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                        A Forger's Tale: Confessions of the Bolton Forger
                    
                
            Shaun is a clever man and has a sponge like mind where all types of artistic endeavour and art history is concerned.I thought his treatment and that of his parents by the police truly despicable His sentence I thought savage No one died and the Lovejoy world that he exploited seems pretty dog eat dog As to the experts they could do with a fraction of his practical knowledge and sharp eye for detail.A very entertaining read full of fascinating insight into his early life, early obsessions, developing skills and amazing output As always with someone this good at what he does and this industrious, you find yourself wondering how he could have harnessed his enormous skill and application in a legitimate manner Never mind He has written a great tale But is it the genuine article A masterpiece of masqueradea brilliantly wily reflection on the seductions of art and corruptions of the art world., The TelegraphA remarkably lively accountfascinating., The TimesGreenhalgh has a likable voice, pitched midway between Arthur Daley and Philip Marlowe And, unsurprisingly, he has an eye for detailThe lingering impression is of a man beguiled by image making., The ObserverHere is riveting and affecting Northern realism Greenhalgh s knowledge is as daunting as it is inspiring., The SpectatorA lively account of a man who put his genuine talent and love of art to deplorable use., Daily MailAn indispensable addition to any rogues library., Sunday Independent Ireland A great holiday read., Artists and IllustratorsA roundabout love letter to art Ben OkriA fascinating gilt box of secret art knowledge and expertise, told in the unpretentious voice of a legendary forger who fooled museums and collectors from his garden shed Dominic Smith, author of THE LAST PAINTING OF SARA DE VOSNothing if not lively, Sunday Times Books of the YearA masterpiece of masqueradea brilliantly wily reflection on the seductions of art and corruptions of the art world The Telegraph A remarkably lively accountfascinating The Times Greenhalgh has a likable voice, pitched midway between Arthur Daley and Philip Marlowe And, unsurprisingly, he has an eye for detailThe lingering impression is of a man beguiled by image making The Observer Here is riveting and affecting Northern realism Greenhalgh s knowledge is as daunting as it is inspiring The Spectator A lively account of a man who put his genuine talent and love of art to deplorable use Daily Mail An indispensable addition to any rogues library Sunday Independent IrelandA great holiday read Artists and Illustrators A roundabout love letter to art Ben Okri A fascinating gilt box of secret art knowledge and expertise, told in the unpretentious voice of a legendary forger who fooled museums and collectors from his garden shed Dominic Smith, author of THE LAST PAINTING OF SARA DE VOS Nothing if not lively Sunday Times Books of the Year A cracking good read While I don t agree with deceiving people it s obvious that Shaun Greenhalgh is one very clever and immensely talented person His knowledge and ingenuity are astounding He s also a really good writer His style flows well, he explains things very clearly and he has an engaging sense of humour A must read book Enjoyable throughout I wish him well in using his outstanding talents in the future. Absolutely riveting story both from a technical and psychological point of view I don t mean of Greenhalgh, but of the people who often deceived themselves people sometimes at the highest level of the international art world who should have known better.Greenhalgh carried the can for a lot of high level greed, fraud and imcompetence I always think as with those teenagers who hack into government databases that the victims should not prosecute them but thank them for pointing out their weaknesses and give them a job protecting themselves against similar situations in the future. A detailed look into the mind of a art forger.I was very struck by his knowledge of art and attention to detail It also quickly becomes apparent that he is far from the only crook in the art world as many of his pieces were sold as seen not sold as by any particular artist and without signatures or provenance The dealers added this and to their profit, but of course, go unnamed and unpunished.The episode of the Gauguin Faun is particularly interesting as Greenhalgh claims it had so many faults it should have been recognised as a fake by the experts, but they were so excited to think they had made a find they seem to have ignored all the signs screaming fake A well known TV expert even went on camera to wax lyrical over this piece and is still working as an expert It s a good read, in an easy chatty style I felt sad that he never discovered his own style and was unable to pursue art in his own right. A riveting true story of an ordinary man creating extraordinary masterpieces, in different genre, indecipherable from the originals Such incredible talent, he must be unique There are some very funny parts where he narrates the scenario of introducing a work to a top drawer gallery A must for any art lover. This is a tale of a working class man rising up like a dog to comprehensively bite the hand of the man in uniform knocking at the door On page 79 we read Our family doctor was I don t think he would