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The Rescue Artist: A True Story of Art, Thieves, and the Hunt for a Missing Masterpiece

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The little-known world of art theft is compellingly portrayed in Dolnick's account of the 1994 theft and recovery of Edvard Munch's iconic painting The Scream. In the predawn gloom of a February day in 1994, two thieves entered the National Gallery in Oslo. They snatched one of the world's most famous paintings, Edvard Munch's The Scream, and fled with their $72 million tro The little-known world of art theft is compellingly portrayed in Dolnick's account of the 1994 theft and recovery of Edvard Munch's iconic painting The Scream. In the predawn gloom of a February day in 1994, two thieves entered the National Gallery in Oslo. They snatched one of the world's most famous paintings, Edvard Munch's The Scream, and fled with their $72 million trophy. The thieves made sure the world was watching: the Winter Olympics, in Lillehammer, began that same morning. Baffled and humiliated, the Norwegian police called on the world's greatest art detective, a half-English, half-American undercover cop named Charley Hill. In this rollicking narrative, Edward Dolnick takes us inside the art underworld. The trail leads high and low, and the cast ranges from titled aristocrats to thick-necked thugs. Lord Bath, resplendent in ponytail and velvet jacket, presides over a 9,000-acre estate. David Duddin, a 300-pound fence who once tried to sell a stolen Rembrandt, spins exuberant tales of his misdeeds. We meet Munch, too, a haunted misfit who spends his evenings drinking in the Black Piglet Café and his nights feverishly trying to capture in paint the visions in his head. The most compelling character of all is Charley Hill, an ex-soldier, a would-be priest, and a complicated mix of brilliance, foolhardiness, and charm. The hunt for The Scream will either cap his career and rescue one of the world's best-known paintings or end in a fiasco that will dog him forever.


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The little-known world of art theft is compellingly portrayed in Dolnick's account of the 1994 theft and recovery of Edvard Munch's iconic painting The Scream. In the predawn gloom of a February day in 1994, two thieves entered the National Gallery in Oslo. They snatched one of the world's most famous paintings, Edvard Munch's The Scream, and fled with their $72 million tro The little-known world of art theft is compellingly portrayed in Dolnick's account of the 1994 theft and recovery of Edvard Munch's iconic painting The Scream. In the predawn gloom of a February day in 1994, two thieves entered the National Gallery in Oslo. They snatched one of the world's most famous paintings, Edvard Munch's The Scream, and fled with their $72 million trophy. The thieves made sure the world was watching: the Winter Olympics, in Lillehammer, began that same morning. Baffled and humiliated, the Norwegian police called on the world's greatest art detective, a half-English, half-American undercover cop named Charley Hill. In this rollicking narrative, Edward Dolnick takes us inside the art underworld. The trail leads high and low, and the cast ranges from titled aristocrats to thick-necked thugs. Lord Bath, resplendent in ponytail and velvet jacket, presides over a 9,000-acre estate. David Duddin, a 300-pound fence who once tried to sell a stolen Rembrandt, spins exuberant tales of his misdeeds. We meet Munch, too, a haunted misfit who spends his evenings drinking in the Black Piglet Café and his nights feverishly trying to capture in paint the visions in his head. The most compelling character of all is Charley Hill, an ex-soldier, a would-be priest, and a complicated mix of brilliance, foolhardiness, and charm. The hunt for The Scream will either cap his career and rescue one of the world's best-known paintings or end in a fiasco that will dog him forever.

30 review for The Rescue Artist: A True Story of Art, Thieves, and the Hunt for a Missing Masterpiece

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jo

    Loved this book; the writing was engaging, the stories were great, etc. etc. Content gets 5 stars. However, the lack of any organization to the story did frustrate me a bit. I am okay with (even fond of) stories that jump all over the place when it serves some aesthetic, quirky, or endearing purpose. This did not. The overarching story is about the theft and recovery of The Scream. Dolnick also includes other anecdotes and adventures of the detective Charley Hill. As a side note, this does read m Loved this book; the writing was engaging, the stories were great, etc. etc. Content gets 5 stars. However, the lack of any organization to the story did frustrate me a bit. I am okay with (even fond of) stories that jump all over the place when it serves some aesthetic, quirky, or endearing purpose. This did not. The overarching story is about the theft and recovery of The Scream. Dolnick also includes other anecdotes and adventures of the detective Charley Hill. As a side note, this does read more like a compressed biography of Charley Hill than of the overall story of the Scream theft. This is all well and good and I thoroughly enjoyed all the narrative, however it jumps around like a spastic bunny rabbit. Here's a chapter about the Scream. Here's 2 chapters about other thefts. Oh and next we have a chapter that starts out about the Scream, but ends up about a Rembrandt theft. Then we pick up the Scream story again, just when I have forgotten all the names and have to figure out who is a thief and who is undercover. Bottom line; loved it, will probably reread eventually, but just give me order, dammit!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Saleh MoonWalker

    Onvan : The Rescue Artist: A True Story of Art, Thieves, and the Hunt for a Missing Masterpiece - Nevisande : Edward Dolnick - ISBN : 60531177 - ISBN13 : 9780060531171 - Dar 270 Safhe - Saal e Chap : 2005

  3. 4 out of 5

    J.

