In the evening, I have been watching “Fake of Fortune” on Netflix. This BBC series follows journalist Fiona Bruce and art expert Philip Mould as they investigate mysteries behind paintings. It is like watching a police procedural as the team attempts to establish the provenance of the piece by working backwards from present day to the time of the work’s creation. They use forensic tests, with investigation and scientific tests on the materials used to help establish specific time frames, as well as examining the unique painting styles and quirks of the artist. It is fascinating because so many of the “fakes” look so much like the original.
My interest in this subject was piqued when someone asked how many Vermeer paintings were authenticated (34). The person asking also mentioned a famous scandal regarding fake Vermeer paintings. “The Forger’s Spell: a True Story of Vermeer, Nazis, and the Greatest Art Hoax of the Twentieth Century” by Edward Dolnick is the true story of a Dutch painter who quite successfully impersonated Johannes Vermeer centuries later. One of the con man’s marks was Hermann Goering, one of the most reviled leaders of Nazi Germany and a fanatic collector of art.
“The Art of the Con: the Most Notorious Fakes, Frauds, and Forgeries in the Art World” by Anthony M. Amore also examines famous forgeries and the investigations that caught them.
If you are more into fiction, there are several novels with art forgery as a theme, including “The Last Painting of Sara de Vos” by Dominic Smith. The New York Times Book Review called the appropriately named “The Art Forger” by Barbara Shapiro “a nimble mystery”. These are just a few examples, but there are many more books available.
In 2014, Switzerland’s Fine Art Expert Institute claimed that over 50% of art circulating on the market is fake. Personally, I will never have to worry about spending millions of dollars on what may or may not turn out to be a forged Picasso. The fact that some of these works sell for tens of millions of dollars is insane, but I will not get into that right now. What I can confirm is that it is a subject that has been fun learning about and I would encourage you to do the same!
Top requested books
1. “Blue Moon” by Lee Child
2. “The Dutch House” by Ann Patchett
3. “The Guardians” by John Grisham
4. “Olive, Again” by Elizabeth Strout
5. “A Minute to Midnight” by David Baldacci
6. “The Night Fire” by Michael Connelly
7. “The Giver of Stars” by Jojo Moyes
8. “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens
9.“Catch and Kill” by Ronan Farrow
10. “Little Voices” by Vanessa Lillie
Top requested movies
1. “Game of Thrones, season 8”
2. “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”
3. “Angel Has Fallen”
5. “The Art of Racing in the Rain”
6. “The Lion King”
7. “Toy Story 4”
8. “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw”
9. “The Handmaid’s Tale Season 3”
10. “IT Chapter 2”
MONDAY — 10-11 a.m., Homeschoolers Book Group (ages 11+) – This group will read “Gulliver’s Travels” by Jonathan Swift. Detailed instructions are on our website; 2-2:30 p.m., 2 O’clock Tales! – all ages welcome for this storytime with read-alouds, songs, and games; 4-5 p.m., Handmade Holiday: Beeswax Wraps – In our second Handmade Holiday workshop, we’re making reusable food wraps out of eco-friendly materials. Registration is required; 6-7 p.m., An Evening of Tantalizing Tidbits & Trivia About Roger Williams – Join us for an entertaining and informative presentation by Marc Kohler about RI founder Roger Williams; 6-7:30 p.m., Adult S.A.G.A. meeting -- a discussion and support group for adults about LGBTQ+ stories and issues in books, movies, TV shows, and more.
TUESDAY — 1-4 p.m., Community Resource Advocate – drop-in hours available to learn what social services are available for food, clothing, healthcare, and more; 2-4 p.m., Technology Drop-In Assistance – Stop by the library and pick the brains of our technology staff about those pesky problems that are troubling you, or get help with a device; 3:30-4:30 p.m., Teen Trivia – Join us for a fun afternoon of trivia; 5:30-7:30 p.m., Knit and Crochet Group – a friendly knitting, crochet, needlework, and yarn craft club; 6-6:45 p.m., Meditation Group – all ages and experience levels welcome; 6-7:30 p.m., Renaissance Toastmasters – meets twice a month to share stories and get comfortable speaking in front of an audience; 6-7:45 p.m., Sewing Social – amateur or experience sewers are welcome.
WEDNESDAY — 10-10:45 a.m., Storytime for kids ages one to three; 1-3 p.m., Senior Technology Social – meet fellow seniors and talk about your technology problems; 3-5:00 p.m., Swampabots – for ages 9-12, Join this First Lego League Robotics team as they practice building and coding with Lego robots; The library will be closing at 5:00 p.m.
THURSDAY — The library will be closed for Thanksgiving.
FRIDAY — 4-5:45 p.m., Shoreline Robotics Practice – For teens interested in STEM and Robotics.
SATURDAY — 9 a.m.-4 p.m., NaNoWriMo Come Write In! – Are you participating in National Novel Writing Month? We have tables in Reference reserved, where you can work on your novel in a quiet environment, with other writers; 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Wreath and Holiday Arrangement Workshop – Come and make a wreath or arrangement for the holiday season! Greens and wreath forms will be provided, but participants may wish to bring their own clippers, embellishments, or decorative containers; 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Make Your Own Ornament (Drop-in Workshop) - Take some time out from the library’s holiday festivities to make your own tree ornaments. All ages are welcome; 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m., Adult Writers Workshop – A group-led prose writing workshop; 3-4 p.m., Special Storytime with Buddy the Elf – Buddy the Elf and Jovie will hold a special storytime as we eagerly await Santa’s arrival for the Tree Lighting; 4:15-5 p.m., Tree Lighting – Join us for our annual tree lighting, a kick-off to the holiday season! The Chorus of Westerly will lead us in singing classic carols.
Caroline Badowski is the head of reference at the Westerly Library.