Friday, September 10, 2010

Review : Provenance

Salisbury, Laney and Aly Sujo. Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art. Penguin, 2009.

[Source: American Library Association conference freebie]

Provenance is the true story of an elaborate scam that plagued the unsuspecting art world for nearly a decade. The mastermind of the scam, John Drewe, was the quintessential con man leaving a trail of marks from London to Paris to New York. Drewe not only managed the creation of hundreds of fakes but also infiltrated the records of some of the most prestigious art institutions to create documented proof of their "legitimacy." It is unknown how many of his fraudulent paintings and documents still lurk in homes, museums and archives.

Provenance is just the sort of non-fiction I enjoy. Salisbury and Sujo achieve a fiction-like narrative that draws the reader into the exploits of John Drewe while still providing a detailed recounting of the facts as well as some limited background on art and the history of art frauds. You don't have to be an art historian or even be an art buff to appreciate the tale Provenance tells. You don't even need to know what provenance means. All you need is an appreciation for crime stories and the unraveling of a good mystery.


  1. Wow, sounds like a great book, right up my alley.

  2. I'm glad! If you have suggestions of similar books, leave a comment on

  3. I'm with you - I like non-fiction that reads as fiction.