The Life and Crimes of the World's Greatest Art Forger


By Tony Tetro

By Giampiero Ambrosi

Formats and Prices




$20.99 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around November 22, 2022. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

The world’s most renowned art forger reveals the secrets behind his decades of painting like the masters—exposing an art world that is far more corrupt than we ever knew while providing an art history lesson wrapped in sex, drugs, and Caravaggio.

The art world is a much dirtier, nastier business than you might expect. Tony Tetro, one of the most renowned art forgers in history, will make you question every masterpiece you’ve ever seen in a museum, gallery, or private collection. Tetro’s “Rembrandts,” “Caravaggios,” “Miros,” and hundreds of other works now hang on walls around the globe. In 2019, it was revealed that Prince Charles received into his collection a Picasso, Dali, Monet, and Chagall, insuring them for over 200 million pounds, only to later discover that they’re actually “Tetros.” And the kicker? In Tony’s words: “Even if some tycoon finds out his Rembrandt is a fake, what’s he going to do, turn it in? Now his Rembrandt just became motel art. Better to keep quiet and pass it on to the next guy. It’s the way things work for guys like me.” The Prince Charles scandal is the subject of a forthcoming feature documentary with Academy Award nominee Kief Davidson and coauthor Giampiero Ambrosi, in cooperation with Tetro.

Throughout Tetro’s career, his inimitable talent has been coupled with a reckless penchant for drugs, fast cars, and sleeping with other con artists. He was busted in 1989 and spent four years in court and one in prison. His voice—rough, wry, deeply authentic—is nothing like the high society he swanned around in, driving his Lamborghini or Ferrari, hobnobbing with aristocrats by day, and diving into debauchery when the lights went out. He’s a former furniture store clerk who can walk around in Caravaggio’s shoes, become Picasso or Monet, with an encyclopedic understanding of their paint, their canvases, their vision. For years, he hid it all in an unassuming California townhouse with a secret art room behind a full-length mirror. (Press #* on his phone and the mirror pops open.) Pairing up with coauthor Ambrosi, one of the investigative journalists who uncovered the 2019 scandal, Tetro unveils the art world in an epic, alluring, at times unbelievable, but all-true narrative.



(April 18, 1989)

I was lying on the couch falling asleep when I heard a rustling at the front door and someone saying, “Tony? Tony? You there?” I said, “Yeah,” and the next thing I knew twenty-five cops burst into my condo. The first thing one of them said was, “A man just gave you eight thousand dollars in cash. I’m going to need that back right now.” It was true, so I handed the money over immediately.

The cops began demolishing my place, slicing up the wallpaper, pulling up the carpets, emptying all the drawers. The whole time I sat there on my couch sweating bullets, staring up at my secret room, which was reflected in the mirror on the mantelpiece. The room was in an odd-shaped space behind the upstairs bathroom. If you pressed #* on the cordless phone, a full-length mirror would pop open and reveal my secret stash of special papers, pigments, collector stamps, light tables, vintage typewriters, certificates of authenticity, notebooks with signatures—everything a professional art forger might need.

The cops were rifling through my medicine cabinet, knocking on the walls, checking inside the toilet tank. If they had found my secret room, I would have been buried for real. The whole time, the cops were going back and forth to a big truck, filling it with artwork, boxes, books, anything they could find. Finally, after six or seven hours, the chief detective decided they’d done enough and told everyone to quit.

Everybody stopped what they were doing and walked out. I breathed the biggest sigh of relief in my entire life. But they didn’t really leave. They just stood around at the doorstep. There was a long, uncomfortable silence. I was confused. I started to stand up because I thought they were waiting to handcuff me. One of the cops waiting on the doorstep caught my eye, raised his eyebrows, and gave me a shit-eating grin.

Then, the chief detective turned around and shouted, “OK, second walk-through!” and all the cops rushed back in, switching places and calling out, “I got upstairs now, I got the bathroom, I’m over here.” My heart dropped out of my ass. I collapsed back on the couch and went completely numb.

If they found my secret room, the life I had been living would be over.



