Dali & I: The Surreal Story

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Macmillan, Jul 8, 2008 - Biography & Autobiography - 304 pages
2 Reviews

An extraordinary memoir of fortune, fraud, and the master of modern art

Art dealer Stan Lauryssens made millions in modern art, but he sold only one name: Salvador Dalí. The surrealist painter's work was a hot commodity for the newly rich, investors, and shady businessmen looking to launder their black-market cash. Stan didn't mind looking the other way; he just hoped the buyers would look the other way as well. The artworks he sold came from some very questionable sources, but he soon discovered that the shadiest source of all was Dalí himself.

The more successful Stan became, the closer he came to Dalí, until he found himself living next door to the aging artist, in the Catalonian hills. While hiding from Interpol's detectives, Stan spent his time with the artists, musicians, business associates, and eccentrics who surrounded Dalí. He learned about Dalí's secret history, the studio of artists who produced his work, and the moneymaking machine that kept Dalí's extravagant lifestyle afloat long after his creativity began to flounder.

Dalí & I offers a behind-the-scenes view of the commerce and conspiracy that go hand in hand in the international art world, written by a man who has been to the top only to discover that it's not so different from the bottom.

 

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Errors and poorly written. Avoid this book.
The amount of errors throughout this is glaring. Not recommended in any way as a serious work, except perhaps as a work of fiction. Fails utterly as it is
poorly written and serves no purpose but to further the reputation of the author. One star given is only to fulfill requirements to submit this review, It deserves ZERO stars. 

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Almost twenty years after his death the inexplicable life and works of Salvador Dali are still a mystery. And con-men continue to make financial gains by using his name.
In Dali & I, Stan
Lauryssens may well be continuing the tradition.
I wanted to quit reading this book about 30 pages in because it is so badly written. Unless you’re a fan of excessive lists in place of sentences:
“…far outsold superstars Warren Beatty, Raquel Welch, Ursula Andress, Dustin Hoffman, Woody Allen, and even Elizabeth Taylor, the all-time beauty queen.”
Mr Lauryssens uses this technique throughout the entire book, most excessively in the first half to describe his surroundings and what he’s eating and drinking.
Another annoyance. The continuing rolling “rrr’s” that he put into every dialogue attributed to Dali (a man whom, by the way, he never met. He saw him once at the top of a staircase) Just pointing out the rolling r’s once is all the reader needs to imagine for themselves.
And then there’s the bad dialogue. In the author’s defense, he does point out:
“Conversations presented in dialogue form have been recreated based on my memory of them, but they are not intended to represent the word-for-word documentation of what was said; rather, they are meant to reflect the substance of what was said.”
Fair enough. Who keeps a diary of every conversation they have. But, again, they are badly written and the timing of them is hard to believe. Why, upon first meeting someone, would you tell them of your childhood sexual abuse at the hands of a living icon?
Beyond his writing style, I was also finding the truthfulness of much of this book dubious.
Upon being arrested, why would you brag to the police about knowingly selling fake Dali’s and then be shocked when they put you in jail? If your keeping yourself prisoner in your own home because Interpol is looking for you, why would you contact the FBI to get a file on Dali to find out if he was a Nazi spy? If you’re comfortable driving your Alfa-Romeo from town to town to meet with Dali insiders (while still being hunted by Interpol) why not buy a pad of paper as opposed to writing conversations down on backs of receipts and toilet paper?
Yes, about halfway through the book Lauryssens began keeping notes on his conversations (whether for a memoir or some sort of evidence against Dali is not told) and the dialogue in the book started flowing more smoothly. So, just as I was getting ready to at least try to enjoy this book as a fictional memoir…Stan ticked me off…
His lack of respect for people as a whole was irritating me and I’m sure his “Black” housekeeper (mentioned twice in the same terms) would feel the same. After having mentioned Amanda Lear a couple of times and back-handedly complimenting her each time, he finally flat out insulted her by referring to her artwork as Dali imitations. I needed to see for myself. So I “googled” Amanda Lear. I did find her art on a fan website. Definitely Dali inspired but hardly what I would call “imitations”. On her own website there is no artwork, it’s dedicated to her music and television appearances and has a couple of articles, including a 2004 interview for Night magazine which was very interesting.
Then I went back to the book and an hour later came across this:
"What advice did he (Dali) give you, Ultra (Violet)?"
"Whatever you do, he said, do something that attracts attention. Be a murderer, set fire to a hotel, talk dirty. Whatever. But do something..."
I just read that! I went back to Ms Lear’s site and sure enough, four years ago from her, not even quoting Dali:
"Whatever you do, be a murderer, set fire to the hotel, say something that will really shock, talk dirty, whatever, do something that will attract attention."
Did Mr. Lauryssens mistakenly attribute this quote to the wrong source? Although, according to the book Ms Lear was at this meeting with him and Ultra Violet, among others. Was this something Dali
 

Selected pages

Contents

Section 1
3
Section 2
11
Section 3
22
Section 4
24
Section 5
34
Section 6
40
Section 7
47
Section 8
59
Section 19
148
Section 20
175
Section 21
176
Section 22
179
Section 23
186
Section 24
219
Section 25
225
Section 26
233

Section 9
66
Section 10
71
Section 11
76
Section 12
83
Section 13
103
Section 14
124
Section 15
131
Section 16
134
Section 17
139
Section 18
147
Section 27
234
Section 28
243
Section 29
257
Section 30
258
Section 31
273
Section 32
289
Section 33
290
Section 34
293
Copyright

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About the author (2008)

Belgium-born Stan Lauryssens was an art dealer specializing in works by Salvador Dalí for over a decade. After spending time in prison for the sale of bogus Dalís, he turned to writing crime fiction. He won Belgium's Hercule Poirot Award in 2002 for best crime fiction of the year. He now divides his time between Antwerp and London.

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