Dr Noah Charney. Photograph by Urska Charney

Psst! Want to know about The Art of Forgery?

Then watch this great Phaidon video, shot with Noah Charney in the Italian capital, Rome

For Noah Charney, the infamous Woody Allen line about how crime pays - "the hours are good, you meet a lot of interesting people, you travel a lot" - would appear to ring true. 

The professor of art history and crime specialist criss-crosses the world assisting police forces in their efforts to track down criminal masterminds in the murky underworld of art fakes and forgeries. And while we're sure it's a pretty exciting world to be involved in, it’s the actual motivations behind this particular kind of crime that fascinate him so.  

In this video, Charney, the author of a forthcoming Phaidon book, The Art of Forgery, describes the  book as “a journey into the criminal mind" of famous art forgers. "It’s about their methods, their motivations and the stories of the most successful and interesting art forgeries in history," he says.


Noah Charney and The Art of Forgery

Charney acknowledges that “art has been forged for as long as art has existed and had a collectible value," and, in common with everyone else in the art world is appalled by "the fact that these people are involved in criminal activities" yet feels that "looking through the criminality, into the people, the person behind the crime" is a "fascinating way to explore the human mind.” 

We agree, which is why we're publishing the book next month. Each chapter in it is a study of power, ego, revenge, wealth, crime and subterfuge. Charney explains in gripping prose how a surrealist painter of softcore erotica become the most successful Vermeer forger and duped the Nazis and how failed artist Shaun Greenhalgh used his parents to sell forgeries to major museums and auction houses for millions. Just two great tales in a book that's packed with them. It’s the first book to look at fakes and forgeries in such diverse fields as art, archaeology and literature. Watch the video below and take a look at The Art of Forgery in the store.