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The $50 Million Art Swindle

Feature-length documentary for Arena by director Vanessa Engle, telling the remarkable story of a charlatan art dealer who swindled over $50 million from the art establishment before going on the run.

This feature-length documentary for Arena by acclaimed director Vanessa Engle tells the remarkable story of a charlatan art dealer who swindled over $50 million from the art establishment before going on the run. Michel Cohen, a popular and charming New York art dealer was originally from France. A high school drop-out from a poor background, Cohen was a self-invented man who went on to become a rich and successful art dealer, with homes in Malibu and New York. Throughout the 1990s, he sold paintings by artists such as Picasso, Monet and Chagall to America’s wealthiest elite. Cohen was living the high life until he began trading recklessly in the stock market and ran up considerable debts. In an attempt to recoup his losses, he swindled private collectors, auction houses and other art dealers out of more than $50 million. When his swindles were discovered, he fled the USA with his wife and two small children and went on the run. In 2003, he was found by Interpol in Brazil and was imprisoned in Rio de Janeiro, but seven months later, whilst awaiting extradition to the USA, he escaped from prison and vanished off the face of the earth. Sixteen years later, filmmaker Vanessa Engle has managed to track him down and persuade him to tell his extraordinary story - a highly entertaining crime caper that is also a rich exploration of greed, motive and morality.

1 hour, 29 minutes

Last on

Thu 10 Oct 2019 01:00


Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • 00:02

    Lalo Schifrin

    The Wave

  • 00:07


    You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)

  • 00:10

    Lalo Schifrin

    Jim On The Move

  • 00:11

    Lalo Schifrin

    Bossa Em Nova York

  • 00:33

    Lalo Schifrin


  • 00:35

    Charles Trenet

    La Mer

    Singer: Charles Trenet. Orchestra: Guy Luypaert and His Orchestra.
  • 00:42


    American Coast (feat. Ben Mazué & Akil)

  • 00:42

    Madrid Pimps

    Intro (Con Javi Aka El Brujo)

  • 01:02

    Édith Piaf

    Non Je Ne Regrette Bien

  • 01:03

    [no artist]

    Santa's Jet

  • 01:07

    Luiz Bonfa, Oscar Castro-Neves, Lalo Schifrin

    Bossa Nova Cha Cha

  • 01:18

    Jacques Brel

    Ne Me Quitte Pas

  • 01:25

    Charles Aznavour

    Yesterday When I Was Young


Role Contributor
Director Vanessa Engle
Executive Producer Darren Kemp
Producer Billie Shepherd
Production Company Top Hat Productions Ltd


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