Helge Achenbach’s trial began last week. The German art adviser stands accused of defrauding the late billionaire and Aldi supermarket heir Berthold Albrecht on 23 separate occasions resulting in estimated damages of €23 million. Less than a week into the proceedings, things have taken a surprising twist.
On Monday, in an emotional confession, Achenbach spoke of his close friendship to Albrecht. According to Handelsblatt he told the court that it was “unforgivable” that “the trust placed in me by Berthold Albrecht was not justified.”
Achenbach admitted marking up purchase invoices to minimize the risk associated with the contractual buy-back clause, which his five percent commission reportedly did not cover.
He stressed, however, that regardless of the markups, Albrecht did not make a loss. The collection included works by Pablo Picasso, Gerhard Richter, and Roy Lichtenstein and was purchased for €50 million. It is worth an estimated €80 million or more today.
Achenbach further denied forging invoices for classic cars that Albrecht bought through him, claiming a bonus had been agreed to between them, on top of the three percent commission stated in the contract.
Fighting back tears, he apologized to his family “who has suffered a lot in the last months.”
Even before the trial began, the defense built their case around the fact that the artworks that Achenbach bought for Albrecht had realized a substantial increase in value.
The defense also emphasized that the contractual agreement between Achenbach and Albrecht included a buy-back clause (see “Wife of Disgraced, Jailed Art Advisor Helge Achenbach Protests His Innocence“). The trial has been adjourned until Wednesday.
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