Long Reads: Frank Bourassa, Margaret Keane, gluten and dead cats

This weeks Long Reads deal with crooks that got away, Big Eyes (and Margaret Keane), gluten and cats…that die…yes…(no cats were harmed in the creation of this Long Reads…)


The world’s greatest counterfeiter: Frank Bourassa – Wells Tower (GQ)

This is something that Martin Scorsese would direct. A career criminal, who counterfeited 200 million US dollars to perfection, then, when caught, managed to wrangle his way out of some serious charges and walk away from it all.


The big-eyed children: the extraordinary story of an epic art fraud – Jon Ronson (The Guardian)

This is the story behind the upcoming Tim Burton film, Big Eyes, which surprisingly does not feature Johnny Depp or Helen Bonham Carter. It concerns the art movement of the Big Eye paintings in the ’60s, where children where being painted with exaggerated, massive eyes like Zooey Deschanel. These paintings are striking, and you don’t know why you like them – again like Zooey Deschanel.

People loved them and they brought in the big bucks, with both the original painting being sold and then also the prints and memorabilia, postcards, etc. All the product of one man, Walter Keane.

Except it later turned out that it was in fact his wife Margaret Keane who was the painter, the talent, while it was Walter taking all the credit, and living the life, hanging with the Beach Boys…and there was always three or four nude people in the swimming people, apparently, and according to his memoir: “Everybody was screwing everybody. Sometimes I’d be going to bed and there’d be three girls in the bed.”

Margaret Keane, by contrast, was a virtual prisoner, painting all day under the authoritative watchful eye of her husband.

In this piece, Margaret Keane, the subject of the interview, explains why she went along with it and Walter’s motivation.


Against the grain – Michael Specter (The New Yorker)

On the face of it, it sounds like the worst article; I mean a long read on gluten. I just struggle to care about this gluten fad. I’m not allergic and bread is delicious – story over for me. But in typical New Yorker style they have taken this issue, put a microscope over it, extracted every iota of information and turned it into a really interesting, well-written read.


Editor’s Choice – this week’s piece from Narrative.ly

Ten lives: A man and a cat at death’s door – Robyn Jordan

Time for a little graphic action…well, graphic novel, or more comic book strip. It’s cat week at Narrative.ly (we will never have one at TBS, we promise, no matter how many shares those Buzzfeed “Top Ten cats that look like Uma Thurman” get – plus our mascot, Bette, just wouldn’t allow it to get past the editorial committee) and they are handling it in just the kooky way you would hope they would. This piece is about dealing with the death of loved ones, feline and otherwise.


Share via