Last year’s Oscar-nominated documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop, directed by the subversive Banksy, gave viewers an inside look at the world of street art, where the creators thrive on the inventive anonymity of their work. Con Artist is a doc that looks at the other side of the industry, where fame and fortune can blind an artist of his contrived personality.

As the film chronicles Mark Kostabi’s rise from teenage talent to legitimate star of the ’80s New York art scene, you see the light and dark sides of his rebellion and his eventual evolution into a self-described “business artist.” By the end of the decade, not only is he no longer painting his own paintings, he also openly tells those who buy them how he doesn’t even come up with the concepts. They don’t care. He’s a brand that people consume because of his antics of self-promotion. He even declares while appearing on a talk show that, “Modern art is a con, and I am the world’s greatest con artist.“

Twenty years later those antics have worn thin. His paintings, to which his only contribution is still just his signature, can fetch a king’s ransom, but Kostabi has gone bankrupt. He’s aged, yet never matured. He goes years without painting, and he gets his kicks by hosting a public access game show, “Title This,” where contestants name his works for cash prizes. It’s all part of his desperate attempt at a return to prominence, and watching his perpetual failure as his staff mocks him can be as hilarious as it is tough to watch. Kostabi is an entertaining caricature and a devastating train wreck you can’t look away from.

Con Artist captures his story in great detail and succeeds at making you like Kostabi even though you’d never want to be in the same room with him. It details his rise and fall but, just as fascinating, also his impact on the art world. For all he’s done to destroy his name, his effect and his talent still show whenever he pushes brush to canvas. Much like Gift Shop, the wink and smile at the end of Con Artist makes you question whether anything you’ve just witnessed is real. You wonder if Kostabi’s lunacy is just part of his act. I guess every good con needs a mark. This film might just be his latest grift.

Grade: B

Con Artist releases in select theaters April 1.