90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
An Art Forger Tells All

This show is a rebroadcast from August 14, 2012.

Ken Perenyi made millions forging famous works of art. Now he tells all.

In an exhibition on forgeries at the Detroit Institute of Arts, a painting titled "A Female Saint", left, that once was attributed to Italian artist Sandro Botticelli is exhibited alongside "The Resurrected Christ," right, a Botticelli painting from around 1480. (AP)

In an exhibition on forgeries at the Detroit Institute of Arts, a painting titled “A Female Saint”, left, that once was attributed to Italian artist Sandro Botticelli is exhibited alongside “The Resurrected Christ,” right, a Botticelli painting from around 1480. (AP)

For most of us, high-tier art forgery is the stuff of movies and, almost, fairy tales. A master forger, moving among the rich and famous, cruising galleries and museums, gliding through glittering auction houses. Then going back to the studio to paint elegant fakes – forgeries – so fine they fool the masters. Make millions.

For Ken Perenyi, this was life, he says. The machinist’s son from Jersey with a gift for emulation. And an incredible story to tell.

This hour, On Point: the forger’s tale. Master art forger Ken Perenyi tells all – or something like it.

- Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Ken Perenyi, art forger and author of the new memoir “Caveat Emptor: The Secret Life of an American Art Forger.”

Henry DePhillips, art conservation scientist and art forgery specialist.

From Tom’s Reading List

The New York Times “Over the next few years, he says, the F.B.I. continued to keep a close watch on him at his bayside bungalow here, tracking his work and where it sold, and talking to his friends and associates. Though the authorities never charged him, the scrutiny pushed Mr. Perenyi to develop what he calls “a new business model”: openly selling his faked oils as the reproductions of the finest masters.”

The Huffington Post “The business of oil painting reproductions has been around for some time, and one might argue it’s not really hurting artists like Paul Cezanne or other painters who are no longer with us. Instead, it’s allowing art enthusiasts on a budget to admire a work of fine art — albeit a fake — in their own home. But for contemporary and emerging artists, it’s a drastically different story.”

Excerpt: “Caveat Emptor: The Secret Life of an American Art Forger”

Use the navigation bar at the bottom of this frame to reformat the excerpt to best suit your reading experience.

Gallery

Here are some forged paintings by our guest Ken Perenyi paired with the real paintings as well as a photo of Ken at work.

Playlist

“Sinnerman” by Nina Simone (from The Thomas Crown Affair Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Nov 25, 2014
A protester squirts lighter fluid on a police car as the car windows are shuttered near the Ferguson Police Department after the announcement of the grand jury decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. (AP)

Grand Jury decision out of Ferguson — no indictment. We’re on the ground with the latest details and reaction.

Nov 25, 2014
A 40-pound tom turkey looks out at Raymond's Turkey Farm in Methuen, Mass., Friday, Nov. 21, 2014. The farm raises approximately 20,000 Broad Breasted White Holland turkeys per year. (AP)

We’ll talk turkey and all the sides. Top chefs join us to answer your Thanksgiving questions.

RECENT
SHOWS
Nov 24, 2014
Homeless people stay with their belongings under the Pontchartrain Expressway overpass in New Orleans, Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014. The city’s health department put up notices Monday giving the estimated 150 homeless people 72 hours to leave the area. (AP)

Smashing the assumptions about what it’s really like to live in poverty in America.

 
Nov 24, 2014
In this photo taken Wednesday, July 30, 2014, Silicon Valley pioneer and Silent Circle co-founder Jon Callas holds up Blackphone with encryption apps displayed on it at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif.  (AP)

We’ll look at privacy, security, and the battle heating up between intelligence agencies and tech companies that are moving to encrypt your communication.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Last-Minute Thanksgiving Luxury
Tuesday, Nov 25, 2014

Our three Thanksgiving chefs offer up their best bets for delicious, last-minute holiday helpers, including a crunchy celery salad and maple glazed carrots.

More »
Comment
 
Calling All Interns, Calling All Interns
Monday, Nov 24, 2014

Have you ever thought about interning with On Point Radio? Good news: your time is now!

More »
Comment
 
The Explicast, Episode Six: What Does A White House Press Correspondent Do?
Friday, Nov 21, 2014

We turn to White House Press Correspondents all the time for news, but we’ve never really wondered how they gather their information. Fortunately, our guest host Jessica Yellin had time to sit down with The Explicast to explain.

More »
Comment