Nazi Art Thefts: Crime Novels
Mysteries, suspense novels, thrillers, and crime novels and stories about the misappropriating, looting, plundering, hiding, selling, and taking of art and antiquities by Nazi party members and by others during World War II, as well as novels and stories about the hiding and preserving of art by various individuals and groups during the war. This list was compiled originally by a former librarian living in Pennsylvania, with additions by others, including members of Fiction-L and DorothyL during Dec. 2005.
Some descriptions are taken verbatim, or in essence, from review sources such as Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Booklist, and Library Journal, and from booksellers' descriptions.
JENNIFER S. ALDERSON
- The Lover's Portrait: An Art Mystery (2016): Set in the Netherlands. This crime novel is the contemporary story of American art history student Zelda Richardson, who finds clues to the whereabouts of a collection of masterpieces hidden somewhere in Amsterdam, secreted away in 1942 by a homosexual art dealer who'd rather die than turn his collection over to his Nazi blackmailer. Others are looking for the same artworks; who has the real claim, and to what lengths will desire for possession drive them?
- Theft of the Master (2009): Central to the plot, which has PI (and former Marine) Al Hersey running from Half Moon Bay, CA, to Estonia, Paraguay, Sweden, and New York, is a sculpted wood carving of Christ preaching the Sermon on the Mount, completed by Veit Stoss in 1493, presented as a national icon at Estonia's Tallinn Church of the Holy Ghost, and later, during WWII, smuggled into Paraguay by one of Hitler's underlings. The secret society of Templars is also part of the fast-paced story.
- The Poellenberg Inheritance (1972): Thriller. The daughter of an SS general finds life in jeopardy because her father was the only person who knew the location of a priceless masterpiece that disappeared during WWII.
- A Matter of Honor (1987): When Adam Scott opens the yellowed envelope bequeathed to him in his father's will, he learns of the secret that shadowed his father's military career, reaching back to the Nazi plunder of Europe. In the deepest vault of a Swiss bank, Scott discovers a priceless icon, the key to a shocking document that could forever change the balance of power between America and the Soviet Union.
- The Evil of Time (1954): Archaelogist Keith Elgin of the Art Reparations Commission in Germany is sent to the ancient castle of Drachensgrab (Dragon's Grave) in a final attempt to recover the paintings and other loot that the Nazis had hidden there.
- The Amber Room (2004): When Judge Rachel Cutler's father dies under suspicious circumstances, his daughter begins investigating a decades-old secret: the Amber Room, an exquisite treasure that was appropriated by the Nazis when they invaded the Soviet Union. Rachel and her ex-husband, Paul, travel to Germany, to learn why her father died and to find the truth about the Amber Room. Based very loosely on historical events.
- The Fiddler and The Ferret (1997): Involves art theft, kidnapping and a background that goes back to Nazi-occupied Paris. When his old violin teacher is murdered, an international star of the concert platform hires a man he was brought up to hate -- an MI5 veteran -- to track down the killer.
T. DAVID BUNN
- The Amber Room (1992): From their high-priced London antique shop, Alexander Kantor and Jeffrey Sinclair have made deep contacts into the secret treasure troves of Europe, particularly the former Eastern Bloc nations. They are pulled into a trail of intrigue and cover-ups that surround the Amber Room. A novel of deception and danger. (Sequel to Florian's Gate).
LILLIAN STEWART CARL
- Garden of Thorns (1992): Gothic/Romantic suspense. Mark and Hilary get back together in Fort Worth, Texas. He's excavating a mysterious turn of the century house, she's working at an art gallery on Coburg treasures recovered from the Nazis. Soon their jobs intersect, as they both run afoul of a prominent local family who resorts to murder to keep its skeletons in its closets.
DAVID ADAMS CLEVELAND
- With a Gemlike Flame: A Novel of Venice and a Lost Masterpiece (2001): When Renaissance scholar and art dealer Jordan Brooks journeys to Venice to view a masterpiece believed to have been destroyed by the Nazis, he must discover if the painting is a fake or the original, which leads him to his former teacher and a group of corrupt art dealers.
- The Plunderers (1980): Suspense novel set in Nazi-occupied Paris, of love and greed centered on the obsessive seizure of France's art heritage.
