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

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Book Overview

Starred Review. A decade-long art scam that sullied the integrity of museum archives and experts alike is elegantly recounted by husband-and-wife journalists Salisbury and Sujo. In 1986, when... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

A rival to Dan Brown

If Dan Brown can mezmerize the planet with his breakneck tales of intrigue and coverup, Laney Salisbury has created her own masterful account of a gang of con men out of a Dan Brown epic. Except that Salisbury's figures actually exist. And that the story of forgery and deceit in the art world still taints the art market today. I urge everyone to read this brilliant book. For an historian, it's a perfect example of how historical facts can be birthed as a readable, exciting and compelling narrative. That in itself is a big achievement: but Salisbury's profile of the "villians" in her saga will surprise you. Under her pen, these men become many-faceted and fascinating in their own rights. A tour de force!!

I couldn't put this book down!

I rarely write a review. I downloaded this book on my Kindle, and found it to be totally intriguing and even superior to many of the books on con artists, art fraud, and true crime. Truly, it would make a good movie, the personalities are so well revealed, interesting and fascinating. I couldn't put it down, and rarely does a book hold my interest to such a degree.

An exciting look at the darker side of the art world

Provenance is a finely paced, tense look at the art world and one of the most massive art frauds perpetuated in recent history on reputable galleries and museums. The story runs from 1986 to 1995 and spans several countries. It reads with the flavor of a mystery and recounts how con man John Drewe's efforts resulted in over 200 forged paintings--some of which evidently are still hanging! Salisbury and Sujo have meticulously researched their subject and the book is like a fast paced thriller as we watch John Drewe manipulate and draw into the hoax, a struggling artist and parent to become a master forger. And then we follow Drewe as he cons galleries into accepting the works as genuine with an authentic provenance. One of the most fascinating aspects of the story is how Drewe faked the provenances from fabricating restoration records and receipts to manufacturing fake catalogues for art shows that never took place! This intricate story is truly an interesting look at the world of art and forgery and provenance!

Thrilling read, I couldn't put it down!

I picked this book up because I enjoy reading non-fiction and know little about the art world-- and my knowledge of "provenance" is limited to the explanations given on antiques roadshow. After reading the editorial review on how well researched the book is, I expected this to be a weighty, but rewarding read. But after the first few pages I was surprised how hooked I was-- the story is utterly compelling, a real page turner. I love how the authors described the characters, not only through the documents they consulted and interviews they conducted, but also through a fascinating pyschological analysis on what may have driven their behavior. The book also provided a glimpse of how galleries, dealers, collectors and museums really operate-- I was surprised at the behavior of the "experts" in the art world-- all of which was detailed in a matter fact manner that led the reader to draw their own conclusion. I started this book on Saturday, read it straight through Sat night and finished Sunday because I just had to know what happened next, it's that kind of book.

Thrilling art hoax story

I just loved this story about the most amazing hoax pulled off in the art world, with John Drewe, the con man you love to hate, hatching and actually implementing the most fantastical schemes to make even the staff of the world's fanciest museums believe in the authenticity of the phony works he was peddling. A great thriller, and the personalities of the leading characters really come through: brilliant, ruthless Drewe, and the tragic figure of the talented but unsuccessful painter John Myatt who got roped into his schemes. Go Scotland Yard!

Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art Mentions in Our Blog

Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art in Legendary Larceny
Legendary Larceny
Published by Ashly Moore Sheldon • March 18, 2020

Thirty years ago, two men entered Boston's Isabella Gardner Museum in the wee hours of the morning. They left with thirteen works of art valued at more than $500 million. The case—the largest art robbery in US history—remains unsolved. Here we offer fascinating accounts of the world's most notorious heists.

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