Noah Charney

Never forget David Bowie masterminded 'the biggest art hoax in history'

On April Fools’ Day, 1998, the crème de la crème of the New York art scene gathered for a party in the studio of Jeff Koons. David Bowie played host, and while a Who’s Who of the art crowd mingled over canapés and cocktails, the mastermind behind what would be (perhaps over-zealously) dubbed “the biggest art hoax in history” prowled the perimeters of the party. It was the key event to launch an elaborate practical joke concocted by Bowie and his friend, the Scottish novelist William Boyd, multi-award-winning author of numerous novels, most famously "Any Human Heart." Bowie and Boyd met while both members of the editorial board for Modern Painters magazine and quickly hit it off. Both were outsiders in the sense that they were art lovers but not involved in the art world directly, as a rock star and a star novelist. After a meeting in 1998, they bounced the idea around of introducing a fictitious artist into the magazine. Rolling with this idea, Boyd developed a fictitious history of a “lost American artist” by the name of Nat Tate.

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From 'Soviet Santa' to Red-Faced Devils: Choose Your Own Christmas Adventure

Where I live, in the Alps of central Europe, there are three rival December traditions involving benevolent, bearded gift-bringers. With a pair of young daughters to indoctrinate in the beloved mythology of the season, I find myself getting confused as to which tales to spin. I can only imagine how confusing this must be to a three- and a four-year-old.

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