- What's Bred in the Bone (1985): Fictional biography. Through two supernatural beings, art collector Francis Cornish's life is exposed: an art expert, a forger, a collector of international renown, a hero involved in secret intelligence work. (Sequel to The Rebel Angels and The Lyre of Orpheus)
J. MADISON DAVIS
- The Van Gogh Conspiracy (2005): The search for answers takes Esther and Henson on a life-and-death odyssey through the halls of fine art, European capitals, and a spider web of blackmail and deceit that encompasses former Nazi officers running a clandestine operation to ship stolen artworks around the world.
- The Madonnas of Leningrad (2006): Debut novel. Marina was a guide at Leningrad's Hermitage Museum. In the autumn of 1941, she and her colleagues were set the task of taking objects d'art out of the grand galleries, storing them safely against the German bombardment, invasion and looting. This is a novel about one woman's struggle to preserve an artistic heritage from the horrors and destruction of World War II.
- The Golden Eyed Venus (1963): Struggle for possession of a secret haul of Nazi loot.
- A Deceptive Clarity (1987): The assistant curator of art at the San Francisco Museum travels to Berlin to set up an exhibit of art recovered from the Nazis after WWII, until his aristocratic boss gets murdered.
- Loot (1999): Suspense novel featuring ex-curator Ben Revere. Half a century after a truck laden with masterpieces stolen by the Nazis disappeared in an Austrian salt mine in a snowstorm, one of the paintings shows up in a seedy Boston pawnshop. Starred review from Booklist, recommended by the others.
- Turncoat (2002): Set in the Kennedy Era, features USAF-veteran Pete Simmons searching for his missing French wife in a Europe still roiled with hatred and violence from WWII. A stand-alone thriller that probes wartime guilt from multiple angles.
- Cold Hit (2000): Two real-life felonies -- the Nazi looting of Russia's legendary Amber Room, and the 1990 heist at Boston's Isabella Gardner museum -- are sidelines to this crime novel about sex crimes and murder, set in NYC.
- Lie in the Dark (2000): Crime novel set during the Bosnian conflict in the 1990s. Homicide detective Vlado Petric in Sarajevo unravels the crime surrounding the death of a government worker. What looks like a sniper death is actually much more; the pillaging of art treasures during the Second World war is central to the plot.
- Death in Amber (2009): Once part of a palace outside St Petersberg, the Amber Room has been missing since the end of World War II. Removed from the palace by a Nazi art collection squad at the height of the war, the Amber Room was last seen in Konigsbourg in late 1944. Now, someone knows where it has come to rest and will do anything to get it. Ninety years on and beautiful young women are being found dead with no evidence of why they died. Contractor (and blind investigator) Jaared Sen is hired by an old friend to find his missing niece. Can he find her, and the Amber Room, before the killer strikes again?
- Famous Last Words (1982): Controversial novel that's part-horror story, part philosophical meditation on art and good and evil, featuring the Duke and Duchess of Windsor as fascist sympathisers during WWII. (Note: Not sure how much, if any, actual art theft figures in the book.)
- The Lost Stradivarius (2006): Entombed with its creator for almost 200 years, the lost Stradivarius violin is discovered, only to be lost again, until it surfaces in Nazi-occupied Europe, where it is hidden away. Bad luck has befallen everyone who has possessed it, and a quirk of fate draws a brilliant young British virtuoso into the desperate search to recover the lost violin. This intoxicating thriller weaves effortlessly between countries, encompassing the world of classical music, stolen art, and historical fact.
- The Aphrodite Cargo (1985): An action-packed thriller. Mike Clinker, a Chicago journalist, has flown to his beaten father's bedside in London and pieces together a fragmented tale of Nazi loot shipped out of Russia forty years ago, intercepted and mislaid. When Mike attempts to clear the matter up, he is also hunted.
- The Ten Word Game (2004): 22nd Lovejoy novel. British rogue/antiques expert Lovejoy is to visit Leningrad's Hermitage Museum to allegedly abscond with a few masters. However, as he is pampered from Amsterdam to Oslo, and finally Leningrad, he learns the true caper: to steal the renowned wall panels of the Amber Room.
- Canceled Accounts (1972): 'Who would suspect an old Jew, survivor of German concentration camps, of being in league with O.D.E.S.S.A., the organization of ex-SS members? Who could imagine that the numbered accounts he controlled in Swiss banks contained millions of francs-once the property of murdered Jews?'
- Seizing Amber (2001): Inspired by The Maltese Falcon, this novel follows a high stakes quest for one of the world's most valuable treasures, the Amber Room.
