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WestportREADS Keynote Conversation: ‘Art Thief’ Author Michael Finkel

Fri, January 26 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm EST

Logo of WestportREADS 2024 with cover of THE ART THIEF by Michael Finkel

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Michael Finkel, author of the 2024 WestportREADS selection, The Art Thief, joins us live in the Trefz Forum to talk about his book with Ive Covaci, chair of WestPAC.

Hear about the true-crime tale of the world’s most prolific art thief, Stéphane Breitwieser, who stole, never for money, but for personal treasure and adoration from the journalist who brought his story to life in The Art Thief.

Finkel told Esquire, “Working on this book changed the way I experience museums and commune with a work of art. Breitwieser is often low energy; then, when he walks into a museum, it’s like he’s had a triple shot of espresso. This is someone who’s very parsimonious with his words, then suddenly he’s babbling like your favorite crazy art professor. I would watch his face as he stood in front of an artwork. If he didn't like something, it was a flat face. If he liked something, it was as if he’d been electrocuted, and he’d often look around the room to see if he could commune alone with it.“

Registration is strongly encouraged. Copies of The Art Thief will be available for purchase and signing at the event. 

The event will also be livestreamed on the Library's YouTube channel. Click here to access the livestream.

Michael Finkel (True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa; The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit) is a journalist and best-selling memoirist hailing from Northern Utah. His first book, True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa, was the product of a relationship Finkel forged with Oregon murderer Christian Longo used “Michael Finkel” as an alias. The book was adapted for film in 2015’s True Story, premiering at Sundance Film Festival, starring Jonah Hill, James Franco, and Felicity Jones.

Finkel’s follow-up, The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit, chronicled Christopher Knight, an intentional recluse who lived for 27 years in the woods of Maine with almost no human interaction, surviving by grifting life essentials. Vanity Fair contributing editor and ABC News special correspondent Stephen Junger raved that The Stranger in the Woods was “a story that takes the two primary human relationships — to nature and to one another — and deftly upends our assumptions about both.”

Ive Covaci is co-chair of the Westport Public Art Collections Committee, and an adjunct professor in the Art History program at Fairfield University, where she has been teaching since 2010. She holds a PhD in art history from Yale University, and an MA in East Asian Studies from Stanford University. She has curated and co-curated numerous exhibitions, including Kamakura: Realism and Spirituality in the Sculpture of Japan (Asia Society Museum, New York, 2016), Gifts of Gold: Japanese Lacquer Boxes (Fairfield University Art Museum, 2020), and Ink/Stone (Fairfield University Art Museum, 2022). A resident of Westport, Ive has been a member of the WestPAC Committee since 2016.

More Resources...

The Art Thief: A Reader's Guide

READ Like A Librarian


Fri, January 26
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm EST
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The Trefz Forum, The Westport Library
20 Jesup Road
Westport, CT 06880 United States
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