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Caveat Emptor: The Secret Life of an…

Caveat Emptor: The Secret Life of an American Art Forger

by Ken Perenyi

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This was a really fantastic book that seemed to have been written especially for me. The writing is straight forward and interesting. The author threw in enough tidbits about antique paintings and the process of imitating them to keep me turning the pages. I highly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in fine art and the people who imitate it. ( )
  knfmn | Dec 22, 2016 |
This started pretty good, but I found myself hating the author more and more as the book progressed. Toward the last third of the book, I was skimming more than I was reading, and finding myself calling the author a scumbag in my head more and more often.

As an art lover, I thought this would be interesting, but it turns out that Perenyi is just a shady dude and a slimeball. Perhaps if this was written by someone likeable, I'd have enjoyed it more. ( )
  imahorcrux | Jun 22, 2016 |
What led me to this book was the book description itself … “Ten years ago, an FBI investigation in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York was about to expose a scandal in the art world that would have been front–page news in New York and London. After a trail of fake paintings of astonishing quality led federal agents to art dealers, renowned experts, and the major auction houses, the investigation inexplicably ended, despite an abundance of evidence collected. The case was closed and the FBI file was marked “exempt from public disclosure.” Now that the statute of limitations on these crimes has expired and the case appears hermetically sealed shut by the FBI, Caveat Emptor is Ken Perenyi’s confession. It is the story, in detail, of how he pulled it all off.”

This sounded like something I would enjoy … and I did for the most part. It’s difficult for me to pick apart an autobiographical book, because let’s face it; it is the story of someone’s life. This book deals with some interesting facts about art forgery and the methods Mr. Perenyi developed for his craft (some methods mentioned in other books on the subject of art forgery as well … so as he points out in this book … he was indeed very good at what he did). Although Mr. Perenyi is very forthcoming about his forgeries and the subsequent FBI investigations I was left wanting a little bit more. Simply a matter of too many unanswered questions at the end of the tale … like the FBI file about the investigation the ending of this book also seems to be marked “exempt from public disclosure”.

My burning question probably has no place in a book review, but I’m throwing it out there anyway – If a painter is so talented that he can convincingly recreate masterpieces, why is he not making a name for himself in the art world? Is the money truly the root of all evil? Is it laziness? Is it the challenge? Or is it, as Mr. Perenyi states, simply a matter of being born in the wrong century to create the art you love?
( )
  ChristineEllei | Jul 14, 2015 |
Ken Perenyi relates his many years as an art forger, providing many details as to how exactly he was able to fool many of the top collectors and auction houses in the world. The passing of applicable statutes of limitations has freed him up to tell his tales of derring-do. Not so certain the same methods work now in the light of better chemical and forensic analysis. Perenyi has little compunction or regret over having bamboozled so many for so long. In his eyes, it is largely the auction houses who were hurt, against whom he carries a particularly strong grudge. If one is able to set aside ethical and moral considerations, this is a pretty engaging story. Perenyi does not detail in the least his subsequent efforts to bring and abused child out of Africa and provide a safe and stable home. This raises him somewhat in my estimation. A little internet research will give you the full story. ( )
  michigantrumpet | Jun 8, 2015 |
How much is “America’s first and only great art forger,” as the jacket copy describes the author, willing to reveal? Quite a lot, it seems. Perenyi, a graduate of a New Jersey technical school and a Vietnam draft dodger, fell in with a band of artistic New Yorkers and began imitating long-gone masters such as James E. Buttersworth and Martin Johnson Heade. The trick, he learned, was the peripheral details: the materials to which the canvas was fixed, the frame, a faux-aged stain. Perenyi took his canvases to New York antiques shops and specialty galleries, told a tale about a deceased uncle with treasures in his attic, and, more often than not, sold his wares. Some of his paintings reached the upper echelons of the art world and were brokered or bought by famous auction houses. ( )
  cjordan916 | Aug 13, 2014 |
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Ten years after the case was closed by the FBI, an artist with an uncanny ability to mimic the work of the old masters confesses and describes his thirty-year career as a professional art forger.

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