Can it be that Algonquin Books has in its possession “After the Bath,” a long-missing Edgar Degas masterpiece? The very same painting that was stolen in the most famous unsolved art theft in history? In March 1990, a pair of thieves disguised as police officers entered the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston and made off with 13 works of art valued by some estimates at $500 million. For 22 years, despite the efforts of law enforcement agencies from the FBI to Interpol and a $5 million reward, none of the paintings has been recovered . . . until now.
Today at 3:30 p.m. at booth 4158, Algonquin and the Aiden Markel Gallery will host a private unveiling of the recovered Degas masterpiece. This will be the only exhibit of the work before it is returned to the Gardner Museum. Or maybe not . . .
All these “shenanigans,” says Algonquin marketing director Craig Popelars, are to introduce The Art Forger, a novel by B.A. Shapiro, due out in October. In The Art Forger, a young artist who makes her living reproducing famous artworks for an online retailer is lured into a Faustian bargain with Aiden Markel, a powerful gallery owner. She agrees to forge a copy of the Degas stolen from the Gardner Museum in exchange for a one-woman show at his renowned gallery. But when the long-missing painting is delivered to the artist’s studio, she begins to suspect that it may itself be a forgery.
“There’s more to this painting and this crime than meets the eye,” says Popelars. “Algonquin is convinced that what lies beneath Degas’s brushstrokes is where the truth is revealed. So, is it real, or is it a forgery? Let’s just say that there’s the art of deception, but there’s also the deception of art. And between them is something wickedly fun and entertaining.”
Galleys of The Art Forger will be available throughout BEA at Algonquin.