How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art
Laney Salisbury & Aly Sujo
The Penguin Press
Most of us have seen the great art that can be viewed in museums. Unfortunately, most of us value the expertise and brilliance of the artists but there are always a view pieces where we think, “I could have painted that.” How is what we consider great art different from those usually modernistic pieces that the untrained eye just doesn't understand besides the ridiculous costs? How do you
know if the pieces in the museums were really painted by the listed artist or by a gifted forger?
The answer is provenance. Most of us trust the museum curators and the
legendary auction houses like Christie's and Sotheby's's for authenticity.
Could they be fooled? Yes, and they were. Big time. The provenance of a piece of art is the accompanying paperwork of who owned the art, it's costs, and history.
Con man, John Drewe, managed one of the biggest swindles in art history. He
found a destitute and talented artist, John Myatt, who desperately needed money for raising his two children alone. Drewe convinced Myatt to paint originals in the style of a particular artist, preferably in a modernistic style using whatever tools might have been utilized by the real artist of the time. Then Drewe managed to infiltrate the art world in such a way that he could forge the provenance of a painting. He then proceded to sell this usually unknown piece of work in the style of a particular artists marketing it as a previously forgotten work by a master.
When non-fiction reads like fiction, you know that upi are reading a well-written
unusual book. The reader of Provenance learns how paintings and pieces of art are valued and the importance of the paper trail of ownership, known as the
provenance. John Drewe forged so many provenances that the art world is certain that they will never find all of the forged pieces.
The authors, Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo, are a husband/wife team who jointly
wrote Provenance. Laney Salisbury strongly understood the art world since she
is the daughter of a New York gallery owner. Aly Sujo has recently died.
Laney continues to write while raising her daughter.
The one thing that I want after reading this book is to know of the whereabouts of John Drewe, or whatever name this master criminal is going by, now that he is out of prison. The authors followed him until his release. Unfortunately, John Drewe is the type of person that needs to have a website with GPS attached to his ankle on where he is and who he is scamming.
Also, John Drewe lived a lavish lifestyle while always driving expensive vehicles. How did he afford it? Logically, the reader makes the assumption that he somehow scammed previous owners or dealerships and relied heavily on others trusting him.
Provenance is an educational journey into the inner workings of the art world without the expenditures.