International award-winning author to speak at Muzeo

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By Colleen Janssen

Award-winning author Stephen Maitland-Lewis is scheduled to speak at Muzeo from 1p.m.-3 on Sat., July 15. The topic will be his book, ‘Botticelli’s Bastard.’

By Colleen Janssen

Award-winning author Stephen Maitland-Lewis is scheduled to speak at Muzeo from 1p.m.-3 on Sat., July 15. The topic will be his book, ‘Botticelli’s Bastard.’

“The book is about the relationship between a father and son and a painting,” said Maitland-Lewis. “He acquires a painting that is worth a gazillion dollars and his wife and son want him to sell it and cash in,” Maitland-Lewis continues. “He wants it to go to the true owner, so he traces the owner of the painting.”

The story is set at the business of an art restorer in London. He is the descendent of a family who were restorers in Florence, Italy. They moved to London, then returned to open the business in Florence after World War II.

The story takes the reader on a journey through London, Paris, Germany, Switzerland and New York as the main character searches for the original owner of the painting, thought to have been stolen by the Germans during the war. The restorer believes the painting may have been painted by Sandro Botticelli. 

“The painting was sent to him by an estranged family member who gives it to the art restorer in an effort to make peace,” said Maitland-Lewis. “I am not a professional art historian or dealer, but I was once married to an art dealer.” He used what he learned about art to craft his book.

“This painting was painted over 500 years ago and has had many different owners. If walls could speak or paintings could speak; this painting speaks,” said Maitland-Lewis. “It’s about the relationship.”

The novel was a 2015 Ippy Medalist (Regional Fiction-Europe) and named a finalist in three categories for the USA Best Book Awards. 

The author’s genre for his books is historical fiction. He wrote a book called, ‘Emeralds Never Fade’ about a family heirloom emerald necklace. Other books include: ‘Ambition,’ and ‘Hero on Three Continents.’ He has won many awards and recognition for his writing.

The author and Muzeo welcome those interested in attending An Afternoon with Stephen Maitland-Lewis. Reservations are required and admission is $10, with books for purchase on-site, along with an autograph session following the presentation. Contact Muzeo at 714-956-8936 to RSVP.

Maitland-Lewis has an international background that brings life to his books. He was an attorney in England who went into investment banking, moving eventually to New York. 

In the 1980s, he left New York for Palm Springs where he became the owner of a hotel and restaurant. He was known for writing non-fiction, mostly about banking. He eventually decided to try his skills in writing fiction.

“It was a good decision,” shared Maitland-Lewis. “You have the ability to throw yourself into a character or story. It is self-indulgent escapism.”

He is now working on an international-thriller set in the 1950s. The novel is expected to be available sometime in 2018. 

Unrelated to his work as an author, Maitland-Lewis is known for his special relationship with Louis Armstrong.

“He was important in my life,” said the author. “I wrote him a fan letter when I was 12, never expecting a reply. I got a full-page reply in his own handwriting, so I sent him a thank you letter. He sent me a thank you letter and we continued with birthday and Christmas cards and letters.”

Maitland-Lewis and Armstrong met over the years for lunch and on other occasions. Armstrong died in 1971 and the author wrote an article about him for a publication. When he moved to California, the word spread about his relationship with the musician and he wrote an article for the local newspaper. 

At one point, he was invited to see a file from the Louis Armstrong House Museum in New York. To his extreme surprise, the file contained the letters and cards he had sent to Armstrong. 

“I couldn’t believe it; I cried” he said, “It was very special.”

Photo by Nathan Sternfeld

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