Out of Prison, Reformed Fraudster Art Dealer Helge Achenbach Is Opening a Sculpture Park for Exiled Artists in Germany

The ex-con plans to open the sculpture park on a farm on the outskirts of Düsseldorf.

Helge Achenbach sits in front of the Kunsthof. Achenbach is committed to politically persecuted artists on the former farm on the Lower Rhine. Photo by Rolf Vennenbernd/picture alliance via Getty Images.

The German ex-con art advisor Helge Achenbach has announced plans to open a sculpture park on a farm on the outskirts of Düsseldorf.

Once a well-respected figure in Germany’s art world, Achenbach went to prison in 2015 after it was revealed that he had defrauded his clients out of millions of dollars through fake invoices that he called “collages.”

But the former art advisor has been working to reform his image since he got out of jail. 

For the past two years, Achenbach has been running a nonprofit called Culture Without Borders, a retreat for exiled artists who have fled from conflict areas on a farm in the German town of Kaarst, and he has now announced plans to create a permanent “sculpture park for the senses” there, which he hopes will draw more visitors to the region. 

“We have succeeded in establishing a very positive bond with the people in Kaarst over the past two years, and we have received a lot of support and acceptance,” Achenbach said in a statement. 

Achenbach announced the idea for the new “cultural farm,” last week with a mini summer festival presenting the work of five artists who have been residence for two years.

The artists presenting work in the summer showcase included Syrian painter Yahia Al, Senegalese textile and installation artist Johanna Bramble, Ivorian wood sculptor Jems Koko Bi, and Lithuanian painter Evelina Velkaite. Two local artists from Düsseldorf, Armin Baumgarten and Ernst Hesse, also presented work.

“With this event we can finally present our two-year work and our creative achievements to a larger audience,” Dirk Niebergall, the nonprofit’s chairman, said in a statement. 

See some highlights from the presentation below.

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