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Artsy Book Reads

"The Art Thief by Michael Finkel is the true story of a dangerous obsession to acuire art by theft The crime spree began in the 1990s and lasted about 20 years.

Stephane Breitweiser lived in the Alsatian region of France and Germany. His privileged childhood came to a crashing end after the divorce of his parents. His father continued to live a luxurious lifestyle while Stephane and his mother were forced to move to a small home. His mother worked as a nurse in various nursing homes and hospitals. Stephane held various blue collar jobs, supplemented by his granparents generosity. Stephane enjoyed visiting local museums and historic sites. A pleasure he shared with his father and grandfathe. both of whom collected art objects. As he grew older Stepane became obsessed with possessing beautiful objects and having a grander collection than his father. After a short stint as a museum worker Stepahne learned how to find easy ways of removing small objects from exhibits without notice. His first steals were small decorative objects easily hid in pockets. But with each success he became bolder. He hid these objects in a room his mother never entered and this became his Ali Baba's cave. He began a relationship with Anna Cristina who became his accomplice. (This was another evidence of obsesssive behavior)

Anna became his lookout in Museums and the objects became larger and the stealing more daring. Eventually, his "collection" turns more into a hoarding issue that also endangers both he and Anna.

At first I was fascinated by the Stephane's knowledge and techniques for selecting and stealing his "collection" but as with every criminal he became greedy and sloppy. I was nauseated by the unending need to add another piece. I could only think of Gollum from "Lord of the Rings" and his "Precious".

This is a fascinating portrayal of art theivery.

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