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Provenance by Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo

As my parents fancy themselves art collectors (they're not), I've heard way too much about the importance of a work's provenance. So I was giggling to myself when i realized just how easily that be all-end all piece of paper can be as fake as the art it's proving.

I loved this story. The mastermind at the head of this operation was legit insane in the membrane... which is always fascinating to read about. I enjoyed hearing all the names and jobs John Drewe "accumulated" over the years. He was brilliant, but flat out insane. And the combination of those two assets always end badly (and entertainingly... is that a word?).

The authors told this story with such detail but also with a sense of humor that made Drewe almost appear as a cartoon character... a real human being couldn't possibly think this was a good idea. Oh... but he did. Salisbury and Sujo showed a respect to his genius, while making it obvious that his confidence would ultimately be his undoing.

Doing my Google thang to see what John Drewe is up to now, I learned that in 2012, he was convicted of defrauding a 71 year old retired music teacher of her life savings. I guess that measly four months he served for the art forgeries didn't teach him a lesson... and he got to spend 8 more years in the pokey because of that.


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.

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