Beth 's Reviews > Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art

Provenance by Laney Salisbury
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Mar 17, 11


PROVENANCE: HOW A CON MAN AND A FORGER REWROTE THE HISTORY OF MODERN ART by Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo Versus A GATHERING OF SAINTS by Robert Lindsey

As I recently read PROVENANCE: HOW A CON MAN AND A FORGER REWROTE THE HISTORY OF MODERN ART by Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo, nominated for an Edgar Award, I thought it could have been a thriller if it had been written by Robert Lindsey, author of A GATHERING OF SAINTS. Both books tell important and interesting true stories, PROVENANCE about forging the works of famous artists, A GATHERING OF SAINTS about forging old documents. Yet PROVENANCE, while interesting, was a yawner for the first half of the book, making me wonder, why should I care? But A GATHERING OF SAINTS was told as a thriller so was impossible to put down from beginning to end.

PROVENANCE tells of the decades-long art scam of John Drew, the con artist, and John Myatt, the artist-forger in England during the 1990s. I should have cared; art crime is not only just about as profitable as drug smuggling; they are both often intertwined with terrorism.

But the story went all over the place; it didn’t stay on topic. PROVENANCE would be about what its subtitle promises, then go off on a tangent about something else. While it was obvious that the authors did a lot of research, it was also obvious they felt they had to relate every bit of it to the reader. Ho hum.

On the other hand Robert Lindsey wrote A GATHERING OF SAINTS so well it is engrossing. I wish I could remember details of this book, but I read it 20 years ago. I do remember that it had to do with a Mormon who found and sold very old documents and eventually forged some of them. When one of his forgeries threatened the basic beliefs of his Church, it led to murder.

Obviously, one book is a page turner, but the other isn't. I prefer page turners, so I tried to contact Lindsey to ask him to rewrite the story of the biggest art fraud. But I couldn't find him onlline.

Does anyone know what became of him? Lindsey also wrote THE FALCON AND THE SNOWMAN not too many years ago. He didn't die since then, did he?

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