(1950 to 1969)

Fulton, the small town where I grew up, billed itself as “The City with a Future.” My father called it the asshole of New York. Today it’s just another Rust Belt casualty, but then, it was a thriving all-American town populated by Italian and Irish immigrants who pledged allegiance, went to church, and worked hard at one of the factories—Sealrite, Armstrong Cork, Miller Brewing, or Nestlé, making chocolate, which you could smell from across the river when it was about to rain.

We all dropped our native languages, accents, and foreign names and got on with the business of making it in America. We played baseball, rode our bikes, and swam at Fair Haven Beach on Lake Ontario, where I would spend all day building and decorating elaborate sandcastles. We attended Rotary Club and had charity carnivals for the volunteer fire department. And though we traded insults—us calling the Irish kids “micks,” and them calling us “guineas,” “goombahs,” and “greasers”—it never led to any real animosity. Every Italian guy ended up marrying an Irish girl and every Italian girl married an Irish guy. Even one of my own best friends, Gary Battles, married Rosalie Arcigliano.

My father, James, who everybody called The Gump because of his resemblance to Andy Gump, the 1930s cartoon character, had come over from Bari, Italy, as a child, living first in the Bronx, where he carried ice blocks up the tenement stairs of Arthur Avenue, before moving to central New York. My mother, who had entered Ellis Island from Sicily as Beatrice Di Stefano, came out as Bee De Stevens and married my father at the age of eighteen. They bought a house, had four kids, and got on with getting ahead.

The curve of First Street where we lived was called Spaghetti Bend. It was the center of what had been the Italian part of Fulton for decades. In the thirties people called Fulton “Little Chicago” because of its reputation for Al Capone–style killings and the fact that it was the mob’s stronghold in central New York. When I was growing up, the mob was everywhere, but it was low-key and unremarkable—just part of the atmosphere that you breathed. At the Italian American Club on Broadway, you could see the bosses, Anthony Di Stefano (no relation to my mother) and Bobo Ranieri, playing cards while their entourages hung around, waiting. As far as I knew, they controlled jukeboxes, pinball machines, and the clipboards in every diner and café where you could bet on sports or play the numbers. If you were in trouble, you could borrow money—which everybody told you, “You better pay it back”—but there was no drugs or prostitution or anything seedy that I could see anywhere.

Of course, Fulton did seem to have a lot of failing businesses with paid-up insurance policies and faulty, fire-prone wiring. The Derby Lanes bowling alley, Gayle’s Bar and Grill, the car dealership, the furniture store—all of them went up in flames. One of my brother’s friends, Lefty Levy, told my brother about torching a few places and even his own car. Lefty had called it “Jewish Lightning.” When Bobo Ranieri died, Fulton had a funeral that was talked about for decades, a procession of a hundred black Caddies, as far as the eye could see, coming to pay their respects.

It was impressive, but it didn’t do much for me. My heroes weren’t mobsters, they were Enzo Ferrari and Leonardo da Vinci—geniuses I could be proud of and aspire to. When I was young, Enzo Ferrari was still in his prime and his cars were absolutely dominant on the racing circuit. They were marvels of engineering, winning every race and overshadowing all the other manufacturers in the world. At the 24 Hours of Le Mans, while other cars flamed out or seized up, the Ferrari cars were so well engineered that they almost never broke down. They became the ambassadors for Italian artistry, breathtaking style, and design excellence, far superior to the bland and simple muscle cars Americans produced. As a child, it made me proud to think of a string of culture from ancient Rome to the Renaissance all the way through to these cars, and that I was in some small way connected to that. Every child constructs a story about where they come from and where they fit in, and I liked this one.

At school, I learned about ancient Rome, and at the time, Hollywood was full of epic films about the majesty and glory of the Eternal City. Ben-Hur had won eleven Academy Awards and filled my mind with panoramic, Technicolor images of opulence and civilization. To think that my ancestors constructed hundred-mile-long aqueducts and that Roman homes had both hot and cold running water when other people lived unwashed in thatched huts impressed me.

