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list price: $19.95
also available: Hardcover eBook
category: True Crime
published: Sep 2012
publisher: Douglas & McIntyre

Hot Art

Chasing Thieves and Detectives through the Secret World of Stolen Art

by Joshua Knelman

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contemporary (1945-), white collar crime
0 of 5
0 ratings
list price: $19.95
also available: Hardcover eBook
category: True Crime
published: Sep 2012
publisher: Douglas & McIntyre

Winner of the Edna Staebler Award and the Arthur Ellis Award for Non Fiction

The Thomas Crown Affair meets The Devil in the White City in this fast-paced true crime story of the seedy-underbelly of international art theft. A major work of investigative journalism, Hot Art is a globetrotting mystery filled with cunning and eccentric characters.

Joshua Knelman spent four years immersing himself in the mysterious world of international art theft, travelling from Cairo to New York, London, Montreal and Los Angeles. He befriends the slippery Paul, a master art thief; and gets caught up in the world of Donald Hrycyk, a detective working on a shoestring budget to recover stolen art. Through alternating chapters focusing on Paul and an international network of detectives, the story of the thief and the detective unfolds, revealing the dramatic rise of international art theft.

Joshua Knelman's investigation finds there are only a handful of detectives, FBI agents and lawyers fighting a global battle against the thriving black market of international art theft estimated to be one of the largest in the world. Meanwhile, the chain of criminals moves from thugs on the street to multinational organized crime syndicates, to a global network of art dealers who wash the artworks' origins clean again. In a surprise ending, Knelman learns that corruption can appear in the unlikeliest places.

About the Author

Joshua Knelman

Josh Knelman is an award-winning arts and investigative journalist and editor. He was a founding member of The Walrus magazine. His writing has appeared in The Walrus, Toronto Life, TORO, Saturday Night, CBCarts.ca, the National Post, Quill & Quire, and The Globe and Mail. Knelman's feature article "Artful Crimes" in The Walrus won Canada's National Magazine Awards for Arts and Entertainment. Knelman is also the fiction editor of Four Letter Word: A Collection of Fictional Love Letters which has sold in over ten territories worldwide. He lives in Toronto, Ontario.
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  • Winner, Arthur Ellis Award for Non-Fiction
  • Short-listed, Edna Staebler Award
Editorial Reviews

"With an eye for detail worthy of Rembrandt's Landscape with cottages (1654, stolen from the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 1972), Joshua Knelman has painted a luminous picture of the interconnected world of thieves, cops, and lawyers obsessed with stolen art. Whether he's writing about those who covet the art or those who protect it, Knelman's gifts as an investigator and storyteller drip from every page. Hot Art? Hot book."

— Jeremy Keehn, Associate Editor of Harper's Magazine

"Art theft is one of the largest underground markets in the world, yet very few people know how it works, or how to stop it. Joshua Knelman delves into this uncharted world with an open curiosity, befriending the detectives dedicated to retrieving stolen art, the lawyers struggling to protect cultural property, and the thieves who have their own reasons for doing what they do. These pages are full of shady characters and experts determined to outwit each other; an intriguing look at human lusts and foibles. Hot Art is fascinating, smart, and a page-turner."

— Catherine Osborne, Deputy Editor, Azure magazine

"Art theft is one of the world's largest underground markets, yet very few people know how it works. Journalist Joshua Knelman's new book, Hot Art: Chasing Thieves and Detectives through the Secret World of Stolen Art, shines a bright light on the subject."

— Jewish Post News

"Fascinating and gripping new book...Knelman, an award-winning Toronto writer with a literary pedigree -- his father Martin writes for this newspaper -- is a very engaging storyteller and seems to have turned over every rock in his quest to make sense of the nonsensical business that is the art world...It makes for fabulous reading."

— Toronto Star

"Hot Art jumps continents and centuries to expose what is corrupt about the art market, who is responsible and why it's difficult to prevent and how it's being done."

— Telegraph-Journal

"...persuasive, fast-paced book...In this major work of detailed, downright investigative journalism, Knelman clearly and coherently sets out the facts...As a comprehensive introduction to an urgent and under-reported issue, Hot Art deserves attention."

— Winnipeg Free Press

"If Aunt Millie gave you a treasured vase, here is a story that will make you quake with fear. For those of you who have shopped in a flea market and wondered where some of those beautiful objects came from, these pages reveal a dark underbelly, a world of shadowy characters. Buy a digital camera, put a photo of your treasures in your vault, and put extra locks on your door. The world is a dangerous place. This book shows how the stealing is done, and how to protect yourself. It's a handbook to all. For a great read, and a great education, Hot Art."

— David Mirvish, Mirvish Productions

"...a colourful, tautly written narrative in the true-crime genre...the narrative veers deliciously into ransoms, raids and other cops-and-robbers-type high jinks...an enjoyable and compelling page-turner in the best true-crime tradition."

— Canadian Jewish News

"Knelman's book is The Godfather of investigative journalism. He takes us to places we always wanted to be but didn't dare to enter, and he makes us fall for people we are not supposed to love -- on both sides of the law." "

— Andras Hamori, Executive Producer, The Sweet Hereafter and Crash

"...Seriously, this book is like eating an entire bowl of cherries. They taste like candy, but they're good for you!"

