Industrial-Sized Deals TextBTS15 Shop Women's Handbags Learn more nav_sap_plcc_6M_fly_beacon Beach House $5 Off Fire TV Stick Off to College Essentials Shop Popular Services pivdl pivdl pivdl  Amazon Echo Starting at $99 Kindle Voyage Nintendo Digital Games Gear Up for Football STEM Toys & Games
Stealing the Mystic Lamb and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Buy Used
Used: Very Good | Details
Sold by hglbest
Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: Former library edition with minimal id, otherwise Very Good Condition. Unmarked, clean, strong binding and square spine.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Stealing the Mystic Lamb: The True Story of the World's Most Coveted Masterpiece Hardcover – October 5, 2010

33 customer reviews

See all 10 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
$6.95 $1.19

Best Books of the Year So Far
Best Books of the Year So Far
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for 2015's Best Books of the Year So Far in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.

Editorial Reviews


Kirkus, July 15, 2010
“Charney unsnarls the tangled history of Jan van Eyck’s 15th-century The Ghent Altarpiece (aka The Mystic Lamb), 'the most desired and victimized object of all time.' With a novelist’s sense of structure and tension, the author adds an easy familiarity with the techniques of oil painting and with the intertwining vines of art and political and religious history…. A brisk tale of true-life heroism, villainy, artistry and passion.”


Christian Science Monitor, August 30, 2010
"[A]ction-packed…. In scrupulous detail, Charney divulges the secrets of the revered painting’s past, and in doing so, gives readers a history lesson on art crime, a still-prospering black market.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer, October 14, 2010
“Well-written and thorough, this book reminds us of the influence and fragility of art, our veniality and heroism, and the delights found in both the beautiful and the strange.”
Maclean’s, October 14, 2010
“In Charney’s hand, the story of the various heists often reads like a political thriller.”
Catholic Herald, December 13, 2010
“Charney’s wonderfully learned and entertaining book tells us about all the indignities this famous image has endured through the centuries… but the book also has some much broader point to make about the cultural significance of important paintings… Charney tackles some important subjects (the creation of the modern art-stealing industry, our sensible obsession with almost burglar-proof museums) but he wears his learning lightly and the next extraordinary tale is only ever a few pages away. Best of a very good bunch must be the account of the Monuments Men: the highly qualified people who followed in the wake of the liberating armies at the end of World War Two… It is good to hear their story and all the other bizarre tales this innovative and elegant book has to tell.”


About the Author

Noah Charney is the author of the international bestselling novel The Art Thief and the founding director of The Association for Research into Crimes against Art, an international non-profit think tank. His work in the field of art crime has been praised in such forums as The New York Times Magazine, Time Magazine, Vanity Fair, Vogue, BBC Radio, and NPR. Currently professor of art history at the American University of Rome, he lives in Italy with his wife.


Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; 1 edition (October 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586488007
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586488000
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #814,701 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Noah Charney holds Masters degrees in art history from The Courtauld Institute and University of Cambridge , and a PhD from University of Ljubljana. He is Adjunct Professor of Art History at the American University of Rome, a Visiting Lecturer for Brown University abroad programs, and is the founder of ARCA, the Association for Research into Crimes against Art, a non-profit research group on issues in art crime (

His work in the field of art crime has been praised in such forums as The New York Times Magazine, Time Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, BBC Radio, National Public Radio, El Pais, Vogue, Vanity Fair, and Tatler among others. He has appeared on radio and television, including BBC, ITV, CNBC, National Geographic and MSNBC, as a presenter and guest expert. He is in constant demand as a lecturer. He has given popular TEDx talks, was a finalist for the main TED event, and teaches a Guardian Masterclass called "How to Write About Art."

Charney is the author of numerous academic and popular articles, contributing regularly to The Guardian, the Daily Beast, Atlantic, Salon, The Art Newspaper, The Believer, Esquire and many others. His first novel, The Art Thief (Atria 2007), is currently translated into seventeen languages and is a best-seller in five countries. He is the editor of an academic essay collection entitled Art & Crime: Exploring the Dark Side of the Art World (Praeger 2009) and the Museum Time series of guides to museums in Spain (Planeta 2010). His is author of a critically-acclaimed work of non-fiction, Stealing the Mystic Lamb: the True History of the World's Most Coveted Masterpiece (PublicAffairs 2011), which is a best-seller in two countries. His latest book is The Thefts of the Mona Lisa: On Stealing the World's Most Famous Painting (ARCA Publications 2011). Upcoming books include The Art of Forgery (Phaidon 2015) and The Collector of Lives: Giorgio Vasari and the Invention of Art (Norton 2015). He lives in Italy and Slovenia, and lectures internationally in the subjects of art history and art crime. Learn more at or join him on Facebook.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By T. Coner on October 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I can't recommended this book enough to those who love to learn more about how Art history doesn't just comment on the history of the world around it but an active and undeniable provocateur at the base of it.

