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An art world thriller
on January 13, 2015
A large number of books have been published in recent years on the subject of fraudulent art. A few are autobiographical accounts, some are biographies, and many are academic studies on what motivates fakers, their techniques, and how they inject their phony works into the market.
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.