- File Size: 776 KB
- Print Length: 364 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books (July 9, 2009)
- Publication Date: July 9, 2009
- Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B002IPZG4A
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #140,555 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art Kindle Edition
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|Length: 364 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Top Customer Reviews
John Drewe, the central figure around whom the story of this book is built, is a uniquely clever and industrious con-man. As the title suggests, his complex swindle involved creating a bogus provenance for the fraudulent works he had commissioned. He insinuated himself into museum archives where he secretly inserted the forged documentation. It was a scheme that fooled much of the art establishment for years. Worse, he so debased the archives that they could never be entirely relied upon again.
Provenance is a real life thriller and detective yarn, a factual account of a singular and elaborate scam. It provides a knowledgeable glimpse into the shady machinations, the greed and dangers of a secretive art world in which huge amounts of money change hands daily. It also delves into the strange world of John Drewe, a highly intelligent, inventive, but totally corrupt figure, a sociopath and pathological liar whose life is driven by falsehoods and fantasy.
Provenance is a smoothly written and well researched book, a true account of remarkable events, one that is both instructive and pleasurable to read.
Years of research were required to effectively present the deeds or misdeeds of John Drewe who seem to become the characters he pretended to be - a physicist, an heir to a remarkable art collection, a Mossad agent, a consultant to the British Atomic Energy Commission and the list goes on. All the while cleverly documenting and selling "modern masterpieces" to the leading dealers in London and elsewhere.
John Myatt - failed painter is swept into this whirlwind of activity and doing a reasonably good job of creating masterpieces by Ben Nicholson, Roger Bissiere, Braques and Giacometti, Graham Sutherland et al.
Drewe prepared an "authentic" provenance for each work and then used "runners" to present and sell them to the likes of Leslie Waddington, Daniel Stern, Peter Nahum among many others. Upwards of 200 works were made and sold.
Drewe parlayed each meeting and relationship into a probable sale.
Eventually he was caught and convicted but it took hard work, chance and luck to bring him down. He was never repentant and was also not out to embarrass the art world. Rather his success was aided by the lax standards where greed is involved.
Although it is a tale related to the modern art world it seems more a story of the disintegration of moral and ethical standards in our world. The authors simply and clearly describe the facts and the events but the take away for me seems much more tragic and universal.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I took no pleasure in this story.
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