The Art of Making Money: The Story of a Master Counterfeiter

The Art of Making Money: The Story of a Master Counterfeiter

by Jason Kersten


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Read Jason Kersten's posts on the Penguin Blog.

The true story of a brilliant counterfeiter who "made" millions, outwitted the Secret Service, and was finally undone when he went in search of the one thing his forged money couldn't buy him: family.

Art Williams spent his boyhood in a comfortable middle-class existence in 1970s Chicago, but his idyll was shattered when, in short order, his father abandoned the family, his bipolar mother lost her wits, and Williams found himself living in one of Chicago's worst housing projects. He took to crime almost immediately, starting with petty theft before graduating to robbing drug dealers. Eventually a man nicknamed "DaVinci" taught him the centuries-old art of counterfeiting. After a stint in jail, Williams emerged to discover that the Treasury Department had issued the most secure hundred-dollar bill ever created: the 1996 New Note. Williams spent months trying to defeat various security features before arriving at a bill so perfect that even law enforcement had difficulty distinguishing it from the real thing. Williams went on to print millions in counterfeit bills, selling them to criminal organizations and using them to fund cross-country spending sprees. Still unsatisfied, he went off in search of his long-lost father, setting in motion a chain of betrayals that would be his undoing.

In The Art of Making Money, journalist Jason Kersten details how Williams painstakingly defeated the anti-forging features of the New Note, how Williams and his partner-in-crime wife converted fake bills into legitimate tender at shopping malls all over America, and how they stayed one step ahead of the Secret Service until trusting the wrong person brought them all down. A compulsively readable story of how having it all is never enough, The Art of Making Money is a stirring portrait of the rise and inevitable fall of a modern-day criminal mastermind.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781592405572
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/04/2010
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 590,773
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Jason Kersten writes for Rolling Stone and Men’s Journal. Also author of The Journal of the Dead: A Story of Friendship and Murder in the New Mexico Desert, he lives in New York.

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The Art of Making Money: The Story of a Master Counterfeiter 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
sullijo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A fascinating (and true!) tale of a young man from a broken home who finds joy in becoming a craftsman of a dying art: counterfeiting money. In perfectly replicating the new $100 bill he reunites with his estranged father, with terrible consequences for both.
reenum on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Art Williams' story is a thrilling one. The book takes the reader through Art's life in the Bridgeport projects of Chicago to Alaska, where his estranged father lives. The book glorifies Williams, ignoring many of the moral quandaries presented by his crimes. Still, it's a fun read, and the counterfeiting techniques Art used are detailed and fascinating.
themockturtle on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This story explores the full spectrum of human emotion and experience. I bought it out of sheer curiosity as to how a man with limited means could create a convincing counterfeit of a bill designed to thwart the efforts of those with far more resources at their disposal; and, further, how such a man could ever be caught. This book succeeded in answering those questions, but it was so much more. It proved to be a stark depiction of the relationships that tie people together and the intricacies that create a criminal mastermind. So compelling was the author's ability to relate to his subject, that by the end, I found myself wanting Art Williams, Jr. to succeed in his endeavors, to overcome his own past and present, his own failings and those of others, just once more, one last time.
denton on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As a fan of literary fiction, I don't often read books that might fall into the 'true crime' genre, first because they are often not well written, and second because... ok, I confess, they can be addicting!In this case the book is both well-written and addicting. It tells the story of a boy (Art) in Chicago, both academically gifted yet tough, who while growing up in gangland learns how to be a master counterfeiter. Along the way you will learn a lot: from US currency and printing technologies, the criminal code of ethics, and how to survive in the underworld . Psychological dramas are well explored: between Art and his deadbeat father; what it takes to be a passer of fake currency, and why ultimately even the smartest criminals make dumb mistakes that cause their downfall. An excellent book and a real page-turner.
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Irishcontessa More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be engaging and very interesting. I always enjoy reading books about how criminals get away with their crimes for so long and the thought process that drives them and this book definitely delivers that and more. You get Art's background from childhood, not to excuse his criminality but because he started his counterfeiting at such an early age. Of course, from the distant lens of the reader it's easy to see where he should have "turned left instead of right" so to speak but still a fascinating journey to have been able to read. The one aspect of the book that I felt wasn't addressed as well as it could have been was the father-son relationship. We get a lot of the resentment and need to reconnect between Art and his father (Senior) but what I felt was inadequately addressed was how Art could do the exact same thing to his oldest son that his father did to Art when he clearly articulates how awful it was for him to be abandoned by Senior. It's like he never realizes that he has done the same thing as his father to his own son and the author (who gets the material from direct questions and interviews) never seems to push him for those answers. Or, if he did, he didn't include it in the book.
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Randolph More than 1 year ago
The author tells the story of Art Williams as much an artist as a counterfeiter if you are inclined to believe his crime can also be classified as art. This book was easily read and hard to put down I finished it in an afternoon. The book flows easily from beginning to end which made it a joy to read. The details of this enterprising man are amazing and his creativity is fascinating.
Noticer More than 1 year ago
This is really worth reading if just to know how money is counterfeited. Interesting that someone would go to so much work to counterfeit money when if they applied that much work to a normal job they would be at the top of their field. You get so you understand the individual and even feel sorry for him.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be a wonderful, fantastic, and entertaining read. Hopefully somebody, somewhere will bring this book to the big screen. I bought it on Friday and had it finished on Sunday. I literally couldn't put it down. I thought the author did a great job of just simply telling the story, which is a rarity these days. I feel terrible for Art Williams and if he ever gets a chance to read this, I wish him well. Great book that i know anybody would enjoy !
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