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

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

Laney Salisbury

Language: English

Pages: 352

ISBN: 0143117408

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The true story of one of the twentieth century's most audacious art frauds

Filled with extraordinary characters and told at breakneck speed, Provenance reads like a well-plotted thriller. But this is most certainly not fiction. It is the astonishing narrative of one of the most far-reaching and elaborate cons in the history of art forgery. Stretching from London to Paris to New York, investigative reporters Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo recount the tale of infamous con man and unforgettable villain John Drewe and his accomplice, the affable artist John Myatt. Together they exploited the archives of British art institutions to irrevocably legitimize the hundreds of pieces they forged, many of which are still considered genuine and hang in prominent museums and private collections today.

The Vanishing Velázquez: A 19th Century Bookseller's Obsession with a Lost Masterpiece

Sargent (Art dossier Giunti)

Darger’s Resources

Crossroads: History of Science, History of Art: Essays by David Speiser, Volume 2

Klimt (Art dossier Giunti)

A Companion to British Art: 1600 to the Present
















has left a trail of victims in its wake.” Toward the end of the trial Judge Rivlin advised the “long-suffering” jury to stay focused on the evidence. “You are not on a mission to clean up the art world,” he said. The jury reached a verdict in just five hours: Drewe was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud, forgery, theft, and using a false instrument with intent. He was sentenced to six years in prison. According to one observer, Drewe muffled a parting comment that sounded as if the

Drewe returned to his well-rehearsed role as a citizen above suspicion. He lived comfortably in Reigate with Helen Sussman, his wife, and still claimed to be a physicist. Whenever reporters called, he stuck to his story. It was all the government’s fault, he said. He was a victim of a cover-up involving secret arms deals with rogue countries. Whoever came along and offered him air time or ink became the subject of repeated entreaties. He would chat for hours and invariably volunteer to supply

the architect Sir John Summerson, whose books Myatt had studied in art school. Drewe beamed as Myatt picked up one letter after another, then a group of sketches by the French artist Jean Dubuffet and some exhibition catalogs from the late 1940s and the 1950s. There were stacks of gallery ledger pages listing artists with links to the ICA, along with blank ledger pages and gallery stationery of all kinds. There was a steamy note from Dubuffet to a female assistant at the ICA, which Myatt held

Nadav, meaning “generous of heart.” A year and a half after his birth, she and Drewe had a baby daughter, whom they named Atarah, the Hebrew word for “crown.” Drewe bought the children more toys than they would ever have time to play with, drove them to day care, and was gentle with them when they were sick. He was often the only father in the playground, where the nannies dubbed him “the professor.” When Drewe asked Goudsmid to marry him, she said she needed time to think about it. There was

orb. Dabbing a #1 sable brush in distilled water—the brush was the smallest in her armory, just five hairs thick—she peered through a magnifying glass, leaned over the small sun, and touched it. The paint shifted. It was so fresh that it hadn’t even bled into the fibers of the paper. Paint, paper, conservation glue—all were of about the same vintage, going back two years at most. Gimpel had been conned. Zagel was curious about the labels on the hardboard, which bore the names of various

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