Second Billionaire Bilked by German Art Adviser

Helge Achenbach.
Photo: Andreas Endermann via RP-Online.

A second plaintiff has come forward with a fraud claim against Germany’s most prominent art adviser, Helge Achenbach, according to the Handelsblatt. The state prosecutor, Anette Milk would only confirm on Thursday that a second claimant had been registered but would not disclose his or her name. The paper reports, however, that the claimant is Bernd Viehof, the billionaire son of Allkauf founder Eugen Viehof.

According to the report, Viehof was allegedly defrauded of between €1.5–2.5 million ($2–3.3 million) during the purchase of one or more artworks by George Baselitz. Achenbach’s attorney dismissed the new allegations when contacted by the Handelsblatt, saying that he was unaware of any further criminal charges against his client.

Viehof’s claim follows that of Babette Albrecht, the widow of Aldi supermarket billionaire Bertold Albrecht (see: “€18 Million Fraud Claim Against Art Adviser“). The total estimate of claims, both formalized and those which remain unofficial, now tops €60 million. Viehof makes the fourth potential victim of Achenbach’s practices but only the second to file charges.

At this point, Achenbach has been held in custody for over two months as investigations continue. He is alleged to have committed fraud by altering purchase invoices for artworks and vintage automobiles.

The allegations arose in June when the 62-year-old was arrested following his return from Brazil, where he had been installing a project, Campo Bahia, in the German World Cup team’s clubhouse.

Achenbach is currently held under what is called Untersuchungs-Haft, a pretrial investigatory detention phase typically enforced when authorities consider an accused individual a flight risk or fear that the individual might manage to cover up alleged crimes before an investigation is complete.

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