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Peddling bright colors: Michael Finkel investigates ‘A True Story of Love, Crime, and a Dangerous Obsession’ in ‘The Art Thief’

Michael Finkel, author of ‘The Art Thief: A True Story of Love, Crime, and a Dangerous Obsession’ (Alfred A. Knopf).

This week on The Write Question, Michael Finkel, author of The Art Thief: A True Story of Love, Crime, and a Dangerous Obsession (Alfred A. Knopf), a true crime narrative that centers Stéphane Breitwieser, who carried out more than two hundred heists over nearly eight years—in museums and cathedrals all over Europe—and, along with his girlfriend who worked as a lookout, stole more than three hundred objects.

Unlike most thieves, Breitwieser never stole for money. Instead, he displayed all his treasures in a pair of secret rooms where he could admire them to his heart’s content. The Art Thief has been called a riveting story of art, crime, love, and an insatiable hunger to possess beauty at any cost.

About Mike:

Michael Finkel is the best-selling author of The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit and True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa. He lives with his family in northern Utah.

Michael Finkel recommends:

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession by Allison Hoover Bartlett (Riverhead Books)

So Much Longing in So Little Space: The Art of Edvard Munch by Karl Ove Knausgaard (Penguin Random House)

Lauren Korn recommends:

The Art Thief: A True Story of Love, Crime, and a Dangerous Obsession by Michael Finkel (Alfred A. Knopf)

This article about Montana‘s own art thief, “Author accused of stealing, selling items from Montana Historical Society” by Blair Miller (Daily Montanan)

Blood Money: The Story of Life, Death, and Profit Inside America’s Blood Industry (Atria/One Signal Publishers)

Blood Will Out: The True Story of a Murder, a Mystery, and a Masquerade by Walter Kirn (Liveright Publishing Corporation)

When the Moon Turns to Blood: Lori Vallow, Chad Daybell, and a Story of Murder, Wild Faith, and End Times by Leah Sottile (Hachette Book Group)

The Write Question team for this episode was Lauren Korn, host, co-producer, and editor; and Chris Moyles, co-producer, editor, and sound engineer. This episode is supported by Montana Book Co., located in downtown Helena, Montana, since 1978, offering new books for all ages, vinyl records, and community activism. For delivery in Helena and shipping online, visit

The Write Question logo and brand (2022) was designed by Molly Russell. You can see more of her work at and on Instagram @iamthemollruss. Our music was written and recorded by John Floridis.

Funding for The Write Question comes from Humanities Montana; members of Montana Public Radio; and from the Greater Montana Foundation—encouraging communication on issues, trends, and values of importance to Montanans.

The Write Question is a production of Montana Public Radio.

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Lauren R. Korn holds an M.A. in poetry from the University of New Brunswick, where she was the recipient of the Tom Riesterer Memorial Prize and the Angela Ludan Levine Memorial Book Prize. A former bookseller and the former Director of the Montana Book Festival, she is now an Arts and Culture Producer at Montana Public Radio and the host of it’s literature-based radio program and podcast, ‘The Write Question.’
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