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Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art | [Laney Salisbury, Aly Sujo]

Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art

Here is a tautly paced investigation of one the 20th century's most audacious art frauds, which generated hundreds of forgeries - many of them still hanging in prominent museums and private collections today. Provenance is the extraordinary narrative of one of the most far-reaching and elaborate deceptions in art history.
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Publisher's Summary

Here is a tautly paced investigation of one the 20th century's most audacious art frauds, which generated hundreds of forgeries - many of them still hanging in prominent museums and private collections today. Provenance is the extraordinary narrative of one of the most far-reaching and elaborate deceptions in art history. Investigative reporters Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo brilliantly recount the tale of a great con man and unforgettable villain, John Drewe, and his sometimes unwitting accomplices. Chief among those was the struggling artist John Myatt, a vulnerable single father who was manipulated by Drewe into becoming a prolific art forger. Once Myatt had painted the pieces, the real fraud began. Drewe managed to infiltrate the archives of the upper echelons of the British art world in order to fake the provenance of Myatt's forged pieces, hoping to irrevocably legitimize the fakes while effectively rewriting art history.

The story stretches from London to Paris to New York, from tony Manhattan art galleries to the esteemed Giacometti and Dubuffet associations, to the archives at the Tate Gallery. This enormous swindle resulted in the introduction of at least 200 forged paintings, some of them breathtakingly good and most of them selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Many of these fakes are still out in the world, considered genuine and hung prominently in private houses, large galleries, and prestigious museums. And the sacred archives, undermined by John Drewe, remain tainted to this day.

Provenance reads like a well-plotted thriller, filled with unforgettable characters and told at a breakneck pace. But this is most certainly not fiction; Provenance is the meticulously researched and captivating account of one of the greatest cons in the history of art forgery.

©2009 Laney Salisbury; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Salisbury and Sujo (who died in 2008) evoke with flair the plush art world and its penetration by the seductive Drewe as well as the other players in this fascinating art drama." (Publishers Weekly)

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What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (243 )
5 star
 (76)
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Overall
4.2 (151 )
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
3.8 (148 )
5 star
 (45)
4 star
 (56)
3 star
 (22)
2 star
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1 star
 (8)
Performance
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  •  
    C Chestnuthill, MA, United States 07-13-10
    C Chestnuthill, MA, United States 07-13-10 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    65
    ratings
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    212
    67
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    FOLLOWING
    4
    0
    Overall
    "A winner"

    Very interesting book with good narration

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Die Falknerin 09-05-14 Member Since 2008

    Painter, musician, bibliophile...

    HELPFUL VOTES
    364
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    586
    121
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    31
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    Story
    "Great narrative, poor narration"

    This is a great story and I highly recommend it to anyone with even a passing interest in art or true crime. There are so many characters, lines of inquiry, and bits of history woven through the story, and a feeling of "being there" in real time. The authors' style and organization in handling such a complex story are admirable. Writing about art in an engaging way is tough, but these two keep the story moving all the way to the end.

    The authors portray Myatt with great sympathy. Most of the time, his part in the crimes is downplayed, as if being a good father and going to church were enough to offset the rest. In fact, he willingly participated in the scheme for 8 years before Drewe began acting ever more erratic and Myatt feared he'd end up in jail with him.

    Maybe Myatt is just the sort of criminal people love, one who got one over on the establishment. He fell into Dulux emulsion and came up with gold!

    Unfortunately, the narrator sounds like a computer speaking the words, with no pacing or character to her voice, and mispronunciations abound. Plus, as this is a story about a couple of British cons and much of the action has to do with London, why not get an English narrator?

    A quick check to update the afterword was revealing. In a nutshell, Drewe was sentenced to prison again in 2012 for defrauding an elderly woman of her fortune; Mary Lisa Palmer was thrown under the bus by the Giacometti Foundation; John Myatt continues to sell "real fakes" and make appearances on telly.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charles Salley, SC, United States 03-20-14
    Charles Salley, SC, United States 03-20-14 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    15
    ratings
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    21
    17
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    0
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    Performance
    Story
    "Very well researched! Extremely interesting!"
    Would you listen to Provenance again? Why?

    Possibly. I usually only listen to each book once.


