The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro

On March 18, 1990, two people posing as Boston police officers entered the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston claiming they were responding to a call.  They stole 13 paintings, including 5 Degas drawings, which have never been recovered. 

Enter Claire Roth.  Young, naive and idealistic, Claire is an up and coming painter.  For Isaac, her lover and  art teacher, Claire paints “4D” while he is blocked.  She starts with his idea and paints in his style; he signs his name.  When the MOMA purchases the painting, Isaac’s fame sky-rockets and he drops Claire.  Claire decides to out Isaac and claim the painting as her own, but through some political maneuvering, she is blackballed in the art world, and can’t get a show or sell her work.  She begins working for, reproducing famous paintings. 

Three years later, she is contacted by Aiden Markel, owner of Markel G to reproduce Degas’ After the Bath.  Both the asker and the fee are too good for Claire to turn down.  Claire soon comes to believe the “original” she is painting from is not in fact one of the Degas paintings stolen in the heist, but a copy of the stolen painting.  Should Claire tell Aiden she is copying a fake? Can she find the real Degas in time to save Aiden?  Is Aiden worth saving?

The Art Forger is a great novel, set in the backdrop of a real unsolved art heist. Shapiro did some excellent research, so be sure to read the author’s note to know what is real and what is part of the story.  It is all quite believable and well worth the read!