For the Love of Art (Por amor al arte)

The perfect crime does exist. He committed it.

Juan Manuel Candela Sapieha, also known as ‘El Sapo’, is a Spanish criminal known for his skills in concealment and disguise. For the Love of Art is the true story of the infamous crime which put this man in the spotlight: the robbery of more than 20 paintings that belonged to one of the richest people in Spain, billionaire and aristocrat Esther Koplowitz.

Juan Manuel Candela was born in San Sebastian, Spain, but was raised in France and served in the French army. He decided to use his skills and expertise for his own benefit, and started a gang composed of highly qualified veterans. This was the beginning of his criminal story.

Before committing the crime, he had already accessed Esther Koplowitz’s house to verify the authenticity of the works and did so without becoming suspect. The second time he went into the house was to take 17 works of art which were worth 300 million euro, including El columpio, painted by Francisco de Goya; Las tentaciones, painted by San Antonio de Brueghel; and Niña con sombrero, painted by Leonard Foujita.

Both times, ‘El Sapo’ was able to get into the marquises’ residency thanks to the cooperation of the security guards who worked at the house. One of the guards strongly resented his boss because she had promised him a raise which never came. ‘El Sapo’ took advantage of this man’s resentment and along with parties, women, and other pleasures, was able to convince him to help him.

Before his arrest, ‘El Sapo’ lead a quiet and discrete life in the south of Spain, as he was trying to stay out of sight. However, the Unit of Drugs and Organized Crime (UDYCO) began an extensive search in 2018 that culminated with him being arrested in 2020.


Relevant information: For love of art is a based on the true events that happened in the early 2000s and that deeply shook the Spanish society, told by the author of the crimes himself.

This book has all the necessary ingredients to become a thrilling TV series that resembles La casa de papel or Lupin, but based on true events. Around ‘El Sapo’ were many people that have the potential to become great supporting characters, such as Gastón, an ex-drug dealer, Emilio Rodríguez Méndez, a lawyer who is now in prison due to corruption or even Ángel Suárez, a first level criminal who used to collaborate with ‘El Sapo’.


What the critics have said about the author:

“He is one of the most prolific delinquents in our country”. Esquire

“[The story of] The usurpation of high-value works of art from the armored bunker of Esther Koplowitz’s Madrid home in August 2001, in what became the largest art robbery from a collection ever carried out in Spain.” El Periódico Mediterráneo

“The theft of important works of art from the home of Esther Koplowitz turned Juan Manuel Candela Sapieha, ‘Sapo’, into one of the most famous criminals in recent Spanish history.” Epe


AUDIOVISUAL POTENTIAL: TV Series, Miniserie, Film, TV Movie.


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