Caveat Emptor: The Secret Life of an American Art Forger
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The true confessions of the most infamous art-forger in American history―a catch-me-if-you-can caper that reveals the inner workings of the art world.
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For over thirty years, Ken Perenyi raked in riches by forging masterpieces, convincing even the most discerning experts that his works were authentic.
Growing up as a working-class kid in Fort Lee, New Jersey, Perenyi never dreamed of becoming an art forger. However, when he stumbled upon The Castle, a large crumbling estate in his neighborhood, he found himself in the middle of the New York avant-garde art scene. Under their mentorship, he discovered he possessed a preternatural ability to imitate the works of old masters, an ability that confounded even the most qualified experts and catapulted him to a life of riches.
Honest, gripping, and astounding, Caveat Emptor reveals the ironies latent to the art world, while telling the dramatic story of how Perenyi managed to pull it off.
32 pages of color photographs
used as the bottoms of drawers in the seventeenth-century furniture I hunted to sell to dealers in the city. When the opportunity arose, I procured three suitable panels scavenged from a third-rate piece of early European furniture. I went to the Met, studied the Flemish portraits for hours, and bought books containing reproductions of them. I noticed that many of the paintings shared similar characteristics: deceptively simple portraits of people with thin lips, long straight noses, medieval
out of the blue, Tony announced that he had a new set of wheels and that we were going out for a ride. After dropping in on Julian Schnabel at his studio in Little Italy, we were leaving the building when Tony noticed a pile of custom-made artist’s stretchers in the lobby waiting to be carried up to Julian’s loft. In a flash Tony scooped them up and threw them on the top of the wagon, and we sped away. Living with Tony began to distort my view of reality until it all began to seem normal, as
first time I learned about Roy Cohn’s role in Senator Joe McCarthy’s hunt for Communist spies in the 1950s and that he was the most feared, notorious, and highly paid lawyer in the country, if not in history. He was courted by politicians, mobsters, and tycoons. He lived a jet-set lifestyle, hobnobbed with the rich and famous, and had his own table at ‘21’. Roy was big enough to take on anybody or anything. Indeed, as Ann explained it, he’d been indicted three times by the federal government for
Buttersworth, the first American artist I wanted to imitate, was born in England. He, like his father Thomas, was an accomplished marine artist. Their work is noted for the exceptionally fine detail displayed in the ships they painted and the coastal scenery in the background. James immigrated to America around 1847 and settled in West Hoboken, New Jersey, near where I was born. There he specialized in painting the ships and yachts that plied the Hudson River. Ultimately, he became the official
Lauderdale. Once there, we found a shop that boasted an impressive collection of American and European furniture and accessories. The second we set foot in the shop, we were set upon by a nasty little lady who jumped out from behind a desk and followed us around, continually asking, “Is there anything special you’re looking for?” Even though I was about to make her an offer on a fine little eighteenth-century English writing table that caught my eye, I became irritated with the woman and thought