“Every good painter paints what he is.” Jackson Pollock
CBS Sunday Morning this past Sunday told the story of hugely successful art forger, Ken Perenyl. It appears that Perenyl has had an immensely lucrative career as a forger of the works of a number of mainly eighteenth and nineteenth century artists. He boastfully demonstrates his techniques for aging canvas and frames. Perenyl goes on to show the evidence of where Southby’s sold one of his forgeries for $650,000. Ken Perenyl has never come close to paying for the crime of forgery and deception even though the FBI did sniff around a bit at one time. Watching this left me feeling torn between admiration of his skill and disgust at his gleeful attitude toward his crimes.
Grossman LLP is a law firm that deals with issues in the art world. On the firm’s blog, Art-law-blog, is a recounting of the case of the owner of the New York art gallery of Salander-O’Reilly. Owner Salander was convicted of crimes of deception in the art world. He was driven into bankruptcy and is paying the price of his shady dealings. Yet Perenyl not only walks free, he brags about his crimes.
If we take Jackson Pollock’s quote as truth, what does that make Ken Perenyl? And why should we care? What effect if any, does this forger have on the majority of honest artists out there?