Bernard Ewell has thoroughly researched the subject at hand, drawing upon his personal experiences as an expert court witness, appraiser, authenticator, and art sleuth. Artful Dodgers exudes that rare quality in a book of this genre in that it provides detailed analysis, historical context, and useful caveats to would-be art buyers — while also being a damn good read.
The author pulls zero punches. He takes on the bad guys (and gals) without restraint — lifting up the rug on the often untidy art business to expose, and to endeavor to sweep away, some of the dirt that lies therein. And there’s been plenty of it.
Ewell’s writing is lively, clear, witty and compelling. You get a vibe from this man — one that suggests too many shenanigans have gone on in this industry, and Ewell is undaunted as he shines a light on it with courage and conviction.
One of the best features of Artful Dodgers is its “handbook” practicality. By that I mean it’s not just replete with interesting facts and legal cases of fraud and foolishness; it also provides practical tips to help art lovers ensure they truly understand what they’re buying — and what they’re not.
I have to confess: I figured Mr. Ewell’s book would be good. He’s very experienced, very knowledgeable, very smart. But I was not expecting the book to be as comprehensive as it is, while still maintaining a kind of page-turner excitement of a popular novel.
It was a long time in the making, but Artful Dodgers was worth the wait.