After their arrest nearly a year ago, German art dealers Wolfgang and Helene Beltracchi have struck plea bargains in their dramatic forgery trial. The husband and wife team, along with Helene's sister Jeanette, were accused of selling more than 40 forged paintings over a period of 14 years, one of which is said to have sold for $7m. They claimed the works to be by painters such as Max Ernst, Heinrich Campendonk, Fernand Léger and Max Pechstein, among others.
|Above: a genuine fake Campendonk, which fetched 2.9m euro at auction|
Now Wolfgang Beltracchi has reduced his sentence by pleading guilty, and appears to be enjoying his time on the soap box into the bargain. 'I created an original, an unpainted picture by each artist,' Die Welt reports him saying, 'I painted paintings which really shouldn't have been missing from the artists' oeuvres.'
In traditional forger's style the painter, who had minor success painting in his own name, blames the greed of the art world for the scandal and says he wasn't in it for the money alone - despite having made an estimated $20m from the scam.
Thank you, Elizabeth Emerson, for preparing this piece.
For further reading see Art Media Agency here; Artfix Daily here
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