The $50m Art Swindle – BBC2

The $50m Art Swindle tells the remarkable story of a lone-wolf art dealer who took the art world for a ride

The $50m Art Swindle tells the incredible true story of Michel Cohen, a fraudulent art dealer who went on the run in 2001 and who hasn’t been seen since, until director Vanessa Engle tracked him down for this documentary.

Born in France in 1953 to a poor family, by the early 1990s Cohen was a hugely successful and rich art dealer in America.

It was a classic rags to riches story, and it looked at the time like he was living the dream.

Vanessa Engle

Has film-maker Vanessa Engle tracked down fraudster Michel Cohen?

But lots of money wasn’t enough for Michel, he wanted more, so he started playing the stock market.

By 2000 he was at least $15 million in debt and had started swindling the art world to try and keep up with his stock market loses.

Suddenly, he ran, leaving the art world completely shocked and out of pocket by over $50 million. It’s a stranger-than-fiction tale of an extraordinary life.

TV Times rating: ****