- Fatherland (1992): Crime thriller/alternate history, set 25 years after Germany has won WWII. Joseph Kennedy is U.S. president, Adolph Hitler is about to turn 75. Police investigator Xavier March investigates the apparent suicide of a prominent Nazi, which leads him to discover other suicides, accidental deaths, a numbered vault in Zurich, and a beautiful American reporter, and eventally the pattern behind the deaths. He learns through incriminating papers that the Holocaust actually happened. Well-reviewed. (Filmed in Prague and Berlin as an HBO original movie, with Rutger Hauer and Miranda Richardson.)
- Circles of Confusion (1999): When Oregon DMV employee/sleuth Claire Montrose inherits a beautiful small painting of a woman sitting at a table that looks as if it might be valuable, she suspects the artwork might be one of many masterpieces that disappeared in Europe during WWII. She has it appraised in New York, where an expert tells her that the painting is a forgery, but at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a handsome artist says that the canvas may be an authentic Vermeer. Attempts to steal the painting convince Claire that the artist may be right. First in the series; each chapter ends with a license plate to be deciphered.
- Stonebreakers (1994): A novel constructed out of the presumed destruction of a painting by Courbet (i.e. 'The Stonebreakers') in Dresden at the end of the war.
- The Island of the Dead (1995): 'The Island of the Dead' is a disturbing painting, but that cannot be the only reason for its mutilation when it goes on view in a public gallery.
- Soldier in the Wheatfield (1999): Parnello Moran can see which paintings have hidden talent or are by major masters. He buys a painting of a German landscape, and it is immediately stolen from him. As he sets out to get it back, he finds all the recent owners have met with violent deaths.
- An Innocent Eye (2000): A man is murdered in a London hotel room, and the only clue is a Polaroid of Monet's landscape in his pocket. British journalist Daniel Stern recognizes the connection. The unfolding plot interweaves two story-lines: the tracking down of a Monet painting, misappropriated in occupied Paris in 1940, and corruption within the Vatican.
- The Man Who Lived at the Ritz (1981): Thriller about an art historian who lives at the Ritz in Paris. The art treasures of Paris are the prize in this tale of intrigue and suspense, set in Nazi-occupied Paris and featuring a cast of characters including Joseph Goebbels, Hermann Goerring, Coco Chanel, Lindbergh, and Hemingway.
- Pictures at an Exhibition (2009): Set in a Paris darkened by World War II, this is a sweeping novel about a son's quest to recover his family's lost masterpieces, looted by the Nazis during the occupation. He navigates a city of corrupt art dealers, black marketers, Resistants, and collaborators. Not a crime novel (though it is 'written with tense drama').
- Last Judgment (1988): Among other plots, a special Nazi unit expropriates art works in Poland and the SAS (a secret counter-terrorist organisation) tries to uncover a terrorist plot that might sabotage high-level meetings between NATO scientists. The Irish Republican Army, Marxists and denizens of the London art world also feature.
J. ROBERT JANES
- Mannequin (1999): 4th in crime series. Set in 1940s Europe, features Inspectors Jean-Louis St-Cyr of the French Surete and Hermann Kohler of the Gestapo. Top Nazi Hermann Goering's in Paris on an art-looting mission that crosses paths with an investigation by Kohler and St-Cyr into the murders of several young women who answered an ad to become fashion models.
- The Uncanny (1998): Hollywood filmmaker Richard Storm is running out of time, diagnosed with a brain tumour. He heads to London in a desperate quest to find evidence of life beyond the grave, and falls in love with Sophia, whose wealthy father runs an art gallery and who is involved in the purchase of the famous Rhinehart triptych of the Holy Family, which is about to be auctioned. The triptych, an art treasure looted by German occultists who were helping to guide Hitler, has just surfaced. An eccentric modern ghost story.
WILLIAM E. KNIGHT
- The Devil's End Game (2006): Almost 4 decades after Mussolini was deposed in Italy, Greenwich Village detective Leopold Czernik, war veteran and now trouble-shooter for big business, is hired by an Italian Holocaust survivor to track down art works stolen from his family by the Nazis. His investigations lead him into a tangled web of violence, treachery and murder.
- Blood Money (2000): A murder investigation into the suspicious death of a Holocaust survivor. Elements include Swiss bank accounts, an art collection that may contain stolen paintings, a philanthropic organization dedicated to helping Holocaust survivors reclaim their assets but which seems to be implicated in the present-day murder of aging, lonely Holocaust survivors. Police procedural featuring Los Angeles homicide detective Jessica Drake.
