Let’s talk about a book that has probably guided some of my life choices: “Masterclass”, which is a novel published in 1988 by a prolific Australian author, Morris West.
“Masterclass” is a clever novel that combines suspense, moral tale and art market. This pretty astonishing combination is probably explained by the somewhat atypical career of the author, a teacher with the Christian Brothers but also an art collector and owner of art galleries in Australia.
His American hero, Max Mather, an art historian and a paleographer in his thirties, lives on his good looks, his culture and his interpersonal skills. Archivist for an old Florentine family, the Palombinis, he soon becomes the lover of Pia, one of the heiresses. Life is good in Tuscany. Until Pia passes away from a devastating illness.
Pia took care by will to offer her American lover the possibility of taking what he wanted from the messy family archives. Max discovers there a canvas and drawings which seem to be by Raphael’s hand. These artworks, so far unknown, may be part of the family archives, may be in conformity with the letter of the will, but certainly not with its spirit – and Max cannot ignore this point, in view of the inestimable value of the art works in question.
However, he purloins the artworks and deploys a Machiavellian strategy to make the artworks appear on the art market and then obtain their legal ownership.
During his journey that takes him to New York and Paris, Max will be confronted with a genius copyist – who once made copies of several Raphaels, an unresolved past murder and an auctioneer claiming the right to euthanasia.
Are the artworks authentic Raphaels or forgeries? And in this crazy adventure that mixes money, murder, love and friendship, will Max grow up as an honorable man?
Morris West takes us through the intricacies of this art market he knows so well and it’s fascinating.
So here I am in front of the venerable pagoda of the art dealer Mr. Ching Tsai Loo, to pay homage to this novel which I liked so much, young. I trust that I owe to “Masterclass” my particular acquaintances with art and legal structuring.
November 13, 2021
Lanvin coat and purse – Azzaro dress – Gucci heels – Chanel sunglasses