On March 18, 1990, thirteen works of art (worth over $500 million today) were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. It remains the largest unsolved art heist in history, and Claire Roth, a struggling young artist, is about to discover that there’s more to this crime than meets the eye. Making a living reproducing famous artworks for a popular online retailer and desperate to improve her situation, Claire is lured into a Faustian bargain with Aiden Markel, a powerful gallery owner. She agrees to forge a painting—a Degas masterpiece stolen from the Gardner Museum—in exchange for a one-woman show in his renowned gallery. But when that very same long-missing Degas painting is delivered to Claire’s studio, she begins to suspect that it may itself be a forgery. Her desperate search for the truth leads Claire into a labyrinth of deceit where secrets hidden since the late 19th century may be the only evidence that can now save her life.
With the recent advent of technologies that make detecting art forgeries easier, the art world has become increasingly obsessed with verifying and ensuring artistic authenticity. In this unique history, Thierry Lenain examines the genealogy of faking and interrogates the anxious, often neurotic, reactions triggered in the modern art world by these clever frauds. Lenain begins his history in the Middle Ages, when the issue of false relics and miracles often arose. But during this time, if a relic gave rise to a cult, it would be considered as genuine even if it obviously had been forged. In the Renaissance, forgery was initially hailed as a true artistic feat. Even Michelangelo, the most revered artist of the time, copied drawings by other masters, many of which were lent to him by unsuspecting collectors. Michelangelo would keep the originals himself and return the copies in their place. As Lenain shows, authenticity, as we think of it, is a purely modern concept. And the recent innovations in scientific attribution, archaeology, graphology, medical science, and criminology have all contributed to making forgery more detectable—and thus more compelling and essential to detect. He also analyzes the work of master forgers like Eric Hebborn, Thomas Keating, and Han van Meegeren in order to describe how pieces baffled the art world. Ultimately, Lenain argues that the science of accurately deciphering an individual artist’s unique characteristics has reached a level of forensic sophistication matched only by the forger’s skill and the art world’s paranoia.
Packed with wonderfully entertaining and often outrageous speculations about the nature of art, truth, and value, the world-renowned art forger--who died mysteriously before this book was published--details secrets of his techniques.
On March 18, 1990, thirteen works of art today worth over $500 million were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. It remains the largest unsolved art heist in history, and Claire Roth, a struggling young artist, is about to discover that there’ s more to this crime than meets the eye. Making a living reproducing famous artworks for a popular online retailer and desperate to improve her situation, Claire is lured into a Faustian bargain with Aiden Markel, a powerful gallery owner. She agrees to forge a painting— a Degas masterpiece stolen from the Gardner Museum— in exchange for a one-woman show in his renowned gallery. But when that very same long-missing Degas painting is delivered to Claire’ s studio, she begins to suspect that it may itself be a forgery. Her desperate search for the truth leads Claire into a labyrinth of deceit where secrets hidden since the late nineteenth century may be the only evidence that can now save her life.
Genre: Biography & Autobiography
The astonishing true story of America’s most accomplished art forger: a kid from New Jersey who became a master, fooling experts and eluding the FBI for thirty years. Ten years ago, an FBI investigation in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York 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 book, Caveat Emptor, is Ken Perenyi’s confession. It is the story, in detail, of how he pulled it all off. Glamorous stories of art-world scandal have always captured the public imagination. However, not since Clifford Irving’s 1969 bestselling Fake has there been a story at all like this one. Caveat Emptor is unique in that it is the first and only book by and about America’s first and only great art forger. And 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. In the tradition of Frank Abagnale’s Catch Me If You Can, and certain to be a bombshell for the major international auction houses and galleries, here is the story of America’s greatest art forger.
The Art of Forgery: Case Studies in Deception explores the stories, dramas and human intrigues surrounding the world’s most famous forgeries – investigating the motivations of the artists and criminals who have faked great works of art, and in doing so conned the public and the art establishment alike.
The nineteenth century witnessed an unprecedented increase in art forgery, caused both by the advent of national museums and by a rapidly growing bourgeois interest in collecting objects from the past. This rise had profound repercussions on notions of selfhood and national identity within and outside the realm of art. Although art critics denounced forgery for its affront to artistic traditions, they were fascinated by its power to shape the human and object worlds and adopted a language of art forgery to articulate a link between the making of fakes and the making of selves. The Deceivers explores the intersections among artistic crime, literary narrative, and the definition of identity. Literary texts joined more specialized artistic discourses in describing the various identities associated with art forgery: the forger, the copyist, the art expert, the dealer, the restorer. Built into new characters were assumptions about gender, sexuality, race, and nationality that themselves would come to be presented in a language of artistic authenticity. Aviva Briefel places special emphasis on the gendered distinction between male forgers and female copyists. "Copying," a benign occupation when undertaken by a woman, became "forgery," laden with criminal intent, when performed by men. Those who could successfully produce, handle, or detect spurious things and selves were distinguished from others who were incapable of distinguishing the authentic from the artistic and human forgeries. Through close reading of literary narratives such as Trilby and The Marble Faun as well as newspaper accounts of forgery scandals, The Deceivers reveals the identities?both authentic and fake?that emerged from the Victorian culture of forgery.
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.