- The Thief of Venice (1999): 14th in Homer Kelly series; set in Venice. Homer settles in to study Renaissance manuscripts, and Mary sets out, guidebook in hand, to see the city, where she becomes involved with a handsome doctor, who turns out to be a particularly vile murderer. The tangled plot jumps between the personal and spiritual problems of the Kellys' host, a librarian, and the discovery of art treasures hidden by Venetian Jews during World War II.
- Wilful Behavior (2002): Commissario Brunetti is drawn into secrets dating back to WWII by the murder of a young girl.
ROBERT S. LEVINSON
- Hot Paint (2002): A gift of eleven Warhol silk screens exposes actress Stevie Marriner and her L.A. newspaper columnist ex-husband Neil to an art underground that will murder to acquire stolen Nazi art treasures. Fast-paced thriller.
- The Fuhrer's Reserve: A Novel of the FBI (2000): Thriller/suspense. Agent Taz Fallon is charged with the dangerous mission of locating Hitler's priceless, missing art treasures before a band of neo-Nazis can sell them to benefit a neofascist regime. Another description: A lost painting (a rare Alfred Sisley) that surfaces at an auction is key to discovering a cache of paintings stolen by Herman Goering. The focus is on how the Nazis stole art from Jewish collectors, and how much of that stolen art was later sold to unscrupulous dealers who made fortunes. Well-reviewed by Kirkus and Booklist.
- Amber Beach (1997): Romantic suspense. When her brother Kyle vanishes, along with a fortune in stolen amber, Honor Donovan settles into his cottage in the San Juan Islands of the Pacific Northwest and hires fishing guide Jake Mallory to help her search for him. What Jake doesn't want Honor to know is that, until recently, he brokered amber deals for Donovan International, and is now suspected by them of having stolen the missing amber, along with a priceless Russian antiquity called the Amber Room.
- Mosaic (1999): Romantic suspense. Concert pianist Julia Austrian's intermittent blindness is one of the mysteries woven through this book, which focuses on Nazi theft of artifacts from the fabled Amber Room in one of Russia's imperial palaces at the end of World War II. Julia and Sam Keeline, a disillusioned CIA agent, team up.
- Pray For a Brave Heart (1955): Set against the breathtaking mountain backdrop of Switzerland, this novel of international intrigue unfolds the powerful story of a young American's search for a priceless cache of hidden Nazi loot. (Another book, Above Suspicion (1942), is a story of Nazi Germany, the Gestapo, and the underground railroad. It was made into a film starring Fred MacMurray and Joan Crawford.)
- Laundered Loot: A Novel (2002): Very little info available about this book, described only as 'thriller involving banking tycoons and Nazi crimes in the Netherlands.' Doesn't appear to have been reviewed.
- The Apothecary's House (2005): When an old woman storms into the Rijks Museum demanding the return of her painting, archivist Ruth Braams cannot quell her curiosity. Ruth delves into the history of the piece of looted Nazi art and discovers an enigmatic picture with a disturbing wartime provenance.
- Provenance (1979): Story of a hoard of art masterpieces stolen by the Nazis during World War II -- those who collected the paintings, stole them, and now propose to sell them. Spans 1895 to 1979 and Paris to New York.
- Dirty Fire (2003). Crime novel in series. Former Chicago cop, now fire marshall, John Davey is helping an old colleague investigate the suspicious death of a wealthy art collector who burned to death in his opulent North Shore mansion. Soon his inquires lead to billions of dollars in artwork that disappeared during the holocaust.
- The Icon (2005): Thriller. In 1944 a group of Greek partisans are hiding from the Germans near the village of Katarini. A plan to trade a painted icon for some weapons goes awry, and an ancient Byzantine icon disappears, to resurface 56 years later on the wall of a private chapel in the New York City home of a Swiss banker named Kessler. After Kessler dies, the Greek Orthodox Church, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, an elderly Greek gangster and other mysterious characters vie to acquire the icon,
STEVEN K. PALUMBO, M.D.
- Spoils (2006): Suspense, with a love triangle. A French Resistance fighter, trying to make contact with his wife and daughter, and a German art historian, unwillingly conscripted into the Nazi plot to loot the art treasures of Paris, try to outwit the war machine in 1940 Nazi-occupied Paris.
PATRICK PARKER, USA-Ret.
