Book Review: “The Art of Making Money: The Story of a Master Counterfeiter” by Jason Kersten

This is a very interesting story about a bright kid, Art William, who could have gone straight growing up but due to the loss of his father, he and his younger brother and sister was left defending themselves with a mentally-deteriorating schizophrenic mother. He turned his skills toward making counterfeit US currency when a boyfriend of his mothers took him under his wing and taught him how to make counterfeits. But he perfected the process through many trials and errors. It’s about the acid-free paper, color changing ink, the metal strip which he devised to be sandwiched between two thin paper, the water mark, and the details of the printing.

Printing money is useless without having to distribute them. Art and his wife, Natalie, came out with a shopping spree throughout their journey, to wash the money out and return real money back in. Of course, there are other ways through mixing in with the drug money to Mexico but it was a more dangerous method. He almost died from doing that.

Ultimately, it was his long re-united father that did him in by not staying low-key and spread the money out via inexperienced people. It was the greed that got them all in trouble. Art was sentenced to several years of jail time, offering himself to free up the other affected people. When he came out, he was supposed to be on the right side of the law and teach the police how to catch counterfeiters. Unfortunately, he was banned from working in the same area that deal with money. He turned back to making counterfeits again at the end.

The story was well written and captivating. It’s sad to hear that Art Williams eventually re-committed the crime after going straight for a while, or perhaps he never did. His pursuit of his criminal father was an interesting one. Despite being abandoned at his early age, he still felt a sense of kinship toward his own father. It’s doubtful that his father felt equally passionate about him as he expressed more regrets toward his unmanaged dogs than toward his own family when he was sent to jail for possessing firearms during probation.

While reading this book, you can’t help to be imagining doing the counterfeiting yourself and going on the shopping spree like they did. It sounds so fascinating to be in the middle of passing the fake bill. On the other hand, I feel sorry for Art William Jr. He could have made a good craftsman of any kind. A lift lost to the temptation of the crime.