I wasn’t much of a student, slouching my way to solid Cs because I wasn’t interested in most subjects. I was, however, always good at and interested in art. Even at just nine or ten years old I was copying photographs from books or magazines that my mother, an avid reader, would leave lying around the house. I remember once I copied, freehand, a photograph of Steve Reeves, the bodybuilder and actor from the movie Hercules. He was wearing his half toga, holding chains, and pulling down two columns—the pillars of mythical fame. When I finished my drawing, I proudly showed my mother, who praised me, but my oldest brother, Jim, belittled me, accusing me of tracing from the photo. “No! That’s not true,” I shouted, and then I showed him that my drawing was actually much larger than the photograph. I was deeply offended because I was very proud of my work.

Our town had a beautiful Carnegie library and it was there that the Mickey Mouse Club held its meetings. Every Tuesday night after dinner, we’d troop downstairs with our ears on to sing songs and learn about the practice of good citizenship according to the gospel of Walt Disney. After our meeting, I’d wander over to the art section and leaf through Abrams art books, looking at the pictures.

My father, who thought I might be musical, bought me a guitar and arranged for me to have lessons. It was a futile waste of my time and his money. But my mother, who noticed that I had a talent for art, bought me a beginner’s set of oil paints. It had little tubes of color and four or five brushes, some thinner, and a small stack of eight-by-ten canvas boards. I’d practice at the kitchen table while my mother cooked dinner nearby. When I’d get started, I’d be engrossed in what I was doing, but being only a child, my attention would start to wane after a while. Still, I was ambitious with what I painted. I tried a portrait of my dog, Duke, but I didn’t yet know how to capture the way light hit the dog’s hairs. My mother’s friend, Mrs. Pommeroy, once complimented me, saying she thought my painting was wonderful. Instead of being proud, I said I wasn’t happy at all and that I had done much better on other occasions. Even then, I was demanding of my efforts.

At Holy Family Catholic School, where I attended junior high, we were under the strict rule of grim nuns who wore full penguin habits and handed out education and their own shriveled sense of discipline—also known as corporal punishment—in equal measure. I used to draw my teacher, an old nun, as a Vargas pinup girl—long luscious legs, curvy hips, plump breasts, and a sour, wrinkled Sister Antoninus face. When she finally caught me, she smacked me hard across the knuckles with her pointer and dragged me down the hall by the ear to the principal, Father Hearn, who struggled to suppress his chuckles and made me promise to knock it off.

High school was the first time I had any real instruction in art. My teacher was a college graduate in art history who encouraged us and introduced us to the great painters and to concepts like perspective, color theory, and technique. For a lesson on abstract art, I remember I did a clumsy painting of a female nude. I got a failing grade, but nobody pulled me out of class by the ear for it. For a class on perspective, I drew a detailed view of the room, showing everything I saw in front of me. I received an A+ and was very proud. This time, I felt like I deserved it.

At night, I’d go to the public library and head downstairs past the newest class of Mouseketeers to spend hours looking at artists I had only barely heard of. I didn’t understand Picasso, and Mondrian did nothing for me. I didn’t get the point of mastering all that technique just to make geometric shapes with primary colors.

My teacher showed us Chagall, calling his work “visual poetry,” and it was true, I could see the poetic movement of color. We were introduced to Dalí, the whole class being asked to repeat after the teacher: “Sur. Realism.” Dalí was weird, but I was impressed by his imagination and thought I couldn’t have come up with that kind of unusual imagery. Pointillism, to me, seemed too laborious; carefully filling in dots of color on a big canvas seemed like a waste of time. I liked the Impressionists. Their paintings were pretty and I could recognize talent in them. But to me, all of this modern art lacked soul.

What really struck a chord were the old masters and Renaissance painters. Now, my mind is trained, but then, I used to think, “How could they think up all these things—the sky, the angels, the crucifixion, the people and their expressions, the clouds, the light?” I thought it was magical that they could do that. I didn’t feel that kind of awe about modern painters.

I started to learn about artists like Perugino, Verrocchio, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Botticelli, but Leonardo was the greatest hero of them all, although when I was young, I was more fascinated by Leonardo the engineer and scientist than Leonardo the artist. I was drawn to his notebooks, with their ingenious feats of engineering: his aqualung, his flying machine and parachute, the war machines, his intricate studies of human anatomy, the enigma of his mirrored handwriting. You can see how that would have captivated a boy my age.

