Cover image for The art of the steal : inside the Sotheby's-Christie's auction house scandal
The art of the steal : inside the Sotheby's-Christie's auction house scandal
Mason, Christopher, 1960 September 15-
Publication Information:
New York : G.P. Putnam's Sons, [2004]

Physical Description:
ix, 406 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HF5477.G74 S6746 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



The definitive book on the price-fixing scandal that roiled the art world, from the reporter who Dominick Dunne says "knows more about the ins and outs of this story than anyone else" (Vanity Fair). The Art of the Stealis the explosive inside story-the only book to tell the whole truth and dish the dirt-of one of the most fascinating big-business trials of the new century-the price-fixing scandal that rocked the auction world and put one of the richest men in America behind bars. Brilliantly written and reported, it tells the story of larger-than-life figures-the billionaire tycoon Alfred Taubman; the most powerful woman in the art world, Diana "DeDe" Brooks; and the wily British executive Christopher Davidge-who quaffed champagne and dined on caviar while conspiring to cheat clients out of millions of dollars. The book also offers an unprecedented look inside this secretive, gold-plated industry, describing just how Sotheby's and Christie's grew from clubby, aristocratic businesses into slick, international corporations and showing how the groundwork for the most recent illegal activities was laid decades before the perpetrators were caught by federal prosecutors. Christopher Mason is the only reporter who has persuaded all the key figures (and hundreds more) to spill the beans. He has followed the trail of this story wherever it has led-from galleries and boardrooms in London, Paris, and New York to parties in Palm Beach and courtrooms in lower Manhattan. Evoking the best-known investigative narratives like Barbarians at the Gateand Den of Thieves, the hidden lives of the very rich described in Philistines at the Hedgerow, and the crime-and-high-society reporting of Dominick Dunne, The Art of the Stealis destined to become the hottest-and most entertaining-gossip-starter of the season.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Veteran art writer Mason does a good job separating the bad guys from the slightly less bad guys in his lively, anecdote-packed saga about how the world's two leading auction houses, Sotheby's and Christie's, conspired to fix prices on everything from famous paintings to antique furniture. Alfred Taubman, the shopping-mall king who bought Sotheby's in 1983 to keep it from falling into the hands of a couple of carpet salesmen, became the only principal in the case to actually do jail time apparently due to what some courtroom observers labeled "the worst defense money can buy." It didn't help that Diana "DeDe" Brooks, who started her career as an unpaid intern and whose workaholic habits persuaded Taubman to make her Sotheby's CEO, became one of the government's chief witnesses against Taubman. On the Christie's side, the lineup features a number of snobbish Brits, including Christie's CEO, Christopher Davidge, who seems to have sold everyone else down the river. It would have made for smoother reading if Mason (or his editor) had done some pruning: how many times do we need to be told that Brooks is six feet tall or that Taubman's wife, Judy, is a glamorous former beauty queen? But in the end, it's the story that carries the day an amazing and depressing chronicle of greed in the name of culture that should (but probably won't) keep art buyers from ever walking into an auction house again. Agent, Todd Shuster at Zachary Shuster Harmsworth. (May 11) Forecast: Blurbs from Dominick Dunne and Amanda Foresman, author of Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire, will help reach those who read Vanity Fair and other upscale magazines. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved