Noah Charney

noah charney

Noah's Latest News

Bled Film Festival

Noah has been recruited as "Selector of Feature Films" for the first annual Bled Film Festival, which will be held in Bled, Slovenia June 17-21.  This new festival features high-profile stars among its founders, from Hollywood and the Balkans.  Noah will be choosing eight films to be screened and contend for juried prizes, plus four films shown for free in an open air theater on the shores of Lake Bled, often called the most beautiful place on earth.  For more information, visit

Cultural Heritage Research Prize

Noah is one of a select number of jury members for a brand new prize, established by the Institute of Cultural Diplomacy and former Italian Minister of Culture, Francesco Rutelli.  The Cultural Heritage Research Prize will be awarded annually to someone who distinguishes themselves in the field of cultural heritage protection and recovery.  The prestigious prize includes a substantial cash award as well.  Noah's fellow jurors include  Rutelli, Mounir Bouchenaki, Bonnie Burnham, Jack Lang, Giovanni Nistri, Peter Watson, Hanna Pennock, Ismail Serageldin, and Stefano de Caro.  More information is available here.

Noah's BBC and National Geographic Documentaries

Noah appears as a guest expert and presenter on two TV documentaries this winter.  "The World's Most Expensive Stolen Paintings" appears on BBC2 on December 21, 2013 and "Hunting Hitler's Stolen Art Treasures" appears on Nat Geo Channel on February 5, 2014.

Invited to Consult to UN on Art Crime
Noah has been invited to participate in this year's ISPAC meeting on art crime. ISPAC is the International Scientific and Professional Advisory Committee to the United Nations' Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Program.

The History of Art in 12 Paintings
Noah has been chosen by The Teaching Company to prepare a featured course for their prestigious Great Courses series. He will film a course of his design, called "The History of Art in 12 Paintings," which will be published in the summer of 2015. Noah is the youngest professor ever to be featured in the Great Courses series.

Art Crime Conference at the V&A Museum in London (7 November)
Through ARCA, Noah is organizing a day-long symposium on art crime, hosted by the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. The symposium will be held on 7 November 2013 and will consist of two sessions, one on "Art Forgery and Provenance," the other on "Art Recovery and Rewards." Speakers include Noah, Vernon Rapley, Richard Ellis, Charlie Hill, Claire Hutcheon, and Jonathan Jones. Tickets are free but must be reserved in advance.

TED 2014 Finalist
Noah is a finalist to be one of the twenty annual TED Fellows at the main TED event in 2014. Fingers crossed!

Writing for Esquire
Noah is thrilled to announce that he has begun to write for his favorite magazine, Esquire. You can find links to his articles on his Articles page or on his blog.

Noah in The New Yorker
Noah is quoted as an expert on art forgery in a recent New Yorker feature article about Mark Landis.

Noah's "The Secret History of Art" Blog

  • Life Without Enthusiasm is Like Sex without an Orgasm: an Interview with Klemen Globochnik

    An idea saved Klemen Globochnik’s life.  Depressed and with existential doubts, the young Slovene salesman turned away from his black thoughts and to an elaborate, multi-year project that resulted in an inspiration book with a striking title: “Life Without Enthusiasm is Like Sex Without an Orgasm.”  The Secret History of Art spoke to Klemen about his book, inspirational writing, and the trials of selling door-to-door.

    How did you first conceive of the idea for your book?

    The idea first came in February 2012, when I stood on a balcony of my apartment, thinking about ending my life. I was ready to die! I was so tired and weary of repeating same old patterns that led to things falling apart, that I was seriously considering whether my life had a meaning or not. I always believed I have a true purpose in life to fulfil. So if there wasn’t be one for me, I would rather call it quits. But there was also another thought that occurred to me. Since I experienced some highly meaningful lessons over the course of 6 months (during the time of 2011/2012 when being involved in direct sales), I decided to focus only on newly-gained knowledge instead, and share everything that turned out to be successful for me. The result is a modern-day “kamasutra” for personal and professional success, based around 100 inspirational stories, dealing with successful ways to overcome challenges in life. So, the biggest inspiration for writing the book were moments when my life situations were the most challenging.

    Do you feel that you are more writer or editor, considering the theme of your book is also the stories of others?

    The foundation of my book is 100 of my own stories, enriched with my personal and professional experiences. I’ve been writing for more than 16 years now, starting with poetry, lyrics, prose, working as a music journalist, before I decided to write a non-fiction book. I entirely entrusted all editorial services to my Australian editor. The paperback also includes an additional part to the book – 50 success stories from people from all over the world  (USA, Australia, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Africa, Italy, Spain, Poland, Hungary, Serbia, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Singapore, Israel, Argentina, Ukraine, Philippines, Austria, Sweden, North Korea, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Romania, etc). Due to reasons of authenticity and genuineness the additional part was not professionally edited. because I wanted those stories to stay as ‘true’ and as individualistic as the people who contributed them.

    If you were to pick one of the sections of your book as a favorite, which would it be and why?

    The fact is that every story in a book somehow changed my outlook on life. I picked out only the most meaningful and transformative experiences. But the ones that caused the true transformation, which eventually sparked the initiative to write this book, are associated with direct sales. I dove into a writing process as a skilled salesperson who decided to go through ‘hell’ just to get to the point of understanding the meaning of the word ‘enthusiasm’.  There is one story that stands out, where I tried something that nobody from my peer group had. Many times, in my direct selling days, my plans were crushed. On one December evening, when things were not going so well, I decided to knock on a few random doors. It was very cold outside and I was wearing nothing but a suit and tie. I had been walking for more than an hour going from house to house, without any success. It was already 8.30 pm and people were closing their doors on me, without even listening to what I had to say. My body was telling me to give up, but my heart kept insisting, ‘you have to stay, just stay a little bit longer.’ I got fifteen rejections and succeeded on my sixteenth try. I made the sale. Back in the office I was praised for my persistence by my mentor and coach as an example of true tenacity, in front of the other employees. I succeeded because I listened to my heart, and not my body. I chose this story, because I’ve learned about the importance of persisting in a situation that would normally be considered as unpleasant or difficult. Like a saying, ‘everything is possible’, but only if you create circumstances to make it possible.

    Has the reaction of readers to your book surprised you in any way?

    Some women take the title too literally, which makes them misinterpret it before they actually read the book. But that doesn’t surprise me, because it’s an obvious trap to fell into. I challenge my readers to not only read the book, but to use its principles in the context of their own lives and only then make a judgment about it. I’m not looking for praise about how well written the stories are (because it’s not fiction) or how great the idea about two covers is, but I’m always open to hearing how useful and applicable the content is. The biggest compliment is when people learn something new about themselves and their own capabilities, when they excel at what they do, because this is the book’s main aim. One female reader told me a story that my “How to” section about focusing on just one thing at a time did not work out for her, because she wanted to progress quickly and with more things at the same time. Knowing this helped her develop a multi-tasking ability due to that failed attempt, which, for me, was even more valuable, because it came out of her own head.

    Is there anything about your book that is particularly Slovene, or is your country of origin largely unconnected with the project?  I’m interested also in your decision to publish in English.

    The book doesn’t have the spirit of any particular country. It has a spirit of someone who is a fighter and a rebel with a true cause, and ‘never-say-die’ attitude. The only relation with my native country is the fact that the majority of stories took place in Slovenia. Instead, I wanted to break the boundaries and unite some of the most basic things that we as human beings all have in common. For example, we all have fears, we all have desires, we all have something we are good at, etc. The decision for the book’s language was a mixture of a national research and personal preferences. It came about after a survey that I did in Slovenia. The results were surprising: only 31 percent suggested that I should write a book on a motivational topic in my native language, while 69 percent of all votes were for English. After that, this decision about the language was a natural and easy one to take. I am also comfortable with the fact, that my work can be immediately available to readers, wherever on Earth the English language is spoken.

    I read an interview about you in which you state that you are a “musicaholic,” that your “fetish is music.”  Tell me about this—and also tell me some bands or songs I should be listening to now that I might not have heard of.

    I’ve been hooked on music ever since I’ve heard Nirvana’s “Nevermind,” which was in 6th grade. This was a defining moment that made me feel in a way that I’ve never felt before. And the most amazing thing is that nowadays an experience with music still feels the same as it did when I was a kid. This is the main reason why I still stick with it and I don’t believe this can ever change. Music gives me the creative energy that inspires me to do all kinds of different expressive things in life. I wouldn’t expose any particular bands or songs (as there are way too many), but I’d say 90’s American rock and metal in general always strikes a chord with me. When certain music presses on your emotions so much that you feel more like a song instead of just liking a song, that’s the thing for you. And it not needs to be only music, it can be whatever intensifies your emotions in a way beyond your control.

    What is “Filter of Lies in 13 Steps?”  Sounds intriguing…

    This was my initial ‘poetry in graphics’ project that was inspired by a Marilyn Manson painting exhibition, made in 2007. I remember that it was quite disturbing for the team that I was working with at a time, but it was inspired by the “Antichrist Superstar” himself, what can you expect?! Eventually, in order to finish it, I changed some details to make it less offensive. I always want to push the envelope with my work. I remember being really enthusiastic about it and this is something I kept to this day. I’ve always been a desperate believer, because belief that you have in yourself is the only thing that nobody can take away from you. I created “Filter” around time that I started to work as a music journalist, so whenever I would go to large festivals abroad, I would always have some booklets with me and give them away as a ‘thank you’ to musicians that I worked with. This comes down to 8 years of my artistic endeavor and carving my path as a writer.

    What will your next book project be?

    At the moment I’m not thinking about upcoming projects. I have a clear idea about my next book though, but I’m fully concentrated on promoting this one. Due to a fact that my book was released in a self-publish manner, it’s going to take some time until word goes around. I don’t see myself as one of those writers that comes up with a new project every year, because I don’t see how this can work out. Jim Davis, the creator of famous cat “Garfield”, drew 2 days a week, when other days he studied how to market his work when he was still unknown. If you believe in the greatness of you work, then sharing it with as many people as possible should definitely be your No. 1 goal.

  • Eimear McBride on Agota Kristof’s “The Notebook”

    Finally up and running, The Secret History of Art’s new monthly series for THE BELIEVER magazine.  It’s called “You Should Really Be Reading This…”  Each month a different authors recommends a favorite, but little-known, novel.  I read it and then we chat about it.  Believer readers are encouraged to read along in an informal book club.  This month Eimear McBride chose “The Notebook” by Agota Kristof.  Next month is Kate Zambreno, followed by Manuel Gonzales…

  • Esquire’s 5 Craziest Art Investments Ever (and Why They are Kinda Great)

    The Secret History of Art’s latest article for Esquire magazine looks at 5 crazy art investments, following quick on the big sale of Tracey Emin’s My Bed.  Take a look at the article here.

  • A Match Made in Heaven — an Introduction to Rioja Wines

    The Secret History of Art’s latest food article is on Rioja wines, and appears in Honest Cooking:

    There are certain words that bring out the oenophile in all of us. Whether or not you have studied wine, or simply love to drink it, certain regions or grape varietals trigger a Pavlovian reaction, prompting us, if not to salivate on cue, then to fantasize about drinking a wine. “Rioja” is one of them. But aside from professionals in the wine industry, few people know precisely what that word means, beyond having something to do with Spanish wine. Before we get down to some serious drinking, let us examine the history of Rioja—for it is always nice to get to know the subject of an enriching, long-term relationship. And you can enjoy a lifetime of drinking fine Rioja.

    To begin with, Rioja is a region in Spain, divided into three zones (Alta, Baja and Alavesa). Those unfamiliar with wine tend to confuse regions (Rioja, Bordeaux, Chianti) with grape varietals (Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Refosco), when the two must be kept distinct. Rioja is a protected term (D.O.C.) because it has international name-recognition, but it can be applied to any wine produced in this region of Spain. The grapes from which Rioja wines are made, however, may come from other regions (such as the Basque Country or Navarre), and may also come from any of the three zones with La Rioja. The region benefits from its geography, located just south of the Cantabrian Mountains in northern Spain, along the fertile basin of the Ebro and Oja rivers. The river provides nutrients to a region that might otherwise be arid, and the mountains act as a cushion to keep the climate mild and prevent the strong winds that can strike throughout northern Spain. But even within a single, narrow region the three Rioja zones produce variant wines. Rioja Alavesa wines tend to have a higher level of acid, which is in part due to the poorer soil conditions (compared to the two other zones), meaning fewer vines per hectare, as each vine needs more soil from which to draw nutrients. Rioja Baja, the lower region, has a more Mediterranean climate, warmer and drier than elsewhere in La Rioja, with drought as a regular threat. The intense red and high alcohol content distinguishes Rioja Baja from its neighbors. Finally, Rioja Alta, the highest elevation vineyards in the area, feature a shorter season for growth, meaning a lighter wine (the longer the growing season, normally the richer and deeper the wine) with fruitier notes to its palate.

