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

L. A. Son

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L. A. Son
My Life, My City, My Food
Roy Choi
with Tien Nguyen and Natasha Phan
Photographs by Bobby Fisher
An Anthony Bourdain Book, an imprint if HarperCollins Publishers, 2013
     This is not your average cookbook – in fact, it is more of an autobiography than anything else. celebrity Chef Roy Choi tells the plain truth about his life, with some fab recipes thrown in for good measure. He starts his story with a brief history of how his parents got together, how he was born in Seoul, South Korea and eventually immigrated to the U.S.
     His parents had a rough start and it took some years to find their way, as did the author. He recounts his life being something of a jewelry mule for his parents when at age 10-12 they would buy raw diamonds and other gem stones, hide them in Roy’s clothes, and then travel from jeweler to setter to have them made into one of a kind jewelry.
     By the time he was a teenager living in an all-white suburb (‘Everybody was white. White. All white. It blew my mind. I didn’t see another Asian, Latino, black or Indian kid. For days. Literally.” Pg 50), the author had submerged himself in the gang life and all the drugs, violence and crime that usually comes with it.
     It is quite a heartbreaking tale and after many starts and stops he finally gets himself together in his mid-to-late 20’s and heads to the Culinary Institute of America to start his new life. Of course not all is wine and roses and he has many demons to deal with, but he finds his way back to his Korean roots and starts a now famous food truck business in Los Angeles.
     Some of the recipes sound mighty tasty – like Chili Spaghetti, Chinatown Almond Cookies, Korean Stained-Glass fried Chicken – but no the Spicy Octopus!!
     A great book, full of life and sorrow and joy. Roy Choi goes from rags to riches at least 4 times, and hopefully he has finally settled into the rich side of life. The only complaint I have is the very liberal use of expletives throughout the book – but that one’s on me!!
Rating: 4 out of 5 paws
jackReviewer: Jack

 

How Roy Choi Built An Empire From One Beat-Up Taco Truck | Fast ...  Roy Choi

 

 

The Story of a Soul

The Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux

 Therese Martin (of Lisieux)
Edited by T. N. Taylor<
The Echo Library, 2006

I found this book by reading another book (The Happiness Project); the author had read it and found it inspiring. She was right, it is inspiring. From a very early age Therese Martin knew she was destined to serve God in a cloistered convent. She believed the whole of her life was under Divine Guidance and she sought to please the only One she truly loved. She entered the convent young, at age 15 in 1888 and died young as well, a short 9 years later in 1897.

Chapter I: Earliest Memories – God, in His goodness, did me the favour of awakening my intelligence very early, and He has imprinted the recollections of my childhood so deeply in my memory that past events seem to have happened but yesterday.  Pg 14
Chapter II: A Catholic Household – When I was six or seven years old I saw the sea for the first time. The sight made a deep impression on me, I could not take my eyes off it. its majesty, and the roar of the waves, all spoke to my soul of the greatness and power of God.  Pg 26
Chapter III: Pauline enters the Carmel –  I do not know how to describe this extraordinary illness. …I seemed nearly always to be delirious;… . But if God allowed the devil to approach me in this open way, Angels too were sent to console and strengthen me.  Pg 31
Chapter IV: First Communion and Confirmation – But I would not and I could not tell you all. Some things lose their fragrance when exposed to the air, and so, too, one’s inmost thoughts cannot be translated into earthly words without instantly losing their deep and heavenly meaning.  Pg 36
Chapter V: Vocation of Therese – In those days I did not dare to speak of my inner feelings; the road which I trod was so direct, so clear, that I did not feel the need of any guide but Jesus.  Pg 46
Chapter VI: A Pilgrimage to Rome – I should have liked to wandered along among its ruins [of Pompeii], meditating on the instability of human things, but such solitude was not to be thought of.  Pg 60<
Chapter VII: The Little Flower Enters the Carmel – At last my desires were realized, and I cannot describe the deep sweet peace which filled my soul. This peace has remained with me during the eight and a half years of my life here, and has never left me even amid the greatest trials.  Pg 63<
Chapter VIII: Profession of Soeur Therese – Our Lord has no need of books or teachers to instruct our souls. He, the Teacher of Teachers, instructs us without any noise of words. I have never heard Him speak, yet I know he is within me. Pg 77<
Chapter IX: The Night of the Soul – When I sing of the happiness of Heaven and the eternal possession of God, I do not feel any joy therein, for I sing only of what I wish to believe.  Sometimes, I confess, a little ray of sunshine illumines my dark night, and I enjoy peace for an instant, but later, the remembrance of this ray of light, instead of consoling me, makes the blackness thicker still. Pg 84
Chapter X: The New Commandment – When the Divine Master tells me to give to whosoever asks of me, and to let what is mine be taken without asking it again, it seems to me that He speaks not only of the goods of earth, but also of the goods of Heaven. Besides, neither one nor the other are really mine; I renounced the former by the vow of poverty, and the latter gifts are simply lent. If God withdraw them, I have no right to complain.  Pg 91
Chapter XI: A Canticle of Love – My God, Thou knowest that I have ever desired to love Thee alone. It has been my only ambition. Thy love has gone before me, even from the days of my childhood. It has grown with my growth, and not it is an abyss whose depths I cannot fathom.  Pg 103

Sister Therese achieved a level of humility and piety few people will ever rise to; reading her autobiography was both inspiring and humbling. And, if I must be completely honest, a bit annoying at times. She was just so willing to suffer for the sake of her faith, so willing to let go of herself to serve others, and so willing to be shaped and molded into what she believed God wanted, she set an ideal too high for an ordinary feline or human to achieve – at least with Divine Grace.

Rating: 5 out of 5 paws.

jackReviewer: Jack

  Sister Therese of the Child Jesus

  Therese as a child

Therese a few days before she entered on April 9, 1888

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.