Caveat Emptor - Ken Perenyi

Caveat Emptor

By Ken Perenyi

  • Release Date: 2012-08-15
  • Genre: Biographies & Memoirs
Score: 4.5
From 107 Ratings


The astonishing true story of America’s most accomplished art forger: a kid from New Jersey who became a master, fooling experts and eluding the FBI for thirty years. 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 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 book, Caveat Emptor, is Ken Perenyi’s confession. It is the story, in detail, of how he pulled it all off. Glamorous stories of art-world scandal have always captured the public imagination. However, not since Clifford Irving’s 1969 bestselling Fake has there been a story at all like this one. Caveat Emptor is unique in that it is the first and only book by and about America’s first and only great 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 the experts in mere seconds. In the tradition of Frank Abagnale’s Catch Me If You Can, and certain to be a bombshell for the major international auction houses and galleries, here is the story of America’s greatest art forger.


  • Caveat Emptor

    By MarianneG1028
    Fascinating read. Couldn't put it down!
  • Caveat Emptor

    My book club decided on Caveat Emptor by Ken Perenyi, a memoir about his life as an art forger, before I came up with the idea of dedicating my summer to art. The book is interesting, entertaining, educational and a bit humorous as well as surprising. Perenyi was a kid without any idea of what he wanted to do with his life when he met a group of people in the New York City art scene just after he graduated high school. The young adults introduced him to the art scene and included him in their parties and social circle during the late 1960's. As someone who always hated school but was good with his hands Ken fit right in and was encouraged to create. He became interested in antique furniture and old paintings and the process of restoring them which led to a realization that he could create paintings that looked like pieces art collectors would pay top money for. In the beginning Perenyi thought the skill to be a temporary way of earning money in order to fund his own art but it became his life career. The book is filled with an array of characters you'd imagine a person coming into contact with through such a line of work. Perenyi becomes friends with fashion models, mobsters, cleptomaniacs, drug addicts, lawyers, thieves, art restorers and wealthy collectors. We are taken through Pernyi's young adulthood into present times and see how his career develops and how he adapts to challenges. What interested me most was reading about how he was able to simulate the cracking of old paint and the aging of varnish. He hunted for old panels and canvases to paint on to make his the materials authentic and he learned a lot by working in art restoration. Perenyi's writing style is simple, his art is in painting, after all; but the book is interesting at the very least. I have always said that if I could do any other career it would be in art restoration and the book has me thinking about that path again. I completed it as I ended my trip to Greece, which seemed very appropriate.
  • Amazing read

    By iPad bookworm
    Actually a pretty amazing book. When it became our book club "pick", I was dreading it, however I was pleasantly surprised. Good writing, very easy to read and extremely entertaining. Compared to Ken, I have led a sheltered life. I mean really, Ken! What fun early years. From going to easily being a do nothing to painting like a mad man was of course dishonest but very energetic. I have to commend you for that. Obviously, I enjoyed it and would recommend to anyone. Art knowledge not a prerequisite.
  • Caveat Emptor

    By DLNTX
    I saw the short story on CBS Sunday Morning last month and was intrigued by the story. Beyond the Statute of Limitations the "Master" detailed how he used his vast talents as a painter, restorer, and art expert to "con" the international con-artist art dealers and auction houses. He played a very dangerous game and prevailed despite close surveillance by the FBI. If you enjoy stories like "Catch Me If You Can" you will thoroughly this well written and entertaining saga of big $ art sales.
  • Caveat Emptor

    By mbarto
    Hard to believe that one person without any formal art training could take up painting on a whim and deceive so many "experts" in their field for so many years. Causes one to wonder how much of this actually fact and how much is really fiction. Interesting read from the start, but ends very uneventful.