• Germany's news in English

Spectacular art forgery trial begins in Cologne

The Local · 1 Sep 2011, 16:16

Published: 01 Sep 2011 16:16 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The two men and two women are charged with trading phony works by major modern German artists, including Max Pechstein, Max Ernst and Heinrich Campendonk.

"We are charging them with organized fraud and forging documents," said senior public prosecutor Günther Feld.

The trial is expected to take at least 40 days, as the prosecution has reportedly called around 170 witnesses, including a number of prominent dealers and experts.

Experts say the forgeries are extremely high quality, as are the documents that authenticated them.

"They produced incredibly well-made paintings, including a complete provenance that took familial background and the historical art context into account," said Henrik Hanscheid, head of Lempertz, a 150-year-old art dealership based in Cologne that was duped into selling some of the fakes.

The trial relates specifically to the sale of 14 forged works, all produced in the past decade, while 33 other potential forgeries are still being investigated.

One of the fake paintings was Heinrich Campendonk's "Red Picture with Horses," which was sold by a number of renowned auction houses and galleries before it was identified as a fake.

One expert, Werner Spies, who knew artist Max Ernst personally, incorrectly identified five of the forgeries as authentic. He is now being sued for damages by a French art dealer.

Story continues below…

The accused include two granddaughters of Werner Jäger, a wealthy businessman who died in 1992, as well as one of their husbands and an associate. Many of the works they forged were presented as coming from Jäger's extensive art collection.

The Local/bk

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

22:45 September 1, 2011 by William Thirteen
better doublecheck those new Dix pieces in Duesseldorf!
17:04 September 2, 2011 by Englishted
With so much forgery ,is this really "The Local" ?
05:41 September 3, 2011 by Gretl
Enjoy the art, obviously created by a talented artist.
Today's headlines
Long-vanished German car brand joins electric race
Photo: DPA

Cars bearing the stamp of once-defunct manufacturer Borgward will once again roll off an assembly line in north Germany from 2018, the firm said Wednesday.

Eurowings cabin crew union to strike all day Thursday
Photo: DPA.

UPDATE: A union representing cabin crews on Lufthansa's budget airline Eurowings has announced that strikes will last all day Thursday as ongoing contract negotiations continue to falter.

Hesse hopes to set example by building Iraqi orphanages
Refugee children in northern Iraq. Photo: DPA

The wealthy central German state of Hesse has set aside €1 million to build a school, family homes and an orphanage in northern Iraq, in an effort to help refugees there.

The Local List
10 German clichés that foreigners get very wrong
David Hasselhoff. Photo: DPA

Whether it be efficiency, humourlessness or a love of a certain Baywatch star, there are many cliches stuck in the heads of foreigners about Germany. But how true are they?

Fake Germanwings victim relative convicted in Cologne
A torn piece of metal at the crash site in 2015. Photo: DPA

A German court on Wednesday gave a woman a year's suspended jail sentence for posing as the cousin of a victim in last year's Germanwings plane crash and obtaining compensation offered by the airline.

Couple accused of torturing, murdering women go on trial
The so-called 'house of horrors' in Höxter where the couple allegedly tortured and killed women. Photo: DPA.

A couple accused of luring women to their village home with personal ads started trial on Wednesday over charges that they tortured and killed at least two of their victims.

After July attacks, govt drafts new video surveillance law
Photo: DPA

The Interior Ministry is drafting a law which will enable public spaces to be filmed for surveillance purposes as a reaction to deadly attacks in July, according to a newspaper report.

Merkel: murky internet giants distort perception of reality
Angela Merkel. Photo: DPA.

Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Tuesday for internet giants to make public their closely-guarded algorithms, claiming that they are not giving people diverse enough information.

Pegida leader 'paid court costs with group's money'
Pegida leader Lutz Bachmann. Photo: DPA.

The leader of the anti-Islam movement reportedly used money from Pegida's coffers to pay for two personal court cases, German media reported this week.

Anger as Berlin scraps Turkey concert on Armenia genocide
The Dresden Symphony Orchestra. Photo: DPA

Germany's foreign ministry Tuesday scrapped a planned symphony performance on the Armenian "genocide" in its Istanbul consulate, sparking accusations that it was caving in to Turkish pressure.

10 ways German completely messes up your English
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd