Master Forger Wolfgang Beltracchi Released from Prison

The Villa in Freiburg where Wolfgang Beltracchi carried out much of his forgery Photo: Andreas Schwarzkopf via Wikimedia Commons
The Villa in Freiburg where Wolfgang Beltracchi carried out much of his forgery Photo: Andreas Schwarzkopf via Wikimedia Commons

Wolfgang Beltracchi, the German master forger convicted of creating 14 fake artworks purported to be by the likes of Max Ernst and Heinrich Campendonk, has been released from prison. That number is a mere fraction of the 300 works that Beltracchi and his wife claim to have created over their 35-year forgery career. Around 60 of his works are thought to have been subsequently identified (see What You Need to Know about Master Forger Wolfgang Beltracchi’s Latest Antics).

According to the DPA, which confirmed his release on Friday, Beltracchi was freed on January 9, 2015, a little over three years after being convicted in October 2011. He now reportedly resides in the small Rhineland city of Bergisch Gladbach, near Cologne.

Though initially sentenced to six years behind bars, the judge allowed for Beltracchi’s pre-trial detention phase to count towards his time served. He is currently on probation.

Even when officially locked up, however, the forger managed to spend a good deal of time outside of prison, and took up painting again much in the same way as before he was caught.

Beltracchi’s paintings are now registered “in the style of” artists who he previously ripped off entirely and carry a much lower price tag than what an original (or one of his fakes still unidentified and in circulation) might fetch. Most works have reportedly sold in the $30,000–45,000 range. However, one piece in Beltracchi’s first gallery show under his own name at Galerie Christine Brügger in Bern carried a price tag of $148,151 (see Master Forger Wolfgang Beltracchi Gets a Gallery Show).


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