Peter Carey has long been interested in writing about hoaxes, deceit, cultural authority and authenticity, so it was perhaps inevitable that his eye would come to rest on the iniquities of the international art market. It might have happened before now, had Carey not vowed to leave the art world alone, believing that ‘writers always get painters wrong’.
Apparently the novelist was persuaded to change his mind by an artist friend in New York who regularly entertained him over lunch with stories of such shocking chicanery that he could no longer resist the theme.
Carey was particularly fascinated by the concept of droit moral which, in French law, bestows on its owner the right to authenticate a painting. Droit moral can be inherited and, as Carey told one interviewer, ‘I thought this was so fantastic, where you could have this thing where you can