The Art Thief: A True Story of Love, Crime, and a Dangerous Obsession

We rated this book:


Even ignoring the criminality, which is hard to do, stealing art valued at two billion dollars takes a lot of nerve. Over six years of unchallenged effrontery, Stephane Breitwieser entered museums, galleries, and churches in several European countries and walked out with whatever caught his eye. Taking along only his remarkable girlfriend as the “lookout” and a Swiss Army knife, Breitwieser removed paintings from their frames and tucked away objets d’art, including priceless historical mementoes, to take them home, concealed in bags and pockets, to his personal Aladdin’s cave.

Michael’s Finkel’s new book, The Art Thief, reads with the flow of a novel, supplemented with meticulous research. Breitwieser, usually jobless and nearly penniless, lived in the locked attic above his mother’s house. Even the law, eventually catching up with him, couldn’t determine whether she was ignorant or complicit in her son’s audacity from the start.

Discrepancies in Breitwieser’s behavior stand out: he stole only for personal joy, never to sell his collection. He recognized the value of the items he took through years of expertise acquired through study. Not least, Breitwieser never displayed even a suggestion of violence. Does Finkel suggest admiration or abhorrence for one of history’s most successful art thieves?

Reviewed By:

Author Michael Finkel
Star Count 5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 240 pages
Publisher Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publish Date 27-Jun-2023
ISBN 9780525657323 Buy this Book
Issue August 2023
Category Biographies & Memoirs