cover image Con/Artist: The Life and Crimes of the World’s Greatest Art Forger

Con/Artist: The Life and Crimes of the World’s Greatest Art Forger

Tony Tetro and Giampiero Ambrosi. Hachette, $29 (288p) ISBN 978-0-306-82648-1

Tetro, one of the most prolific art forgers of the 20th century, paints his own life story with flair in this cinematic memoir. Coming of age in Fulton, N.Y., during the 1960s, Tetro started by freehand drawing from examples in his mother’s photo magazines, and over time taught himself techniques from art books. As a teen dad (his girlfriend got pregnant when he was only 16), he’d stay up late making elaborate copies of the greats—Rembrandt, Renoir, Picasso. When his young family relocated to Southern California, he took low-paying jobs but also discovered museums. He dabbled in forgeries offered at auction in the early ’70s, selling a faked Chagall sketch to a local art gallery. Chasing clients and commissions, he learned to print serigraphs and developed methods to create provenance or realistic history to the paintings (for example, smudging cigarette ash on the back of a faux Dalí). What followed were fancy cars, lavish parties, and traveling the world. But soon, the law would catch up to him and his art forgery empire crumbled. Written in a colorful, conversational voice and blending memoir, art history, and true crime, Tetro’s account takes readers on a turbulent, fast-paced, high-stakes roller-coaster ride. This is the art world’s The Wolf of Wall Street. Agent: Jeff Kleinman, Folio Literary Management. (Nov.)