Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art

Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art - Laney Salisbury, Aly Sujo The saying "you get what you pay for" does not necessarily apply when it comes to works of art, in that, one might be paying a markedly high price for a copy of an original, and be none the wiser. I did not say 'fake' because some of these forgeries are reproduced in such exactness that they even have the experts fooled, as it was in many cases as highlighted in this book. How much more so when the history of a piece is backed up by (impressive) provenance?

How about the validity or authenticity of the provenance itself? Unless there is a distinct trail of crumbs which raises suspicion, and therefore, further investigation, most genuine-looking documents are not given more than the obligatory (or even, cursory) glance.

Several years ago, I had the pleasure of attending an art exhibition in Singapore, featuring works loaned from the Musee D'Orsay, Paris. My son, who was then in his early teens, was skeptical that the artworks were original. He was not convinced that the genuine articles would be shipped halfway around the world, set up to be viewed by the general public standing only a few feet away from something valued in the millions of dollars, and not have the heightened security which he envisioned. It did make me think though, that most people, as laypersons and a non-connoisseurs of art, we really would not be able to tell if the artwork we were admiring was real or a very good 'fake' -- which is how art fraud and art thefts get carried out. This book details the underbelly of the art world, and that truth is really sometimes stranger than fiction.