A Forger's Tale

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 31 Dec 2018

Member Reviews

A bit of a long drawn-out gasbag version of autobiography.

However, thanks to the publisher for the ARC.
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Wonderful writing by Greenleigh! A Forger’s Tale really draws the reader into a world that few of us know much less everything about.
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I will not have time to read in the allotted time-frame (window closing about a week from now). Thank you for the offer. I look forward to reading this at a later date.
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This book was a bit frustrating: I had to wade through lots of text to get to the story. I understand how he can want to tell everything, explain everything and include everything. Getting through all of the extra stuff took away from the good parts of the story. 
He is a bit self congratulatory about how he got into this, and how capable he was in the different genres. That's ok but again, distracted from the story. 
The sadder, but more interesting part is the greed and deception of art brokers and collectors. Willing to suspend disbelief in search of more money, they will cheerfully lie and virtually steal for a pretty thing.

This book would be so much better with some energetic editing and told the story more directly.
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Interesting story but a bit clunky. The technical details were very long and fairly frequent and stood in the way of the narrative a bit. I think it would have done better as a long-form piece vs a whole book. Needed a better editor.
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I was so excited to receive and to begin reading this book. I felt that the first chapter covered most of the entire book. HOWEVER, I kept reading. It got worse. The author adores art and history and that shines throughout the book. Yet the book and story is bogged down by side stories and even minute details that slows everything down. 
I liked reading about his parents, his girlfriend that died, and his art work, but I felt that the falconry, his childhood, and the bits about motorcycles were too laborious to get through. 
Overall, you get the main gist of the book from the first chapter.
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This book was fascinating! It was a great read all the way through. I'm an art lover that can barely draw stick figures, so some of the techniques went right over my head, but it all sounded very impressive. Would definitely recommend for artists to read.
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I received this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.  

This book started out very interesting.  I enjoyed that it just felt like sitting down and talking with the Shaun Greenhalgh.  Unfortunately, as the book went on the stories got more repetitive and started to bore me.
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I found this book a mixed bag.  As a craftsperson who has done some painting, woodwork and metalwork myself, I found the sections where he described the processes he used to make his art fascinating.  And the stories about the different interactions that he had with members of the art world, especially buyers were interesting.  

But underlying it all--these are the thoughts and memories of a man who believes that he was mostly blameless for most of the crimes that he has committed.  He excuses his behavior by sharing stories of other people's poor behavior, inattention to detail and a variety of other reasons why people should have known that what he was selling were copies of artwork.  

I once dated a married guy, who told me that he had a conversation with his wife about their sexual incompatibilities, and in that conversation she agreed that there were things that she was not interested in doing. Based on that conversation, he believed she had given him permission to seek sexual satisfaction outside the marriage.  I stopped seeing him soon after we had that conversation--the internal dishonesty on his part made me really uncomfortable. 

Greenhalgh's justifications made me feel much the same way.

I received an advanced reading copy from the publishers via NetGalley.  Thanks!
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Having never heard of Shaun Greenhalgh or his decades of art forgeries, this was a fun and fascinating memoir to come to "cold," although I spent lots of time all along, phone in hand, googling artworks and artists he mentioned.

The main takeaway, which, in Greenhalghian fashion, he repeats at least four times, is that you should buy art because it pleases you, not because of whoever supposedly created it. Fakery is rampant in the art market and has been for centuries, so just buy it if you like it, and not for the name brand.

Greenhalgh turns out to be an impressive craftsman, working in paint and sculpture and ceramics across multiple eras and spanning the globe. Really he ought to hire his services to make fakes for people who love a certain work of art but could never afford it. I'd love one of his Peploes or L. S. Lowrys, for example.

And speaking of which, I really liked learning about and looking up all kinds of amazing artists and craftsmen that Greenhalgh imitated or admired.

If you like art, this memoir will interest, instruct, and even amuse. It's somewhat repetitive, and I confess to skimming some of the non-art-related bits, but altogether it was a worthwhile read. And take a look at the Smithsonian video where Greenhalgh argues that that famous bust of Nefertiti is a fake!!! It's quite convincing.

Thank you to the publisher for the opportunity to read this book!
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A moody read about forgeries in art, written by a prolific forger while still in jail who was busted and served time for it. named Shaun Greenhalgh who relates his story.  He was the paid live-in caretaker for some years of both of his elderly parents who had health problems, and were in their 80’s, for forty-some pounds a week, which he compares to about as much as a kid’s paper route. Apparently, he’d needed a way to boost his income and had a love for doing art and visiting museums for years. So he tried his hand at making copies of different things, using different techniques until he became quite good at many different forms.
  
The book starts with the day he’s arrested, the knock on the door, the search, things hauled out as evidence, etc.  Having to go down and give a statement to police. The wait while they go over the evidence and decide what to charge him with, and see if he will cooperate. The media bugging him. Then it goes into his art, how he got interested in it, learned to do it and branch out to so many kinds as he experimented. 

He talks about how he offered his ‘copies’ at low prices, playing dumb and watching as the sellers instead of offering to have the pieces looked at by someone with experience, would offer a bit more, running off to sell them at huge markups, then asking for a letter of provenance stating that they’d had the piece in the family for a long time.  Showing a lot of shady goings-on in the art business already by many.  A sort of true crime in the art world story, perpetrated by an unusual character who wrote about it after.  My thanks for the advance electronic copy that was provided by netgalley, author Shaun Greenhalgh, and the publisher for my fair review.

Atlantic Books  384 pages
Pub: Oct 1st, 2018

RATED:   3.5/5 Stars
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The author, forger and art-maker Shaun Greenhalgh has so much talent, drive and curiosity that this should have been a fascinating read. And indeed, parts of the book, especially those relating to the slimier side of the art world, were very interesting. 

Alas, however talented a painter, sculptor and metal smith Greenhalgh may be, he is no author; his memoir was long and rambling, causing me to skim entire sections in order to get through it. I think this story would be best told as a documentary allowing interested parties to actually see the copies Greenhalgh so brilliantly made. 

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for this ARC.
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Forgeries in the art world is not something often discussed but in A Forger's Tale we have front row seats to examine it all under the microscope.
In 20017 Shaun Greenhalgh was sentenced for four years for producing these forgeries.
He fooled just about everyone and tantalized the media in the process.
A true story told straight from behind the cells this story will make you question the realities of his career in this interesting memoir.
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I’ve read several books about art forgery including Ken Perenyi’s memoir, Caveat Emptor. I was expecting something similar with this one, but the tone and telling, rather than being charming and funny, as touted in the blurb, seemed to me to be glib and arrogant. Because of this, I did not finish this book.
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