Posted in Art Heist April, movies

Art Heist April: Heist movies!

It’s Art Heist April on Kat’s Clues! Join me all month long to discover books, movies, and more, all featuring art heists.

A great heist is unlike a regular mystery because it aligns the audience with the criminal. Whether they’re rough and tumble or gentleman (or gentlewoman) cat burglars, we buy into the story from the thief’s point of view. The law enforcement characters are often bumbling, stupid, or vengeful. We have reason not to want justice to win. We like the thief because they are charming, interested in the thing they’re stealing (and not just in its dollar value), and above all intelligent. They’re willing to use that intelligence in daring ways. We want to see them create a plan and set it in motion, watching as its Rube-Goldberg components set each other off and allow the thief–we hope–to make their getaway in the nick of time. And we like watching how they react when things inevitably go wrong.

Here are some great art heist films, with a few bonus non-art heists that are too fun not to mention.

1. The Art of the Steal (2013)

This funny Canadian art heist boasts an ensemble with wonderful chemistry, a few different factions who may or may not be working together or double-crossing each other, and a strong appreciation for the art being stolen. It’s the story of underdog Crunch Calhoun (Kurt Russell), who took the fall for his half-brother Nicky (Matt Dillon at his delightfully sleaziest) during an art forgery gone wrong and lost a few years of his life in a Polish prison. Now he’s back home, working as a motorcycle daredevil (and just as often deliberately crashing for a few extra bucks). When a violent lowlife shows up demanding recompense for a Georges Seurrat painting Nicky stole, Crunch gets the old gang back together again for a classic “one last score” story. It’s a funny movie, with a lot of ad-libbed lines from Crunch’s protege, played in a affably nervous way by Jay Baruchel. The Art of the Steal brings together elements of forgery, con, old-timers mentoring the new generation, humour, and enough twists and turns to keep you guessing.

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Posted in Art Heist April, books

Art Heist April: The Goldfinch

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It’s Art Heist April on Kat’s Clues! Join me all month long to discover books, movies, and more, all featuring art heists.

In 2013, the book world was abuzz with news that the new Donna Tartt was finally here. Tartt had previously written two highly acclaimed novels, The Secret History and The Little StrangerThe Goldfinch became an instant sensation and it deeply divided readers. Some people disliked it’s sprawlingness, its subplots, or its hefty length. I was on the other side, loving this book and falling completely into the world Tartt created. The Secret History is one of my favourite books, and The Goldfinch was a more than worthy successor.

The book begins with Theo Decker ill and alone in a hotel room in Europe, sweating out something major that has just happened. Is he going to be arrested? What criminal dealings is he mixed up in? We jump back in time to the young Theo, visiting the Metropolitan Museum with his mother. . . just before a bomb goes off. Dazed and in shock, Theo searches for his mother and instead finds a dying man who insists Theo take a painting by Fabritius, a student of Rembrandt’s. Before he knows it, he’s stumbled outside, painting rolled up in his bag.

Goldfinch

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Posted in Art Heist April, books

Art Heist April: Hot Art by Joshua Knelman

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It’s Art Heist April on Kat’s Clues! Join me all month long to discover books, movies, and more, all featuring art heists.

Let’s kick off the month with a real-life account of how art thieves operate and move art all over the world. Hot Art: Chasing Thieves and Detectives through the Secret World of Stolen Art, by Joshua Knelman, is part-caper, part–true crime. The story begins when Knelman is approached by an art thief in Toronto who wants to tell his story about a small but lucrative gallery heist. From there, we dive into a global investigation of how the art-theft world works, following cops in Hollywood, lawyers specializing in art theft, Interpol agents, and known thieves.

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Posted in Art Heist April, mysteries

Art Heist April

 

I love heist stories, especially ones about art theft. The double-crossings, the high stakes, the larger-than-life personalities. There’s something elegant about the archetypal art thief, someone who isn’t just stealing whatever they can get their hands on but who loves and appreciates art, has a strong aesthetic sense, and possesses a keen mind able to map out elaborate plans and evade security systems and the dogged law enforcers on their tail.

Sometimes the valiant detective is the protagonist of the tale, but more often we’re on the side of the clever, plucky, or downright ballsy criminal. While in most detective fiction we’re following along with the detective, hoping for justice to win the day, with heists, we get a peek at the other side of the curtain. We want the band of rogues to get away with the crime, often cheering as our Robin Hood relieves the rich of that pesky Picasso they probably don’t appreciate anyway.

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