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Provenance: How a Con Man and A Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art

by Lainey Salisbury and Aly Sujo

Book list Art crime puts a gleam in writers' eyes. There's something delicious about stories of duping the elite and reducing the passion for beauty to a sleazy con game. Salisbury and Sujo couldn't have chosen a more thrilling example than the chicanery of a wealthy London nuclear physicist and a starving artist, Dr. John Drewe and John Myatt, who, according to Scotland Yard, perpetrated the biggest art fraud of the twentieth century. It begins simply enough when Myatt discovers his knack for creating pastiches, paintings rendered convincingly in the style of a known artist, and Drewe commissions him to paint a nice Matisse. In no time, the partners in deception are passing off fake paintings by modern masters, but the expert forger isn't Myatt, whose imitations are rather clumsy, but Drewe, whose entire life story is a mad and brilliant fabrication, and whose phony provenance, that is, the documentary record of a painting's history and ownership, clinched the deals. A colorful cast and nimble detection make for a thoroughly engrossing tale of warped creativity and monstrous hubris.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2009 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

 

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