. on October 8, 2017

    Charley Hill was on Scotland Yard's art crime unit when thieves brazenly stole Munch's famous painting The Scream by climbing up a ladder propped outside of the Norway's National Gallery, smashing a window, grabbing the painting, and driving away on the eve of the 1994 winter Olympics hosted by Norway. Hill and his co-workers were looking for a way to boost their rep with the higher ups and the greater world, so they decided to see if they could help find the painting. With the hunt for The Scream as the guide, Dolnick takes readers on a realistic look into hunts for missing artwork, undercover operatives, Charley Hill's background and past cases, and why art crimes often go unsolved.A fascinating read for two reasons. One, Charley Hill is quite the character and he has some wild undercover stories. Two, this is a good dose of reality to counter the fiction and TV shows that feature those fighting art crimes but reality doesn't mean it is boring. Dolnick does take you on rabbit trails, but he warns you about those from the start and he's always able to tie them in with The Scream hunt and get things back on track. So they're rabbit trails that are short and always loop back to the main track. In all, a well woven art history/biography that keeps you reading.Notes on content: Hill has a little bit of a mouth on him as do some criminals, so phrases from quotes and paraphrases cause the strong swearing count to be over 15, and moderate swears ever so often. No sexual content. Some rough arrests and tense hostage situations are mentioned but not described in gory detail. Mafia or crime related deaths are mentioned in passing. Some alcohol consumption by characters in tales. Art crimes are often linked to drug crimes, but drugs don't come up much in this tale.

  • By Bart Mills on January 6, 2017

    The theft of an irreplaceable work of art is perhaps the most outrageous and fascinating crime our civilization can imagine. A jewel robbery is a terrible piece of effrontery, never mind the value of the object, but even the rarest gem is replaceable, or nearly so. Identity theft can make our blood boil, but it’s not as consequential as its analogue, kidnapping. If criminals can ever be romanticized, art thieves qualify for a Hollywood gloss. They must have taste, they must be gentlemen—and they are often portrayed that way.Edward Dolnick says, “Phooey!” In “The Rescue Artist,” his breezy, entertaining survey of art crime and art criminals, he shows that art thieves are just like most other thieves, only dumber. He wraps his anecdotal survey around a close examination of the 1994 theft of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream,” as told from the point of view of the detective who led the effort to get the painting back, Charley Hill. Hill comes on as a master of the long con, assuming just the right undercover identity to wrest the stolen artwork back without actually paying anything for it. It’s an almost comical quest, as Hill maneuvers around clueless Norwegian police and incompetent museum security personnel, to get close to the villains who are close to the dumbos who took the painting.“The Rescue Artist” couldn’t be filmed, because it disposes of all the master-criminal clichés Hollywood adores. But it makes a fascinating story.

  • By mmmm on July 17, 2005

    I just finished Edward Dolnick's new book, _The Rescue Artist_. It is a fun read filled with madcap, Damon Runyonesque characters who would be hard to make up. This book, with the theft of Edvard Munch's "The scream" as its main story, covers the underside of the art world. As a person who enjoys art and goes to museums, I certainly never imagined that works of art would be held as ransom by political groups. Dolnick delves into the hows and why of art heists, and how detectives track down the paintings most importantly, and often the thieves. I recommend this book to anyone who likes a good adventure "story". You don't even have to be interested in art!

  • By weatherfield on July 29, 2017

    I thought that the subject matter would be interesting but found sticking to this book was a real effort. It's not written like a flowing story. It's more of a series of accounts. Didn't get involved with the characters at all. Just didn't enjoy.

  • By Judith on October 19, 2015

    The world of art theft is not as glamorous as we might think. The idea that art is stolen so that selfish rich people can secretly own masterpieces turns out to be a myth. Art thieves aren't attractive types, nor are they particularly smart. A lot of art in museums and stately private homes is woefully under protected, and indeed, under insured. In a world of violent crimes, police are often reluctant to put much of their resources into art crime. Enter Charley Hill, a Scotland yard undercover detective and art lover whose passion is saving masterpieces before they can be damaged and lost to us forever. The premise of this book is Charley Hill's successful effort to rescue The Scream after it is stolen in Norway. Along the way author Edward Dolnick takes us on many side trips to learn about other art crimes. It's a fascinating topic, and Dolnick really has a clever way of turning a phrase. If you enjoyed this book, you might also enjoy The Art Detective by Philip Mould, an art expert from the British version of the Antiques Roadshow. Another good one about art crime is Priceless by Robert K. Wittman, a former FBI agent assigned to art crimes.


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