Michelangelo was the first artist I loved solely for his art, the Sistine Chapel and the Pietà. I remember reading as a boy that Michelangelo was only twenty-two when he started working on the sculpture, laboring alone for three years. And I remember reading that Michelangelo had heard others saying that his masterpiece had been made by one of his rivals. Outraged, he sneaked into the Vatican and carved his name on the sculpture—the only artwork he ever signed. I don’t blame him. It’s ironic considering what I do, but years later when I forged a piece that somebody else claimed, I think I understood what Michelangelo must have felt.

But despite my interest in art, in most ways I was just an ordinary kid who liked baseball, cars, hanging around with my friends, and girls. If you had asked me what I wanted to be then, I would have told you, without a doubt, a pool hustler. As a teenager, I spent almost all of my spare time at a dark, dingy, ancient pool hall called Polly LeGrew’s—which, if you didn’t know any better, could have been a movie set built in the 1920s. It had six tables, a gumball machine filled with peanuts, and a couple of benches to sit on. It had only a men’s restroom because no woman ever came into Polly’s. The toilet was so ancient that it still had a pull chain and was manufactured by Peerless Victorious, a company that probably went out of business during the Taft administration.

Then, no respectable person spent their time in a pool hall. It was where hoods, loudmouths, gamblers, and bums hung out, but I didn’t care. I loved it. I used to play for hours on end, betting kids and adults in games of Nine-Ball or straight pool. At thirteen, I was beating thirty-year-olds and pocketing ten and twenty dollars a game. If I didn’t have money, people would back me and I’d split the winnings afterward. In school, I got kicked off the basketball team because I left practice to go pick up my new pool cue that had just come in.

When I was “on,” I couldn’t miss a shot. Once, I sank 125 balls straight. At Nine-Ball, I went six racks without missing a shot. These are the kinds of performances you’d expect from a mature adult professional. But to be a real hustler you had to have heart. Heart is when a gambler shoots the same shot whether there’s a dollar on the line or a thousand. I would choke thinking more of the money than sinking the ball. If I had heart, you would have never heard of me as an art forger.

Like many of my friends, I was an altar boy. After mass we’d count donations on a big table in the back room. Some of the guys would slip a couple of fives, tens, or twenties under their robes; then we’d go play pool. I never took any money from the church; I’d just win it later playing Nine-Ball. When they got busted, I got blamed because my pockets were full of cash. It was a bitter disappointment to my mother. Stealing from the church was considered worse than being a child molester. No matter what, though, I never ratted. Ever.

In 1965, I got my girlfriend pregnant. My mother, who had a way with words, said, “You made your bed, now you’re gonna sleep in it.” At sixteen, I became the father of a beautiful baby girl. I got married and started working as a runner on a milk truck.

The night of my wedding, a few of us had a toast with a six-pack of beer and then I went straight to bed because I had to get up at three a.m. to make deliveries in the freezing rain. It was so cold that winter, I used to sit in the refrigerator to “warm up.” Lying awake at night, I stared down the long road ahead and thought to myself, “There’s no way I’m doing this for the rest of my life.”

So, planning to bring Marguerite and my daughter out later, I moved to California.



(1969 to 1972)

When I was nine years old, my father, who owned a Lincoln-Mercury dealership, won a sales award and received an all-expenses-paid trip to the West Coast. We put on our best suits, boarded a silver propeller plane, and flew to Los Angeles. Then, LA was not considered the smoggy, crime-ridden sprawl that it is now but rather a newly minted sun-drenched and smiling city of the future, powered by the glamorous movie business, a burgeoning aerospace industry, and the promise of sunny days under swaying palm trees.

My uncle, Anthony, who had come from Fulton a decade earlier, picked us up in his station wagon and we stayed at his ranch house in Montclair, a nice little town at the base of Mount Baldy. My father spent the next week driving us around the small highways and byways of greater Los Angeles to an endless array of roadside attractions. Now, these places would seem corny, but sixty years ago, to a nine-year-old kid, they were miracles of wonder and excitement.

There were places to eat, great never-ending smorgasbords where my dad piled magnificent roasts onto his plate and where you might have ten kinds of pie and ice cream. There were animal parks, aviaries, miniature railways, Old West towns, Indian villages, alligator farms, and pony rides—everything a young boy would love. Though it was February and too cold to swim, I pestered my father until he agreed to take us to the ocean. To me, the fact that you could have a pleasant, sunny beach day in the middle of winter seemed magical.