— Playboy

"Stolen art is a hot topic...from the first chapter when we meet him crouched in the back of a police car it's clear that he's hooked -- just as we are -- by the topic in all its complexity..."

— International Architecture & Design

"Hot Art by Joshua Knelman, a mind-blowing investigative book on the world of international art theft."

— Graham Roumieu, co-author with Douglas Coupland Highly Inappropriate Tales

"Joshua Knelman lucidly details [the world of art theft] in his absorbing new book..."

— The GridTO

"Now this is investigative reporting. Dogged, fearless and thrillingly thorough, Joshua Knelman becomes our Virgil through the secret underworld of stolen art. Like legendary muckrakers Bob Woodward, Seymour Hersh and Barlett and Steele, Knelman relentlessly trails both the bad guys and the slightly less bad guys, looking for truth amidst all the deceit. It's an astonishing debut, and serious readers must take note -- long-form reporting has a new title in the canon."

— Richard Poplak

"In a convincing manner and with fascinating detail his book shows that the villains who steal art and antiques are not charmers like Pierce Brosnan...but crooks who specialize in items that are small, light and valuable."

— Waterloo Region Record

"...Read the book! It's a tour-de-force, alright -- and it comes across, in parts, as the freak love child of Raymond Chandler and Lesley Stahl! "

— National Post

"This is a crackerjack of a book -- with enough rogues, thieves, and amoral civilians (not all of them on the radar of relentless cops) to people a dozen crime novels. First rate."

— Giles Blunt, bestselling crime novelist

"Journalist Knelman proves an able guide through this labyrinth, introducing readers to both the thieves who specialize in art and antiquities and the detectives who hunt them...[Hot Art], which reads like a crime thriller, will be appreciated by readers interested in art and antiquities as well as true crime fans."

— Library Journal

"Joshua Knelman's Hot Art: Chasing Thieves and Detectives through the Secret World of Stolen Art explores the evolution of the international black market in stolen canvases, sculptures, and antiquities through alternating stories of crooks and coppers from two continents."

— The Walrus

"The most rewarding aspect of Joshua Knelman's Hot Art is its ability to make the reader dive beyond the oil, the subject and the visionary with brush in hand, illuminating canvas."

— Herald de Paris

"Toronto-based investigative journalist Joshua Knelman delves deeply into the phenomenon [of art theft] in his consistently interesting Hot Art. "

— NOW Toronto

"'OK, this is how it works,' a wanted art thief tells Knelman at a clandestine meeting on a Toronto patio. 'It's like a big shell game. All the antique and art dealers, they just pass it around from one to another'...And the deeper Knelman digs into the industry, via this first-person investigative narrative, the truer the thief's words ring."

— Canadian Business

"...though the reality may not be like Hollywood's version, It still makes for an entertaining story..."

— Quill & Quire

"Hot Art is a page-turner-and a scarily enlightening one, at that. Joshua Knelman rips away the often-haughty veneer of the art world in a tour-de-force of investigative non-fiction that reads like a novel."

— McDonald Marci, multi-award-winning investigative journalist and bestselling author

"Hot Art has it all: fascinating characters, great stories, and an intriguing subject matter, the world of art crimes. It is totally engrossing. I couldn't stop reading it."

— Ted Kotcheff, Executive Producer of Law & Order: SVU

"Lo, thriller readers & writers: Just got Joshua Knelman's nonfic Hot Art, re: art thieves & detecs hunting them -- you will love!" (via Twitter)"

— Margaret Atwood

"A fascinating look at the multibillion-dollar business of art theft around the world...This is riveting non-fiction that reads like a novel, with detectives out of central casting and a twist that would make the Coen Brothers proud."

— Chatelaine

"Knelman is a brilliant narrative writer and reporter who has assembled a cast of oddball sleuths and crooks rich enough to people five TV series. He takes us inside a huge and growing region of the global underworld. A thrilling read."

— Paul Steiger, editor in chief, ProPublica

"Behind the thrilling headline of an $80-million Rembrandt heist...exists a complex network of thieves, dealers, auction houses and galleries. It is this network that Joshua Knelman traces in Hot Art: Chasing Thieves and Detectives through the Secret World of Stolen Art."

— Toronto Review of Books

"Toronto journalist Joshua Knelman ups the ante on...caper tales by presenting stories of international art theft made all the more compelling because they are true...Hot Art: Chasing Thieves and Detectives through the Secret World of Stolen Art shows collectors and aficionados why art thieves seem to have the edge in their shadowy world and that keeping the Krieghoffs under wraps is no simple matter."

— International Architecture & Design

"Hot Art is an engrossing and thorough study of the shadow side of art fairs, galleries, museums, auction houses, private and public collectors...outstanding work of journalismĂ–"

— National Post

"Hot Art creeps up on you. Wickedly entertaining, it turns out to be informative, unexpected and far more thought-provoking than its cheeky 007-ish cover would suggest. Joshua Knelman's in-depth investigation of the international trade in stolen art may read like a TV crime novel, but it delves deeper than that, deftly allowing art theft to serve as an extended metaphor for exploitive, unregulated, free-for-all global capitalism...No doubt Hot Art will eventually be made into a film. Knelman's subject is a natural for Hollywood. His suspenseful writing has a filmic quality, and his characters could have walked out of a Raymond Chandler or Nathanael West novel."

— Literary Review of Canada

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