How an Obsesion with Art Crime Became a Thriller – Crime Reads

Artist and author Jonathan Santlofer on the many works examining art fraud, theft, and looting that informed his new book If you have ever wanted to know how it feels to snatch a painting from a museum wall, slide it under your shirt, and take off, then Michael Finkel’s, The Art Thief is for you. Finkel puts you in the scene and in the mind of Stephane Breistwieser, a man who stole more than 200 artworks from European museums and churches for a combined worth of $2 billion dollars. Breistwieser loved art, believed he could take care of it better than any museum, never sold a single piece, and lived with it until he couldn’t (a spoiler I will not disclose). At just over two-hundred-pages it’s a concise page-turner, a book for anyone interested in the criminal mind, with all the daring and chutzpah it takes to steal art, a true tale that will thrill … Read more

New York Magazine – TO DO

Read The Lost Van Gogh Estate-sale purchase gone wrong. Sourcebooks Landmark, January 2 Under the plain image of a woman’s face is the last, or next to last, self-portrait of Vincent van Gogh.  Who hid it and how it got into the hands of downtown artist Luke Perrone, last featured in Jonathan Santlofer’s mystery-thriller The Lost Mona Lisa, drives an investigation into both the anxiety of artistic influence  and the power and pain bundled up in a timeless work of art. With Illustrations by the author. – Carl Rosen. New York Magazine

Newsletter 2 – November 2023

I can’t believe Thanksgiving has come and gone. Last newsletter it seemed like my novel was so far from pub date. Now, it’s just around the corner, January 2. There are a couple of opportunities as we near the book launch to win artwork I made for The Lost Van Gogh.  The first, a contest to win one of the original pencil drawings (example at the top of the page). To be eligible all you have to do is pre-order the book HERE and submit an image of your receipt or proof of purchase to my website. Click here to enter the drawing contest The second is a limited-edition signed print made from one of my drawings which will go to anyone kind enough to post my book cover on their social media on its pub date, January 2. To receive a print just visit my website and fill out the form.  Make sure to use the hashtag #thelostvangogh in your social media post. Click … Read more

Newsletter 1 – September 2023

I have been obsessed with Van Gogh from a very young age, his wildly expressive work, his short tragic life. In art school, when I was trying to be cool, I temporarily rejected him as being too romantic. But later, I came to my senses and fell in love with him again, seeing the structure beneath his brushwork, the mind and genius that guided his hand. And now, I found a way to put him in a novel! THE LOST VAN GOGH is a sequel to THE LAST MONA LISA. The two books share the same protagonists, Luke Perrone, artist, Alexis Verde, art history scholar, and John Washington Smith, INTERPOL art crime analyst, but each has its own independent story. In the first book, Luke is searching for a diary his great-grandfather (the man who stole the Mona Lisa from the Louvre Museum), wrote while in prison for the crime. The novel merged fact and … Read more

The Last Mona Lisa: Your Ticket to Adventure

Bestselling author and fine artist, Jonathan Santlofer, has taken a real-life event – the 1911 theft of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa from the Salon Carré in the Louvre Museum – and used it as the basis for The Last Mona Lisa. A People Magazine Best Book of the Summer, this utterly irresistible adventure focuses on Luke Perrone, an Italian-American artist in his late 30s. Perrone has long been obsessed with his great-grandfather, Vincenzo Peruggia – an Italian artist working at the gallery who removed the protective case and frame and stole La Giocanda, aka the Mona Lisa.There’s a lot to keep track of, but don’t worry about getting lost – Santlofer knows just when and where to switch from one story to the next, what to reveal, and when. His masterful storytelling skills keep the reader eagerly turning pages, tearing breathlessly from past to present, from Paris to Florence and back again. Along with … Read more

Lily (from the The Widower’s Notebook)

For NATIONAL CAT DAY I could not think of anything better than posting this drawing I made of my last cat, Lily, along with this excerpt about her from my memoir THE WIDOWER’S NOTEBOOK (Penguin Books). It’s a bit long but… Beside Joy’s main closet is a tall stack of shelves where her sweaters and tees are neatly stacked. I kept this door closed, but every morning it was open. For a while I thought the magnets that held the door in place must have weakened, or it was some weird settling of the building, though I couldn’t remember it ever happening before. Every night I closed it. Every morning it was open. It started to feel eerie. Then, one morning, still in bed, I saw the door bang open, and Joy’s cat, Lily, jumped out. When I investigated, I saw that she had made a sort of nest on one of the shelves among … Read more

NY Journal of Books

“As Luke [the protagonist] dives farther into his ancestor’s mind, we dive with him, hoping to exonerate the simple crook while admiring his bravado. We also take pause to consider complex questions about the value of art for the individual as well as for society.” In 1911, a Louvre worker took the Mona Lisa off the wall and absconded with it. Vincenzo Perrone kept the painting for more than two years. After returning to Italy, he contacted authorities, claiming he had committed an act of nationalism by bringing the painting back to the home of its creator, Leonardo da Vinci. These facts are documented in multiple sources, including the 2012 Joe Medeiros film The Missing Piece: Mona Lisa, Her Thief, The True Story. Writer and artist Jonathan Santlofer uses this robbery as the backdrop for his new novel. He creates a fictional grandson protagonist, Luke Perrone, and sends him on a quest to find the … Read more

Meeting Mama Cass

Got out my pencils to sketch Cass Elliot on her birthday. Below, something I wrote when I was just out of graduate school, living in Brooklyn (before it was fashionable), and heard that Cass Elliot had died. I remember feeling as if one my friends had died, utterly absurd as I didn’t really know her, but the memory of the two or three hours we’d spent together remained strong. I remembered her deep throaty laugh and how she cried for a moment and how young and stupid I was, and to this day feel a mix of excitement and sadness when I hear one of her songs. Meeting Mama Cass I used to say I’d become an artist so I could listen to music all day, and I did. Unlike today, when just about everyone gets their music on demand through Spotify or iTunes or Sirius, back then music came in the form of a … Read more

Shelf Awareness for Readers

Into the pantheon of great art heist stories leaps The Last Mona Lisa, Jonathan Santlofer’s novel of intrigue, romance and murder. Its set in Florence, Paris and New York and centered on a cast of art scholars, forgers and–those most nefarious of public servants–librarians. One day, New Yorker Luke Perrone receives a curious e-mail from Italy: before his “sudden death,” a professor requested that Luke be contacted about a recent discovery–“what may have been your great-grandfather’s journal,” which is now at Florence’s Laurentian Library. Luke, a painter and assistant art professor, has spent two decades researching Vincent Peruggia, “my family’s most infamous criminal,” the man behind the 1911 theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre. Luke is only too happy to cross the pond and hunker down at the library, unaware that at Interpol headquarters in Lyon, a criminal intelligence analyst has him under communication surveillance Read more here at Shelf Awareness…