Helge Achenbach Back in Court as Wife Tries To Save Her Assets

Will Dorothee Achenbach get her artworks back?

Helge and Dorothee Achenbach.
Photo: Westdeutsche Zeitung

Only one day after being found guilty on 18 counts of fraud and receiving a six-year prison sentence, the German art advisor Helge Achenbach was back in a Düsseldorf courtroom to fight for the return of his family’s assets, FAZ reports (see Found Guilty of Fraud, Art Advisor Helge Achenbach Sentenced to Six Years in Prison).

This time, Achenbach appeared in court as a witness in a countersuit filed by his wife, Dorothee Achenbach, against the family of the late billionaire and Aldi supermarket heir, Berthold Albrecht.

Dorothee Achenbach claims that four artworks seized as collateral against the €19.4 million ($20.44 million) in damages that a court has previously ordered the art advisor to pay the Albrecht family, are in fact part of her personal collection. (see Achenbach’s Wife Wants Her Artworks Back and €19.4 million Ruling Against Achenbach as Collection Hits Auction Block.)

Helge Achenbach testified that the two paintings by Günther Uecker and Thomas Schönauer, as well as two ceramic sculptures worth a combined €530,000 did in fact belong to his wife.

He told the court that he acquired the €500,000 Uecker painting from the gallerist Hans Mayer via his advisory company in 2011 and subsequently sold it to his wife (see Düsseldorf Dealer Hans Mayer Awarded 2015 Art Cologne Prize). However, the invoice for the sale to his wife is dated April 2013.

According to Achenbach his wife was so impressed by the work that she re-invested a sizable portion of revenue from a house sale into the piece. She reportedly viewed the work as her pension insurance, and also rejected the opportunity to sell the work back to Hans Mayer when she was approached by the gallery.

The presiding Judge, Joachim Matz, commented that he was “positively surprised” that the 62-year-old Achenbach showed up “so promptly” after his sentencing. The Judge reportedly said “I didn’t expect you to turn up,” to the pale-looking advisor who has fallen from grace.


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