mind me saying this, a most unusual doctor If any of us was unwell, he would arrive and shout through the letter box Am I too late Then he d come in and start playing with the dog, rolling around on the floor till he remembered what he d come for This great artist could not with all of his talent, limn a better miniature of life lived on the borderline of ivory where laughter and the inability to recognize authority figures are inseparable.For truly gifted working class heroes, like Shaun Greenhalgh and many others, it is the abiding, though volatile, sense that our own natural powers will never be appreciated that drives us from integrity to the preferment of lies and the fabrication of fakes The Bible Proverbs 8.14 suggested long ago that Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant but The Good Book also immediately says in the next sentence But little do they know that the dead are there Once his wayward spirit was caught in the act, the best part of Shaun Greenhalgh died.We beg at busy street corners for something for nothing, and the first fruits have all the frisson of getting away with murder, until we have done it all over again and again The sense of guilty entitlement afflicts even the upper classes of our culture, holding the best tickets for a performance not for them the thrill of getting a bargain at last after waiting outside for the sales, but being pressed to a special preview by the manager of the store.Any breathing artist competent to fog a mirror is qualified to judge that Shaun Greenhalgh was among the best of the fraternity but condemned like his parents to bow and scrape before authority.In his book we can read how his obsessive skills were coldly resented and rarified in private to avoid the punishment which proved, when it was finally wielded in all of its meanness for its own sake, that the police, the courts and the education system were incapable of valuing what Greenhalgh might have contributed to society by being left well alone.The same smouldering resentments behind each brush stroke tarnish the letters of poor Van Gogh, another of those who thought he was entitled to being carried merely because he was pure in heart.The real passion of Shaun Greenhalgh was not to pit himself against all of the authorities but to measure himself against real masters and by his own standards his understanding was painstakingly acquired Driven by this, whether channeling the skills of Cellini or replicating the brush strokes of those graced now, by those abandoned in the arts, with the name of The Scottish Colourists, he persevered alone like a free solo rock climber The corruption of the conflict drove and destroyed him, not because he fell but because his struggle was pure and he lost sight of his goal His aim was to shine and not to be found out to win without praise or acclaim to live well, like a crimson tipped flower turned up by the plough If he had succeeded, we might have had the original Ten Commandments to amaze us, dug up in pieces along with The Golden Calf itself, a lot smaller than experts all thought it would ever have been It s a shame.So, it is a tale of heartbreak Greenhalgh saves for the end of his book the tale of how he wasted a precious piece of imperial porphyry for which he paid, in 1975, the price of a house He bought the piece of stone in Scotland, when the divine Janey was by his side and the young love of his life was alive He spent 17 years carving this exotic granite, perhaps into a bust of her, before finally smashing it up and tipping it into the canal She was struck down with a brain tumour Every mark he cuts with a burin into the stone reminds him that art does not bring back the dead Later, I put its shattered remains in a sack and dumped them beneath the Forge Weir at Caton on the river Lune, where I used to go fishing I presume they will still be there Perhaps, because he cannot do it himself, he invites us to pull the rubble ourselves from the water that we might assay the burden of the sin of his lifelessness The imperial porphyry and Janey are metaphors for what he might have been By his own admission the material of his sculpture, his own life, lies broken like Ozymandias.I doubt if Shaun would be familiar with Gerard Manley Hopkins poem The Windhover so perhaps unknowingly this inveterate dissembler has managed to enlighten us with a replica of his own If I was lucky enough to spot a small cover of grouse before they saw me, I d cast off the hawk into the wind and wait as he flew off upwind so as to gain height as quickly as possible He would then turn downwind and use the back draught to pick up speed before turning sharply into the wind again, ringing up higher with each circuit, until he was nothing than a tiny speck on high.He cannot help but teach us how to learn My own way of doing things was to find something that took my interest or, often than not, that seemed to find me, then read all I could about it and study the way I thought it would have been done.He plays off the duplicity of experts, antique dealers or humanity itself left without guides Only its quality really matters It s always best to buy only what you like. A great read interesting, amusing, well written and informative A hugely entertaining autobiography, AND a wonderful manual for budding artists and forgers, laced with bags of schadenfreude for the snotty art dealer cartels My respect for the man has gone up enormously Highly recommended.