Con/Artist: The Life and Crimes of the World's Greatest Art Forger

Con/Artist: The Life and Crimes of the World's Greatest Art Forger

Con/Artist: The Life and Crimes of the World's Greatest Art Forger

Con/Artist: The Life and Crimes of the World's Greatest Art Forger


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The world’s most renowned art forger reveals the secrets behind his decades of painting like the masters—exposing an art world that is far more corrupt than we ever knew while providing an art history lesson wrapped in sex, drugs, and Caravaggio.

The art world is a much dirtier, nastier business than you might expect. Tony Tetro, one of the most renowned art forgers in history, will make you question every masterpiece you’ve ever seen in a museum, gallery, or private collection. Tetro’s “Rembrandts,” “Caravaggios,” “Miros,” and hundreds of other works now hang on walls around the globe. In 2019, it was revealed that Prince Charles received into his collection a Picasso, Dali, Monet, and Chagall, insuring them for over 200 million pounds, only to later discover that they’re actually “Tetros.” And the kicker? In Tony’s words: “Even if some tycoon finds out his Rembrandt is a fake, what’s he going to do, turn it in? Now his Rembrandt just became motel art. Better to keep quiet and pass it on to the next guy. It’s the way things work for guys like me.” The Prince Charles scandal is the subject of a forthcoming feature documentary with Academy Award nominee Kief Davidson and coauthor Giampiero Ambrosi, in cooperation with Tetro.

Throughout Tetro’s career, his inimitable talent has been coupled with a reckless penchant for drugs, fast cars, and sleeping with other con artists. He was busted in 1989 and spent four years in court and one in prison. His voice—rough, wry, deeply authentic—is nothing like the high society he swanned around in, driving his Lamborghini or Ferrari, hobnobbing with aristocrats by day, and diving into debauchery when the lights went out. He’s a former furniture store clerk who can walk around in Caravaggio’s shoes, become Picasso or Monet, with an encyclopedic understanding of their paint, their canvases, their vision. For years, he hid it all in an unassuming California townhouse with a secret art room behind a full-length mirror. (Press #* on his phone and the mirror pops open.) Pairing up with coauthor Ambrosi, one of the investigative journalists who uncovered the 2019 scandal, Tetro unveils the art world in an epic, alluring, at times unbelievable, but all-true narrative.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780306826481
Publisher: Hachette Books
Publication date: 11/22/2022
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 220,049
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Tony Tetro is a world-renowned art forger who has produced countless pieces that have easily passed as the work of the Masters from Rembrandt to Monet to Picasso to Dali. For over forty-five years, Tetro’s work duped the art world and appeared as legitimate pieces in museums, galleries, auction houses, and private collections across the globe. In 1989, Tetro was convicted of art forgery in a heavily publicized trial in Los Angeles. He was released from prison in 1994. He has since become a media figure and he continues to paint original works in the style of famous painters for an exclusive list of clients. In 2019, four of his pieces were scandalously discovered in Prince Charles' collection.
Giampiero Ambrosi is the founder of Oak Grove Films and has extensive experience in investigative and hard news documentary. After following Tetro’s story for over twenty years, Ambrosi was part of the team that uncovered Tetro’s inadvertent connection to the 2019 Prince Charles art forgery scandal in the Mail on Sunday, which was nominated for “Investigation of the Year” at the 2020 British Journalism Awards. He is producing a forthcoming feature documentary on the Prince Charles art forgery scandal.

Table of Contents

Prologue (April 18, 1989) xi

1 "Now You're Gonna Sleep in it" (1950 to 1969) 1

2 Fulton-with Palm Trees (1969 to 1972) 11

3 Fake! (1972) 23

4 My Apprenticeship (1972 to 1975) 37

5 The Last Laugh (1972 to 1975) 49

6 Printing Money (1977) 59

7 The Drug Kingpin of Upland (1979) 69

8 The Adventurers (1979) 79

9 Provenance (1981) 93

10 The Wild West (1982) 103

11 Over the Top (1985) 115

12 The Prince of Fugazi (1986) 127

13 Actually Printing Money (1987) 135

14 Schizophrenic Life (1987) 147

15 My Caravaggio (1987) 155

16 Things Go Bad (1988) 165

17 The Bug Detector (1988) 177

18 Yamagata (1988) 189

19 The Bust (1989) 193

20 Aftermath (1989) 203

21 My Trial (1989 to 1991) 213

22 Back to Square One (1993) 227

23 Out and Down (1994 to 1999) 239

24 The Birth of Tony Montana (the 2000s) 249

25 The Prince's Fugazis (2014 to 2020) 257

Finale 267

Acknowledgments 271

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