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Hot Art: Chasing Thieves and Detectives Through the Secret World of Stolen Art Paperback – March 6, 2012
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"Joshua Knelman exposes thieves, detectives, and collectors obsessed with Hot Art (Tin House)."
"Your spring non-fiction reading.... deep thoughts on the nature of man.... Through interviews with cops, FBI agents, and a prominent former smuggler, [Knelman] shows how corrupt dealers (and public indifference) have helped this nearly unpoliced form of criminal activity become so pervasive"
"...Knelman makes shrewd use of extensive interviews with figures on both side of the law, allowing him to fully establish this hidden, high-stakes milieu...Engaging expose of an underground world...."
"Knelman takes readers on a fascinating journey through a criminal underworld that defies logic and confounds policing agencies from Los Angeles to Scotland Yard....Knelman [is] a born storyteller..."
"Knelman is a brilliant narrative writer and reporter who has assembled a cast of oddball sleuths and crooks rich enough to people five TV series. He takes us inside a huge and growing region of the global underworld. A thrilling read."
Paul Steiger, editor in chief, ProPublica
"...fascinating and gripping from start to finish....a look into the real world of art."
San Francisco Review
"Hot Art: Chasing Thieves and Detectives through the Secret World of Stolen Art creeps up on you. Wickedly entertaining.... Joshua Knelman’s in-depth investigation of the international trade in stolen art may read like a TV crime novel, but it delves deeper than that, deftly allowing art theft to serve as an extended metaphor for exploitive, unregulated, free-for-all global capitalism."
Literary Review of Canada
"let me know when your book hits the shelves and i'll go and shoplift myself a copy."
e-mail from Banksy
"Lo, thriller readers & writers: Just got Joshua Knelman's nonfic Hot Art, re: art thieves & detecs hunting them - you will love!"
Tweet by Margaret Atwood
Joshua Knelman’s Hot Art has it all: fascinating characters, great stories, and an intriguing subject matter, the world of art crimes. It is totally engrossing. I couldn’t stop reading it.”
Ted Kotcheff, Executive Producer, Law & Order: SVU
"With an eye for detail worthy of Rembrandt's Landscape with Cottages (1654, stolen from the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 1972), Joshua Knelman has painted a luminous portrait of the interconnected world of thieves, cops, and lawyers obsessed with stolen art. Whether he's writing about those who covet the art or those who protect it, Knelman's gifts as an investigator and storyteller drip from every page. Hot Art? Hot book."
Jeremy Keehn, Associate Editor, Harper's Magazine
"This is a crackerjack of a book--with enough rogues, thieves, and amoral civilians (not all of them on the radar of relentless cops) to people a dozen crime novels. First-rate."
Giles Blunt, best-selling author of the John Cardinal mystery series, including Crime Machine and Forty Words for Sorrow
"Now this is investigative reporting. Dogged, fearless, and thrillingly thorough, Joshua Knelman becomes our Virgil through the secret underworld of stolen art. Like legendary muckrakers Bob Woodward, Seymour Hersh, and Barlett and Steele, Knelman relentlessly trails both the bad guys and the slightly less bad guys, looking for truth amidst all the deceit. It's an astonishing debut, and serious readers must take note--long-form reporting has a new title in the canon."
Richard Poplak, author of Ja No Man: Growing up White in Apartheid Era South Africa, The Sheik's Batmobile: Pop Culture in the Middle East, and Kenk: A Graphic Novel
"Knelman's book is the Godfather of investigative journalism. He takes us to places we always wanted to be but didn't dare to enter, he makes us fall for people we are not supposed to love--on both side of the law. Congratulations, this is haute art!"