    Like the Dolnick book on the Vermeer forgeries, this stacks up as a compendium of art-world scam and theft alongside of the central thread, which is about the Munch's Scream theft. This time out, though, the compendium aspects outweigh the central thread, and by a long shot. The real value of the book is in the asides, the comparisons, the sidebar items. There, the depth of the research really shows, in spite of an overdeveloped appreciation of the main character, (who obviously charmed the auth Like the Dolnick book on the Vermeer forgeries, this stacks up as a compendium of art-world scam and theft alongside of the central thread, which is about the Munch's Scream theft. This time out, though, the compendium aspects outweigh the central thread, and by a long shot. The real value of the book is in the asides, the comparisons, the sidebar items. There, the depth of the research really shows, in spite of an overdeveloped appreciation of the main character, (who obviously charmed the author to pieces) the Scotland Yard investigator. While it sounds like therefore the book isn't worth the read--- well, no, it's very worth it. It's not any less fascinating just because it's a thin story to hang the wealth of info from.... As mentioned elsewhere, there is something of a kinship in the creation of art and the forging or theft of art. Both are a kind of Confidence Game. These similarities are brightly underlined in this book and the Vermeer title; if you're intrigued by the relationship, I recommend you read both books, which are really like two volumes of the same study.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jan

    This is one of the most boring books I've ever read. I was fastinated by the first chapter, describing in detail how the famous painting, "The Scream", was stolen from the National Museum in Norway. I managed to stay with the rest of the book only because I wanted to find out if the painting was recovered, and how. Unfortunately, the author kept backtracking and side stepping, going into incredibly tedious detail about other famous paintings that had been stolen. To save my sanity, I had to fina This is one of the most boring books I've ever read. I was fastinated by the first chapter, describing in detail how the famous painting, "The Scream", was stolen from the National Museum in Norway. I managed to stay with the rest of the book only because I wanted to find out if the painting was recovered, and how. Unfortunately, the author kept backtracking and side stepping, going into incredibly tedious detail about other famous paintings that had been stolen. To save my sanity, I had to finally skip some of the pages toward the end, because the story just wasn't getting anywhere. I caught up with it in the last couple of chapters, and didn't feel I'd missed anything important. Glad it's over.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer S. Alderson

    What an incredible story! This is as thrilling as some of your better fiction reads, yet is all true. I would love to have a beer with Charley Hill. Highly recommended for anyone interested in learning more about how real art detectives work.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    It had a great story, but there was too much language.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    I have always been fascinated with art heists, and this book covers (mostly) one of the more infamous ones. A lot of the information, as well as coverage of other notable thefts and personalities, I have read about before, but still there were interesting tidbits and material I was unfamiliar with. At times I felt the text was padded and could have been more streamlined, but overall I enjoyed the book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    I've decided that art theft books are becoming my new thing. Just finished this one up last night. It was really good, though a bit confusing at points because of all the names. Maybe I was reading it too fast. It's the story of Charley Hill, a Scotland Yard undercover police officer, who recovered Edvard Munch's The Scream after it was stolen off Oslo museum walls in 1994. Dolnick weaves the recovery story through stories of Hill's life as well as stories of other art thefts and recoveries. It's I've decided that art theft books are becoming my new thing. Just finished this one up last night. It was really good, though a bit confusing at points because of all the names. Maybe I was reading it too fast. It's the story of Charley Hill, a Scotland Yard undercover police officer, who recovered Edvard Munch's The Scream after it was stolen off Oslo museum walls in 1994. Dolnick weaves the recovery story through stories of Hill's life as well as stories of other art thefts and recoveries. It's suspenseful, educational and entertaining.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Will Horvath

