Cover image for Framed : America's art dealer to the stars tells all
Framed : America's art dealer to the stars tells all
Volpe, Tod M.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Toronto : ECW Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
270 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : color illustrations, color portraits ; 25 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HV6692.V65 A3 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Tod Volpe had an appetite for the finer things in life and was savvy at selling them. Once widely acknowledged as one of the world's foremost art dealers, Volpe launched a feeding frenzy in the international art community when he founded the Mission arts and crafts movement. He was rewarded with fabulous wealth, enormous influence, and a client list that included Andy Warhol, Jack Nicholson, and Bruce Willis. At the height of his success as "Art Dealer to the Stars," Volpe self-destructed in a scandalous case of fraud that made headlines and threatened to blow the lid off the shadowy world of art dealing in a star-studded trial. Opting to remain silent, he pled guilty and spent two years in a federal prison. That silence has now been broken. Framed is a shocking account of how the life of one man who struggled to have it all spiraled out of control. Volpe's tale of corruption and excess is both his own and that of the international art world -- a world where high culture and civility conceal boardroom swindles, illegal price-fixing, and money laundering.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

This true tale of a man of humble beginnings, spurred by a love of beauty and the scars left from his parents' bitter fights over money, who secures a degree in art history and succeeds beyond his dreams, is irresistible. When the art dealer to such stars as Jack Nicholson and Madonna tells all, he reveals a high-powered world of deals-within-deals to keep a delicately balanced mix of cash infusions, inventory, and payments afloat, all to create and maintain a market, and all leading, in the manner of Greek tragedy, to his fall from grace. An equally dangerous mixture of high living, drugs, and booze helped him maintain his image, so when the feds come knocking, we know from headlines as well as heroic tradition that a jail cell can't be far off. Volpe reinvented himself in New York, Los Angeles, and now in the pages of a book wherein he repents and comes to realize that people, not things, matter. The TV movie can't be far behind--with Volpe as producer, no doubt. --Whitney Scott Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Even in a world of endless high-flying corporate scandals, with the "perp walks" of accused miscreants a beloved staple of TV news, the systemic chicanery of the art and antiques business can still inspire jaw-dropping awe. This self-told tale from Volpe, a kid from Yonkers who rises from mortuary college to the mansions and ateliers of Hollywood and subsequently descends to the concrete cubicle of a medium-security prison, is compelling and cautionary reading. Afflicted from early youth with an unquenchable desire for fine objects, he eventually parlays a few well-chosen tchotchkes into a thriving business. In describing his dizzying ascent, Volpe also depicts a world in which naked ambition, aesthetic impulse and nouveau riche pretension intermingle, where sticks of furniture purchased for tens of dollars are resold for thousands, where major institutions conspire with dealers to jack up prices, where the rich and famous amass collections only to sell them at a profit and start again. But whether describing his part in the virtual invention of "Mission" as a collectible category or delivering a dozen rocking chairs for Harvey Keitel to choose from, Volpe's enthusiasm is infectious. While greed, vanity and larcenous ambition play their part in his story, Volpe's delight in the trappings of success (30 illustrations not seen by PW) and the company of the rich and famous are conveyed with such unembarrassed exuberance that one is inclined to forgive. The law didn't, and despite stalwart support from friends like Jack Nicholson, Volpe ended up going to prison for fraud. Emerging bloodied but unbowed, Volpe offers both a detailed look at the art world and a celebrity-studded gossip fest that should be a Hamptons bookstore staple. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved