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Download Stealing the Mystic Lamb: The True Story of the World’s Most Coveted Masterpiece Audiobook

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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (153 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Noah Charney Narrator: John Allen Nelson Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Jan van Eyck’s Ghent Altarpiece is on any art historian’s list of the ten most important paintings ever made. Often referred to by the subject of its central panel, the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, it represents the fulcrum between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. It is also the most frequently stolen artwork of all time.

Since its completion in 1432, this twelve-panel oil painting has been looted in three different wars, burned, dismembered, forged, smuggled, illegally sold, censored, hidden, attacked by iconoclasts, hunted by the Nazis and Napoleon, used as a diplomatic tool, ransomed, rescued by Austrian double-agents, and stolen a total of thirteen times.

In this fast-paced, real-life thriller, art historian Noah Charney unravels the stories of each of these thefts. In the process, he illuminates the whole fascinating history of art crime and the psychological, ideological, religious, political, and social motivations that have led many men to covet this one masterpiece above all others.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “In Charney’s hand, the story of the various heists often reads like a political thriller.”

    Maclean’s

  • “Well-written and thorough, this book reminds us of the influence and fragility of art, our veniality and heroism, and the delights found in both the beautiful and the strange.”

    Cleveland Plain Dealer

  • “Action-packed…In scrupulous detail, Charney divulges the secrets of the revered painting’s past, and in doing so, gives readers a history lesson on art crime, a still-prospering black market.”

    Christian Science Monitor

  • “Charney’s wonderfully learned and entertaining book tells us about all the indignities this famous image has endured through the centuries…but the book also has some much broader point to make about the cultural significance of important paintings…Charney tackles some important subjects (the creation of the modern art-stealing industry, our sensible obsession with almost burglar-proof museums) but he wears his learning lightly and the next extraordinary tale is only ever a few pages away. Best of a very good bunch must be the account of the Monuments Men: the highly qualified people who followed in the wake of the liberating armies at the end of World War Two…It is good to hear their story and all the other bizarre tales this innovative and elegant book has to tell.”

    Catholic Herald

  • “Charney unsnarls the tangled history of Jan van Eyck’s fifteenth-century The Ghent Altarpiece (a.k.a. The Mystic Lamb), ‘the most desired and victimized object of all time.’ With a novelist’s sense of structure and tension, the author adds an easy familiarity with the techniques of oil painting and with the intertwining vines of art and political and religious history…A brisk tale of true-life heroism, villainy, artistry, and passion.”

    Kirkus Reviews

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by James | 1/17/2014

    " For me, the book stopped being interesting when it reached the 20th century.Up until then I thought it was fascinating. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Lynne | 1/7/2014

    " It's pretty dry, but I knew almost nothing of the Mystic Lamb so I learned a lot. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Alan Partlow | 11/4/2013

    " A well written and compelling tale of the history of one of our greatest masterpieces and the lengths people have gone to to steal or destroy it. Highly recommend. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Chris | 7/8/2013

    " Had never heard of this story, or knew much about the art piece. Another story proving that truth is better than fiction. John Grisham and Tom Clancy can't tell a story better than these for me. "

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About the Author

Noah Charney holds degrees in art history from the Courtauld Institute and Cambridge University, and he has created the academic field of the history of art theft. He is the founding director of the Association for Research into Crimes against Art (ARCA), the first international think tank on art crime whose board of trustees includes the respective art squad heads of the FBI, Carabinieri, and Scotland Yard, as well as renowned museum, art world, and criminology specialists.