    After looking through the reviews of The Rescue Artist on Goodreads, there seemed to be mixed feelings about this book. The majority were positive, as the book was an average of 3.77 out of 5 stars. This number proves this book is a good read since the average cumulated from over 2,600 reviews. Since the book brings different elements together, like the Winter Olympics, famous paintings, and crime mysteries, I agree with Kendra, who gave the book 5/5 stars. Other reviews mentioned how involved t After looking through the reviews of The Rescue Artist on Goodreads, there seemed to be mixed feelings about this book. The majority were positive, as the book was an average of 3.77 out of 5 stars. This number proves this book is a good read since the average cumulated from over 2,600 reviews. Since the book brings different elements together, like the Winter Olympics, famous paintings, and crime mysteries, I agree with Kendra, who gave the book 5/5 stars. Other reviews mentioned how involved they felt in the reading and seemed to get a good idea of who Charley Hill is. On the other hand, some readers didn’t vibe with this book. After going over some of the 1/5 star reviews, a similarity seemed to be the unnecessary depth the author took on the art pieces themselves. One went to the extremity of calling this one of the most boring books ever as the author went into too much detail on the paintings. According to one reviewer, Caroline, it was a great story but had too much language. I believe if art history is not your cup of tea, then this book is not for you. It is unfair to critique this book if the topic itself isn’t something that interests you. Some reviewers followed my idea as they simply put the book down since it wasn’t getting the juices flowing. Overall, the people had mainly pleasant remarks about The Rescue Artist; however, there will always be the haters. The type of reader who would be most interested in this book would be either a history buff, artistic person, or mystery lover—these three categories sum of the book’s theme. I’ll start by combining history with art since this book features many world-famous pieces of art. Anyone intrigued by old paintings will love this book as, as mentioned earlier, the book goes into fine detail about each painting’s past. It adds just enough art history to be both entertaining and educational. If art isn’t your go-to reading topic, don’t leave just yet. The book still has a mysterious plot as it goes through the recovery process of Edvard Munich’s The Scream. It balances between Hill’s (the detective) life in this field of work and other art theft stories. A weakness of the book is it takes some time to get into. If you are waiting for the plot to develop, it doesn’t occur right away. Rather, the first half is heavy towards the art’s history. Going along with this is the detail the author goes into on the artworks. This can be a pro or con depending on the reader’s interests. I think the book has many strengths that I covered previously. In conclusion, I believe the book is a hit or miss depending on the reader, but worth a shot if you are looking for a read.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Silvia Cachia

    Non fiction as engaging as a great novel. Dolnick introduced me to a fascinating world of which I knew nothing, the world of art crimes and art rescues. The Scotland Yard real cop, Charles Hills, an unusual person with a fascinating past and outlook to life and his mission in it, was a pleasure to meet. The book is mainly about the theft of one of the four Scream paintings (the most famous of the four copies by Munsh), and its recovery. Along the main event, Dolnick takes some detours in some cha Non fiction as engaging as a great novel. Dolnick introduced me to a fascinating world of which I knew nothing, the world of art crimes and art rescues. The Scotland Yard real cop, Charles Hills, an unusual person with a fascinating past and outlook to life and his mission in it, was a pleasure to meet. The book is mainly about the theft of one of the four Scream paintings (the most famous of the four copies by Munsh), and its recovery. Along the main event, Dolnick takes some detours in some chapters to include past cases in which Hills recovered art, and a bit of the history of how art thefts have changed across the centuries. The book has two sections with generous pictures of some of the works and people mentioned in it. I loved to see how those villains and cops look like, as well as the works of art they managed to steal. I was transported to Oslo, and London, and also to the minds of these peculiar people, (from art dealers of dubious reputation, to true mafiosos, gangsters, thugs of different nationalities and flavors. If anything, the book is a bit heavy on language, but if someone talks like that, it won’t be fair to edit the person’s talk, right? Another fascinating factor in the book is the American/British accents. Charles Hills has to maneuver back and forth, depending who he is impersonating, and his act needs to be natural, so he had a couple of difficult situations when the wrong idiom slipped. I recommend it. I’m going to continue reading more by this author. He seems to deliver good non fiction. (I have to say that between those two books, The Clockwork Universe was better. Dolnick, maybe because of his science background, was amazing explaining why, when, and how calculus came to be ‘discovered’. He managed to explain difficult concepts without making any part of the book dry or difficult to follow. He has a new title coming up in June, The Seeds of Life. It sounds like a perfect summer reading to me!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Gabriel

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I rated this book a 4 star. I thought this book had its ups and downs, but a lot more positive than negative. The book had a lot to share with the reader. I agreed with the majority of people that rated the book that the information in this book can get a little overwhelming at times. I felt as if the primary focus of this book wasn’t really the main story which was the hunt to find the Scream. It felt as if it was really just a bunch of factual information on previous art thievery from before t I rated this book a 4 star. I thought this book had its ups and downs, but a lot more positive than negative. The book had a lot to share with the reader. I agreed with the majority of people that rated the book that the information in this book can get a little overwhelming at times. I felt as if the primary focus of this book wasn’t really the main story which was the hunt to find the Scream. It felt as if it was really just a bunch of factual information on previous art thievery from before this whether it had been solved by the main character, Charles Hill, or not. The main story I also felt didn’t really start getting real good until the last fourth of the book. Moving on to character development. The main characters in the book apart of the Bureau I felt developed very well when there story was being talked about. It stayed persistent from beginning to end of seeing them grow. The most developed one by far was definitely Charles. He was the lead role and his skills increased as the case got more and more dangerous to deal with like setting up this prop trap and managing to make a deal with the thieves in the parking lot in the middle of the night and getting away with it. Finally I learned a lot with the information about the arts being stolen even though it was a lot to handle. It is certainly mind blowing how much art is actually stolen through out history and how easy it was back then to do so. Some of the art stolen was just taken off a wall and they left with it as easy as it sounds. Today art is so much harder to steal than what it was before. In conclusion the book overall was great. Very factual and cool to see what someone’s journey was like in this career field. It shows the dangerous work people have to go through in this space. If I had to change anything about the book, it would be to focus a lot more on the main story with little bits of other facts every once in a while. I thought I was going to be bored out of mind with this book, but in the end, I enjoyed very much!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    This book was like...Ocean's 11 meets Monuments Men, meets Billionaire's Vinegar. Full of swashbuckling thieves, a now-nostalgic 1990's era, millions of dollars of, incidentally, priceless art, and a reverse Artful Dodger who acts as undercover agent to ingratiate himself in the seedy underbelly of big money theft in order to hang a missing Bruegel back on its rightful wall. The story of the recovery of The Scream is woven in and out of other various tales of big time art theft, dating back a ce This book was like...Ocean's 11 meets Monuments Men, meets Billionaire's Vinegar. Full of swashbuckling thieves, a now-nostalgic 1990's era, millions of dollars of, incidentally, priceless art, and a reverse Artful Dodger who acts as undercover agent to ingratiate himself in the seedy underbelly of big money theft in order to hang a missing Bruegel back on its rightful wall. The story of the recovery of The Scream is woven in and out of other various tales of big time art theft, dating back a century and up to relatively present day. Dolnick also gives us a pseudo-psychological study of art's hero, Charley Hill, the guy who risks his life for an old canvas and hardly bats an eye. The first half of the book starts out as a page-turner as we are hot on the trail of Munch's masterpiece, but this plotline loses a bit of steam towards the end. That being said, this was an easy read on a fascinating subject, driven by a story that truly compels, even if it runs out of gas by the last page.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Pamela Allegretto