Stealing The Mystic Lamb is one of the most readable historical novels I've ever come across, (it helps that two of my favorite topics were already Art History and European history.) I have been studying many of these art pieces personally while an art student in Europe and America, but this book was able to set itself apart for me by really tying together the world and events simultaneously taking place.

Charney has written some of the most enjoyable and certainly most modern descriptions of these priceless art works, a true feat given the volume of descriptions already out there. I also highly recommend this book to anyone looking to jump into Art History, as it is explanative enough for the absolute beginner...but it also thorough and expansive enough for an avid art history student like myself to enjoy.

This book may not be as in depth and detailed towards individual pieces or artists as other art history books by more academic sources (art journals, etc.) but that is not the point of this book. This book is about the history of one piece of art and how that piece's history has influnced not just other artist's but the political, religous, and military superpowers in each century since.

This book is an knockout!
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Ben Davies on September 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The chapters have a wonderful dramatic arc and I found the story of how the painting was repeatedly stolen very easy to read. It is an utterly convincing book with a precise regard for detail, and yet without being too bogged down. Who would have thought that a single painting could contain so much and have such a fascinating history. I loved the chapter called 'Thieves in the Cathedral'. I got a very visual sense - as in a film. Would highly recommend this!
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By foxglove on July 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book was in many ways a delight, but the author or his editor permitted countless repetitions that made me wonder: Was this book was put together from a series of articles written for a magazine that were published over several months?

The subject matter was fascinating, I would recommend it to anyone, but what might have been a great book was reduced to be just a pretty good book by the sloppy repetitions.
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Brian Morgan on January 13, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book, written by a very prolific writer, concerns one of the world's most fascinating examples of Sacred Art, the Ghent Altar-piece, which dates from the early 15th century.

This reviewer would not question Noah Charney's qualifications as an art historian, but the subject of this particular masterpiece, which is replete with heavy symbolism, displays his poor knowledge of Christianity. He refers to Blessed Fra Angelico, a Dominican friar ("Fra"), as a monk (page 7). He anachronistically refers to an ancient translation of the Blessed Virgin Mary's words at the Annunciation as "politically correct," and displays his arrogance and disrespect toward theology which he does not understand: "Even back then, virgin pregnancy sounded a bit suspect" (page 11). He accepts (without discussion) that the figure wearing the Triple Tiara is God the Father, but this is disputed, many believing the figure to be Christ the King.

On page 47, the author confuses Limbo with Purgatory, and makes hash of the Catholic tradition of praying for the dead. On page 72, he does not even make an attempt to understand the granting of Indulgences.

In discussing (if that be the mot juste of such careless writing) the Allied bombing of Monte Cassino (page 219), he blindly accepts the victors' version of history, where one makes violence upon suspicion, as later with our suspected "Weapons of Mass Destruction."

Moving from religious topics, we have a real howler on page 278, when he writes that the great Lincoln Kirstein "went on to direct the Metropolitan Opera." Indeed, it was probably a mistake to quote Kirstein's writings, since we can see the chasm of quality between Kirstein and Charney, whose efforts read like that of a schoolboy in comparison.
Read more ›
2 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By M. A Newman VINE VOICE on March 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a very interesting book, but even at a mere 288 pages, it does have a tendency to drag. Noah Charney does have an interesting tale to tell, it is just he takes a long time getting there.

The Mystic Lamb is not really a single work, but a series of panels painted between 1426-32 by Jan Van Eyck, the great painter of Ghent. The panels make up the altarpiece of the cathedral of Saint Bavo. It has been described as the last great painting of the Middle Ages or the first great painting of the Renaissance. It features 24 panels including portraits of the Virgin Mary, Adam and Eve, John the Baptist, the two donors, and an annunciation scene. At the center of the altarpiece is an allegorical series featuring a lamb sacrificing itself to save humanity.

The most interesting portion of the book deals with the actual construction and execution of the altarpiece. Van Eyck, though not the inventor of oil paint, he was probably the world's first master of this medium. The vivid colours of the Ghent altarpiece are a testimony to the skill and imagination of the artist that painted it and the revolutionary techniques that Van Eyck perfected that still resonate to this very day.

The altarpiece had numerous second lives after it had become an object of religious veneration primarily as loot for numerous armies, emperors, and even was the subject of a bizarre competition between Hitler and Goering. It survived campaigns by Reformation Protestants who wanted to burn it as idolatrous, the theft of its left and right panels, which were only returned after WWI as well as concealment in an imperfectly bomb rigged salt mine in Austria.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Want to discover more products? Check out this page to see more: art photography