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How much is “America’s first and only great art forger,” as the jacket copy describes the author, willing to reveal? Quite a lot, it seems. Perenyi, a graduate of a New Jersey technical school and a Vietnam draft dodger, fell in with a band of artistic New Yorkers and began imitating long-gone masters such as James E. Buttersworth and Martin Johnson Heade. The trick, he learned, was the peripheral details: the materials to which the canvas was fixed, the frame, a faux-aged stain. Perenyi took his canvases to New York antiques shops and specialty galleries, told a tale about a deceased uncle with treasures in his attic, and, more often than not, sold his wares. Some of his paintings reached the upper echelons of the art world and were brokered or bought by famous auction houses.
“I never told them the paintings were for real,” Perenyi said to his lawyers in the 1990s, when he found himself at the center of an FBI investigation. “It wasn’t my fault that Christie’s, Phillips, Sotheby’s and Bonhams sold them.” The investigation abruptly ended (the book never makes clear precisely what happened, and the FBI file was marked “exempt from public disclosure,” which may explain the absence of news related to the matter). There are, of course, many morally abhorrent moments in this story but it’s hard not to like this surprisingly entertaining tale of the art world’s shady side. Perenyi is culpable, but he may have had some help from the dealers and auction houses that looked the other way to make a buck.
(The Smithsonian Magazine)
Fascinating story of a master art forger. I wonder what he might have accomplished, if rather than forgeries, he had painted originals.Published 12 days ago by Carolyn C. Lewis
Ken Penenyi is what This American Life would call an "American original." A borderline juvenile delinquent from the wrong side of the Hudson, he stumbled across art and... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Lance Charnes
Fascinating from start to finish. Very worthwhile read. He had quite an exciting life!Published 3 months ago by dale campbell
Mixed feelings about him. Clever, but what a lesson for artists!Published 3 months ago by Randall Laue
This book is a paradox. Although the author is indeed a dyed in the wool art forger, he is a miserable writer. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Indian Burned
Shaky morals make an interesting story, even though it's clearly his side of the events. How much do you believe from a thief and a liar? Still an good read.Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer