This book tells the stories behind the disappearances of some of our most famous works of art - and some that never existed at all. Like Sherlock Holmes' dog in the night time, sometimes the true significance of things lies in their absence. Rick Gekoski tells the very human stories that lie behind some of the greatest losses to artistic culture - and addresses the questions such disappearances raise.
Some of the items are stolen (the "Mona Lisa"), some destroyed (like Philip Larkin's diaries, shredded, then burnt, on his dying request) and some were lost before they even existed, like the career of the brilliant art deco architect, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, which foundered amid a lack of cash - but behind all of them lies an often surprising story which reveals a lot about what art means to us. Gekoski explores in depth the greater questions these tremendous losses raise - such as the rights artists and authors have over their own work, the importance of the search for perfection in creativity, and what motivated people to queue to see the empty space where the "Mona Lisa" once hung in the Louvre.