Joshua Knelman’s Hot Art: Chasing Thieves and Detectives through the Secret World of Stolen Art explores the evolution of the international black market in stolen canvases, sculptures, and antiquities through alternating stories of crooks and coppers from two continents. Hot Art, published earlier this month, is being widely described as non-fiction that reads like a novel; it’s been favourably tweeted by Margaret Atwood, among others, and Knelman has embarked on a promotional tour of morning television and talk radio shows across Canada. All of which makes everyone at The Walrus rather proud, because the story that inspired the book happened right here at this magazine. The author explains.
MATTHEW MCKINNON: You worked as head of research at The Walrus when you began investigating international art theft. Where does the Hot Art really start?
JOSHUA KNELMAN: Before the magazine launched, way back in 2003, I was sent to write a short piece about two burglaries at an art gallery in Toronto. The first of those burglaries, by the way, was discovered on the morning of September 11, 2001. When I showed up at the gallery, the owner was apprehensive about moving his story into the public arena. “I don’t know much about this world of art theft,” he told me. He did, though, give me the phone number of a cultural property lawyer based in Toronto — Bonnie Czegledi. “Apparently she knows something,” he said.
Czegledi agreed to meet. It was a lucky break. She turned out to be one of only a handful of lawyers in Canada, and one of only a few in the world, who was focused on understanding how the international black market in stolen art operates. (more…)
I would like to take a moment today to say thanks.
I’ve spent most days this week in a sad state. At my job, I get a lot of news exposure, and as you can imagine, the world is often less than rosy. This particular week has been a hard test for my bounce-back personality. Between the underreported famine in Somalia, alarming information about income polarization in the US, and my new fascination with the revealing patterns of Google Trends, I’ve been walking around feeling somewhat bleak-eyed, as though someone painted everything greige.
Wednesday’s morning papers jolted the colour back into my world. As soon as I picked up the Globe and read the first headline, a little breeze kicked up, a little sun shone down, and I immediately felt better. Our mayor, Rob Ford, abandoned his alternate proposal for the local waterfront, and the Portlands revitalization project still belongs to Waterfront Toronto. (We can now breathe more easily knowing that the original, public space–friendly, triple-government-approved plan — nearly pushed aside by Rob and brother Doug Ford — will move forward without the ominous threat of waterfront megamalls, ferris wheels, or the “firesale” of public property to developers.) I gleefully snipped the article out of the paper, put a huge smiley face on a post-it note, and left both on my senior editor’s desk. I may have done a jig around the copy machine. (more…)