Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Provenance is the story of widespread art fraud in the 1980s and 90s. Two men, John Myatt and John Drewe, perpetrated what Scotland Yard called the biggest art fraud in the 20th century. Drewe recruited Myatt, a talented painter, to create paintings that appeared to be from famous artists. Drewe created provenances, documents proving authenticity of works of art, to go with each of the fraudulent painting. Drewe then sold the works earning millions of pounds in the fraud.

When I finished this book, all I could think was, "Who says crime doesn't pay?" Myatt and Drewe served short sentences. Myatt is now a famous painter in his own right who sells his works for thousands of pounds. The book talks about a fire that Drewe is suspected of setting in which a woman died, but they don't have enough evidence. I felt like the men didn't have to atone for their crimes. I certainly thought Drewe was the bad guy in the story, but am uncomfortable with how Myatt has been able to profit from his notoriety.

I learned a lot about the art market. It was remarkable to me how Drewe was able to worm his way into prestigious art collections and doctor their archives. His con artist skills were outstanding.

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