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Publisher's Summary

The true story of America's greatest art forger!

Ten years ago, an FBI investigation was about to expose a scandal in the art world that would have been front-page news in New York and London. After a trail of fake paintings of astonishing quality led federal agents to art dealers, renowned experts, and the major auction houses, the investigation inexplicably ended, despite an abundance of evidence collected. The case was closed and the FBI file was marked “exempt from public disclosure”.

Now that the statute of limitations on these crimes has expired and the case appears hermetically sealed shut by the FBI, this audiobook, Caveat Emptor, is that artist, Ken Perenyi’s, confession. It is the story, in detail, of how he pulled it all off. Unlike other forgers, Perenyi produced no paper trail, no fake provenance whatsoever; he let the paintings speak for themselves. And that they did, routinely mesmerizing the experts in mere seconds.

©2012 Ken Perenyi; 2012 AudioGO

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
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Story

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  • Overall
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  • Story

Riveting!

I absolutely loved this book; I found it an exciting page-turner through the world of art forgery and antiquities. As a rare books librarian, I really appreciated the attention to detail in the descriptions of restoration techniques and the layout of the pieces, it really made everything come to life visually. Very well written, and beautifully captivating.

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B-list Name-Dropping Slog

Perenyi offers neither plot nor insight into the New York art world. Forsaking connoisseurship, he was a two-bit crook who sold second-rate paintings to other willing thieves. So what.....

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Caveat Emptor

Not sure I believed every word, but it is a good story of an art forger. Not sure that he could pull off the forgeries today with all the technology, but who knows, maybe he could. The book takes you through a brief childhood and then right into his teens as he began his first steps into forging famous pieces of artwork. Made me wonder how much hanging on the walls of museums are real and how many may be forgeries. Liked the book, the story and the narrator.

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Too awful to finish

If you are expecting a book about art, then give this a miss.

After 2 hours I gave up.
Awful simplistic writing and not about art at all, the author is a not very bright, mob boy who is more interested in bragging about the famous people he met, how many gorgeous women he slept with and what drugs he took.

Don't waste your time or your money on this.

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A very unusual con artist

I am in awe of Ken Perenyi's talent. With no training in art, art history, chemistry, or anything else related to creating a forgery and getting it past the experts, he fooled a lot of people for a long time before they caught up with him. Without a hint of guilt or remorse, he gleefully recounts episode after episode of getting away with a monumental con with a pocket full of big money. With so much practical talent, and an obvious talent for befriending very influential people, I wonder why he didn't choose a conventional career instead of betraying trust and ripping people off. I did read elsewhere about his adopting a girl from Africa which is worth looking up on the internet - perhaps he omitted it from this book so as not to tarnish his image as a conscience-free operator. I must say I learned about artists I had never heard of and took great pleasure in looking at their work, if only via internet images. Apart from a few mispronunciations of artists' names, Dan Butler does a fine job narrating.

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  • Sylvia
  • CULLMAN, AL, United States
  • 06-29-14

Definitely not "White Collar"

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

If you don't mind unsophisticated situations with lots of cussing, you won't mind this book. Unfortunately, it is what a lot of the 1960s in New York City and environs was all about. There IS some fascinating information about how painters and art forgers do their work. But you have to slog through a lot of other unsavory stuff to get to it.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

The ending made me wonder whether our society is correct in making celebrity writers and speakers out of criminals.

Do you think Caveat Emptor needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

Caveat Emptor is a stand-alone story needing no follow-up.

Any additional comments?

The lifestyle of the main character and many of his friends and acquaintances was amoral and rather reprehensible. The details about painting and forgeries was quite interesting. I had been hoping for something like the TV show "White Collar". I went into this book with the totally wrong idea. It is nothing like the TV show and the depths to which the characters often sink is rather depressing. It IS an interesting story, narrated by the author who is the main character. And it gives one much to think about. But I would not read anything else by him or about him (this said after perusing his website on the Internet). He's obviously a very talented painter, but not a nice person.

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Forgery brought to the level of art

This was a really interesting story for somebody like me who knows about nothing about art. Although the author has deceived many and earned money by replicating what others have created, what really transpires in the book is the real efforts taken to understand each painter. Ken Perenyi spent great amount of time analyzing a painter's style, the type of old canvas and materials used and then matching the painting to a corresponding frame. The technical process used for ageing pictures was also very interesting, including how he managed to fake fly droppings.

I was expecting the story of a scam master, but Ken Perenyi is a real researcher and gifted artist. Now, he is also a true story teller. This book alternates entertaining developments with scientific explanations, which allows the reader to learn and have fun together.

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  • Ari
  • New York, NY, United States
  • 10-24-13

Fast Paced, Quirky and Fun

Any additional comments?


First I really enjoyed the writing and the narration. I felt that Ken’s antics and the background descriptions of NYC in that 70’s era were particularly interesting. The cast of characters that Ken associated with were almost larger than life types who seemed more like facades (if I was an editor I may have said these supporting characters required more subtle development and back story to be believable) as they appeared to be almost clichés rather than real life associations. As an avid reader who toggles between fiction and nonfiction, I had a hard time telling the difference between the fact and fantasy in this one. Yet the story was so entertaining and I must admit that I was fascinated by the forgery concept that I didn’t mind. If you want a good read and to learn about an area – art forgery than this is a good choice. I didn’t care to fact check and debate whether all this is true or not, I was more hear to suspend disbelief and enjoy the ride.

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What a ride!

I think the subject matter of art forgery interests me because I have no artistic ability. It seems amazing to me that paintings and sculptures that are considered unique and unmatched works of art can be so “easily” copied!

I would think it harder to copy something as opposed creating something original because you have more constraints on your work. I don’t just mean the nuts and bolts of getting the right kind of canvas and the right kinds of paints or the techniques involved in aging the finished work, but also the skill set it takes to imitate something flawlessly … but what do I know, perhaps it’s easier.

As the book title states, this book is about the life of a forger (not just the forgeries) and what a life it is!! His life (or perhaps just the parts he’s sharing) is a litany of escapades and mishaps and lucky breaks and risk-taking adventures. All along while reading it I thought to myself: You can’t make this stuff up!!

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Too much life too little forgery

What did you like best about Caveat Emptor? What did you like least?

Overall the writing is funny and evocative of 60's New York. The passages where the technical details of the forgery process is described are very interesting.

Would you ever listen to anything by Ken Perenyi again?

No.

What about Dan Butler’s performance did you like?

Dan Butler's performance is very good. reflecting the swagger and smirk in the writing.

Was Caveat Emptor worth the listening time?

I could not listen to the end. It wasnt worth the time to get so little about the forgery process which takes up maybe 5% of the book. The rest is a catalogue of macho (and highly unlikely) petty crimes, interactions with famous people, and sexual conquests, in each of which he is invariably the street-smart hero who comes out on top.