Caveat Emptor: The Secret Life of an American Art Forger

  • by Ken Perenyi
  • Narrated by Dan Butler
  • 9 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The true story of America's greatest art forger!
Ten years ago, an FBI investigation was about to expose a scandal in the art world that would have been front-page news in New York and London. After a trail of fake paintings of astonishing quality led federal agents to art dealers, renowned experts, and the major auction houses, the investigation inexplicably ended, despite an 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 audiobook, Caveat Emptor, is that artist, Ken Perenyi’s, confession. It is the story, in detail, of how he pulled it all off. 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 the experts in mere seconds.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Forgery to Story Telling

In the last paragraph of the book, the author, a self professed forger and con-man, states that pressure from the FBI has persuaded him to give up forgery and that he is looking forward to his next 'project'. I think he found it in writing the book and that is was not a far leap from his previous 'profession'. Multiple accounts of cranking out huge numbers of forgeries from different artist with different styles in relatively short periods of time (weeks) and doing it with such quality so as to fool multiple experts, were simply hard to fathom in the realm of reality. Add to these his accounts of multiple relationships with elite dealers and rich collectors who befriended him from the first encounter and you have a fairly well written (and well performed) story that is extremely interesting but leaves you wondering if the classification of non-fiction was a mistake. But the aspect of the book that left me scratching my head the most was the author's pride in the quality of the painting while referring to them as 'pictures'. I don't know a lot of artist and I am not an art collector, but aren't pictures- photos? Had I bought one of his forgeries I would have at least had something to cover the wall. With the purchase of the book, I just feel duped. The 2 stars for the story helps me feel a little better.
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- Tina M.

A fascinating story told by a fascinating man

Would you consider the audio edition of Caveat Emptor to be better than the print version?

This is a hard question to answer. The audio version is excellent: the performance captures the excitement of Mr. Perenyi's life and conveys the details of various painting styles in way that kept my attention. For an art lover, I think a hard copy of the book would be invaluable because Mr. Perenyi's career covers so many periods of art history and painting.


Who was your favorite character and why?

Mr. Perenyi was my favourite character because of his love of learning and of art. I was struck by his genius, his ability to understand an artist, his burning desire to paint, his love of technique, and his ability to move in all strata of society. I wondered if he was really "for real" - but, in the end, I didn't care. I loved being reminded that geniuses live among us. Another favourite character was Jose, Mr. Perenyi's best friend and partner, who died of AIDs. He was depicted as a devoted and loyal friend without peer - a lovely, gentle soul.


Which character – as performed by Dan Butler – was your favorite?

I enjoyed the Roy Cohn character and was fascinated by the way in which Mr. Perenyi's life intersected with his.


Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Absolutely, yes!


Any additional comments?

Read this book for an adventure with some fascinating characters (including Andy Warhol) through some really interesting times; for a story of New York in the sixties and seventies; and for a master class in art and painting. It's a gem.

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- Joanne

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-01-2012
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.