Provenance by Laney Salisbury
How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art

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Synopsis

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 two hundred 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.
 

About Laney Salisbury

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Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo are a husband-and- wife team of investigative reporters. Salisbury is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism and has worked for Reuters and the Associated Press. She is the coauthor of the critically acclaimed The Cruelest Miles: The Heroic Story of Dogs and Men in a Race Against an Epidemic, which was translated into eleven languages. Sujo grew up in the art world and has been a journalist for the past twenty years, covering arts and entertainment for Reuters, the Associated Press, and The New York Daily News.
 
Published July 9, 2009 by Penguin Books. 364 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Arts & Photography, Crime. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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The authors don’t always provide smooth transitions between the increasingly complex elements of the narrative, but the enthralling tale forces readers to rethink the question of what makes art valuable.

| Read Full Review of Provenance: How a Con Man and...

The Wall Street Journal

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Drewe and Myatt ­gambled that the works would be scrutinized less carefully than if more money had been at stake.

Jul 16 2009 | Read Full Review of Provenance: How a Con Man and...

The Washington Post

One day, Drewe informed Myatt that a friend who worked for Christie's mistook as real a painting Myatt had done in the style of cubist Albert Gleizes.

Jul 26 2009 | Read Full Review of Provenance: How a Con Man and...

Christian Science Monitor

Provenance means “origin,” as in, “What is the provenance of that famous work of art?” It is the paper trail of receipts, auction listings, exhibition catalogues, and letters of authenticity that accompany a piece of art through time.

Aug 11 2009 | Read Full Review of Provenance: How a Con Man and...

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