Germany’s Master Art Forger

A forgery of a work by Molzahn

German art forger Wolfgang Beltracchi was sentenced to six years in prison for counterfeiting 14 paintings by Fernand Leger, Max Ernst and Heinrich Campendonk. But there may be many more forgeries:

Beltracchi and three accomplices were sentenced after just nine days at the Cologne District Court, with the defendants receiving shorter sentences in exchange for full confessions. But in a SPIEGEL interview the 61-year-old has now admitted to creating phoney works by “about 50” different artists. Speaking to the media for the first time since he was sentenced, Beltracchi refused to name the exact number of paintings he forged throughout his career, which he began in the 1970s by creating “unpainted works by old masters, and later Jugendstil and Expressionists” and selling them at flea markets. But during the interview with SPIEGEL, Beltracchi said that due to high demand, he could have easily put “1,000 or 2,000” forgeries on the art market.

  1. Ringleader Reveals He Faked Many More Works, Spiegel Online, March 5, 2012, http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,819409,00.html (last visited Mar 8, 2012).

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