    Although the author often went off on tangents, they were such fascinating tangents that I began to look forward to them. This non-fiction reads like a well-crafted fiction.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Elliot

    I'm on a bit of a kick reading lots of books about the dark economy and a wealthy people hiding money and buying privilege the same way organized crime does, and this book fits into that pattern. It's an interesting account of art thieves, but it's very disorganized and bounces all over the place with lots of digressions. Granted, they are interesting digressions, but they are still distracting from the story and make the number of different a people, stories, and timelines a bit hard to follow. I'm on a bit of a kick reading lots of books about the dark economy and a wealthy people hiding money and buying privilege the same way organized crime does, and this book fits into that pattern. It's an interesting account of art thieves, but it's very disorganized and bounces all over the place with lots of digressions. Granted, they are interesting digressions, but they are still distracting from the story and make the number of different a people, stories, and timelines a bit hard to follow.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kendra

    Have you ever heard of the famous painting The Scream, by Edvard Munch? The book, The Rescue Artist, by Edward Dolnick -- a 240 page mystery -- starts off with the night The Scream is stolen. It's the opening day of the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, and the entire world is glued to the television screen. Well, the entire world except for two men, who know this is the perfect chance to steal something. With the help of a ladder, they steal The Scream, worth $72 million dollars, fr Have you ever heard of the famous painting The Scream, by Edvard Munch? The book, The Rescue Artist, by Edward Dolnick -- a 240 page mystery -- starts off with the night The Scream is stolen. It's the opening day of the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, and the entire world is glued to the television screen. Well, the entire world except for two men, who know this is the perfect chance to steal something. With the help of a ladder, they steal The Scream, worth $72 million dollars, from Norway's National Art Museum, leaving a ladder, a broken window, and a postcard with the words "Thanks for the poor security" scrawled on it for the police. After the Norwegian police arrive at the scene, they hire half-English, half-American Charley Hill, who's quite a character. He's an ex-soldier, a would-be-priest, a cop, and now, a detective. The book The Rescue Artist talks about Hill's journey of piecing together a million puzzle pieces and recovering the painting. We're taken on an incredible journey in which Hill interviews cops, thieves, and even Munch himself. Here's an excerpt from the prologue: "The thief leaned out the window as far as he could and placed the painting [The Scream] on the the ladder. 'Catch!' he whispered, and then, like a parent sending his toddler down a steep hill on a sled, he let go. His companion on the ground, straining upward, caught the sliding paint. The two men ran to their car, tucked their precious cargo into the back seat, and roared off. Elapsed time inside the museum: fifty seconds. In less than a minute the thieves had gained possession of a painting valued at $72 million. It had been absurdly easy. 'Organized crime, Norwegian style,' a Scotland Yard detective would later marvel. 'Two men and a ladder!'" I love this book not because of the author's amazing writing style, full of metaphors that make it seem that much more alive and relevant to the readers' life, but because of the story itself. Edward Dolnick doesn't create the plot, which is full of action and suspense, but instead adds to it, and that is a devastating combination. The reader feels as if he/she's not an outsider in the audience, but instead on the stage with Hill and the thieves and everyone else. When Hill felt frustration, so did I, and when a new lead developed, I was ecstatic. I felt like I was there with the characters, which is probably why it's now one of my favorites. The Rescue artist is an amazing book, and I would really recommend it to anyone who likes reading about art, mysteries, or really just a good read. :)