Andras Hamori, Executive Producer, The Sweet Herearfter and Fugitive Pieces
Art theft is one of the largest underground markets in the world, yet very few people know how it works, or how to stop it. Joshua Knelman delves into this uncharted world with an open curiosity, befriending the detectives dedicated to retrieving stolen art, the lawyers struggling to protect cultural property, and the thieves who have their own reasons for doing what they do. These pages are full of shady characters and experts determined to outwit each other; an intriguing look at human lusts and foibles. Hot Art is fascinating, smart, and a page-turner.”
Catherine Osborne, Deputy Editor, Azure Magazine
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
This book changed my perspective on stolen art. I imagined a seedy warehouse with men in trench coats passing notes back and forth, but Knelmas' book opened my eyes. The book is fascinating and gripping from start to finish. Knelman's writing style is both informative and intrusive. He tends to dig a bit deeper than his interviewees would like him to dig, but that makes the book even more compelling. I loved how, near the end, Knelman brings up a question that is very powerful. Does any of this matter? It is one of the few times a writer actually looks at what they're doing and asks something like that. Hopefully, all of his hard pays off, but, for now, I am grateful for a look into the real world of art.
*Originally published for San Francisco/Sacramento Book Review*
Not a bad book for someone just beginning to get interested in the hot art business.
Hot Art doesn’t have this problem. The opening chapter – with the author riding along with LAPD detectives en route to an antique-store burglary in West Hollywood – reads like the start of a detective novel, and I fully expected Harry Bosch or Elvis Cole to be waiting at the scene. If later on the book settles into some talking-head action, the colorful characterizations of those heads keeps things from lapsing into textbookism.
Canadian journalist Joshua Knelman spent several years putting this book together, traveling as far afield as Los Angeles and Cairo to see the various gears of the art-crime machine grind away. While he stops in some of the expected places – both Dick Ellis and Robert Wittman make appearances – Knelman does something not very many other art-crime writers do: he also talks to the thieves themselves. Some of the liveliest chapters are those we spend in the company of Paul, a one-time Brighton “knocker” (door-to-door recon for art thieves) who became a central figure in the British art black market before retiring to more genteel pastimes, such as benefits fraud.
Another refreshing change is that Knelman doesn’t spend a lot of time on the marquee art thefts, the ones that get big headlines worldwide. His interviewees emphasize that the $6 billion annual illicit art market revolves around lesser-known artworks stolen from living rooms or offices, not the multimillion-dollar masterpieces that Paul calls “headache art.Read more ›
The first problems began when information started repeating itself - OK typically it was from different sources, but it didn't make the book an enthralling read. If you pick up this book these are a few things you'll be hearing about:
- Art theft isn't like product theft - no serial numbers
- Auction houses and art dealers are either as criminal or at least enablers of art theft
- There isn't much money or interest in funding crime fighting units for art theft, although this is changing.
The most interesting parts of the book involve a gentleman named Paul turbo-charged ______ a bit of spider in the underworld who can't seem to stay out of trouble.
Overall however this book was too long and too conclusionless to really enjoy. I respected the amount of research and hard work behind the piece, but ultimately the final product was a let-down.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
fascinating account of how art theft got started and how detectives learned how to
understand the art world and how to combat it.
Knelman provides a snapshot of the international art theft situation which badly needs redressing as so many valuable works
that go missing fall under the radar of police... Read more
GREAT READ. AS A FORMER LAWMAN I LOVE TRUE CRIME STORIES AND THIS BOOK FILLED THE NEED. TELLS THE STORIES FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF THE BADGE. BOBPublished on June 1, 2013 by D.O.L.
A fascinating story of how art disappears and remains an enigma to dectives and particularly to disinterested police around the world. Read morePublished on April 25, 2013 by PatrickAtWhistler
Excellent book about a topic not much discussed in general conversation. Who would know except owners and those who investigate.Published on May 5, 2012 by Deborah R. Cooper
Just received Knelman's book HOT ART. While browsing this book I noticed my name and the Museum Security Network (MSN) in chapter 15, more specifically at pages 290 and 291... Read morePublished on April 1, 2012 by Ton Cremers