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Fake! The Story of Elmyr De Hory, the Greatest Art Forger of Our Time Hardcover – June 1, 1969


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Fake! The Story of Elmyr De Hory, the Greatest Art Forger of Our Time + Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 243 pages
  • Publisher: Mcgraw-Hill; First edition. edition (June 1969)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0070320470
  • ISBN-13: 978-0070320475
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #568,914 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Hello. I'm Clifford Irving, author of many books. "Daddy's Girl," the story of some bizarre Houston murders and the ensuing trials, is the # 1 best seller in the Amazon Kindle category of Courts and Law. My novels, "Final Argument" and "Trial," keep moving around in the list of Kindle's top ten best-sellers in Legal Thrillers. "The Angel of Zin" is currently Kindle's # 1 in Historical Thrillers and also # 1 in American-Jewish literature.

My epic novel, "Tom Mix and Pancho Villa," received unanimous 5-star media reviews that any writer would kill for. Readers love it. But it sells few copies -- aficionados are an exclusive club. Yet on my gravestone I would be proud if these words were carved: "Author of TOM MIX & PANCHO VILLA."

Try the book on Kindle or Nook. If you don't really like it, let me know and I'll send you a check for whatever you paid for it. (I can't make the same offer for hardback copies because they are rare; when I last looked they were selling for $80 and up.)

I've had a long and event-filled life. I traveled twice around the world before most people living in it today were born, stood guard in an Israeli kibbutz, crewed on a 56' three-masted schooner that sailed a stormy Atlantic from Mexico to France, and one spring I lived on a houseboat on Dal Lake in Kashmir from where I rode horseback into Tibet.

Later I was on the cover of Time Magazine and got thrown into federal prison for writing the hoax "Autobiography of Howard Hughes," which pilloried Richard Nixon (among other notables). A few years ago Lasse Hallström made a movie about that part of my life, Richard Gere played me. The movie wasn't particularly good and it was horribly inaccurate.

Growing up as a roller-skating, comic book-trading Manhattan street kid, I studied painting at the High School of Music & Art, then continued on to Cornell University where I chased unconquerable Ivy League coeds, rowed on the crew, wrote romantic poetry, decided I wasn't a great artist and instead determined to become a great writer.

After working as a copy-boy for the New York Times, in 1953 I sailed to Europe to turn dream into reality. I hiked from France to Spain across the Pyrenees; settled on the decadent Mediterranean island of Ibiza; hunkered down into the expat life (in those years, an American could live comfortably in Europe for $60 a month), and wrote my first novel.

I sent it to a literary agent in New York. Miraculously, so it seemed to me, she liked the book, offered it, and Putnam published it. Was it really as easy and as quick as that? Of course not. I was lucky, and dogged.

After teaching at UCLA graduate extension school in 1961, with Betsy Drake and Cary Grant among my pupils, I became a correspondent to the Middle East for NBC.

And I kept writing books.

In 1970, I created a writing event which turned into the notorious Howard Hughes Autobiography Hoax, Michael Drosnin, in the biography "Citizen Hughes," claimed that the threat of the book's publication caused Richard Nixon to worry so much about Hughes' accusations of bribery that the White House instigated the Watergate break-in. True or false? -- I don't know.

My reward, in any case, was 16 months in three federal prisons. Later, living in the mountains of Mexico and Colorado, I wrote 18 books that were published to varying degrees of success in many languages -- in the USA by Putnam, McGraw-Hill, St. Martin's Press, Stein & Day, Simon & Schuster; in England by Heinemann and Penguin.

Of my novel, "Trial," the Los Angeles Times reviewer wrote: "Don't begin this book at bedtime or you'll be up all night ... it's made by a master." William Safire in the New York Times called it "the novel of the year." (Bill was a boyhood friend of mine.)

Donald Westlake wrote in the New York Times, of "Final Argument": "Every part of it is terrific. What a wonderful piece of storytelling!"

If writers tell you that they're indifferent to great reviews, they're lying or dead.

Recently, out of the blue, four Italian publishers bid for the right to translate and publish "The Angel of Zin," my 30-year-old holocaust/SS novel - probably because it's a story that will be haunting us forever. ("Absolutely compelling ... a totally engrossing thriller," wrote Thomas Keneally, author of "Schindler's List."

In 2012 I self-published twelve of my books simultaneously to Amazon's Kindle and Barnes & Noble's Nook. In 2014 I've added seven more titles to the list.

Recently I did some editing on all the books and they are reissued now at affordable prices: usually $2.99 to $5.99. That's less than a paperback and well under the price of a movie. A good read is one of the finest pleasures offered to us by civilization.

My entire archive of manuscripts, notes, journals and correspondence is stored by the Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin, which acquired it from me in 2013.