    Wine has been grown in the Rioja region since the pre-Roman times, when ancient Phoenicians enjoyed a lively merchant trade throughout the Mediterranean, and needed a nice beverage over which to haggle and deal. Rioja can boast a rich documented history dating back to at least 873, when an archive notes a donation to the Monastery of San Andres de Trepeana in which Rioja wine is specifically named, suggesting that it was already noteworthy some thirteen-hundred years ago. Monks produced much of the wine in the region, and drank a good deal of it. In 1063, we find the first documented mention of wine development in La Rioja, followed by the legalized status of Rioja wines by King Peter I of Aragon and Navarra, in 1102. The earliest known Spanish poet, Gonzalo de Berceo, who was a 13th century monk at the Susa Monastery in the Rioja region, mentions the wine, which surely helped the flow of his pen. The quality of Rioja wine was so carefully maintained that, in 1635, the mayor of a Rioja town called Logrono made it illegal for carts to travel streets that ran alongside wine cellars, for fear of vibrations that would disturb the wine below. In 1790 things got more serious and organized, with the first meeting of the Royal Economic Society of Rioja Winegrowers, who were powerful enough to push through policies to improve roads and rails, in order to facilitate the transport of wine, which had become a key industry for the region. The 19th century saw techniques imported from Bordeaux, with further measures taken both to maintain a high level of quality and to limit the territory in which Rioja wines could be produced—for Rioja had, by this time, already been a symbol of quality in wine for many centuries, and it was important to protect that brand.

    But what about the tasting, you say? History and theory is all well and good, but it only comes to life, and truly sinks in, when it is combined with practical experience. There are many ways to introduce yourself to Rioja. There is nothing wrong with choosing a bottle at random, but it can be more instructive, and entertaining, to arrange an organized tasting. Because budgets do not always permit the purchase of historical wines, a vertical tasting can be tricky to arrange: these tastings would typically feature a single wine from a single vineyard, but with bottles from a number of different years, to taste the subtleties of one harvest to another. Horizontal tastings are easier to organize. These involve choosing a single wine, all from the same year (and it is fine to choose a recent year), but all from different producers within the same region. First we must choose either white (blanco), rose (Rosado) or red (tinto). Most people associate Rioja with red wine, and a good 85% of the wine from the region is indeed tinto. Reds consist of a mixture of grapes, including the most commonly found varietal, Tempranillo, or some of the other grapes used: Graciano, Mazuelo or Garnacha Tinta—in practice most Riojas combine these grapes with the majority of Tempranillo.

    I recommend one of two types of horizontal tasting. One option is to buy a bottle of wine, from the same year, from each of the three Rioja regions (Alta, Baja and Alavesa). The other would be to choose three vineyards from the same region, and the same year, to taste and compare. Take notes, enjoy with friends, and eat slices of Manchego cheese and jamon. You can’t go wrong, for whichever wines you choose, if it is a true Rioja, you’ll have a match made in Heaven.

    Stay connected to your favorite wine region by joining the Rioja Wine mailing list . Its fast and simple! Just click the banner ad, fill out the form, and you will be automatically be entered into the festive wine dinner. Good luck! #riojabuzz

  • Mariano Pensotti: Writing as Performance Art

    On August 28-30, at Preseren Square in Ljubljana, The Secret History of Art will be one of four writers appearing in a performance art piece entitled “Sometimes I Think, I Can See You” by Argentine director and artist Mariano Pensotti.  It is part of the Mladi Levi (Young Lions) annual festival of contemporary art and dance in Ljubljana, run by Bunker.

    The piece, which has been performed in numerous world cities, features four writers seated somewhere in a large, busy public space (often train stations).  Each has a laptop linked to a giant screen, which projects the words that they write.  The writers can write anything they like, live, for three hours per day, but it must be inspired by or about the people they see passing before them.  In this way the passers-by become part of the writing and, through it, part of the performance.  If you’d like to attend and will be in Ljubljana those days, come to Preseren Square in the city center between 11am and 2pm.  I will be joined by the excellent Slovenian writers Goran Vojnovic, Gabriela Babnik, and Dijana Matkovic.  I will later write about the experience for a magazine.  This will be my first appearance in an art piece, so very excited indeed.

    For more click here.

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