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Provenance

How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art
Narrated by: Marty Peterson
Length: 8 hrs and 59 mins
Categories: Arts & Entertainment, Arts
4 out of 5 stars (36 ratings)

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Summary

Here is a tautly paced investigation of one the 20th century's most audacious art frauds, which generated hundreds of forgeries - many of them still hanging in prominent museums and private collections today. Provenance is the extraordinary narrative of one of the most far-reaching and elaborate deceptions in art history. Investigative reporters Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo brilliantly recount the tale of a great con man and unforgettable villain, John Drewe, and his sometimes unwitting accomplices. Chief among those was the struggling artist John Myatt, a vulnerable single father who was manipulated by Drewe into becoming a prolific art forger. Once Myatt had painted the pieces, the real fraud began. Drewe managed to infiltrate the archives of the upper echelons of the British art world in order to fake the provenance of Myatt's forged pieces, hoping to irrevocably legitimize the fakes while effectively rewriting art history.

The story stretches from London to Paris to New York, from tony Manhattan art galleries to the esteemed Giacometti and Dubuffet associations, to the archives at the Tate Gallery. This enormous swindle resulted in the introduction of at least 200 forged paintings, some of them breathtakingly good and most of them selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Many of these fakes are still out in the world, considered genuine and hung prominently in private houses, large galleries, and prestigious museums. And the sacred archives, undermined by John Drewe, remain tainted to this day.

Provenance reads like a well-plotted thriller, filled with unforgettable characters and told at a breakneck pace. But this is most certainly not fiction; Provenance is the meticulously researched and captivating account of one of the greatest cons in the history of art forgery.

©2009 Laney Salisbury (P)2009 Audible, Inc.

Critic reviews

"Salisbury and Sujo (who died in 2008) evoke with flair the plush art world and its penetration by the seductive Drewe as well as the other players in this fascinating art drama." ( Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average customer ratings

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Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Fascinating Tale

The story itself was very interesting and I really enjoyed it. The only thing that spoiled it for me were the narrator's persistent mispronunciations. Southwark to rhyme with South Fork for instance and really, clique rhymes with week not wick. A British narrator would have made much better sense for a story based in the UK.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Awful accent

An interesting and absorbing story but spoilt by the awful robotic, American accent and pronunciations

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great story, but cringey narrator

fantastic story for anyone interested in the art world, however the narration was disappointing, with the American narrator mispronouncing London place names!!

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Ruined by narration

This is a good account of the case, my problem is the narrator is not right for the book.
This is a British story and I feel would have been much improved by a British accent telling the story.
It’s as wrong for me as using a British accent would be to narrate the story of Ken Perenyi the famous American art forger.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

fascinating story RUINED by the performance

Where to start with this one ...
The true story of Drewe and Myatt's crimes are fascinating, one marvels at how they both got away with it for so long and how money talks if you are trying to impress.

Ruined by the reader - OK she's American so one expects the 'van Go's' and overdoing the pronunciation of French words which all sound odd to my British ears - but this gal goes beyond that - there is an automated quality to her voice, monotone even. The way she reads £110 as - pounds one hundred ten, instead of - a hundred and ten pounds, reminds one of the worst kind of 'read it' programmes on a smart phone.
Very hard going.
Take my advice, give this one a miss.
Buy the book instead.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Andy
  • Andy
  • 26-04-10

reads like a thriller

Terrific story behind a massive series of art swindles in the 1990's by a couple of somewhat talented gentlemen. The authors provide such great detail, you can feel as if you are looking over the shoulder of the swindler. Solid narration makes the audio book even more enjoyable.

18 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Cathy Carmack
  • Cathy Carmack
  • 24-10-11

Good story, annoying reader.

This was a good story, which I enjoyed listening to, but I have to admit that if the story hadn't been so good, I would have stopped listening. I found the reader annoying. Her voice, and voice quality, just didn't seem to match the book/story in my mind.

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Sharonia
  • Sharonia
  • 24-02-13

Fabulous story, terrible narration almost ruined

I had to give up on the audio book because of the narration. And I almost invariably love the narrator. This time I feel it was not the narrator per se, but the engineer who taped her. ( Although, I must say, she could have done a better job at the pronunciation of names - e.g. Klee does NOT rhyme with key).
Did they really need to save 5 minutes or so to cram this book into a certain length?

The book sounds as if it is 8 hours of a run-on sentence. No natural pauses between words, sentences, paragraphs or chapters. Really annoying. Note that there are many names involved here which makes it even normally hard to follow an audio book, even more so when the narrator drones on interminably.

So I got the real book, and cannot put it down. Absolutely mesmerizing true story, well documented and written. Wish it had had pictures - that would have made it spectacular. Should be made into a movie.

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Simone
  • Simone
  • 30-05-13

It reads like fiction – GREAT!

I LOVED IT! If only more non-fiction books were written in this style; it reads like a story. Brilliant. It’s not dry and textbooky like most non-fiction books I have read (and that’s a lot, just check my library).

Most of the time non-fiction tends to be pretty dull, emotionless and little more than a long boring litany of: Fact. Fact. Date. Date. Fact. Date. Fact. You read it because you are interested in the information, but the presentation dulls your curiosity.

That’s not the case for this book, thanks to the story-style-set-up, it held my attention the entire way though... I never once got bored, or felt lost, or was mired down in a well of names and dates. I was captivated from the beginning to the end.

Kudos!

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Wolfpacker
  • Wolfpacker
  • 27-05-12

Unbelievable, But Somehow Believable

This story is an entertaining narrative of the unbelievable exploits of a consummate con artist. It is a fascinating look at how a rather ordinary man was able to pull one over on some of the most reputable museums and collectors in the art world. He did this on a shoestring budget, with little training, and while pulling in an unimpressive accomplice. You will be left shaking your head in wonder at how he was able to do it.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Amazon Customer
  • Amazon Customer
  • 25-08-10

Big Story; Unusual decisions

This is the story of one of the major acts of art fraud in the modern world. The facts themselves are probably worth the price of admission, but the rather epic mystery is well-explained and developed throughout the book. The only major downside is that the narration is a bit grating.

What's I find especially interesting is the arrangement of the book itself. The author didn't really tell one story, but frames the whole event in a series of interlocking narratives, which is confusing at times but really helpful at others: the story is just that big that it justifies it. The book is equally interesting in terms of who (and how) it crafts its heroes and villains.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 26-07-10

A great learning experience

A fascinating story of real-life adventure and detective work. It included information about the reality of forensic evidence with art works. The characters are unbelievable -- but true.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • jack
  • 24-03-15

Like listening to an On-Hold message at Verizon

While the story might have legs; they're quite cut off by the almost-cheery, almost-breathless narration. Quite like the message: "We're sorry to keep you waiting, your call is very important to us, we'll be with you in a moment."
Couldn't listen after a half-hour and had to return the book. Will try the Kindle edition.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Caroline
  • Caroline
  • 10-10-10

Interesting & enjoyable

A fascinating book on the art world and human nature. It is amazing the influence one person can have on others.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Enrique
  • Enrique
  • 20-01-13

Good listening

Would you consider the audio edition of Provenance to be better than the print version?

Not really, Marty speaks too fast

Who was your favorite character and why?

John Myatt, he is very naive

What about Marty Peterson’s performance did you like?

I did not like her performance, maybe she needs to slow down a bit

If you could give Provenance a new subtitle, what would it be?

How an art forger deceived the high end art galleries

2 people found this helpful