I worked hard at whatever I did, and believed that I had something to say. You can judge the accuracy of that belief after you've read a couple of my books.

Check out my website: cliffordirving.com, and remember, if you don't like "Tom Mix and Pancho Villa," I'll personally refund your Kindle or Nook purchase price.

Thanks, best wishes, and good luck, some of which we all need.

Clifford Irving
Sarasota, Florida

Customer Reviews

The story of art forger Elmyr de Hory is a fascinating one.
Boiler Bay
Now here's a book that grabs you, takes you on a journey and won't let you go til the sad end.
HeRanger
I didn't care what else was happening, I had to keep reading.
Leroy W. Clark

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Craig Clarke VINE VOICE on January 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Subtitled The Story of Elmyr de Hory, the Greatest Art Forger of Our Time, Fake! is the only kind of true-crime book I can get into: not the story of a murderer, but of a classy kind of con artist.

As any fan of Orson Welles's F for Fake will already know, Elmyr de Hory was responsible for a real shake-up in the art community. For decades, he sold all over the world paintings of his own as the work of old masters. But his story never reads as a mean-spirited attempt to get rich, mostly due to the approach.

Author Clifford Irving (who would, just a few years after writing this book, pull off his own fake -- with the fictional Autobiography of Howard Hughes) portrays Elmyr as a sympathetic figure. He only did it when he needed money; when he was flush, he focused on his own art career, and never painted in others' styles during those periods.

Sadly, his own career never took off, and so he was repeatedly forced to go back into his particular bag of tricks and produce works in the styles of Picasso, Modigliani, Derain, Renoir, and others until he was finally caught, though he was never convicted due to what was essentially a technicality. Elmyr always claimed to have never signed any of the paintings (although his business partners may have) which keeps the paintings from being outright forgeries.

Fake! is a terrific book. Part biography, part crime story, part world travelogue, and probably part fiction, it remains wholly engaging and eminently readable.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Boiler Bay on January 19, 2012
Format: Paperback
I am a Clifford Irving fan, and this is one of my very favorite Irving books. The story of art forger Elmyr de Hory is a fascinating one. It is obvious that Irving has a strong art background as he is able to explain in detail how de Hory succeeded in duping the art world with his "fakes". Irving met de Hory when they both lived on the island of Ibiza, and, in addition to the intriguing story of de Hory's ability to perfectly recreate well known and coveted works of art, Irving entertains with his stories of life on Ibiza. I really loved this book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Nora Gainey on September 2, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It starts well but it loses something about the millionth time there is a conflict between our anti-hero and his business mates, all of whom are gay and into easy money. Mr. de Hory was a talented painter but the writer seems to not understand art well enough to explain that he was only able to copy. he did not seem to have anything original to say. He also did not have the ability to be truthful to himself or others and he attracted the like who took full advantage of the situation.
The best parts are how they got away with it. The author seems to think the art dealers were naive but i think the lack of integrity on everyone's part lead to a lot of fake art that is probably still around. And perhaps it really does not matter.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Carrie on August 15, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is an entertaining look at a career forger's life, relationships, and experience in the art world, both as a legitimate artist and as a forger. I loved it. The book is well-researched; the author was friends with Elmyr de Hory (the forger) and verified (to the extent possible) de Hory's accounts of events in his life. De Hory was a global traveler during his forging years, so the book takes us all over the world and describes his interactions with artists, art dealers, and eventually his "partners" (from whom he often tried to distance himself). It was also a very interesting look at art dealing, art experts, and auction houses.

As entertaining a character as de Hory was, however, his life was sad and tragic. I found myself alternating between feeling bad for him and feeling as though he had opportunities to change his situation. He (and one of his despised partners) were both so outrageous that they sometimes came across as caricatures, but the author verified witness accounts of their behaviors, so they were nevertheless believable.

The epilogue to the book (in which the author reveals some details that he couldn't reveal in the first publication of the book) was also very interesting and was necessary (in my opinion) to fully understanding the whole story.

I bought this book on Kindle and did notice some typos and formatting issues with the pictures of the forgeries, but it was still readable in this format.

Follow-up: In the epilogue, the author mentions "legal issues" with his publisher over another book about Howard Hughes. I decided to Google that to see what he was referring to. It turns out that he was accused of, and eventually admitted to, forging an autobiography of Howard Hughes. In the epilogue to Fake!
Read more ›
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Sandy Munro on April 4, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
Remarkably well told, true story of the long career of the world's most successful art forger. Irving knew Elmyr De Hory well when they both lived on the Spanish island of Ibiza in the 1960s. The story of De Hory, and his two accomplices reads like a mystery as they manage to continue their shady careers, just one step ahead of the art world. How they managed to do so gives us fascinating insights into the arena of upscale galleries and world-famous collectors. A must read for aficionados of art and painting.

Finding Uri
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