- Treasures of the Fourth Reich (2005): Dix and Maria Connor face down a deadly network trafficking in stolen art. Dix is a retired lieutenant colonel who served with NATO, Maria an art historian who fought against Noriega's regime. Together they expose a plot with origins in the Nazi looting of a Titan, a Bruegel, and a panel from the Amber Room, from European museums and families during World War II.
- The Last Judgment (1993): Hired to deliver a painting from a Parisian art dealer to a client in Rome, British art historian and amateur sleuth Jonathan Argyll finds himself involved in a double murder and begins a probe that uncovers a secret hidden since World War II.
- Daughter of God (2000): The Nazi plunder of Europe's art and antiquities during WWII sets the stage for a thriller spun around a religious cover-up that could topple the Vatican and crush Western religion. A dying, repentant Nazi, Willi Max, calls renowned American art broker/historian Zoe Ridgeway, to Switzerland, where he reveals his cache of looted treasure, hiring her to catalogue and return it to the owners or heirs. Starred review from Booklist, good review from PW.
- Trojan Gold (1987): Art historian Vicky Bliss returns in search of Schliemann's famous discovery, gone missing since the fall of Berlin, the fabulous gold of Troy. The arrival of a bloodstained envelope sparks a fascinating treasure hunt and a surprising international academic reunion at a posh ski resort somewhere in Southern Germany.
J. C. POLLOCK
- Goering's List (1993): 'Goering's list' names current owners of many art treasures missing since World War II. When a former SS man dies, he leaves the list to his son, a former member of the Stasi and now a most-wanted terrorist known as Dieter, who puts the information to use funding operations for his secret organization, planning and executing daring art robberies in New York and Britain, murdering the current art owners. The CIA calls on renegade counter-terrorist Mike Semko to team up with a beautiful Israeli agent to track down Dieter.
- Broken Honor (2001): Romantic thriller. Publishers Weekly: 'History professor Amy Mallory's devotion to her long-deceased grandfather is put to the test when he and two other high-ranking World War II vets are accused of having looted Jewish treasures nearly 60 years earlier.'
- The Balkan Assignment (1971): International caper sparked by $1,000,000 worth of blood-soaked Nazi loot, buried for 30 years in a forgotten island cave off Yugoslavia.
- The Pieces from Berlin (2003): Inspired by a true story from secret criminal files, about a woman who made her fortune trafficking stolen art in wartime Berlin and the price other people paid for her crimes
PIERS PAUL READ
- Patriot in Berlin (1995): aka The Patriot. A blatant present day art heist appears to mirror the looting of art treasures during World War II. America art historian Francesca McDermott arrives in Berlin following the murder of a Russian couple and the disappearance of a rogue KGB agent.
ROBERT L. RODIN
- Articles of Faith (1998): Thiller about Nazis' theft of art treasures, Swiss fencing of Nazi gold, the German clergy's accommodation of Hitler, and a father-son relationship. Not well reviewed by PW, LJ, or Kirkus.
- The Name of a Bullfighter (1996): Translated from the Spanish by Suzanne Ruta. During WW II, two German soldiers steal a collection of priceless gold coins. One escapes to Chile, where he buries the coins; the other gets caught and ends up living in East Germany. Fifty years later, after the fall of the Berlin wall, the coins are hot again, sought after by Juan Belmonte, a political exile from Chile living in Hamburg, and Frank Galinsky, an ex-Stasi agent. Well-reviewed by Booklist.
- The English Assassin (2003): Gabriel Allon, painting restorer and reluctant Israeli spy, is assigned to Switzerland to meet with a man who has a painting to be restored and also has requested a meeting with Israeli intelligence. When Gabriel arrives, he finds the client dead and himself involved in a 50-year-old mystery involving Nazi art theft from World War II. (Another book featuring Allon, The Confessor (2003), explores Vatican collaboration with the Nazis. Allon is also in A Death in Vienna.)
- Making Good (1991): An inventory of Nazi loot leads to a mysterious character, Hamplemann, listed in Nazi records as the owner of paintings, first editions, rare stamps, coins -- hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of antiques and collectibles. Is he a Nazi who stole a fortune, a con man, or a front for someone even more powerful?
- The Estuary Pilgrim (1989): A Monet that was once a treasure of Nazi Germany becomes the center of a violent and mysterious international art fraud scandal when the painting, supposedly destroyed during World War II, resurfaces. Looks at how a lost painting is authenticated.