  16. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    I love true stories that take you behind the scenes into passions outside of your own sphere. This is one of them--a suspenseful read about the audacious theft of one of the world's most famous paintings, Edvard Munch's "The Scream", from the National Gellery in Oslo. This book is about the art world's underground, and about the world's greatest art detective who tracks down the thieves. "The thief turned to "The Scream"--it hung only a yard from the window--and snipped the wire that held it to I love true stories that take you behind the scenes into passions outside of your own sphere. This is one of them--a suspenseful read about the audacious theft of one of the world's most famous paintings, Edvard Munch's "The Scream", from the National Gellery in Oslo. This book is about the art world's underground, and about the world's greatest art detective who tracks down the thieves. "The thief turned to "The Scream"--it hung only a yard from the window--and snipped the wire that held it to the wall. "The Scream", at roughly two feet by three feet, was big and bulky. With an ornate frame and sheets of protective glass both front and back, it was heavy, too--a difficult load to carry out a window and down a slippery metal ladder. The thief leaned out the window as far as he could and placed the painting on the ladder. 'Catch!' he whispered, and then, like a parent sending his toddler down a steep hill on a sled, he let go. His companion on the ground, straining upward, caught the sliding painting. The two men ran to their car, tucked their precious cargo into the back seat, and roared off. Elapsed time inside the museum: fifty seconds. In less than a minute the thieves had gained possession of a painting valued at $72 million. It had been absurdly easy. 'Organized crime, Norwegian style,' a Scotland Yard detective would later marvel. 'Two men and a ladder!'" ....from "The Rescue Artist" by Edward Dolnick

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jill

    It took me a while to realize that Edward Dolnick, author of The Clockwork Universe, also wrote one of my very favorite books; The Rescue Artist. A non-fiction work that reads like a novel, The Rescue Artist describes the efforts of art detective Charley Hill to recover Edvard Munch's The Scream when it's stolen from Oslo. (During the Winter Olympics, for added drama). Art theft and forgery fascinates me, but I think someone who doesn't have that particular fixation would still enjoy this as a g It took me a while to realize that Edward Dolnick, author of The Clockwork Universe, also wrote one of my very favorite books; The Rescue Artist. A non-fiction work that reads like a novel, The Rescue Artist describes the efforts of art detective Charley Hill to recover Edvard Munch's The Scream when it's stolen from Oslo. (During the Winter Olympics, for added drama). Art theft and forgery fascinates me, but I think someone who doesn't have that particular fixation would still enjoy this as a good story. Colorful characters, poignant moments, and a good look at what an "art detective" really is make for an easy but thoughtful read. There's also a little section in the back called "P.S." that features a Q & A with the author about what the real life Hill thought about Dolnick's characterization of him. (He thought that the author heightened the risk of his job, and underplayed his love of art, interestingly. And his mother thought there was too much swearing in the book. :-)

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kay

    I found this something of a disappointment, especially considering how much I'd enjoyed another book I'd read by Dolnick (Down the Great Unknown). The book lost much of its punch through digressions, and the style didn't seem particularly compelling. I read this prior to going to Norway in 2007, and of course one of the places we went to was Norway's National Gallery, scene of the thefts. (However, for much more Munchian atmosphere, I'd recommend going to the Munch museum instead.) The most inte I found this something of a disappointment, especially considering how much I'd enjoyed another book I'd read by Dolnick (Down the Great Unknown). The book lost much of its punch through digressions, and the style didn't seem particularly compelling. I read this prior to going to Norway in 2007, and of course one of the places we went to was Norway's National Gallery, scene of the thefts. (However, for much more Munchian atmosphere, I'd recommend going to the Munch museum instead.) The most interesting parts of the book were those that involved Munch and his paintings. I hadn't been aware, for example, that there were multiple versions of "The Scream." (I did know that the lurid sunset was an accurate meteorological depiction -- the eruption of Krakatoa caused such striking red sunsets all over Europe.)

  19. 4 out of 5

    Taylor

    I'll admit it. I am officially obsessed with learning about art crime, which as Dolnick describes in "The Rescue Artist," is odd in the very way it combines the "grime and the sublime"–the beauty and elevated genius of great art, and the crooked back dealings of thieves and criminals. This book does a great job of retelling the multiple exploits and fabricated personas of Art Squad legend Charley Hill. While the book is supposedly centered around Munch's "The Scream," the book jumps around quite I'll admit it. I am officially obsessed with learning about art crime, which as Dolnick describes in "The Rescue Artist," is odd in the very way it combines the "grime and the sublime"–the beauty and elevated genius of great art, and the crooked back dealings of thieves and criminals. This book does a great job of retelling the multiple exploits and fabricated personas of Art Squad legend Charley Hill. While the book is supposedly centered around Munch's "The Scream," the book jumps around quite a bit, stopping to explore related subjects along the way, and may be irritating for people trying to follow the main storyline. Still, "The Rescue Artist" gives quite an interesting look at the motives and economics of art thieves.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Charlie Newfell

