Questions and Topics for Discussion
1. In Chapter 4, the author spends a great deal of time detailing Gabriel Coffin, "one of the art world's strangest characters." What are some of the most pertinent characteristics that we learn about Coffin when he is first introduced? Were you to use one word to describe him, what would it be? Do you consider him good or bad?
2. Coffin's "job was to protect art from the wicked, the criminal. To hunt down thieves. But could there be a good thief?" (p. 53) How would you answer this question? Did your answer change during the course of reading this book? If so, why?
3. "Nothing an author could contrive is half as bizarre as events that have truly happened." (p. 122) Do you agree with this sentiment? Could this story have happened?
4. Malevich's painting White on White, when compared to Caravaggio's work, brings up a number of questions regarding the nature of art. Elizabeth Van Der Mier notes of the thieves, "They want us to conclude that money should be better spent than on a piece of canvas painted white." (p. 215) Is she correct? Could stealing art be another form of art criticism?
5. Gabriel says, "There is no vengeance which may be inflicted, as biting and as limitless as regret." (p. 263) Do you think that he is right?
6. After solving their end of the case, Bizot and Lesgourges have a meaningful conversation about art and their treasure hunt. Bizot says, "For thoughtful people, there is a reason fo