Sunday, June 11, 2017

A Forger’s Tale by Shaun Greenhalgh is published by Allen & Unwin (£16.99)

The Bolton forger’s memoir of his career making art fakes in his parents’ shed is likable but overlong

Curiously, art forgers are often portrayed as folk heroes rather than frauds who leave a trail of doubt and disappointment. Shaun Greenhalgh’s account of his time as the “Bolton forger” will do little to discourage that tendency. Before his arrest in 2006, he successfully faked the hand of Hepworth, Gauguin and Degas, and produced an impressive array of antiquities. His atelier was his parents’ garden shed, his tools bought at Argos. Auction houses, West End dealers and the British Museum were all fooled. The book is overlong but Greenhalgh has a likable voice, pitched midway between Arthur Daley and Philip Marlowe. And, unsurprisingly, he has an eye for detail (the arresting officer is “dressed like a downmarket stockbroker”). The lingering impression is of a man beguiled by the power of image-making: he even fills the time at the police station by making shadow figures on his cell walls.

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