Caveat Emptor: The Secret Life of an American Forger is a new memoir from Florida’s master art forger, Ken Perenyl. In the memoir the author almost admits to a series of crimes which could constitute a criminal conspiracy of grand theft and scheming to defraud. The painter believes that he is immune from prosecution because of the statute of limitations; it’s hoped he vetted all of his admissions before publication not with a priest but with a Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney.
|The Artist working in Madeira Beach, Florida|
But is the master forger really free from the threat of prosecution? A defense argument can be made that the forgeries are not forgeries at all in that he copied the style, formula and subject matter for secondary artists rather than copy known paintings and let others jump to conclusions and that any evidence of wrongdoing is circumstantial.
But what about the money? Press accounts of the memoir indicate that the expert art forger made a significant amount of money from the crimes. How he accounted for the money could directly affect how the statute of limitations would apply in his case. Further, it appears that he is still painting fakes, but listing them as fakes in a wonderfully worded convoluted waiver in his sales slips, which might not be sufficient to stop fraud allegations if the prices he sells the paintings are enhanced because of high resale value as genuine paintings especially if a reasonable person would believe that the paintings would later be sold as genuine. But even if he were prosecuted and punished would jail really be appropriate for his crimes.
Here are some excerpts from the Gaurdian Newspaper’s account.
An extraordinary memoir reveals how a gifted artist managed to forge his way to riches by conning high-profile auctioneers, dealers and collectors over four decades tells the story of Ken Perenyi, an American who lived in London for 30 years. The revelations within it are likely to spark embarrassment on both sides of the Atlantic as “a bombshell for the major international auction houses and galleries.”
Perenyi’s specialities included British sporting and marine paintings of the 18th and 19th centuries. He concentrated on the work of well-known but second-rank artists, believing that the output of the greatest masters is too fully documented. Dealers were often told he had found a picture in a relative’s attic or spotted it in a car boot sale.
Perhaps Perenyi’s proudest moment came when a forgery of Ruby Throats with Apple Blossoms, by the American 19th-century artist Martin Johnson Heade, made the front page of a national newspaper and was heralded as a major “discovery”selling for nearly $100,000 at auction in New York.Perenyi believes he is free finally to publish his story because, although he was investigated by the FBI, the case was closed in 2003 and is subject to the statute of limitations. He said he has never discovered why the case was dropped, but he suspects the art world may have been keen to prevent the exposure of the serial forgeries.
If you’ve been forging great works of art while the FBI is looking over your shoulder, call Clearwater Criminal Defense Lawyers who will paint a picture of your innocent nature for the Judge and Jury.