    Art theft is rampant, and has been for decades. How can an object worth so much, yet so unique be stolen? Mr. Dolnick does a good job in go over the various reasons why these priceless objects become a frequent object of crime. He highlights a famous case as the common thread through the book, the theft of "The Scream" in Oslo just before the opening of the 1994 Winter Olympics in Norway. But - there's too little of the thieves and the art. He spends a lot of time describing the "rescue artist", Art theft is rampant, and has been for decades. How can an object worth so much, yet so unique be stolen? Mr. Dolnick does a good job in go over the various reasons why these priceless objects become a frequent object of crime. He highlights a famous case as the common thread through the book, the theft of "The Scream" in Oslo just before the opening of the 1994 Winter Olympics in Norway. But - there's too little of the thieves and the art. He spends a lot of time describing the "rescue artist", and quite honestly he comes off as the man's biggest fan. When we first meet the detective the description almost seems like a super hero. Too much hero worship, and not enough of the thefts.

  21. 5 out of 5

    L

    This is the kind of book you don't want to put down - nonfiction that reads like fiction, a fast-paced mystery in which you also pick up interesting tidbits about art and artists. An Edgar Award winner, and it's obvious why. Highly recommend. This is the kind of book you don't want to put down - nonfiction that reads like fiction, a fast-paced mystery in which you also pick up interesting tidbits about art and artists. An Edgar Award winner, and it's obvious why. Highly recommend.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Patty

    This is not just about one art theft (The Scream by Munch), but about the career, personality and job session of one of Scotland Yard's (now retired) art squad detectives. Well written. This is not just about one art theft (The Scream by Munch), but about the career, personality and job session of one of Scotland Yard's (now retired) art squad detectives. Well written.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sheryl

    Excellent book - engaging and intricate

  24. 5 out of 5

    Carlee

    I was [this close] to giving up on this book. The scene - on the opening day of the Lillehammer Olympics, two men climbed up a ladder propped against the outside of the National Gallery in Oslo, broke a window, climbed in and stole Edvard Munch's The Scream. The security guard was in the basement(?), getting started on paperwork after completing his rounds. Though the security alarm had gone off, the guard disregards it as a false alarm and doesn't even bother to check the tv screens before re-s I was [this close] to giving up on this book. The scene - on the opening day of the Lillehammer Olympics, two men climbed up a ladder propped against the outside of the National Gallery in Oslo, broke a window, climbed in and stole Edvard Munch's The Scream. The security guard was in the basement(?), getting started on paperwork after completing his rounds. Though the security alarm had gone off, the guard disregards it as a false alarm and doesn't even bother to check the tv screens before re-setting the alarm. He would have clearly seen the thieves. One of the thieves had fallen off the ladder and had to scramble back up; afterwards, one of the police officers falls off the same ladder and has to be carted off for medical attention. Detectives from Scotland Yard's Art Squad decide to help recover the painting and much of this book covers the undercover operation and the detectives (primarily Charley Hill) involved. This book had all the trappings to be a great story - true crime, but with a happy ending, interesting characters, art/culture, etc. The book jumps from the theft of The Scream, to topics like art history and the history of stolen art [90% of stolen art is never recovered; Vermeer died at age 43], to general trivia [debris from the volcano Krakatoa dispersed around the world, creating deep red sunsets on the horizon, and those deep red sunsets may have been an inspiration for the setting of The Scream]. I'm okay with this non-linearity. Here's the problem, though - there is wayyyy too much focus on the Scotland Yard detective, Charley Hill, specifically on him as a person. Obviously he is important to the story. It's his undercover plan, he's playing a person involved with The Getty Museum, and he has been involved with recovering other stolen art before. But I really don't need such a deep dive into his biography and personality. Take this paragraph on Page 103 about Hill talking with one of his informal informants: "Russell does most of the talking, and when he pauses between tales of how he has been done wrong, Hill catches up on domestic news. He asks after Russell's wife and gets updates on his kids. The surgery went well? Is his son's football team off to a good start? HIll is impressed that Tom looks so fit. Is he working out? And where did he et that tan? Has he been on holiday? This is standard banter, but Hill appears to hang on every answer...." Dear author, we get it - they are exchanging small talk. You don't have to list every single question he's asking. We can just use our imagination! When you're listening to an audiobook, you can't really skim through stuff like this, so I ended up fast-forwarding through large swaths of the 2nd half of the book. Such a shame.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Charley Hill rescues art. More precisely, he rescues stolen masterpieces. He is Scotland Yard's art recovery man, and perhaps best known for his role in locating Edvard Munch's Scream, stolen from Oslo's National Gallery in 1994. This is the man, and more to the point, the profession, that Edward Dolnick brings to life in Rescue Artist. Dolnick's portrait (no pun intended) of Hill is colorful, complex, and frankly quite fascinating. Hill regularly goes undercover, you see, assuming and shedding i Charley Hill rescues art. More precisely, he rescues stolen masterpieces. He is Scotland Yard's art recovery man, and perhaps best known for his role in locating Edvard Munch's Scream, stolen from Oslo's National Gallery in 1994. This is the man, and more to the point, the profession, that Edward Dolnick brings to life in Rescue Artist. Dolnick's portrait (no pun intended) of Hill is colorful, complex, and frankly quite fascinating. Hill regularly goes undercover, you see, assuming and shedding identities - and the requisite personality traits and accents - as the circumstances dictate. Art theft being big business, Charley Hill is rather a busy man. More than being a biography of Hill, though, Rescue Artist examines the underbelly of the art world in detailing numerous heists, from that of the Mona Lisa in 1913 to, of course, the Scream, whose recovery is the centerpiece of this book. As an aside, one of the thefts Dolnick describes is the one from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston in 1990. Thirteen paintings were swiped and none has been recovered. This is actually the second time I've encountered these particular stolen works of art (the first time was in The Art Forger), so I decided to visit when I was in Boston recently. 1) They didn't know about their cameo in Rescue Artist, which is too bad, as I actually prefer it to the fictional Art Forger. and 2) I overheard a woman asking a docent about the theft. She would have learned more from Dolnick. But I digress. In addition to detailing the theft of art, Dolnick also does a remarkable job or writing about its creation. Having read his descriptions of brush strokes and craquelure, canvas creases, and chalk smudges, it's impossible now to look at art without focusing on these elements (at least when you can get close enough to the works to do so, as at the ISGM), which give a painting nearly as much character as its actual composition. Final Verdict: I really, really enjoyed this book. It should appeal to a wide audience, from art lovers to crime fans. Dolnick's style is fast-paced and his prose is crisp and lively.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Patricia Domagala