    What other book might you compare Provenance to and why?

    No comparison.


    What does Marty Peterson bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Great narration. Brings the book to life.


    If you could give Provenance a new subtitle, what would it be?

    The World's Greatest Confidence Man


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Donna 10-12-13
    Donna 10-12-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    30
    ratings
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    124
    35
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    FOLLOWING
    1
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    Story
    "Real life art forgery better than fiction"

    Reading about art is almost as enjoyable for me as looking at art. The word "provenance" means a record of ownership of a work of art or an antique. This paperwork is used as a guide to authenticity. This book is a meticulously researched and fascinating recording of one of the greatest cons in the history of art forgery. It took place in the 1980&90's. A huge number of paintings were forged, purchased, auctioned and circulated throughout the world. It is a mystery of sorts, but more of a documentary of events and evidence.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    benjamin United States 09-29-13
    benjamin United States 09-29-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "listens like a text book"
    What disappointed you about Provenance?

    Reader made this terrible. Could have been a very good audio book, it had a very interesting story. But it was painful to listen to.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo ? Why or why not?

    Yes. With a more exciting reader


    Would you be willing to try another one of Marty Peterson’s performances?

    No!!!!!


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janelle moree, Australia 05-24-13
    Janelle moree, Australia 05-24-13 Member Since 2010

    Book junkie

    HELPFUL VOTES
    20
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    32
    28
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    3
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fantastic Forgers and an Evil Sociopath"

    What a story.I knew about the events described in the book but truly didn't understand what the motivation for the forger was before. I found the forger a very sympathetic character.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew R. Church Oakland, California 09-22-14
    Andrew R. Church Oakland, California 09-22-14 Member Since 2014

    Andyboy

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Read way way way too fast"

    Were they in a hurry or something? This is a great story read way, way to fast. Slow down girl. I need a chance to savor the story. I felt like I was listening to the legal info at the end of an erectile dysfunction commercial.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    T. Troxel California, USA 07-25-14
    T. Troxel California, USA 07-25-14 Member Since 2013

    Powder Head

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    4
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great story with fascinating characters"
    Any additional comments?

    I enjoyed the insight into the mind of a sociopathic liar and the interesting history and inner workings of the art world. The extent to which humans can deceive others and themselves is fascinating and scary.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan Mather San Francisco 12-18-13
    Susan Mather San Francisco 12-18-13 Member Since 2010

    Good books and lazy days...

    HELPFUL VOTES
    96
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    51
    27
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    11
    6
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Reads Like a Great Mystery!"

    Artist with two young kids, down on his luck, meets swashbuckling conman who charms the artist into copying less-known works by the masters, for his own personal collection, he says. But not long after, during a visit, the younger artist notices his paintings have disappeared from their prominant place on the conman's walls. It's awhile before this artist fully understands hat his new 'friend' is doing with his paintings, for which he's been given increasingly large(r) sums of cash. And when his wealthy, well-dressed, smooth-talking friend asks him to attend an auction at one of London's most ite art museums, he realizes and is stunned to learn that his friend has donated, as well as sold, many of this young man's forgeries, which have passed the watchful eyes of the art world's elite. An incredible, fast-paced story that explains how the stuffy art world was initially taken for millions, during which its 'provenances' were fabricated to such an extent that many still believe there are fakes out there being mistaken for real. Fortunately, these authors write much better than me. If you like art and a fine story, you won't want to miss this one!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julia THOUSAND OAKS, CA, United States 09-08-13
    Julia THOUSAND OAKS, CA, United States 09-08-13
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Suspenseful Non-Fiction"

    Even a passing interest in the art world would make this book worthy of your time. The only problem I had was with the narrator. I downloaded it quickly and on a recommendation, not looking at who was reading the audio. I had expected an English person, given both the subject and the general ubiquity of British accents in the world of audiobooks. Instead, it turned out to be an American woman...which would be completely fine, if she hadn't totally disregarded the whole "thriller" aspect of the story. The book is nonfiction, but it's plotted like a suspenseful novel. The narrator ran flatly through chapter-endings that were clearly intended to be cliffhangers, and the effect was a little off-putting.
    The book is certainly worth a try, though! Might just be a little better in written form.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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