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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.

Critic Reviews

"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 Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Performance

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  • 3 Stars
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  • 2 Stars
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Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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  • 4 Stars
    107
  • 3 Stars
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Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Andy
  • Westport, CT, United States
  • 04-26-10

reads like a thriller

Terrific story behind a massive series of art swindles in the 1990's by a couple of somewhat talented gentlemen. The authors provide such great detail, you can feel as if you are looking over the shoulder of the swindler. Solid narration makes the audio book even more enjoyable.

18 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Good story, annoying reader.

This was a good story, which I enjoyed listening to, but I have to admit that if the story hadn't been so good, I would have stopped listening. I found the reader annoying. Her voice, and voice quality, just didn't seem to match the book/story in my mind.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Fabulous story, terrible narration almost ruined

I had to give up on the audio book because of the narration. And I almost invariably love the narrator. This time I feel it was not the narrator per se, but the engineer who taped her. ( Although, I must say, she could have done a better job at the pronunciation of names - e.g. Klee does NOT rhyme with key).
Did they really need to save 5 minutes or so to cram this book into a certain length?

The book sounds as if it is 8 hours of a run-on sentence. No natural pauses between words, sentences, paragraphs or chapters. Really annoying. Note that there are many names involved here which makes it even normally hard to follow an audio book, even more so when the narrator drones on interminably.

So I got the real book, and cannot put it down. Absolutely mesmerizing true story, well documented and written. Wish it had had pictures - that would have made it spectacular. Should be made into a movie.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

It reads like fiction – GREAT!

I LOVED IT! If only more non-fiction books were written in this style; it reads like a story. Brilliant. It’s not dry and textbooky like most non-fiction books I have read (and that’s a lot, just check my library).

Most of the time non-fiction tends to be pretty dull, emotionless and little more than a long boring litany of: Fact. Fact. Date. Date. Fact. Date. Fact. You read it because you are interested in the information, but the presentation dulls your curiosity.

That’s not the case for this book, thanks to the story-style-set-up, it held my attention the entire way though... I never once got bored, or felt lost, or was mired down in a well of names and dates. I was captivated from the beginning to the end.

Kudos!

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Unbelievable, But Somehow Believable

This story is an entertaining narrative of the unbelievable exploits of a consummate con artist. It is a fascinating look at how a rather ordinary man was able to pull one over on some of the most reputable museums and collectors in the art world. He did this on a shoestring budget, with little training, and while pulling in an unimpressive accomplice. You will be left shaking your head in wonder at how he was able to do it.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Big Story; Unusual decisions

This is the story of one of the major acts of art fraud in the modern world. The facts themselves are probably worth the price of admission, but the rather epic mystery is well-explained and developed throughout the book. The only major downside is that the narration is a bit grating.

What's I find especially interesting is the arrangement of the book itself. The author didn't really tell one story, but frames the whole event in a series of interlocking narratives, which is confusing at times but really helpful at others: the story is just that big that it justifies it. The book is equally interesting in terms of who (and how) it crafts its heroes and villains.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A great learning experience

A fascinating story of real-life adventure and detective work. It included information about the reality of forensic evidence with art works. The characters are unbelievable -- but true.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Interesting & enjoyable

A fascinating book on the art world and human nature. It is amazing the influence one person can have on others.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • jack
  • Connecticut
  • 03-24-15

Like listening to an On-Hold message at Verizon

While the story might have legs; they're quite cut off by the almost-cheery, almost-breathless narration. Quite like the message: "We're sorry to keep you waiting, your call is very important to us, we'll be with you in a moment."
Couldn't listen after a half-hour and had to return the book. Will try the Kindle edition.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Karolina
  • 05-26-11

Fascinating Tale

The story itself was very interesting and I really enjoyed it. The only thing that spoiled it for me were the narrator's persistent mispronunciations. Southwark to rhyme with South Fork for instance and really, clique rhymes with week not wick. A British narrator would have made much better sense for a story based in the UK.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-16-16

Awful accent

An interesting and absorbing story but spoilt by the awful robotic, American accent and pronunciations

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • xxx
  • 08-16-18

fascinating story RUINED by the performance

Where to start with this one ...
The true story of Drewe and Myatt's crimes are fascinating, one marvels at how they both got away with it for so long and how money talks if you are trying to impress.

Ruined by the reader - OK she's American so one expects the 'van Go's' and overdoing the pronunciation of French words which all sound odd to my British ears - but this gal goes beyond that - there is an automated quality to her voice, monotone even. The way she reads £110 as - pounds one hundred ten, instead of - a hundred and ten pounds, reminds one of the worst kind of 'read it' programmes on a smart phone.
Very hard going.
Take my advice, give this one a miss.
Buy the book instead.

Sort by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Hiro
  • 05-19-17

A fascinating story, very poor production

It's very frustrating to encounter a great story produced so badly that it spoils entire experience, and this audiobook is the unfortunate example.
The narration is so fast and robotic that I had to speed it down. It's a mystery to me that Audible approved this low quality material. It's unacceptable.