For the fourth run of First Cut, Channel 4’s documentary strand showcasing original films by up-and-coming directors, Susannah Price’s The Great Piano Scam tells the story of one of the biggest swindles in the history of the music industry.
In 2003, Joyce Hatto became one of the most famous pianists in the world, thanks to a skilful fraud carried out by her husband William Barrington-Coupe. It took years before the fraud was exposed, and the music world was shown to have been hoodwinked with breath-taking audacity.
The film tells the incredible story of the scam and includes revealing interviews with the big names from the music world who were taken in by the scam, one of the pianists whose work was plagiarised, and the biggest coup: a poignant and surprising interview with the man at the centre of the fraud itself about his involvement.
Unpicking the master plan of this astonishing heist, the film shows in forensic detail the way in which the industry and music lovers were conned into believing that a woman in her 70s had managed to record over 100 phenomenal CDs… only to discover that they had been fooled beyond their wildest belief.
This documentary offers a fascinating insight into a world we all assume to be immune from the scandal of the rock and pop industry. Finally it poses and answers the question on everyone’s lips: why did they do it?