- Deadly Grace (2001): While on the trail of Jillian Meade, suspected of brutally murdering three veterans of the anti-Nazi underground, federal agent Alex Cruz uncovers an extraordinary tale of a wartime heist of Nazi gold and betrayal.
- Cryptonomicon (2002): Lengthy, detailed techno-thriller. An army corporal and a cryptanalysis specialist cross paths during WWII as they fight to mislead and outfox their Nazi counterparts. Skip ahead decades, when these two and the grandson of one of the men, himself the founding member of an internet bank, learn of a plot to hide billions in Japanese and Nazi gold at the end of WWII and trace a path to find it.
WADE STEVENSON and BARBARA TEEL
- The Salzdorf Wellspring (2000): Thriller. Mid-1950s America was a time of peace and hope, while much of Europe was still recovering from the horrors and destruction of WWII. Old Masters paintings and other priceless objets d'art were stolen from victims of the Reich and secretly stored in mines and vaults all over Germany. Many of those hiding places were discovered after the war, but many remain hidden --even today. One in particular, the Salzdorf Wellspring, was the richest and most magnificent of them all....
- The Chrysalis (2007): Debut novel. Hard-driving Manhattan attorney Mara Coyne is confronted by the case of her career when she is asked to defend a prestigious auction house against claims that a mysterious Dutch masterpiece about to be sold is a Nazi wartime theft, a case that reveals the brutal methods used by the Nazis to pilfer art, as well as the corrupt underbelly of the art world itself.
- A Winding Road (2009): From the Black Forest to the wastes of Ukraine, Nazi Germany to modern day Amsterdam, from the fall of Berlin to the excesses of the modern art world, Van Gogh’s lost painting takes us on a journey through the best and worst of European history. Historical thriller.
- The Black Sun (2006): Thriller. "Around the world, thieves are committing strange robberies and bizarre murders, all of them apparently connected to World War II and Nazi Germany. To solve the crimes, art thief turned investigator Tom Kirk and his partner navigate their way through a labyrinth of devious clues left behind by a supersecret Nazi group more than half a century ago" (Booklist review). Eichmann's 'gold train' and the lost Russian Amber Room figure.
JANWILLEM VAN DE WETERING
- The Butterfly Hunter (1982): Thriller of the chase for hidden Nazi loot.
- Girl in Hyacinth Blue (1999): Novel follows the trail of an 'unknown' painting by the Dutch master Vermeer, titled 'The Girl in Hyacinth Blue,' after it is discovered in the basement of a man who inherited it from his father, a Nazi looter in Holland during World War II. Also looks at the circumstances of the Jewish family from whom the painting was stolen. Received starred reviews from Booklist and Kirkus.
SYLVIA MAULTASH WARSH
- To Die In Spring (2001): First in a mystery series featuring Dr. Rebecca Temple, a young widow recovering from the early death of her beloved artist husband. The book explores deceptions that go back to the Nazi death camps in Poland and that underlie the paranoia and death of one of Temple's patients. The novel also explores Jewish museums, housing Jewish artifacts -- which Hitler planned to build to show future Aryan generations what Jews were, once they no longer existed -- as well as the mentality of Nazi Judaica experts who collected the artifacts for the museum. Set in 1979 Toronto and in Germany during WWII. Nominated for the Arthur Ellis Award and two Anthonys.
- Portrait of a Woman in White: A Novel (2014). Not crime fiction but a family saga set in 1940 France. When a beloved Matisse portrait of Lili Rosenswig's mother is stolen by Herman Goring, the eccentric family's story is intertwined with the fate of the painting.
- The Lost Van Gogh (2007) : A painting stolen during WWII mysteriously appears at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is returned to its rightful owner/heir but an attack on the heir leads the New York Police to a cunning mastermind who will resort to as many murders as necessary to regain the painting.
Nazi Art Thefts: Non-Fiction
There are many non-fiction books about art theft during World War II. Here are a few that have been well-reviewed:
- Nazi Looting: The Plunder of Dutch Jewry during the Second World War (2004): Looks at art, real estate and equities -- interlocking looting systems -- in the Netherlands. The Engliish Historical Review calls it a 'well-researched and concise book,' Seems to be somewhat of a textbook.
- Beautiful Loot: The Soviet Plunder of Europe's Art Treasures (1995): This book explores the politics, motives, and secrecy of the Soviets' plunder of millions of treasures from German museums and private collections during and after WWII.