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Overall, I thought this book was interesting because you learned a lot of stuff that goes on inside an operation to retrieve paintings. While the specific details the author uses were often interesting, because it was things you would never know, like he had a credit card and business cards fro his fake identity, they could sometimes get a bit boring. I agree with other reviews that say the backstories of other famous paintings and lack of organization could get a bit confusing, but is till enjo Overall, I thought this book was interesting because you learned a lot of stuff that goes on inside an operation to retrieve paintings. While the specific details the author uses were often interesting, because it was things you would never know, like he had a credit card and business cards fro his fake identity, they could sometimes get a bit boring. I agree with other reviews that say the backstories of other famous paintings and lack of organization could get a bit confusing, but is till enjoyed reading the stories of the other paintings. Another review states that they enjoyed the first chapters which explains how the scream was stolen, but doesn't like the rest because of the tedious detail, and while I agree that the first chapter must have been one of the most interesting, I thought that most of the time the detail was interesting to read. One part of the book I enjoyed the most was when the author mentioned details of how much effort Hill put into his character, like choosing his name- "Christopher Charles Roberts", which had r's to remind him to enunciate his r's, and Charles, his real name, as his middle name in case of a slip up. I definitely think a patient reader would be one that would enjoy this book, because it sometimes gets into to many details which made the book drag on. I think the author had very strong character development, because there was a lot of development on Hill and his character, but the plot could have focused more organizing the information, or maybe sectioning the book of into different parts. For example, one part for art history, and another for the scream story, etc. I also enjoyed reading the end, where the author writes about how the scream was retrieved. I think detail was necessary in this part, because it shows more of what Hill had to go through to get it safely and all the risks that came with it (going with Ulving to the house, being the character, avoiding making Ulving suspicious). You could sense a sort of relief when Hill finally gets the scream and is just taking a minute to take in all the details of it.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Becky B

    Charley Hill was on Scotland Yard's art crime unit when thieves brazenly stole Munch's famous painting The Scream by climbing up a ladder propped outside of the Norway's National Gallery, smashing a window, grabbing the painting, and driving away on the eve of the 1994 winter Olympics hosted by Norway. Hill and his co-workers were looking for a way to boost their rep with the higher ups and the greater world, so they decided to see if they could help find the painting. With the hunt for The Scre Charley Hill was on Scotland Yard's art crime unit when thieves brazenly stole Munch's famous painting The Scream by climbing up a ladder propped outside of the Norway's National Gallery, smashing a window, grabbing the painting, and driving away on the eve of the 1994 winter Olympics hosted by Norway. Hill and his co-workers were looking for a way to boost their rep with the higher ups and the greater world, so they decided to see if they could help find the painting. With the hunt for The Scream as the guide, Dolnick takes readers on a realistic look into hunts for missing artwork, undercover operatives, Charley Hill's background and past cases, and why art crimes often go unsolved. A fascinating read for two reasons. One, Charley Hill is quite the character and he has some wild undercover stories. Two, this is a good dose of reality to counter the fiction and TV shows that feature those fighting art crimes but reality doesn't mean it is boring. Dolnick does take you on rabbit trails, but he warns you about those from the start and he's always able to tie them in with The Scream hunt and get things back on track. So they're rabbit trails that are short and always loop back to the main track. In all, a well woven art history/biography that keeps you reading. Notes on content: Hill has a little bit of a mouth on him as do some criminals, so phrases from quotes and paraphrases cause the strong swearing count to be over 15, and moderate swears ever so often. No sexual content. Some rough arrests and tense hostage situations are mentioned but not described in gory detail. Mafia or crime related deaths are mentioned in passing. Some alcohol consumption by characters in tales. Art crimes are often linked to drug crimes, but drugs don't come up much in this tale.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ruby Rivera

