Ken Perenyi, art forger and predator has not, as many hoped, disappeared. He has merely decamped. Perenyi who is just as much a two-bit crook as any ambulance chasing attorney or sketchy stock broker, has fled the "heat" in New York to re-heat his idiots trade in the swamps of Florida. The only difference is that Perenyi preys on those who may have yet to learn how to navigate the art market. Lead image of Ken Perenyi - Jurvetson (flickr)
Many, blinkered by a perceived sheen of academic gentility are the minnows that sharks like Perenyi gulp, swimming in cloudy, opaque and far from safe waters that comprise the global art market. One of the sicker ironies of The Ken Perenyi saga is the kid gloves with which this scam artist has been treated in the press.
This bizarre twist can best be described as a "Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid" outlaw as celebrity syndrome.
The Knoedler Gallery and its President, Ann Freedman, when embroiled in a fraud debacle last year, were correctly, yet incessantly, excoriated by The New York Times and The New York Post. (The scandal ended with the closing of the tony gallery's doors after nearly two centuries). While, Perenyi, by contrast was nearly celebrated. Breathlessly "revealed" by the aforementioned press as one of "THE master forgers" at the center of the scandal, inexplicably Perenyi's fraud was treated with bemusement bordering on admiration. Perenyi's counterfeit of choice are works intended to pass as those by masters of the Hudson River School.
His daubs, to an expert eye, are barely Bierstadt. His copies (of which he is pathetically proud) have, however, passed for the work of artists whose genius married to decades of toil in perfecting technique currently garner six and seven figures on the American paintings market. Perenyi was last year revealed as "the master forger" at the center of the shameful debacle that did in the centuries old, tony American Paintings gallery, Knoedler, forced to close its doors in Manhattan after nearly two centuries.
One can only assume that this tacitly complicit promotion has only egged on Perenyi, who has from the start been a character equally obnoxious as the self promoting Donald Trump.
Originally, and very unglamorously, Perenyi hails from Nyack, an undistinguished suburb of New York City and began his life of art crime as part of a larger crew that operated in the lower Hudson Valley. Perenyi's southern migration, for those perhaps not au-fair with the idiosyncratic nature of State versus Federal law in America, Florida's "state" law has made it a destination for all manner of those attempting to evade justice, as if one has legal actions pending, in Florida homes and personal assets are immune from seizure. However, the Florida beaches and mixing margaritas have not curtailed Ken Perenyi's dedication to Ken Perenyi. Perenyi's website: http://kenperenyi.com, continues to "showcase" his hit parade of forgeries in a seemingly unashamed and unending e-world advertisement.
This should be bad enough, yet the tale gets uglier.
As his perfidy continues unchecked, his paintings - once they leave his hands - continue to be misrepresented. For example, on February 10, 2013, Kaminski Auction house in Beverly, Massachusetts held a “Winter Estate Auction" including a Perenyi disguised as "Luminist tonal Hidson River School" masterpieces. More at:
If the proof disappears, as it suddenly did back in 2013 when the above Kaminski webpage was wiped in either: a Kaminski auctioneers crisis of conscience, or a revisionist, selective historical record akin to Hillary Clinton's emails or Richard Nixon's tapes, fear not, times have changed.
Wiped is never wiped. If interested in pursuing this new normal due to the World Wide Web, login to the great "waybackwebmachine" at:
Kaminski's internet acrobatics may distract, but alas, they do not acquit.
Lot 8130 from the Kaminski Winter sale of February 10, 2013 is described on its e-catalogue page as “after R.S. Gifford”. The work is - to this writer - one and the same as the work displayed on Perenyi’s website. Yet amusingly on perenyi.com it has been printed to "signed by “S.R. Gifford”:
Mr. Perenyi may too now attempt to cover his tracks, just as he made tracks to Florida.
Thus, as overkill, but necessary, an immortal shot of his webphoto of same painting also available via waybackwebmachine. One would think if 14-year-olds have figured out that their nude selfies are NEvER wiped, and indeed may follow them all the way to their first job interview, one would also assume that auction houses & art criminals might have learned the same lesson and be a bit more circumspect. But no. See:
Mr. Perenyi, who thus far has successfully dodged legal punishment for his actions; and has received no censure in the court of public opinion, remains a a thorn in the side of all those who operate in the art market with integrity.
To conclude, the Perenyi "picture" gets less luminous by the day. The buyer of the forged painting in Kaminski’s sale of February 2013 discovered early on that he had been duped. He correctly refused to pay for the forgery. Kaminski, no surprise here, went into turbo to pursue the money via legal collection. The firm's position, shamefully an extreme version of "caveat emptor". And in this case as the caveat was caveat or across state lines, as far as Kaminski was concerned, you bid, you bought.
When the forgery was brought to the auction house's attention, it responses with another tired tactic. Blame the victim. The dodgy transaction was pathetically defended with a "bad mouth the buyer" campaign. To date, Kaminski has offered "no comment" to this genesis of this defamation of the man who in face was a victim of fraud.
One would hope that one of these bad actors would perhaps just do the right thing. Yet to date, no heroes in this tawdry tale so for what it's worth this writer would - as long as Perenyi brazenly posts his fake paintings with pride- caution Kaminski to stand down. Or, better yet, if the firm cares to avoid Knoedler's fate, perhaps it should alert law enforcement and at the very least go after the seller who consigned them the painting..
The Perenyi stench lingers:
Editor's Note: First publishd 8.10.2015
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