Bets and Scams: A Novel of the Art World by Gary Schwartz
PDF | 1996 | 208 pages | ISBN: 0714530085 | English | 16 MB
The author of the worthy Rembrandt: His Life, His Paintings stumbles during his first run at fiction. Schwartz's history is all right, as is his detailing of the arcane ways of art dealers, advisors, auction houses and museums-but that doesn't mean much for the arcane processes of literature.
Lodewijk Alstad is a young art advisor specializing in the lesser-known work of the 17th-century Utrecht Caravaggisti. Under his guidance, his best client, Mitchell Fleishig, has been collecting from this school; but when both Fleishig's bank and his loan shark start pulling in their loans, Fleishig discovers that art isn't always easy to liquidate. Desperate to pay off his more threatening creditors, he launches a scam involving the sale of Alstad's Emmanuel de Witte painting, which soon he, Alstad and the Mafia are all chasing down. There's also a love interest, as well as lengthy disquisitions on the Anasazi, the value of a graduate degree and the Battle of Nieuwpoort that show off Schwartz's intellectual interests but fray the narrative fabric. Added to that are a cast of unfortunate stereotypes (the Italian Mafiosi, the mystical alcoholic Indian), awkward dialogue and some murky prose. Other art insiders, notably Iain Pears and Anthony Oliver, have toggled between serious art writing and crime writing with some success. Schwartz has not.
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