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book is filled with thrilling and suspenseful stories of real accounts with art crimes. The detective in this story- Hill is truly talented and definitely dedicated to his job. The first story begins with the missing art piece, “The Scream”, and a detailed background on how the thieves managed to accomplish it. From there the author uses real quotes, stories and interviews that make this book such a page turner. The book definitely does a great job engaging the reader into the story, you al This book is filled with thrilling and suspenseful stories of real accounts with art crimes. The detective in this story- Hill is truly talented and definitely dedicated to his job. The first story begins with the missing art piece, “The Scream”, and a detailed background on how the thieves managed to accomplish it. From there the author uses real quotes, stories and interviews that make this book such a page turner. The book definitely does a great job engaging the reader into the story, you almost feel as if you are helping Hill look for the art pieces too. It is also mentioned how a art squad is put together dedicated to looking for stolen art. This group becomes incredibly helpful to this big situation of stolen art, but Hill really comes through as the ‘hero’ for art crimes. Each story takes us deeper into his life and how a day would be like searching for art. He took his job seriously and put himself in risky situations just to recover million dollar art pieces that police and other authority wouldn’t want to do. I was intrigued to see the worth of some of the pieces and how much authority was willing to reward if found. And the auctions that took place with art was interesting to read about. In the end detective Hill accomplishes what he put years of work into, and it is great to read about many stolen art crimes but as the author brings you into the main art piece that had been missing, you almost get a sense of relief to know that the famous, “The Scream”, art work was recovered after years of searching.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

    I really enjoyed this book, which I read for the 2019 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge book of non-violent true crime. The story of the theft of Edvard Munch’s The Scream from Norway’s National Gallery in Oslo in 1994 (the same morning the Olympics started in Lillehammer) is the through-line of the story, as well as profiling Scotland Yard Art Squad detective Charley Hill, who eventually recovered the painting. The story meanders into major art thefts and art thieves in history, how those cases w I really enjoyed this book, which I read for the 2019 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge book of non-violent true crime. The story of the theft of Edvard Munch’s The Scream from Norway’s National Gallery in Oslo in 1994 (the same morning the Olympics started in Lillehammer) is the through-line of the story, as well as profiling Scotland Yard Art Squad detective Charley Hill, who eventually recovered the painting. The story meanders into major art thefts and art thieves in history, how those cases were often worked (or not), Munsch and his works, museum security, and more. I actually liked how it wandered around topics, always coming back to The Scream and Hill. It’s how my brain works, but might be annoying to some who like a straight-line story. However, in a classic case of judging a book by its cover...I first saw the paperback version of this title at a bookstore, which drew my eye with its brightness and the dynamic illustration on the cover, plus the pull-out quote about it being fast-paced, rollicking, and beautifully written. Then I realized it would work for one of the challenges, so I requested it from the library, which only had the hardback, with the cover seen here. Which is super-boring! So even though I was enjoying it when I read, and it was pretty fast-paced and well-written, etc., I found myself loath to pick it up because the cover turned me off so much! So, it took longer than it should have, but I’m glad I finished it.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    3.5 stars Mo' money, mo' problems… a consistent theme of this book. I have never really thought about art theft or even realized the magnitude of the problem. According to this book, it is estimated that the stolen art market was doing 4-6 billion dollars of business per year (2005). More surprising, the actual theft is usually boorish and simple -- break a window and walk out with the painting or quickly cut it from its frame when no one is watching. Most thieves are not "Ocean 11-ing" painting 3.5 stars Mo' money, mo' problems… a consistent theme of this book. I have never really thought about art theft or even realized the magnitude of the problem. According to this book, it is estimated that the stolen art market was doing 4-6 billion dollars of business per year (2005). More surprising, the actual theft is usually boorish and simple -- break a window and walk out with the painting or quickly cut it from its frame when no one is watching. Most thieves are not "Ocean 11-ing" paintings from museums and private residences even if they are worth millions of dollars. Someone who looks like Brad Pitt is probably not involved. Just so you know…. (in case you are intending to leave your fancy painting to possibly be stolen in your boudoir). This book details the story of the heist and subsequent retrieval of Edvard Munch's "The Scream," while also noting other prominent art thefts that have happened over the years. The heist in question occurred in 1994 Norway during the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. It was a simple "smash-a-window-quickly-take-the-painting" job. However, the recovery of the painting was far from simple. The Scotland Yard and their undercover agents Charley Hill and Sid Walker* were instrumental in recovering the missing artwork. The limelight of this book is focused on Charley Hill, an interesting character who was once a soldier, an almost priest, scholar, and who found his niche in the undercover art world. Overall this book is informative, interesting, and entertaining. Note that this book (just like my cultural references) is a bit dated (2005). I'm sure with the rapid evolution of technology, the criminal world has also changed. In what ways, I know not. Contact George Clooney for further information. *pseudonym

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