The next week, we all piled into the station wagon and headed across the desert toward Las Vegas, which was then just a sparsely built boomtown in the middle of endless rocks and sand. On the way, we stopped in Baker, California, at the famous Bun Boy restaurant, where we had the most delicious strawberry shortcake I’d ever tasted, with piles of giant, juicy fresh strawberries and mountains of whipped cream. Fresh strawberries in winter—what a miracle!

As we rolled into Las Vegas at night, you could see the lights and blinking marquees twinkling in the valley below. It seemed like magic. We stayed at the famous Stardust, which then was just a casino surrounded by separate motel sections with space-age names like Jupiter, Saturn, Venus, and Mars. At night, my parents got dressed up and went to a show while my brother Don and I stayed in the motel gorging on the dazzling array of TV channels that dwarfed the measly three we had in Fulton.

The next day, my father took me to the casino for a lucky spin on the slot machine. Though a security guard politely informed my father that children weren’t allowed in the casino, I managed to pull the arm and see the wheels spin. I didn’t win, but I felt about as lucky as any kid had ever been, and I didn’t care. When we returned to Fulton a few days later, I recounted for weeks and weeks the wonders of California and the shining mirage that was Las Vegas as my friends listened in awe with their mouths agape.

Ten years later, my life in Fulton was in a depressing spiral and California had become a distant dream. After a year and a half of running milk deliveries, I had moved on to selling cheap furniture in a chain store called Roy’s, and with the little money I earned, Marguerite, my daughter, and I just managed to get by with our dreary life. Before, my friends and I used to laugh at Fulton’s “City with a Future” sign, but now it seemed more like a bitter joke on me.

That winter, like tens of millions of other miserable people in snow country, I watched with envy as vividly colored floats cruised down the sunny boulevards of Pasadena to the cheers and smiles of happy, attractive people at the famous Rose Parade. Stuck inside, I cursed the endless sheets of freezing snowfall raining down outside my window.

Months later, when my sister and her husband visited from California and brought with them the latest edition of the Los Angeles Times, I devoured every single page and column, remembering the magical trip I had taken as a kid. I must have read the classifieds for jobs and apartments a dozen times, and because I didn’t have a clue about geography, I dreamed of living in Long Beach or Santa Monica or Downtown. The details didn’t matter.

Over the next year, I worked hard and saved up $200, which I plowed into a stock tip I had gotten at the pool hall. Every day, I used to call a broker in Syracuse, who I had found in the telephone book, and asked him what the price of Benrus Watch Company was. Dollar by dollar, the stock started to climb slowly upward, and when it had finally doubled, I cashed out, quit my job, and told Marguerite that I would be leaving for California, where a better future for our family was waiting.

January 3, 1969, I shoveled my beat-up Austin-Healey 3000 out from under a mountain of snow, kissed my wife and baby girl, and took off for Pomona, where my grandmother lived in a small but well-kept apartment. Before, I had been scared about becoming a father, about being able to earn a living, and about making something of myself; now I only felt excitement at the beginning of a journey and a grand sense of adventure.

An Austin-Healey is not a car you drive three thousand miles across the country. By the time I hit the Will Rogers Turnpike in Miami, Oklahoma, I had lost my right front wheel—the spokes ping-pinging for the last fifty miles until the wobble became too much to control. Nobody in Oklahoma had a replacement, so I had to wait while a local junkyard managed to get one from across the state line. It cost me $200 plus three nights in a motel, and $10 from pumping quarters into the pay TV. My stake was now down to $100, but my enthusiasm was not diminished, and as I pointed the car west toward Las Vegas, I was flush with the certainty that I would win all my money back at the blackjack tables and live to fight another day. After playing for about an hour, I was calling Fulton to see if they could wire me enough gas money to reach LA.