ILARIA DAGNINI BREY
- The Venus Fixers: The Remarkable Story of the Allied Soldiers Who Saved Italy's Art During World War II (2009): One review, by the author of Brunelleschi's Dome: 'Art and war come together in this superbly researched history that reveals how Italy's Renaissance masterpieces were caught in the crossfire of World War II. Brey recounts how many of these works almost miraculously survived, and who we have to thank for saving them -- a somewhat unlikely crew of art historians, scholars, and architects.'
CHARLES DE JAEGER
- The Linz File: Hitler's Plunder of Europe's Art (1981). Tells of the recovery of thousands of works of European art stolen during WWII, meant to provide the basis of the great museum that Hitler planned to be built in Linz after the war. With extensive bibliography and a list of works not yet recovered. 192pp.
- The Forger's Spell: A True Story of Vermeer, Nazis, and the Greatest Art Hoax of the Twentieth Century (2008): Reads like a thriller. This is the true story of three men and an extraordinary deception: the revered artist Johannes Vermeer; the small-time Dutch painter who dared to impersonate him years later; and the con man's mark, Hermann Goering, the fanatical art collector and one of Nazi Germany's most reviled leaders.
- The Monuments Men (2009): The story of seven men from the Monuments, Fine Arts & Archives section of the Allied armed forces, an ambitious effort to preserve the world's cultural heritage; these men -- including a curator, a conservator, a scuptor, a painter, and an infantryman -- were among those charged with saving hundreds of damaged buildings and finding millions of cultural items before the Nazis can destroy them forever. Highly acclaimed.
- The Lost Museum: The Nazi Conspiracy to Steal the World's Greatest Works of Art (1997): Reads like a good detective story. Journalist Feliciano focuses on French private collections that were either appropriated outright by the German government or purchased at fire-sale prices. Well-written and thoroughly documented. Part mystery, part crime thriller, and part art history. Booklist says that this 'zesty, incisive, and entertaining inquiry illuminates the hidden dimensions and explicates the far-reaching implications of this fascinating and provocative collision of art and ambition, deception and war.'
PETER HARCLERODE AND BRENDA PITTAWAY
- The Lost Masters: WW II and the Looting of Europe's Treasurehouses (2000): With an almost overwhelming attention to detail, the authors trace the elusive web of collaborators, opportunists and dealers who exploited the Third Reich's lust for prestigious trophies. Gripping vignettes and revelatory anecdotes illuminate the fates of specific works of art.
- Treasure Hunt: A New York Times Reporter Tracks the Quedlinburg Hoard (1997): The famous and priceless medieval artworks that became known as the Quedlinburg treasures were commandeered by the Nazis and hidden in a cave on the outskirts of Quedlinburg in central Germany, but after American troops occupied the area April 1945, twelve of the treasures (worth more than $200 million today) went missing. For many years, the Quedlinburg case was considered the longest unsolved art theft of the century ... until Honan, a senior reporter at The New York Times, and Willi Korte, a German researcher, tracked down the thief and the hiding place of the treasures in northeastern Texas.
- The Menten Affair (1978): The story of the exposure, arrest, and eventual conviction in 1977 of Pieter Menten, a Nazi collaborator and mass murderer who had established himself after the war as a benign multi-millionaire art collector. This account of Knoop's investigation reads like a fast-paced crime drama (from Kirkus review).
ADRIAN LEVY AND CATHERINE SCOTT-CLARK
- The Amber Room: The Fate of the World's Greatest Lost Treasure (2004): Details the hunt for the Amber Room, showing how modern-day searchers must deal with the agendas of previous hunters and of the guardians of the archives. Clear maps and 50 black-and-white photos.
LYNN H. NICHOLAS
- The Rape of Europa: The Fate of Europe's Treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War (1994): Nicholas offers an astonishingly good account of the wholesale ravaging of European art during World War II by Allied and Axis soldiers alike, of how teams of international experts have worked to recover lost masterpieces in the war's aftermath and of how governments are still negotiating for the return of many stolen objects.
- The Faustian Bargain: The Art World of Nazi Germany (2000): Spotlighting five groups -- art museum directors, art dealers, art journalists, art historians, and artists -- Petropoulos carefully and systematically details how each of these groups either directly or indirectly facilitated the theft of countless works of art and legitimized the Nazi regime. Petropoulos is research director of the U.S. Presidential Advisory Committee on Holocaust Assets and history professor at Claremont McKenna College in California.