Wolfgang B. is one of four people accused of taking part in the massive fraud, which netted them more than €20 million. A judge has told them they will receive no more than six years in prison if they fully testify about the scam.
“I painted the pictures alone,” he told the court in Cologne Tuesday, where the suspects are being tried. “It really was a lot of fun back then.”
The scam involved forging at least 47 works by famous avant-garde artists like Max Pechstein and Heinrich Campendonk, then swindling art houses and experts who believed the paintings were legitimate.
After Wolfgang B. created the art, his co-conspirators sold them, the court heard.
The 60-year-old said his life of forgery began in his teens when he helped his father create copies of Rembrandts and Picassos. In the 1970s, he continued making copies, but painted his own art too.
It’s not yet clear when the ring began scamming collectors, but Wolfgang B. said money was not his main motivation. Instead, he emphasized, he like playing on the greediness of experts, collectors and auction houses.
“I didn’t much like the art market or the dealers,” he said. “I really enjoyed doing it. You have to know how the art market functions and where the greediness is greatest.”
The group’s biggest sale was a fake Campendonk that went for more than €3 million.