German Art Dealer Busted Trying to Sell Fake Giacometti Sculpture

There are many forgeries of Alberto Giacometti's Walking Man. Courtesy of Cornell University Museum.
There are many forgeries of Alberto Giacometti's Walking Man. Courtesy of Cornell University Museum.

A court case has been brought against a German ring who stand accused of knowingly attempting to put a forged Alberto Giacometti sculpture on the market, Süddeutsche Zeitung reports.

A 67-year-old assessor named Wolf G., and a 60-year-old art dealer named Hans K., have been accused of fraud and falsification of documents. Wolf. G’s ex-wife Ulrike G., a 63-year-old lawyer and her 92-year-old mother have been accused as accomplices.

According to court documents Wolf. G acquired a fake Giacometti sculpture in 2008 in a barter deal with a man identified as Lothar Se., who was a member of criminal gang surrounding the Dutch Giacometti forger Robert Driessen.

Driessen and his gang are estimated to have made €8 million ($8.9 million) selling forgeries until they were apprehended in 2011. Police discovered over 1,000 bronze Giacometti forgeries in the gang’s warehouse. The authorities melted down the sculptures, but as the current court case shows, many are still on the market.

In March 2009 Wolf G. unsuccessfully attempted to consign the fake Walking Man sculpture to a Swiss auction house, asking CHF 5 million ($5.3 million) for it. A Giacometti expert identified the sculpture as a copy and it was sent back.

Wolf G. and art dealer Hans. K subsequently attempted to sell the sculpture to a private collector for €350,000 ($390,000), but the deal collapsed after the collector was unable to secure a loan.

Several months later the forgery was offered to Sotheby’s, Frankfurt where it was rejected once again.

Following a third unsuccessful sale attempt, Lothar Se. took back the forgery and was arrested after trying to sell the work to an undercover detective for €1.5 million ($1.6 million). The subsequent investigation led detectives to Wolf G., Hans K. and Ulrike G.

The case is already being compared to the German master art forger Wolfgang Beltracchi, who was released from prison in January (see Master Forger Wolfgang Beltracchi Released From Prison and Master Forger Wolfgang Beltracchi Claims He Saw His Painting in Albertina Museum).

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