In the morning, I retrieved $75 from Western Union and hit the road. Finally, January 15, 1969, I rolled into the driveway of my grandmother’s modest apartment, at night, in a torrential downpour. I had $35 in my pocket and a useless car with a fried clutch and sandblasted exterior. I stayed with my grandmother and tried to find a job while, for a solid month, cold rain fell outside the window. It was the kind of storm you see only every hundred years. Houses were sliding off of hillsides and cars were being swept away by rivers of mud and sand. Everywhere we went was soaking wet and freezing cold. It was like Fulton—only with palm trees.

My oldest brother, Jim—who lived nearby in Claremont—got me a job working with him as a painter. We were contracted by a big company, and after the rain finally let up, we started working from morning until night applying Tex-Cote to modest homes all around Southern California in places like Bell Gardens, Duarte, Downey, La Habra, and Cypress. At night we’d go to bars, and I was surprised to learn that California had country-western places where cowboys danced the two-step.

Soon, I had moved into an apartment with a roommate also from Fulton and scraped together a few dollars to send back home to my wife and daughter. In one of my first expensive toll calls to Marguerite, I complained about the nonstop rain and told her that I would bring her out as soon as I could.

Then my brother and I moved in together. He suggested we live at the beach, but I had stars in my eyes and insisted we should be in Hollywood, which to me meant glamour, excitement, and style. We moved into a high-rise called the Hollywood Mt. Cahuenga Apartments and became close friends with our property manager, Bill, the first openly gay man I had ever met. In Fulton, they did not exist. He would have dinner with us, enjoying my brother’s home cooking and our small-town, real-people personalities.

When we weren’t working, we would drive around stopping in at dive bars, record stores, and burger stands. It was only a few months before the Manson murders, and there was a strange vibe in the air with freaks and hippies and crowds hanging around the seedy Sunset Strip.

We were like nomads then, chasing work wherever we could find it. One day we got a call to Tex-Cote a big mansion in Fresno, five hours away, up the Central Valley. It was going to be at least a month of work and we were told that Fresno was a nice place that would have plenty of other jobs when we were done. We brought Bill to work with us, and we all went to live in a motel for a couple of weeks. I liked Fresno then, but I missed my family and focused on putting money together so that I could bring them out.

Jim and I used to go to pool halls after work, where he would back me and we would hustle whatever we could. One time, in a beer bar, I ran the table and we made over $200, which we collected apologetically before rushing to our car ahead of the locals who were starting to reconsider their bets. I didn’t know it then, but my brother didn’t have the money to cover me. If I had known, I probably would have been too nervous to make my shots.

In a month, I had finally saved enough money to fly my family out, and as they came off the plane, I was thrilled to hug Christine, who I hadn’t seen in almost five months. That night, we all celebrated at the motel diner and slept together in the king-size bed. In the morning, we went to see the little apartment I had rented. It wasn’t much, all that I could afford, but it was in a complex for families and I was glad to see other kids playing and running around. The apartment itself was a shock. It was filthy, with flies everywhere and broken windows. Marguerite, who had nervously flown across the country with our little daughter, far away from home and far from anyone she knew, began crying and, with the depressing, unfamiliar surroundings too much to take, did not want to stay.


