Charney, Noah 1979–

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Charney, Noah 1979–


Born 1979, in New Haven, CT; son of James (a psychiatrist) and Diane (a professor of French literature) Charney. Education: Attended Colby College; Courtauld Institute, M.A.; University of Cambridge, M.Phil.; working toward doctorates at the University of Cambridge and at the University of Ljubljana.


Home—New Haven, CT; Cambridge, England; Rome, Italy. Agent—Lois Wallace, Wallace Literary Agency, Inc., 301 E. 79th St., Ste. 14J, New York, NY 10021. E-mail—[email protected].


Writer. Teaches art history each spring for Miami Dade University in Florence, Italy; teaches art history each summer for the Oxbridge Academic program at the University of Oxford, Oxford, England. Singer, guitarist, and songwriter for the punk rock band, the Jump Into, 1999-2002; later performed alone under the name Seraph.


Association for Research into Crimes against Art (founder).


Horizons New Young Playwrights Competition, 2002.


The Art Thief: A Novel, Atria Books (New York, NY), 2007.

Recorded three albums as Seraph: This Machine Heals Broken Hearts, 2003, For the Fallen, 2004, and Songs of Rage and Love, 2006.


Noah Charney was born 1979, in New Haven, Connecticut, the son of James Charney, a psychiatrist, and Diane Charney, a professor of French literature at Yale University. As he grew up, Charney spent much of this time with his family abroad, as they traveled to Europe for the majority of their vacations and summers and instilled in their son a belief that Europe contained the epitome of culture, cuisine, and history. He frequently studied abroad, although he received his primary schooling in the United States, attending Choate Rosemary Hall. He spent a year in Paris, where he studied art history and French, and it was this period of his study that solidified his decision to major in art. Charney went on to attend Colby College in Maine, where he studied art history and English literature, as well as theater during a year spent in London. During his undergraduate years, he wrote a number of plays, and in 2002 he won the Horizons New Young Playwrights Competition. Following graduation, Charney moved to Europe. Over the next few years, he continued his education, working toward his master's degree at the Courtauld Institute, where he focused in particular on Roman art of the seventeenth century. It was during this time that he began his novel, The Art Thief: A Novel, though it would not be published until 2007.

The Art Thief combines Charney's love of art and art history with a curiosity regarding how an art thief operates and the ways in which they may circumvent the layers of security that so typically protect major works of art from the possibility of theft. After acquiring his master's degree from the Courtauld Institute, as well as a second master's degree from the University of Cambridge, he began working toward his doctorate with a focus on the history of art theft, an interest that was spawned by the research he did for his book. The novel features a string of art thefts in which the thief is targeting famous paintings from well-known venues. The works of art themselves have little in common; a Baroque painting disappears from an Italian chapel, a modern work from a Paris museum, and the National Gallery of Modern Art in London has a newly acquired work go missing. It is up to art detective Gabriel Coffin, assisted by art historian Genevieve Delaloche, to get to the bottom of the crimes and to apprehend the criminal responsible. While critics liked the characters and the concept of the book, several felt that the plot became bogged down by the intricate historical details and background that Charney chose to include in the text. Tonia R. Montgomery, in a review for the Curled Up with a Good Book Web site, remarked that "what initially promises to be a clever and captivating mystery never develops." Other critics felt the book had its strong points. Reviewing for, Roz Shea concluded that "The Art Thief is more about the chase and less about the crime. Charney does not abuse his platform to preach about the criminal aspects, and the reader will be rewarded by learning a great deal about art history, especially iconic art." Adam Gittlin, in a review for Writers Are Readers, opined: "Once in a while, because of the mature nature of both the writing itself as well as the story, a rare gem from a new writer strikes me as work that already stands up to those at the top of this game. Noah Charney's The Art Thief is indeed one of those gems."

An ongoing interest in art theft and its prevention led Charney to found the Association for Research into Crimes against Art. In addition to his writing and academic career, he performs as a rock soloist under the name Seraph and has recorded several albums. The proceeds from his music go to fund his anti-theft foundation.



Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2007, review of The Art Thief: A Novel.

New Haven Register, November 25, 2007, "Noah Charney Wants to Be an Art Thief's Worst Enemy."

New York Times, December 17, 2006, "To Sketch a Thief," p. 54.

Publishers Weekly, July 30, 2007, review of The Art Thief, p. 55.

Richmond Times-Dispatch, September 23, 2007, "Fiction: A Thing of Beauty Is a Thing to Steal."


Art Thief Web site, (June 18, 2008)., (June 18, 2008), Roz Shea, review of The Art Thief.

Café of Dreams, (October 27, 2007), review of The Art Thief.

Colby College Web site, (June 18, 2008), Stephen Collins, "Staged and Screened."

Curled Up with a Good Book, (June 18, 2008), Tonia R. Montgomery, review of The Art Thief.

Illicit Cultural Property, (December 18, 2006), "Who Is Noah Charney?"

Independent Online (London, England), (January 13, 2008), review of The Art Thief.

Monsters and Critics, (March 21, 2008), Angela Youngman, review of The Art Thief.

Noah Charney Home Page, (June 18, 2008).

Simon & Schuster Web site, (June 18, 2008), author profile.

Vulpes Libris, (January 6, 2008), author profile.

Writers Are Readers, (June 18, 2008), Adam Gittlin, review of The Art Thief.