Caveat Emptor

caveat-emptor

Caveat Emptor
The Secret Life of an American Art Forger

Ken Perenyi
Pegasus Books, 2012

From the dust jacket: “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 headlined the front pages in New York and London. After a trail of fake paintings of astonishing quality led federal agents through a labyrinth of art dealers, renowned experts, and major auction houses, the investigation inexplicably ended, despite the 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, this book, Caveat Emptor, is Ken Perenyi’s confession. It is the story, in detail, of how he pulled it all off.
“…Caveat Emptor is unique in that it is the first book by and about America’s most talented art forger. And unlike other forgers, Perenyi produced no paper trail, no fake provenance whatsoever; he let the paintings speak for themselves. And that they did, routinely mesmerizing experts in mere seconds.”

This is one of those books that if you read it as fiction or saw it as a movie, you would say ‘that can’t ever happen’. You know the phrase, “The truth is stranger than fiction”? Well, there was never any more truer statement as can be said about this book and about the life its author led (and may still lead). Quite simply, it blew my mind.

Not only is the author incredibly talented – I would say genius/savant level talent – but instinctively aware of what not to do so he doesn’t get caught. Of course, I was truly bothered – no, appalled is a better word – by his lack of basic moral values regarding theft and lying. There was some outright theft but it was more disturbing to me that he spent almost his entire early career lying by omission. He copied great works of art, signed the artist’s name to it but when he offered it for sale – whether to an auction house or a private seller/dealer, he walked up to the line but never crossed it – meaning, he never actually said the painting was by the artist or that he had painted it, just that he had ‘found’ it. It’s a slippery slope he was on and by a measure grace from somewhere he was incredibly successful at it.

The book is very readable – I don’t know if the author is as talented in writing as he is in painting or if he had a ghost writer – but I couldn’t put the book down. He takes the reader through a brief history of the Psychedelic Sixties, the Disco Seventies, the Over Indulgent Eighties, and all the way to the early 2000’s. Forging art was his life and, according to his website (kenperenyi.com) it still is, only he’s upfront with the forgery instead of keeping it hidden. Fascinating, truly fascinating. If you like books about interesting people, read this one. You won’t be disappointed.

Rating: 4 out of 5 paws because I couldn’t put it down, I just read straight through to the end.

Reviewer:

jack-loc
Jack

Me, Stories of My Life

 

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Me, Stories of My Life

Katharine Hepburn

Alfred A. Knopf, 1991

Miss Hepburn tells the story of her life in this book. She talks about her childhood, movies and loves, especially the love of her life. She admits that she is headstrong, self-absorbed and self-centered –  except when it comes to Spencer Tracy.

·         Part 1

o   We learn about Miss Hepburn’ parents, siblings, childhood and where she has lived.

·         Part 2

o   Career beginnings on the stage and in Hollywood; marriage to Ludlow Ogden Smith; back to New York where she crashed and burned on the stage with a play, The Lake.

·         Part 3

o   Big movies, big actors, famous directors and we hear about Spencer for the first time. She goes into greater detail about Spencer later in the book.

·         Part 4

o   Miscellaneous stories about gardening, a trip to Italy, and her movie, The Corn is Green.

·         Part 5

o   Health issues including a broken voice, eye surgery and a serious car accident.

·         Part 6

o   Spencer Tracy. Miss Hepburn tells not so much of their life together but of his final days and her grief at losing him. She also tells of the final leaving of the house they shared in California; very poignant, very sweet, very loving.

The book was a good read, it was interesting to find out about one of my favorite actresses. However the way it was written drove me absolutely crazy! This is my first auto-biography so I don’t know if it is ‘normal’ to write a book in such a conversational style. It is like I was sitting across the kitchen table from Miss Hepburn and she talking to me like I was her best friend. Really weird. She just rambles on from topic to topic, she stays in the same general area but her train of thought definitely skips the track a couple of times. She doesn’t tell the story chronologically but topically. For instance, she tells all the places she has lived, about her career, and her movies. This is not a book I plan on rereading, but I will keep it on our shelves for sentimental reasons – our mom gave it to her grandmother and it was later returned to us.

Rating:  3 Paws for the way it was written (conversational style); it would have been lower but the author is, after all, the fabulous Katharine Hepburn.

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rufus headshot2 Reviewer: Rufus

 

    

Courtesy: Goodreads

Katharine Hepburn 
born in Hartford, Connecticut,May 12, 1907

died June 29, 2003

Katharine Houghton Hepburn was an American actress of film, stage, and television. Known for her headstrong independence and spirited personality, Hepburn’s career as a Hollywood leading lady spanned more than 60 years. She cultivated a screen persona that matched this public image, and regularly played strong-willed, sophisticated women. Her work came in a range of genres, from screwball comedy to literary drama, and she received four Academy Awards for Best Actress—a record for any performer.

In the 1940s Hepburn was contracted to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, where her career focused on an alliance with Spencer Tracy. The screen-partnership spanned 25 years, and produced nine movies.

Hepburn challenged herself in the latter half of her life, as she regularly appeared in Shakespeare stage productions and tackled a range of literary roles. She found a niche playing middle-aged spinsters, such as in The African Queen (1951), a persona the public embraced. Three more Oscars came for her work in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967), The Lion in Winter (1968), and On Golden Pond (1981).

In the 1970s she began appearing in television movies, which became the focus of her career in later life. She remained active into old age, making her final screen appearance in 1994 at the age of 87. After a period of inactivity and ill-health, Hepburn died in 2003 at 96 years old.

In 1999, she was named by the American Film Institute as the top female Hollywood legend.