  • "If you are an art lover, don’t miss this book. It will open your eyes to a world you might not have realized existed. And you may have to check your own collection to be sure you haven’t a Tetro on the wall."
     —Lord Jeffrey Archer, #1 New York Times bestselling author
  • “Written with wit and disarming frankness….Mr. Tetro is a charming crook-scoundrel, a self-educated Runyonesque character who makes a fortune before he finally gets caught….Con/Artist reads like a step-by-step handbook for forgers, delivering a wealth of tips….One thing that comes across in Mr. Tetro’s story is his genuine...passion for art, especially the Renaissance masters.”—The Wall Street Journal
  • “Think Goodfellas meets the art gallery….Tetro, with his laid-back attitude, wry take on the art world and streetwise humor, is not one for modesty….It’s hard not to be charmed by the tale of this average nobody who scams his way to the big time, only to blow all his money on like a mobster on fast cars, fast women, hard drinking, and hard drugs….Tetro emerges as a loveable rapscallion—part highly skilled conjurer, part practical joker—who points out what the sceptics have always tended to suspect: that the art market emperors are strutting their stuff in no clothes….Tetro’s frankness is invigorating….His art appreciation, however rough and ready…can feel delightfully fresh.”—Times of London
  • “Beneath the grit and the glamor is a fascinating tale of a diligent, self-taught artist with a good work ethic and a great natural talent… A magician never reveals his secrets, but Tetro is no magician. Readers hankering for the nitty gritty of how he made his fakes won’t be disappointed....From start to finish Tetro’s passion for art and his knack for drama carry the reader through.”—Spectator
  • “Remarkable…electric memoir.”—AirMail
  • **Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award**
    “[Narrator] Richard Ferrone captures the casual confidence, wobbly moral compass, and street-smart charm of Tony Tetro, an art forger extraordinaire.…This audiobook will lead listeners to question everything they thought they knew about the value of fine art.” —AudioFile (audiobook)
  • “Tetro, one of the most prolific art forgers of the 20th century, paints his own life story with flair in this cinematic memoir… Written in a colorful, conversational voice and blending memoir, art history, and true crime, Tetro’s account takes readers on a turbulent, fast-paced, high-stakes roller-coaster ride. This is the art world’s The Wolf of Wall Street.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)
  • “[Tetro’s] memoir, cowritten with investigative journalist Giampiero Ambrosi, is absolutely fascinating, full of the kind of evocative writing and precise detail that brings an autobiography to life. He might have been doing something illegal, but it’s awfully hard not to like Tony Tetro. Like reformed con artist Frank W. Abagnale (Catch Me If You Can), he seems straightforward, open about his crimes, and just a bit proud of his success as a crook. A welcome addition to any true-crime shelf.”
     —Booklist (starred review)
  • "Compulsively readable."—Daily Mail
  • “A successful, prolific art forger tells his remarkable story…He has amusing things to say about people who have too much money and not enough sense…. Tetro tells his rollicking story well, and the result is a unique narrative. An entertaining account that shines a light onto a shady world as well as a personal story of hubris and redemption.”—Kirkus Reviews
  • "First, a warning: after reading this book, you might find yourself inspecting the pictures hanging in museums and galleries a little more closely....This mind-boggling and absorbing memoir charts the rise and fall of the American forger, who made headlines when some of his Monets were discovered in the collection of King Charles III. Expect art history, big money, sex, and corruption."
  • “Juicy….[Tetro] promises ‘an art history lesson wrapped in sex, drugs, and Caravaggio.’ AKA all the things we look for in a great holiday party.”—Urban Daddy
  • “If you love a story of wild excess, here you go. How much will you take Tony Tetro’s word as truth? Read and decide for yourself.”—BookRiot

On Sale
Nov 22, 2022
Page Count
288 pages
Hachette Books

Tony Tetro_author photo credit Coleman Beltrami

Tony Tetro

About the Author

Tony Tetro is a world-renowned art forger who has produced countless pieces that have easily passed as the work of the Masters from Rembrandt to Monet to Picasso to Dali. For over forty-five years, Tetro’s work duped the art world and appeared as legitimate pieces in museums, galleries, auction houses, and private collections across the globe. In 1989, Tetro was convicted of art forgery in a heavily publicized trial in Los Angeles. He was released from prison in 1994. He has since become a media figure and he continues to paint original works in the style of famous painters for an exclusive list of clients. In 2019, four of his pieces were scandalously discovered in Prince Charles' collection.
Giampiero Ambrosi is the founder of Oak Grove Films and has extensive experience in investigative and hard news documentary. After following Tetro’s story for over twenty years, Ambrosi was part of the team that uncovered Tetro’s inadvertent connection to the 2019 Prince Charles art forgery scandal in the Mail on Sunday, which was nominated for “Investigation of the Year” at the 2020 British Journalism Awards. He is producing a forthcoming feature documentary on the Prince Charles art forgery scandal.

Learn more about this author

Giampiero Ambrosi

About the Author

Giampiero Ambrosi is the founder of Oak Grove Films and has extensive experience in investigative and hard news documentary. After following Tetro’s story for over twenty years, Ambrosi was part of the team that uncovered Tetro’s inadvertent connection to the 2019 Prince Charles art forgery scandal in the Mail on Sunday, which was nominated for “Investigation of the Year” at the 2020 British Journalism Awards. He is producing a forthcoming feature documentary on the Prince Charles art forgery scandal.

Learn more about this author