Provenance recounts the tale of infamous con man and unforgettable villain John Drewe and his sometimes unwitting accomplices. Chief among these 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 British art world in order to fake the provenances of these 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. Many of these fakes are still out in the world, considered genuine and hung prominently in private houses, large galleries, and prestigious museums. 

 

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. 

 

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Laney Salisbury

Provenance

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"A dapper, fast-talking polymath with a talent for turning heads, John Drewe masterminded the most elaborate art hoax of the 20th

century. Forging letters of authenticity, doctoring vintage exhibition catalogs, Drewe bamboozled art experts and revered institutions

(including London's Tate Gallery) into accepting a slew of "masterpieces" presumably by Giacometti, Braque, Matisse but actually by

gifted down-at-the-heels forger John Myatt. Investigative reporters Laney Salisbury and her husband, Aly Sujo, detail this spectacular

scam in Provenance (Penguin), a real-life thriller about the fine art of the con,"

The Oprah Magazine

“Life imitates art, as Oscar Wilde said, but when fake art imitates great art -- that makes for a cracking true-crime story. Provenance is a

timeless fable of fraud, fantasy, and greed that perfectly captures the excesses of our age.”

—Guy Lawson, Rolling Stone contributing editor and author of The Brotherhoods: The True Story of Two Cops Who Murdered for the

Mafia. 

"Salisbury and Sujo deliver a fast-paced and consummately documented tale of the biggest modern art forgery scam of the postwar era,

bringing to life the villainous and astonishingly clever con man John Drewe, who artfully deceived and brazenly manipulated a sterling

roster of sophisticated art dealers."

—Judd Tully, editor at large, Art + Auction. 

"As fast-paced as an art auction! This masterfully told story of one of the most incredible frauds in the visual arts will leave both art lovers

and history lovers breathless,"

—Mario Livio, author of The Golden Ratio and Is God a Mathematician?

"The crime of art forgery, it turns out, makes for a more gripping story than murder. The well-crafted unfolding and undoing of the just

short of brilliant con in Salisbury and Sujo's Provenance is deliciously, intellectually mind-blowing."

—Stacy Horn, author of The Restless Sleep: Inside New York City's Cold Case Squad

"Beautifully paced and deeply reported, rich with memorable characters and narrative drive, Provenance is as unsettling as the latest

financial scandal and as gripping and page-turning as a thriller...A terrific, frightening book."

—Robert J Hughes, author of Late and Soon

 

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