German forgers defend themselves at court « AMA
Cologne, 3 October 2011, Art Media Agency (AMA).
The trial of German couple Wolfgang and Helene Beltracchi and their two accomplices, which began in Cologne early September, continues to surprise and enlighten the world of art in this forgery case. After his animated tale of being a forger, Wolfgang Beltracchi acknowledged and explained the details of his forged paintings by masters such as Max Ernst, Max Pechstein and Heinrich Campendonk.
These paintings have fueled the art makert for over a decade and abused experienced collectors and experts, such as Werner Spies, recognized specialist of Max Ernst. This time last year, German authorities revealed that the total amount of fraud was estimated at several millions of euros. However, the forger claims that the financial bet was not the only motivation for his actions; it also concerned the deception of experts and the art market environment.
The trial that should have lasted until March the followying year, will evidently be shortened due to these rapid confessions. The defendants, which were primarily sentenced to ten years each in prison, will now be convitcted to six years for Mr Beltracchi and four years for his wife – who valuated the paintings and introduced them into the market. The other two defendants, Mrs Beltracchi’s sister and a fourth associate, are at risk of being sentenced up to 2-5 years in prison.